Guests: Howard Fineman, Mark Halperin, Robert Reich, Tyler Mathisen, John Sununu, Elizabeth Warren, Steve Israel, Steve Moore, Jeffrey Sachs
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trying Ryan.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
Let Me Start tonight with this weekend romance Romney had with Paul
Ryan`s budget. On Saturday, he was for it. By Sunday night, he was on "60
Minutes" saying he had his own ideas. What`s up? He picked Ryan to show
he had a spine. Within 24 hours, by Sunday, on the next day, Romney was
flitting (ph) away from Ryan`s greatest deal. Where`s that spine now? And
where`s that romance?
And how can you be for Ryan and not be for the thing Ryan`s best known
for? How can you support Ryan`s courage for coming out with a tough budget
and then before sundown the next night, skip town on doing the same thing?
Where`s that spine of yours, Mr. Romney?
You picked this guy. We didn`t. So why are you already pulling away
And there he was today, back to the old Mitt. What happened to that
rootin`, tootin` guy we saw on Saturday? Guess he skipped town with Paul
Ryan`s Medicare plan, that plan he doesn`t really want to be caught dead
Take a listen to Mitt Romney in St. Augustine, Florida, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, as you know, about four
years ago, candidate Obama was speaking in Denver to the Democratic
convention, and he got up there and made a lot of promises. And he did it
in front of those Greek columns.
ROMNEY: I don`t think he`ll be standing in front of Greek columns at
this year`s convention.
ROMNEY: He won`t want to remind people of Greece because that`s where
he`s taking our country if we don`t get off the road we`re on!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: With me now are two of the top analysts at MSNBC, the
HuffingtonPost`s Howard Fineman and "Time" magazine`s Mark Halperin.
Howard, thanks for joining us, and thank you, Mark. Let`s get to the
heart of this thing. I was surprised because I thought Romney had some
spine in picking Ryan, in the very act of doing so, because Ryan has stuck
his neck out on a very, very tough, perhaps draconian budget which includes
cuts against groups that don`t like to be cut, like seniors, and great
advantages to people at the top, of course.
But then again on Sunday night, out of nowhere on "60 Minutes," he
comes out and says, Well, really, I have my own plan. I`m not really with
the Ryan plan.
Does he already lose points? Look at this. Polling in the last 24
hours or 48 hours has shown a mixed reaction to Romney picking Ryan. Here,
"USA Today" Gallup poll out yesterday, nationwide, 42 percent said Romney`s
choice of Paul Ryan for VP was a fair or poor choice, 39 percent believed
it was an excellent or a pretty good decision. It was the worst
performance, by the way, looking at those numbers, of any VP pick in a
Now here`s a different view. ABC/"Washington Post" poll had a more
positive outlook for the Romney campaign. Here it was, 38 percent viewed
the pick favorably, 33 percent had a negative reaction to Romney naming
Paul Ryan. Of course, those polls were taken over the weekend and time
I`m wondering whether he`s losing some of the glitz and perhaps some
of the pep that he got over the weekend. That speech I just saw this
morning looked like the old Romney again.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Chris, I think the way it looks to me at this point, from talking to people
in both parties, the risk for Mitt Romney is the worst of all possible
He excited the base. No question. He excited the Tea Party and the
rest of the conservative Republican base with the pick of Paul Ryan. And
now the question is going to be, how loyal is he to it? How wedded is he
He`s going to get attacked for it anyway. He can say anything he
wants on "60 Minutes." The two of them can do any dance they want in front
of Bob Schieffer on "60 Minutes." The fact is that the Democrats are going
to attack Paul Ryan`s record, which is not just about Medicare and the
budget, it`s about social issues, as well. He`s very hard right on social
They`re going to attack anyway, and if Mitt Romney is now going to
spend the next weak or so selectively distancing himself from Paul Ryan on
various issues, he`s going to end up with the worst of all possible worlds.
MATTHEWS: He`s sort of taking an a la carte look at -- Romney --
FINEMAN: Yes, it doesn`t work that way in this business.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to Mark here on this. Mark, it seems like the
gutsy thing, I was saying when I was reporting Saturday night, was just
picking Ryan. Now he seems to be picking among the Ryan things and the
ones he doesn`t like.
MARK HALPERIN, "TIME," MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you may
be overstating a little bit because --
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Your view.
HALPERIN: -- the extent to which he`s distancing himself and the
significance of it. He`s trying not to own it lock, stock and barrel
because there are elements that different from his plan. But in the
basics, on the notion of changing Medicare, on the notion of the tax
policy, he owns Ryan, and I don`t think he distanced himself completely.
Ed Gillespie, his top -- one of his top advisers, said over the
weekend if the Ryan bill came to his desk, he`d sign it. He owns the Ryan
bill, and I think attempts to distance are pretty much meaningless and they
should be substantively because, again, the differences between what he`d
like to do and what was in the House budget are minor.
MATTHEWS: Why does it help him to have any distance from Ryan at this
point? Why does he want to do a little step away from the guy, having
shown some guts in picking him?
HALPERIN: Because I`d like -- he`d like -- he liked the parts that
are politically sensitive, which he does disagree with, to not own the
whole thing. But he owns -- he owns the major elements. He owns --
FINEMAN: Yes, that`s --
HALPERIN: -- drastically reducing the size of the federal
government, drastically changing how Medicare works and drastically
altering the tax code, where the richest Americans would get a bit tax
MATTHEWS: Well, so --
HALPERIN: -- got to win that.
MATTHEWS: So if you`re -- if you`re an Ayn Rand or if you`re an
objectivist, you`re a hard-core individualist and you believe in giving
more rewards to the wealthy and more rewards to people who win in our
society and cutting the benefits going to those who are not winning, you`re
with this guy. If you`re Romney, your name`s Ryan. It`s the same plan.
FINEMAN: Yes. Chris, I think -- I agree with Mark. I think that the
attempts to try to do it on an a la carte basis are a waste of time. He`s
committed to this. And it`s as though Mitt Romney didn`t really have an
identity. He`s now uploaded an identity.
We said -- we said during the campaign that he was committing a
hostile takeover of the Republican Party. Well, now that he`s done that
takeover, they`ve taken over him.
FINEMAN: And they are one and the same. And I`m struck by the fact
that I think that other than Barry Goldwater, and to some extent Ronald
Reagan -- other than Barry Goldwater, this the most thoroughgoing critique
and attack on what we can call the social state, the welfare state, call it
what you will, going back to the New Deal.
FINEMAN: Paul Ryan has an entirely different set of assumptions.
He`s like a third generation conservative. You had Bill Buckley and so on.
Then you had the Ronald Reagan generation.
This is the next generation. They don`t accept the assumptions of the
role of government in the lives of people. And that`s the real meaning of
the Ryan budget. That`s the real meaning of Paul Ryan`s career. And
that`s the real meaning of his candidacy.
Whether the American people, number one, are ready for that debate --
number one, and number two, whether they would dare to choose what Ryan is
really saying, is what`s at stake here. And it makes it a really very
interesting and important election.
MATTHEWS: I agree completely. It`s really -- it`s not a hard one to
choose from, if you look into the facts of who these people -- what they`re
standing for. It ain`t complicated. They are clear in their ideological
Well, the president began his three-day bus tour through Iowa today
telling a crowd in Council Bluffs his problem with the new Republican
ticket. Here he is with his first in-person critique of the new Romney-
Ryan team. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- weekend, my
opponent, Mr. Romney, chose his running -- as his running mate the
ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress. And I`ve got to tell
you, I know Congressman Ryan. He`s a good man. He`s a family man. He`s
an articulate -- he is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney`s
But the problem is, that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Governor Romney and his allies in Congress, they think that if
we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and give more tax
breaks to the wealthiest Americans, if we end Medicare as we know it, make
it a voucher system, then somehow, this is all going to lead to jobs and
prosperity for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I just like the way this guy`s doing it. They all play
politics -- Mark, you`re laughing. I`m laughing. He`s not going to let
Ryan be the outsider looking into Washington and saying what`s wrong with
it. He`s going to put him right in bed in the middle of the Congress. He
said "Congress" five times there. This guy`s one of that Republican caucus
or any part of that Republican Congress the public hates.
HALPERIN: The president now has a license to talk about Paul Ryan.
Ryan is in the news. We`ll see if he can keep this up. But as much as he
can keep the focus off the economy and his economic record --
HALPERIN: -- talk about yoking Ryan and Romney --
MATTHEWS: To the Congress.
HALPERIN: -- Washington -- to Congress, to Republicans in Congress
HALPERIN: Republicans in Congress are not popular for a variety of
reasons, and part of it is obstruction and part of it is their policies on
things that are unpopular.
You know, the super-PAC of the president put out a memo this afternoon
saying part of our problem in convincing people of what the Republicans in
Congress stand for is they don`t believe it. When we tell them in focus
groups what the Paul Ryan budget says, they can`t believe anybody would be
The president now has an opportunity to take the specifics of
Republicans and Congress, yoke them onto Mitt Romney, and he`ll do it as
long as he can get away with it.
MATTHEWS: How do you sell the fact, Howard -- I mean, this is a
rhetorical question to you, and you know what it`s going to be. How do you
sell to the average person who works for $40,000 a year -- works in a job
where you sweat, you come home tired at 6:00 o`clock at night -- that under
the Paul Ryan world, people who make money off money -- in other words,
people who just get dividends, interest, whatever -- they`re not going to
pay any taxes, any at all.
In other words, you don`t have to look at Newt -- Mitt Romney`s tax
returns anymore. They will have a zero price on it. Don`t bother looking
for those secret tax returns -- freebie, a free ride. How can you sell
that to people that don`t even know what a million bucks looks like?
FINEMAN: Well, I think it`s difficult. I think that the effort to
question the underpinnings of the modern social welfare state, if you will
-- I mean, that`s a legitimate one because --
MATTHEWS: How about right-wing social engineering?
FINEMAN: OK, all right, just wait a minute. We`re going broke. But
Mitt Romney, I think, is probably ill-suited in the extreme to be the guy
carrying that case because he`s not -- the Democrats have very successfully
painted him as an uncaring, unthinking rich guy who manipulates the tax
code, who`s got offshore wealth, who doesn`t pay his fair share of taxes,
who only understands wealthy people, who doesn`t have your interests at
So if he doesn`t have your interests at heart and doesn`t understand
your life, how could the plan that he put forward actually help you? Now,
in states -- now, in places like Ohio, both campaigns are doing focus
groups of undecided white blue-collar voters. That`s what this -- or sort
of middle class voters.
FINEMAN: That`s who this is aimed at. What the Romney-Ryan ticket is
going to say is, We`re going to allow you to stop paying for the welfare
state and give you back more tax money. That`s what their argument`s going
to be. But making that case convincingly is going to be difficult.
MATTHEWS: Especially when you have parents who are living off that
Anyway, Paul Ryan was met by a loud group of protesters today, who
joined his supporters at the same state fair event in Iowa. They booed and
yelled throughout his 10 minutes, but he handled it pretty well. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My guess is -- my
guess is the reason President Obama isn`t making it here from Council
Bluffs -- because he only knows left turns.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it, Howard. Let`s talk in human
terms. How is he handling his first couple of days out there as the new
kid on the block?
FINEMAN: Well, Mark and I have both seen him in action. At least,
I`ve seen him here. I haven`t seen him in his district. I mean, he`s a
born pol. He`s excellent at it. He`s well liked. He`s solid on his feet.
He`s good on the campaign trail.
A scene like that in Iowa doesn`t help the Democrats at all. You
know, people in Iowa like their politics, you know, polite, and they like
it decorous and they don`t like to see something like that. The Democrats
are going to have to, at the grass roots, be careful not to overplay their
hand. If they`re going to view the Romney-Ryan ticket as somehow extreme,
they`ve got to restrain themselves in their critique.
MATTHEWS: I wonder if they were in charge of those people at the
state fair today. You never know. Mark, do you think --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good question.
MATTHEWS: Were they on -- they were on -- were those people on duty
or were they just regular ticked-off people that hang out at a state fair
that happen to be liberals?
HALPERIN: I think they were as on duty as someone who shows up in a
giant chicken costume at an event.
HALPERIN: Look, there are very few people in American life you could
take who`ve never run for statewide office who are pretty much unknown, put
them on a national ticket, and have a high degree of confidence they`re not
going to make mistakes. Ryan could come on your show, he could go on David
Gregory`s show, and the people in Boston would say, No problem, this guy
can do it.
He is incredibly experienced. He`s been around this for a long time.
And I think he buys (ph) Mitt Romney on the inside game, something
incredibly important, which is reporters, national political reporters,
like this guy. They know him. They like him. They have a connection to
him, even if they don`t necessarily share his ideology. And that helps
Romney, I think, going forward because he`s way behind in how the press
views the Republican ticket.
FINEMAN: Boy, that is -- that is so --
HALPERIN: It helps him catch up.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you remember (ph) how that works, though. I agree --
I accept that completely from your reporting, but I`ll tell you, it could
also show that Romney ain`t that guy. He ain`t a guy you can talk to --
HALPERIN: And if Ryan started trashing the top of the ticket, that`d
be a problem. I have no expectation that`ll happen.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you very much. It might be top (INAUDIBLE)
heavy -- bottom heavy. Anyway, thank you, Mark Halperin, for that
assessment, and thank you, Howard Fineman, as always, sir.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: This is a rare instance both parties are
thrilled with the vice presidential choice. Don`t (ph) you believe (ph)
it. Over the weekend, both sides said, Yay, this is great. Both sides
can`t wait to run on the Ryan budget issue, Republicans for it, Democrats
against it. The side that`s right will probably end up celebrating in
November. So here he (ph) goes.
Also, what`s in that budget? Is it a courageous attempt to cut the
deficit or simply a dismembering of the social safety net masquerading as
deficit cutting, with all the savings going right to the rich people?
We`re going to have that debate.
And among the happiest people today are Democrats running for the
Senate and House seats. They believe the Ryan pick has nationalized the
election, giving them a chance to link Ryan`s proposed cuts to their
Republican opponents. And Elizabeth Warren is one of those who thinks so.
We`ll have her on next in this -- right (ph) a minute now.
And by the way, "Let Me Finish" tonight with spine. On Saturday, I
thought Mitt Romney finally showed some. Where`d it go in two days?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: With all the buzz surrounding Paul Ryan this weekend, we
learned this little sugar plum about the last Republican vice presidential
pick. Sarah Palin, get this, will not be speaking at the Republican
convention in Tampa. That`s right, the grizzly mama herself, who energized
voters just four years ago, will be on the sidelines.
In a statement, Palin said everything she said about Barack Obama back
in 2008 still applies today. It`s unclear as to -- unclear yet whether
Palin was invited to speak in the first place and decided against it, or
whether Romney`s campaign told her she wouldn`t get a speaking slot.
This is fascinating, this story. We`re going to keep covering it.
Was she shut out, or did she jump out? Either way, she`s going to give a
speech from the parking lot right next to where we`re going to be. I bet
you that. You betcha!
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, is it possible that Paul
Ryan really is a unifying force in Washington? I mean that, that the left
and the right both reacted to his selection with what seemed like equal
excitement over the weekend -- obviously, one side celebrating a little too
One thing seems clear, Ryan`s pick is a game-changing moment in this
campaign so far. Romney went for a selection that would change things up,
redefine his narrative after weeks of bad headlines from everything from
Bain and his tax returns he won`t show us to his overseas trip, which was a
flop on three points. And Romney decided playing it safe wasn`t an option
anymore, so he went with Ryan.
But Ryan comes with major risks, and the Democrats know it, in
particular this -- he`s a lightning rod on his budget, which President
Obama has made already clear to be one of his centerpieces of his campaign.
So did Obama get his dream opponent?
We`re going to get two views right now, starting with Robert Reich,
former secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. He`s a professor of
economics at the University of California at Berkeley and author of a new
e-book, "Beyond Outrage: What`s Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our
Democracy and How to Fix It."
Robert, it`s great to have you on, Mr. Secretary. It seems to me if
you watched this campaign plotted, for months now, it`s as if Obama picked
Ryan, Romney didn`t. He wanted him as an opponent.
ROBERT RICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it does
seem -- in many ways, it does seem like that, Chris. I mean, Ryan
represents exactly what Obama has been campaigning against. The
frustration that the Obama camp has had is that Romney keeps eluding any
definition. Any time Obama punches, Romney ducks. He says -- and he`s
been very vague.
Now Paul Ryan comes along and provides details that actually sharpen
Romney`s message, and the message obviously is very right wing.
MATTHEWS: Well, where is the bad eye or where`s the glass jaw? Where
would you punch if you were fighting him, in pugilistic terms?
REICH: Well, Medicare is the simplest and easiest one for people to
get and understand. I mean, obviously, Ryan wants to restore all the
defense cuts. Obviously, Ryan wants to provide huge tax benefits to the
rich. And it`s not really a budget deficit-cutting plan --
REICH: -- because it doesn`t see surpluses for three -- more than
But Medicare -- shifting Medicare into basically a voucher system that
the Congressional Budget Office has even said, nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office has said is going to raise the cost for the average elderly
person by $6,500 a year, well, that`s something easy to punch at. And Ryan
really doesn`t have any response.
MATTHEWS: Well, the response we`re getting from the White House and
all the talking points -- and perhaps Governor Sununu will be on them
himself, fair enough -- is that Obama already cut Medicare by $700 billion.
What do you make of that number?
REICH: Well, that`s what Romney has been saying.
On the campaign trail today, he`s been saying, yes, Obama has been
through the Affordable Care Act cutting Medicare. But, look, Ryan`s plan
already makes the same cuts. The difference between Ryan and Obama`s plan
is that Ryan is making the cuts by shifting those expenses on to the
elderly through this voucher system.
Obama is making the cuts in Medicare through cutting the providers,
what the providers are making, drug companies and the hospitals and other
providers. And that`s what is in the Affordable Care Act.
MATTHEWS: What are nonessential services? What are nonessential --
that`s what they`re called, nonessential.
What is nonessential in the health care industry that you wouldn`t
pass on to the consumer, the patient?
REICH: Chris, there`s so much inefficiency, there`s so much
inefficiency in the health care industry.
REICH: The drug companies are making a mountain of money and, also,
hospitals are very inefficient.
MATTHEWS: Let`s stick it to Ryan here. OK.
REICH: Thirty percent of hospital costs, 30 percent, go into purely
administrative costs, so there`s a lot to cut there and that`s exactly what
the Affordable Care Act will do.
MATTHEWS: OK. If I were retired right now, here is what I would fear
from Ryan. Not only is he changing it into a voucher program. Say I`m 75
years old, 80 years, I have to go trucking out looking for a health
insurance policy that I can buy at my age, of course, 82 or whatever, 72,
and I have to go buy it and I know it doesn`t cover all the costs of my
medicine because that`s how they`re saving money.
And then, what else? I have to do all this knowing that it doesn`t
cover the costs. I don`t see how you could be happy with this if you`re a
retired person, especially an elderly person.
REICH: No. And not only are you going to pay $6,500 more as soon as
this goes into effect, but, remember, health care costs, assuming health
care costs continue to go up, that voucher`s value is not going up nearly
So that $6,500 becomes $7,000, becomes $8,000, becomes $10,000.
MATTHEWS: And then the insurance company gets its cut.
REICH: If you are right now -- so, Chris, if you are right now 40
years old and you`re looking ahead to Medicare, there is no way that that
Ryan plan is going to give you any kind of Medicare at all.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s hear what Governor Sununu has to say.
Robert Reich, thank you from Berkeley.
Let`s go right now to Governor Sununu, the former governor of the
Granite State and surrogate for the Romney campaign and a tough guy, I must
say. You are the Loscutoff the campaign. You go in there like the
Celtics. Remember that guy who use to play for the Celtics, go in there
and knock the other guy out of the game.
JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: I do. How are you
MATTHEWS: You`re pretty good at this. You`re pretty good at this.
Let`s pick up on that conversation I just had with Reich.
SUNUNU: Let me pick up where you left, OK?
MATTHEWS: Go for it.
SUNUNU: Two points.
Number one, this is not Ryan/Romney as a ticket. It`s Romney/Ryan.
And the budget will be the Romney budget when you have two people come in
and the guy in charge decides what his plan is.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I said when I started the show. In other
words, he`s skipping away from what he said on Saturday, which on Saturday
he just loved the Ryan plan. By Sunday night on "60 Minutes," he was
SUNUNU: He loved Ryan, not the Ryan plan.
MATTHEWS: He likes Ryan without the plan.
SUNUNU: He loves Ryan. What he loves is he also spent a lot of time
putting his budget together. But I think --
MATTHEWS: So he`s a cafeteria Catholic on this. In other words, he
picks out the stuff he likes in Ryan and then he skips away from the stuff
that might actually show some spine. Go ahead.
SUNUNU: Let me do the Medicare, and if we have time I will show you
why you`re wrong on that, too.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think I`m right, but go ahead.
SUNUNU: Let`s do Medicare.
I think the Democrats and Obama land is making a huge mistake. They
think Medicare is the same issue it was 20 years ago, when the bankruptcy
date or expiration date on Medicare was 20 or 30 years away. So if you
were on Medicare or 55 or 60 approaching it, you didn`t want Medicare
touched, because you were going to live through it until it was OK.
Today, Medicare`s bankruptcy date is 10 to 12 years away, by the
Medicare actuary himself. It means if you are on Medicare or close to
Medicare, you expect to live well beyond bankruptcy.
MATTHEWS: You`re claiming right now the federal government is going
to renege on its commitment to Medicare.
SUNUNU: No, I`m saying that you have got to fix it.
MATTHEWS: Yes, of course. Your way of fixing it --
MATTHEWS: Are you still with Ryan? Because I want to ask you about
Ryan here, the new hero.
SUNUNU: No, I`m still with Romney.
SUNUNU: Forget Ryan`s plan. Romney`s plan --
MATTHEWS: Well, Romney is with him on a corporate tax cut, for a
continuation of the Bush tax cuts. He wants all those shifts to the
wealthy, not to cut the deficit.
MATTHEWS: Under Ryan`s plan, the deficit goes to --
SUNUNU: Are we talking Medicare? Come on. You want to talk
MATTHEWS: But those savings in your program under Romney and Ryan
both go to corporate tax cuts.
SUNUNU: No. You`re wrong. You`re wrong.
MATTHEWS: They don`t? They`re not going to cut corporate taxes?
SUNUNU: Medicare is going to be covered by guaranteeing to everybody
55 and over that they can have Medicare exactly as it is today.
MATTHEWS: Yes, yes.
SUNUNU: No change.
MATTHEWS: But what`s going on in the future of Medicare?
SUNUNU: So, if you`re 55 and over, if you`re one of those elderly
voters, you understand that.
MATTHEWS: But the future of Medicare under the Ryan and Romney plan
is to replace a fee-for-service program, which we have all grown up with --
you go to the doctor and you pay for it -- with a voucher plan, where you
have got to go out and buy insurance in the private market.
MATTHEWS: That`s what they want to do, both of them.
SUNUNU: But that happens for people under 55.
MATTHEWS: Well, why is that a good deal?
SUNUNU: We`re talking people 55 and over right now.
MATTHEWS: Why is it a good deal for the future? Why is it good?
SUNUNU: Why is it a good deal?
MATTHEWS: If it`s so great, why not do it now?
SUNUNU: I would rather have a private insurance policy than a
government insurance policy any day.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here is the question. If it`s such a popular idea,
the Romney budget, why is Ryan -- if it`s such a popular budget, the Ryan
budget, why is Romney skipping away from it?
SUNUNU: Because Romney`s is better. That`s why.
MATTHEWS: Number two, why are saying, if it`s so great, why are you
kicking it only to people under 55? If it`s great, why don`t you just kick
it in now?
SUNUNU: Because Romney`s is better. It includes a lot of the good
SUNUNU: And it addresses the fact that you have got to get rid of
very significant amounts of loopholes. And it is it designed to create a
growth pattern that generates another three-quarters of a percent of growth
that fill the hole.
MATTHEWS: I have one last question. And you`re a great surrogate so
let me ask you this question. Does Romney also skip away from the Ryan
plan to eliminate capital gains taxes, so the rich who make money off money
don`t have to pay any more taxes? Is he for that plan?
SUNUNU: Romney has made it clear that the capital gains rate will
stay at 15 percent.
MATTHEWS: So he`s against Ryan on that one, too?
SUNUNU: No, he`s for Romney.
SUNUNU: And Ryan is supporting the Romney plan.
MATTHEWS: This is wild. This is wild.
SUNUNU: Why do you want --
MATTHEWS: Because this is what the problem with your ticket is.
SUNUNU: You guys don`t understand there`s a guy at the top of the
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me explain.
SUNUNU: I`m not dumb enough to pick the fact that the guy at the
second place is going to call the shots.
MATTHEWS: Governor, OK. I get your point. And here is the point.
We can`t talk -- we can talk about Romney, but we can`t talk about his
years at Bain.
SUNUNU: Sure you can.
MATTHEWS: We can talk about Ryan, but not about his budget.
In other words, whatever these guys have done before, we can`t talk
SUNUNU: Well, let`s talk about -- we can talk about the fact that
Obama did take $716 billion --
MATTHEWS: The same exact number, by the way, which Ryan takes away in
his budget. Go ahead, same number.
SUNUNU: But not in the Romney budget.
SUNUNU: And if you want to debate a budget that`s not going to be
policy, that`s up to you.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. We have to go.
SUNUNU: But the public is going to debate a program that is being put
up as the policy for this ticket.
MATTHEWS: OK. You have defended, Governor, your fellow governor,
Governor Romney, tonight. You have not saved Private Ryan.
Thank you very much, John Sununu.
MATTHEWS: Private Ryan is trashed by you.
SUNUNU: He doesn`t need saving.
MATTHEWS: I know. Anyway, thank you, Governor, great surrogate for
one of the two guys on the ticket, not so much the other guy.
Up next: Will the Ryan pick parallel what Republicans had four years
ago with Palin? I don`t think so. But stick around for the "Sideshow."
There are questions here.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. This is the "Sideshow."
And we`re all about the Ryan factor.
First off, the one word that the entire Romney campaign probably
doesn`t want to hear in the midst of all this Paul Ryan fanfare, how about
Palin? Nobody on the Republican side wants to relive the 2008 game-
changing V.P. selection back then. But get a load of Politico`s e-mail du
jour posted from a Democratic operative.
Quote: "Here is my prediction. The cycle of reaction will be exactly
the one with Palin. Press: Wow, interesting. Democrats: Huh? Press:
He`s so dynamic. What a boost of energy. Republicans What a great
speech. The base loves him. Democrats: Uh-oh. Republicans: The big mo`
has shifted our way. Press: He`s breathing new life, et cetera.
Democrats: But wait, there`s more. Press: Hmm. Republicans: Uh-oh."
Well, as of now, we`re still in phase one of that rosy Democratic
timeline. Surely, you have heard talk of Ryan -- quote -- "as a great
boost of energy."
Next, think name recognition won`t be an issue -- that won`t be an
issue for Paul Ryan, or will it? He`s been a rising star in Congress for
quite a while now. "The Washington Post" points out a different vibe,
however. At a restaurant in Florida just yesterday, as diners weighed in
on the Ryan pick, "Rick Ryan, said one diner, "was a brilliant vice
"Mike Ryan," said another, "would surely boost Mitt Romney`s
And, last, a guy said Jim Smith said, "Romney made a decision that
solidifies my conservative -- his conservative credentials. He picked Paul
from Kentucky," Smith said, "definitely a good move. I didn`t support
Romney in the primary, but I will now with Paul in there."
Wow. That guy thought -- that guy Smith thought that Romney had
picked Rand Paul from Kentucky. That`s why he likes the ticket now.
Nobody is really focused on this yet. Whatever makes you happy so far.
Up next: Democrats are hoping Paul Ryan`s addition to the Republican
ticket helps them down the ballot, you know, races for governor and senator
and governor. We will see. And that`s ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL. We have Elizabeth Warren coming up from
Massachusetts taking on Scott Brown.
Here`s the place for politics.
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MATTHEWS: We`re back.
When Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, he not only
plunged the Ryan back into the spotlight. He nationalized every House and
Senate race in the country. Now Paul Ryan is a running mate with every
Republican candidate. And the Democratic attack strategy will be on the
opponents and his record of that.
Anyway, joining me right now is Elizabeth Warren, who is in a hot race
with incumbent Scott Brown for that Massachusetts Senate seat.
Elizabeth, Ms. Warren, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It`s
always great to have you on.
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be
MATTHEWS: It seems to me that Scott Brown won with his truck and barn
coat or his barber coat and his sort of visual sort of iconic appeal. He
didn`t win on ideology.
Is this going to plunge this election back to a philosophical
difference between you and him, this Ryan deal?
WARREN: Well, you know, the -- Romney`s picking Ryan for his running
mate has certainly made clear what this election is going to be about.
You know, the vision of the Republicans is now clear: cut taxes for
billionaires and big corporations and let America`s families pick up the
pieces. The problem is that America`s families are really on the ropes,
and they can`t take much more. The Romney/Ryan economic plan is a punch to
the gut for America`s working families.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you -- when you go to voters and you`re
going hand-to-hand -- there`s a lot of retail up there and you have to talk
to people -- when they come up and they challenge you, how do you get them
to start thinking, do you really want a philosophy that says no taxes on
people that make money off money, that just coupon-clip? How can they
defend that philosophy on the ticket of the party they`re voting for?
WARREN: Well, that really is the heart of the problem here that the
Republicans have got.
Their basic proposal is help the guys at the very top and, you know,
for working families, let the devil take the hindmost. And, frankly, I
think a lot of working families have figured that out. People are smart.
They get it. They get that the system is rigged. And they get that the
Republicans not only like it rigged; they want to rig it more.
They want to make sure that they get to stay on top. It`s not enough,
the money they have made. It`s not enough what`s happened on Wall Street.
They want to say they need even more tax breaks, and they want to do it on
the backs of working people.
MATTHEWS: I know.
WARREN: I think it`s just stunning.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s your opponent, who has many aspects of a
greased pig, Scott Brown. He voted against the Ryan budget to protect
himself. He then penned an op-ed in Politico writing -- quote -- "While I
applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his
specific plan and therefore will vote no on his budget. I fear that as
health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the
government premium support," meaning the voucher, "and the elderly will be
forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who
have been counting on the current system their entire lives, that should be
a key principle of reform."
Now, my question to you is, I mean, he`s going to vote for the
majority. He will vote for a reconciliation bill that cuts taxes for the
rich, and he would vote for a -- for a fleecing of the Medicare -- of the
health care program that the president has put through. He will be one of
those Republicans in there with the PAC.
And yet he cleverly slips away whenever he might get exposed to the
voter. What do you make of his political stripe? How he votes?
WARREN: He`s not going to get to slip away this time. Look, he clearly
wants Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to be the president and vice president of
the United States. He wants them to lay out the economic blueprint, and he
wants them to execute on the economic blueprint. He can wave his hands all
he wants but he`s not backing off from that.
Scott Brown has said there is no one he trusts more on the economy
than Mitt Romney.
WARREN: And Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan. But, you know, I
think the point to remember here is that Romney/Ryan part of this is
something the Republicans had already started and Scott Brown is deeply
tied into. Look it at the votes they`ve already taken.
The Buffett Rule, you know, whether or not billionaires should be
able to get away paying half of rate of their secretaries, Scott Brown and
all the Republicans voted to protect those tax breaks for billionaires.
The oil company subsidies, the biggest profitable companies in the United
States making huge profits, Scott Brown and all the Republicans said they
get to keep those tax breaks.
But then when it came time to give tax breaks to 98 percent of
America`s working families, Scott Brown and the Republicans said, no, no,
no. No breaks for them unless the top 2 percent get even bigger breaks.
MATTHEWS: I know.
WARREN: So the basic direction of Romney, Ryan, Brown has already
been set. It`s just gone now to its clearest position with the adoption of
Ryan as the running mate.
MATTHEWS: Well, thanks for having you on. It`s great to have you
Elizabeth Warren, running for the United States Senate up in
With me now is Steve Israel, the congressman from New York and
chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign.
I`ve been waiting forward to you, sir, all night long, because I know
you`ve figured this thing out, Steve, and I want to hear this. Now hear
this, your view -- what is the voice of response to the pick of Paul Ryan
by your side?
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, you`ve got these Republicans
who have been Harry Houdinis all over the country, trying to extricate
themselves from the ropes of the Ryan budget which ends Medicare in order
to fund tax cuts for millionaires. We`re not going to let them get away
Chris, when they put their voting cards in and voted yes to end
Medicare, to fund tax cuts for millionaires, they sealed their fate.
MATTHEWS: Let me show you the ad that I have to like the most in
this campaign. It`s an ad that has a familiar look to it. Let`s take a
look at the granny off the cliff ad for a second.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS, POLITICAL AD)
MATTHEWS: I assume the people who put that ad on use add dummy to
throw grandma off the cliff, they didn`t actually throw that actor off the
cliff, the older actor, or at least the one looking old.
This ad basically makes the point that we`re going into a society if
the Republicans win with Ryan, that basically make sure we don`t waste any
money on people who need money and we make sure people who get rich have a
little more incentive to be rich. This is an amazing -- I mean, I read
"Fountain Head" growing up. I know it was a nice story.
But here is a party that believes this stuff. Incentivize the rich,
screw the poor, and screw older people who don`t have much to defend
themselves with. It is true. It`s not just party rhetoric. It is true.
ISRAEL: No, no. Look, a budget is a statement of our priorities and
values. The Ryan budget statement is if you`re a senior system, we end the
Medicare benefit for you and it costs you up to an additional $6,300. But
if you`re a millionaire, you get a bigger tax cut. That ad reflects what
the Ryan budget is all about. If you`re rich, we take care of you. If
you`re poor, off the cliff.
MATTHEWS: What I would do with you, and you`re an expert, but as an
amateur I used to work in your business in politics, I would give every
member of Congress who is running, every challengers running on your side,
get them all the phone and sing the words together. Get used to singing in
unison -- they`re out to get rid of Medicare. They`re giving all the money
to the rich. Say that every minute of your life.
ISRAEL: We`ve done it. We`ve done it, Chris. We`ve done it.
In fact, we had a conference call with our candidates and told them,
what you need to do is focus on the following three issues in alphabetical
order and order of priority -- Medicare, Medicare and Medicare. That`s
what this election is going to be about. It`s not cutting Medicare to fund
tax cuts for millionaires. That`s why there are more seats in play.
Mitt Romney just became the latest majority maker.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
ISRAEL: We were marching up hill. Now --
MATTHEWS: I love that (INAUDIBLE). That`s the old real estate line
and it`s damn good political real estate as well.
Thank you, Steve Israel. I could count on you to sharpen it up.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next, how is the Ryan pick polling so far?
We`ve got some numbers on it. A bit complicated yet I think it`s in the
We`re going to be watching this for the next couple of weeks. You
don`t even know about Palin. Remember that? We didn`t about her, it kind
of hurt for a couple weeks. It took a while. This time, we`re moving a
lot faster to find out what this guy is about.
Anyway, here we are -- HARDALL, the place for politics. Back in a
MATTHEWS: Well, guess what? Paul Ryan says he`ll release two years
of federal tax returns, the same as Mitt Romney. But he undoubtedly had to
release a lot more than that to the Romney campaign as part of the vetting
process. He`s already in tune with the Romney production of just two his
entire lifetime, two tax returns.
Anyway, Tim Pawlenty was on the V.P. short list, said he turned over
several years of tax returns.
But if Ryan were to release more than his tax returns than Romney,
he, of course, runs the risk of making the boss look pretty bad. Anyway,
Romney has been under pressure for months to release more of his tax
returns and he will continue to be so especially here on HARDBALL.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Until this weekend, few outside of Capitol Hill had probably heard of
the Ryan budget. But now it`s front and center to understanding the vice
presidential nominee himself, Paul Ryan.
In broad strokes, this is what the Ryan budget does: It substantially
restructures Medicare, taking the security out of a program that`s hugely
popular with seniors. It cuts Medicaid, food stamps, transportation, and
also infrastructure programs. And all the safety net programs for the
poor. It reduces taxes, of course, on the wealthiest people, reduces their
income taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent, and also getting rid of the
capital gains tax -- money made off money.
The Ryan plan won`t even balance the budget, by the way, despite all
that shifting breaks to the wealthy, until the year 2040.
Well, Steven Moore is senior economics writer for "The Wall Street
Journal"; and Jeff Sachs is economics professor at Columbia.
Let me ask you gentlemen just to take a look here. How is this Ryan
plan going to succeed in shifting all this fiscal policy towards tax breaks
for the wealthy away from the entitlement programs without hurting the
people who benefit from those programs? Steven?
STEVEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I don`t agree with a single
one of those characterizations of the plan you just put up. Let`s, for
example, talk about tax cuts for the rich. As you know, Chris, this is a
20 percent across the board reduction. So everybody gets a 20 percent cut.
MATTHEWS: That`s Romney. Ryan is for 10 percent -- a drop from 35
percent to 25 percent for the top bracket.
MOORE: Yes, but I`m talking about what the Romney-Ryan plan.
MATTHEWS: But we`re talking about Ryan today.
MOORE: That`s what`s really important here.
MATTHEWS: Well, you corrected me. I wish you`d take back your
correction because I was talking about Ryan.
MOORE: OK. But here`s the point. Paul wants to cut the tax rates
MATTHEWS: By 10 percent for the rich.
MOORE: But let`s talk about Medicare.
MATTHEWS: You lost that fight so we got to change subjects. The
fact is this guy is a radical social engineer according to Mitt Romney, or
Newt Gingrich. He wants to socially engineer our government policies so
that the rich get a bigger break and the poor pay for it.
MOORE: Well, explain to me if this is a tax cut for the rich, why is
it that every time since 1960, since John F. Kennedy, we`ve cut tax rates
across the board, the percentage of taxes paid by the rich has increased.
I mean, Jack knows that. Those are just the facts.
MATTHEWS: Because they`re making a bundle. They`re making the
bundle. That`s the argument in our society.
MATTHEWS: There`s a growing gap between the top and the bottom.
MATTHEWS: You just made our point.
MOORE: Their taxable income went up, so they paid more taxes.
What`s wrong with that? That`s a good thing.
But on Medicare, this is a key point.
MATTHEWS: You make my argument, sir.
MOORE: You said this about five times on the show tonight.
MOORE: But, look, I looked at the numbers today under the Ryan plan.
Today, we spend about $5 billion on Medicare. By the year 2014, under the
Ryan plan, we spend $800 billion on it. How in the world is that a cut?
MATTHEWS: Why are you giving a cut to the insurance industry? Why
are you giving a cut to the cost to go into Medicare to the insurance
MOORE: I think if most Americans, if they think that the cost of the
program is going to go up by 90 percent and Paul Ryan says we`re going to
make it only go up by 80 percent, they don`t think that is being a cut.
They think it`s a huge increase.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Mr. Sachs.
Professor, thank you.
What`s your idea of this whole ideological shift here in the
Republicans? Romney first went from being the moderate governor of
Massachusetts to being this guy running for president on the right. Now,
he`s shifted, it seems to me, his posture to being basically married to the
right by putting Ryan on the ticket with him. That`s my look.
Ideologically at it. Yours?
JEFFREY SACHS, ECONOMIST, COLUMBIA UNIV.: Well, look, this Ryan plan
is an absolute assault on the poor just as you said. On Medicare, it`s a
plan that it kicks in not right now, but in the next decade that would be
an assault on the guarantees of older people to have health coverage.
And how is this going to be paid for? By cutting the programs that
people need to stay alive right now, the poorest people in our country.
It`s really, it`s shocking, actually.
Of course, our whole situation is completely messed up. Steven is
talking about tax cuts for the rich. We`re collecting less in tax revenues
than we have in modern history in this country as our share of national
income. We have larger budget deficits than ever. We`re in a complete
mess and they want to gut the tax system even more.
MATTHEWS: Ten seconds for response, Steven. That`s all we got, 10
MOORE: We`re in the mess. The middle class is getting creamed. The
middle class has lost $4,000 of income per family in the last three and a
half years under Barack Obama. What could possibly be worse than that?
MOORE: I mean, Jeff is right. We have a lot of poverty. The
poverty rate has gone way up under Barack Obama. The best way to help the
poor, you know this, is to get them a job. Get them a job.
MATTHEWS: You`ve overran your budget. I gave you 10 seconds, sir.
Thank you, Steve Moore. I`m out of time and so are you. Thank you very
Professor Sachs, thanks for joining us.
MATTHEWS: And, Steve, too.
When we return, let me finish with Mitt Romney`s spine. Where did it
go in just 48 hours?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this new Republican ticket --
Romney/Ryan. It sounds right, very alliterative. Better than, you know,
Pawlenty, or waking from a long sleep, Romney/Portman. It doesn`t have the
cower of Rubio/Romney. Now, that has some real caches.
So it`s Romney/Ryan, somewhere in the middle between a Hail Mary and
over the middle a flea flicker.
But here`s the problem and it`s showing up already. Romney picked a
conviction politician and that, ladies and gentlemen, Romney is not. Ryan
believes in things. He`s a devotee of Any Rand, a believer in the
individual out there on his own or her own, a real individualist. And his
budget shows it, pull backs on spending on people in need, more incentives
for people on the make, corporate tax cuts on top of Bush tax cuts, with a
big squeeze on the old, and the old and poor to pay for it.
But here`s the problem. Belief is not something Romney is known for.
Conviction is alien to him.
Romney, his own people say, is a data miner. He doesn`t start with
the truth. He digs and digs and tries to find what to do, based on the
data he can mine, not exactly a leader. Not exactly a person of conviction,
not even close to be a Ryan or an Obama.
Ryan believes government should stay out of our lives. Obama
believes it has a vital, corrective role in society that would otherwise be
driven by the market, by profit-seeking alone.
What does Romney believe? Well, we thought for almost two days this
week that he believed in Ryan and what he stands for. Now, as of last
night on "60 Minutes," we know he likes the sound of the ticket,
Romney/Ryan, but not if it means actually saying something. Meaning
something, believing something, beyond the one sacred goal on which Mitt
Romney has set his a heart, to get himself elected president.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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