The Rachel Maddow Show | February 11, 2013
>>> last month i went to andrews air force base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in iraq . together we offered a final proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought. and several thousand gave their lives. we gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the united states safer and more respected around the world. for the first time in nine years, there are no americans fighting in iraq .
>> that was president obama 's last state of the union address january 24th of last year, just weeks after the last u.s. troops had left iraq for the last time. in the run-up to this year's state of the union address , just this weekend, the weekend before the first state of the union of president obama 's second term, this is what happened in afghanistan . this is the change of command ceremony in afghanistan . general john allen handing over command of u.s. and international troops in afghanistan to a new commander, to commander joseph dunford. this is the 14th time that command has transferred in the afghanistan war , because that war has been going on for that long. general john allen is out as commander. he is handing over the leadership. if all goes as planned, general dunford is going to be the last person to have this job. he will be the 15th of 15 u.s. commanding generals for this war in afghanistan . as such, a substantial portion of what he'll be responsible for as commander will be leaving, the huge logistical feat of getting us after fighting there for 12 years. is that going to be a focal point of tomorrow's state of the union address ? we do not know. we are now in the managing expectations and strategic leaking and even strategic disinformation part of the process . we're told, for example, to expect a message of economic populism in tomorrow night's speech, picking up themes offered in the president's inaugural address just three weeks ago. we're also told a to expect the president to talk tomorrow night about reducing the number of nuclear weapons that we have. and that then that was flat-out denied this afternoon by the white house . they said no, that's not in the speech. so really, we do not know what is going to be in the president's speech tomorrow. this is no reason to not just wait to hear it. our coverage, by the way, starts at 8:00 eastern tomorrow night. but in terms of what we know the president wants to get done in his second term, what his priorities are, what the priorities are of the democratic party , what are the issues that would be best served by having the president hit them explicitly in this speech? and are there issues that the president wants to make progress on in this term for which it actually makes more sense to leave them out of the speech all together? joining us now is democratic senator sherrod brown of ohio . senator brown, it's great to see you again. thanks for being here.
>> good to be back. thanks, rachel.
>> what do you think about this idea that the president himself has talked about sometimes, which is that sometimes there are things that republicans say they want, and then once president obama comes out and says yes, i want that too, they change their mind and they run from them. i'm thinking about things like cap and trade and individual mandate and health reform , even some elements of immigration reform that democrats and the president now support, the republicans used to support and they have run from. are there issues like that that the president has on his plate right now that would be better for him to not put his imprimatur on by putting it in this speech?
>> no, i think the president is -- i think the inauguration showed that. the election showed that the president needs to step forward, and it's his agenda we should be talking about and debating. it doesn't mean the house and the senate obviously adopt everything that hei think you go back, rac hel, to the december 31st tax deal. it really was ultimately -- it wasn't everything we wanted, but it was an affirmation that trickle-down economics doesn't work. it hasn't worked for our lifetimes, and you grow the economy from the middle class out. i think that's what that vote on december 31st at the end of the year on the tax issues showed. i think that's the way -- i think that's what the elections said. that's what polling shows. and that's what voters and citizens of this country want to hear the president talk about. it means it's a manufacturing agenda. it's a jobs agenda. it needs to be all about that.
>> you have really made a centerpiece of your time in office a lot of different economic populist issues, manufacturing you were just talking about, trade, other issues about jobs effectively for your ohio constituents. are there issues where you felt like you and the president had different agendas in the first term? are there issues where you would like to see the president move where he hasn't been there yet and you're expecting him -- you're expecting that he may move more toward your way of seeing things in the second term?
>> yeah, sure. tomorrow night my guest for the state of the union will be a steelworker from cleveland from a company called arceler middle downtown cleveland . she has been a steelworker at that company for a number of years that plant, that mill in cleveland is the first time in world history where one person hour of labor produced one ton of steel. that had never happened before . so we have the most productive. we have some of the most productive workers in the world. it means we need to do something like the president's and my national network of the manufacturing innovation. the first one of those was located in youngstown a few months ago. we expect the president i hope tomorrow night to announce a series of them around the country. it's not the only part of a jobs agenda. it's infrastructure, it's better job training, it's working to in-source, if you will, some of the jobs that have gone offshore. senator levin from michigan has been a real leader in pointing out all the kind of tax breaks that the tax code has put -- included in the tax code over the years that give far too many incentives for companies to move offshore, not bring jobs back. and there is real potential there. i hope the president where he has not gone far enough. he has been more aggressive than his predecessors in enforcing of trade laws, but he has still not really been where we ought to be on a trade policy that works for workers, works for american companies , american manufacturers, and ultimately strengthens our community. we've gained back manufacturing jobs in the last three years. but we lost far too many in the decade before that. and that's not the solution to everything, but it really is a ticket to the middle class for millions of working class americans.
>> senator sherrod brown of ohio , thank you so much for being here tonight. i really appreciate it, sir.
>> thanks, rachel.
>>> lots more ahead, including something of a backwards milestone in civil rights . that's coming up.