The Rachel Maddow Show | February 21, 2013
>>> minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that i've been in elected office. and when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens. you get less of it.
>> both over the last 28 years and even outside that time period that statement is not true. it's a checkable thing about the minimum wage . joining us now for "the interview" is barney frank , former democratic congressman from the great commonwealth of massachusetts . it is nice to see you.
>> thank you. nice to be back.
>> i miss you in congress. do you miss you in congress?
>> yes and no. i had asked my governor if i could get that interview appointment because in this particular next few months some of the most important decisions we could make are going to get made. but i'm a little worn out and i'll be honest, when the phone rings now it is almost certainly not going to be a crisis. it's not going to be some problem that i have to try to cope with. and the other thing is i want to write. i'm spending a couple days in new york talking to publishers. and the blank page has always been my greatest enemy. and if i have any excuse to avoid filling it i take it. and i really want to write new things i want to talk about. and i just couldn't do those if i was still on a day-to- day job .
>> well, i wanted to distract you by being here tonight because of the minimum wage proposal that was in the state of the union . that was one of the surprise policy proposals the president made. it's wildly popular. the pew study that came out today said that 71% of americans like the idea. even republicans like the idea. independents hugely like the idea. do you think it's possible?
>> yes. but it's going to take more work. this is one of several questions that's going to decide whether the extremely right-wing republicans continue their grip on the party or whether conservatives who are very conservative but still in touch with reality can do it. because remember, in '95 or '96 with -- under the gingrich/ dick armey congress bill clinton was able to force them to raise the minimum wage and there were those referenda you talked about. one of the key points that ought to be made and one of the reasons why older studies -- we no longer -- the minimum wage does not apply very much in manufacturing. when you are dealing with manufacturing, which is done across national lines, there could be some negative economic effect in terms of transferring out. we know people are ready to move jobs out. but overwhelmingly today, minimum wage jobs are in the service industries . if the restaurant down the street is charging a little more because of wages, you can't go to malaysia for a sandwich. and so it's food service . the supermarkets and restaurants. if you look at where the minimum wage has an effect, it is in those areas in america that are really not subject to foreign competition. because they're not making things. they are performing a service for which people need to be physically present. this is part of the test of whether or not the republicans are going to continue to resist. there's one other important thing about the minimum wage , and i'm very glad the president did it. a lot of people pay lip service to the fact we need to reduce inequality in america . both for macroeconomic people in america . and for fairness, at the same time we are being told that we have to do deficit reduction that makes everyone share the pain along with rich people . the minimum wage is a reminder that we can't put it on hold along with the deficit. how did it happen in the 90s under president clinton . but also with president bush how did it happen that we got the last two raises that we got?
>> in 2007 the democrats were in control of congress. the model was 1996 when you had a democratic president and big clinton. newt gingrich likes to win things. it has been a while since he has but it was at that point still on a roll. you had dick army who was the majority leader who was dead set against it. but the republicans gave into reality for some of the republicans , but the sort of more traditional conservatives, they keep telling people to go to work. we don't want the 47%. how do you turn around and say yes, people should go to work but shouldn't make enough money to live on. this is a subset of the most interesting dynamic in the world today. as i said, will the meanies beat the crazies?
>> we are routing for the meanies. overall, are there numbers where the poling becomes so overwhelming? i'm thinking about it on the gun issue in terms of universal background checks . we don't know where the republicans are going to stand on that. we are seeing 1% support for raising minimum wage .
>> yes, in this sense the key is john boehner is the guy on this part here. you get to the paint where most republicans fear of them are not moveable on these issues. enough republicans on these issues would win. and what you got was absolute control is impabl to force his happened. well, there is no chance that any of these things will get a majority of republicans . there is a good chance if brought to the floor there will be a 30-40 even 25 republicans now would be enough to pass it. so my view is that there will be on both the minimum wage and on some of these other issues enough background checks and maybe the magazine restriction, there would be a majority in the house to pass it. but enough republicans who are in districts that could go the other way in certain states. yeah, they would vote for it. but then the question would be whether boehner would hold up the bill. when he does that, and i have used this argument and others, that is an argument that even the most moderate republican , if john boehner has a chokehold on this legislation, than the argument for a rb, he lost to elizabeth warren and he decided not to run again.
>> it is going to be a fun sport for the next couple of years while we watch that happen.
>> now happily retired it is night to have you here, sir. thank you we'll be