August 23, 2010

How would you like to be Gov. Jennifer Granholm and get stuck debating Dick Armey after the way he treated Rachel Maddow after their appearance together on Meet the Press and Joan Walsh on Hardball? I sure as hell don't envy her. For a little reminder of why no woman should ever want to appear on the air with the aptly named Dick Armey, he told Joan Walsh on Hardball "I'm so glad that you could never be my wife because I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day." Then after Rachel Maddow dared to challenge him for calling Medicare "tyranny" on Meet the Press, he insulted her at one of his phony astroturf teabagger rallies held by Americans for Prosperity and called her "some woman named Rachel Maddox" who "has a Ph.D. in something that doesn't matter." What a guy.

Granholm did a pretty good job of beating back teabagger Dick Armey's ridiculous arguments on Social Security and Medicare when Armey and David Gregory would let her get a word in. Armey's pretty good at filibustering for someone who came out of the House and not the Senate. You can't shut him up and he interrupts the other guests at every opportunity, which seems to be standard operating procedure for most Republicans when they go on television.

Americans do not want to see their benefits cut so the rich can keep their Bush tax cuts and to pay back the deficit after the treasury's been looted paying for these wars and tax cuts for the rich.

MR. GREGORY: Talking about your folks, you're talking about tea partiers around the country and the movement that you've written about. One of the arguments that Democrats make about some of the candidates who are supported by the tea party is that they're, frankly, too extreme for the--even the mainstream of the Republican Party. And I want to go through some of the top races and have you respond to that.


MR. GREGORY: Colorado U.S. Senate race, Ken Buck, Republican nominee. He wants to eliminate the Energy and Education Departments, says separation of church and state is too strictly enforced. To Kentucky, Rand Paul, tea party candidate in the Senate race, critical, of course, of the minimum wage law, civil rights law, supports cutting back on unemployment insurance, calls Medicare socialized medicine. Nevada, Sharron Angle, for the Senate again, talks about no adoption for same sex couples, the U.S. should pull out of the U.N., privatize Medicare and Social Security. And finally, in Utah in the Senate race, you've got Mike Lee. He wants to repeal the progressive income tax, supports changing the 14th Amendment of birthright citizenship. If this is the tea party's impact on national politics, there's certainly a lot of Democrats who say too extreme for the mainstream of the political country.

REP. ARMEY: Well, first, first of all, each one of these candidates won a Republican primary as a Republican candidate with a variety of different stresses on different issues. I am not going to take the Democrat Party's characterization of a Republican Party candidate's position on any issue as the gospel truth. I don't know if you've noticed, but politicians say insincere things; and, frankly, I don't quite listen to the Democrats on the candidates. But the voters paid attention to the candidates and made their choice. Now, the Democrats are--they have a guy down in, in South Carolina who wins the primary and, and is then convicted of a felony. They ought to concern themselves with, "What is the quality of our candidates, and can we meet the challenge of trying to race against these candidates?" who are going to beat their person in the, in the fall.

MR. GREGORY: Governor, is this an example of what, what they've called a mainstream political movement, some of these candidates and their views?

GOV. GRANHOLM: Well, you know, no. I think it's far outside the mainstream. In fact, one of the things--you just held up Paul Ryan's, you know, proposal regarding Medicare and regarding Social Security. I think a lot of which you've jumped onto as well. But there was a recent poll out that said that 85 percent of Americans don't want to see Social Security cut to solve the, the deficit. The reality is, you know, as a governor of the state that has had the toughest economic go-over the past eight years, I'm just really interested in what works to create jobs, what works. And the proposals that are coming from these candidates are not proposals that work. This is the laboratory of the states right here, and I can tell you what has worked. What has worked is the government smartly intervening to save the auto industry; smartly, strategically, surgically intervening to invest with the private sector to create, for example, the electric batteries for the vehicles; smartly intervening with the private sector to be able to do the breakthrough technologies that the private sector doesn't have the funds to be able to do. That's what other countries are doing. And we've got to realize that these economic models that just say, "We've got to cut, cut, cut, cut, cut," you know, who's applauding most is China. They're happy that this movement is happening...

MR. GREGORY: But there's...

GOV. GRANHOLM: ...that's going to continue to cut away.

MR. GREGORY: But there's a broader debate here, and I think the governor gets to it, Leader Armey...

REP. ARMEY: Well...

MR. GREGORY: ...which is the role of government...

REP. ARMEY: Right.

MR. GREGORY: it part of the problem or part of the solution? This is what drives the tea party movement.

REP. ARMEY: Absolutely. And, and, and, and this mischaracterization, once again, of Paul Ryan, who's probably the most creative thinking and most courageous guy in Washington, plan on Social--all Paul Ryan is saying is let Social Security be voluntary, let Medicare be voluntary. Why--if these are such great programs, why do you have difficulty with people being free to choose? And I'll tell you what, Paul Ryan and I will give every Social Security recipient in America that chooses to stay in this system a better guarantee that it will be as they know it today than the Democrat Party will...

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. ARMEY: ...because the Democrat Party is going to start making changes that will, in fact, deny individuals their benefits.

MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you this, though. We--there's certainly a separation debate to be had about how to deal with Medicare and Social Security. But I wonder, you heard my questions to Senator McConnell, he certainly doesn't appear to be on board with what Paul Ryan is talking about. There's 13 co-sponsors to strict spending. When you talk about a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, are the leaders of the Republican Party today part of the problem?

REP. ARMEY: First of all, the fact that they--he only has 13 co-sponsors is a big reason why our folks are agitated against the Republicans as well as the Democrats. The difference between being on--a co-sponsor with Ryan and not is a thing called courage. And we have watched American public policy dominated by Democrats that don't care and Republicans that don't, don't dare for a long time. So we're saying to the Republican Party, you know, "Get some courage to stand up for the things that are right for this country. Don't stand there and, and, and hide from the issue because you're afraid of the politics. The issue of public policy that governs the future of my children is more important than your politics, and if you can't see that, we'll replace you."

MR. GREGORY: Go ahead, Governor.

GOV. GRANHOLM: If you care, if you care about democracy and what the everday citizen believes, and you want to empower them, and they don't want the Social Security system to be dismantled and they don't want the Medicare system to be dismantled, because you're picking and choosing, and this is a compact between generations to be able to make sure that all of our seniors have the funds when they retire that they're not going to be homeless, so they're not going to have to go to a shelter.

REP. ARMEY: Well...

GOV. GRANHOLM: I'm not kidding you. You--the idea that, that 85...

REP. ARMEY: No, no, you, you just crack me up. You get it wrong again.

GOV. GRANHOLM: Well, you're cracking me up, too, man.

REP. ARMEY: Now, there's nobody that's talking about dismantling these systems.

GOV. GRANHOLM: Eighty-five percent of people--well, but if you do that, every actuarial who's looked at it says that you effectively dismantle the system.

REP. ARMEY: OK, let me...

GOV. GRANHOLM: And if 85 percent of Americans wanted it...

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. ARMEY: Let, let me ask you a simple question. If you happen to be a Christian Scientist and have never seen a doctor in your life and never intend to go to a doctor in your life and never bought insurance in your life, is it right to, to be told at the age of 65 if you don't buy--sign up for Medicare, we'll take away your Social Security? That's not in the law. It's not even a regulation.


MR. GREGORY: I want...

REP. ARMEY: It's some whimsical thing that is enforced by this government in the aftermath of policy.

MR. GREGORY: I want to get one other question in.

REP. ARMEY: That is not, that is--I mean, that--you can certainly afford to give that little provision up, can't you?


REP. ARMEY: And let the, let the Christian Scientists be free to choose...

GOV. GRANHOLM: Let's go at it. But I know we want...(unintelligible).

MR. GREGORY: All right. But this, this debate to continue. We've got about a minute left. I want to, I want to address the tax debate.

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