The Rachel Maddow Show | March 21, 2013
>> a little hoarse and have a little cold and i hope you stick with me as if i were not any horse but your favorite pony. we have a lot to get to in the show tonight. this is a news day with a lot going on. we left with a crime in colorado. news of the murder of the corrections chief in that state. he was shot dead in his home hours before the colorado governor signed into law that state's historic new gun legislation. the there's new information into the killing of that state's prison chief and those details coming up just ahead.
>>> on president obama 's trip to israel. today was big speech day, highly anticipated, very warmly received, particularly the part he went off script and surprised everyone. we will have details on that coming up.
>>> in washington tonight, the congress packed up and went home. they are taking two weeks off as of tonight. nice work if you can get it, right? before they left, they passed a spending bill that will avoid the threat of a government shutdown next week. not shutting down the whole federal government used to be the kind of thing you could reasonably expect from your congress, the kind of thing they get done as a matter of course. under house speaker john boehner , not shutting down the government has become a notable achievement for this congress. mozle top on that. a low bar.
>>> house republicans also voted today again for the paul ryan budget. democrats are very excited about that because they plan to use that vote against republicans in campaign ads for the next election. we have the one and only ezra klein here momentarily to sort out what's important about what they just voted on in congress and whether we just avoided one of the cliff slash ceilings clash crisis congress now schedules for us every few weeks and whether the way they avoided this next one is itself important. there's a lot going on in the news. we have a lot ahead. we begin tonight with late breaking and rather surprising news from the democratic leader in the senate , senator harry reid . following two days of angry response from california senator dianne feinstein , she had been very publicly disappointed and angry harry reid was not going move her assault weapons ban to the senate floor as part of the democrats gun reform package. after two days of defiant reaction from senator dianne feinstein and supporters of gun reform and vice president biden made an appearance with mayor michael bloomberg demanding the assault weapons ban gets a vote and neither he or the president will rest until these measures are pursued, tonight, senator harry reid responded saying i will ensure a ban on assault weapons and limits on high capacity magazines receive votes. he also announced he would start the process of moving gun reform legislation to the floor of the senate as of tonight. the exact contours of the bill are still uncertain, including the question of what's going to end up in the base bill and acted on in the form of amendments and when the actual voting will begin given he started the process tonight. the statement from harry reid tonight was very clear on one policy change in particular. he said quote any bill that passes the senate must include background checks . universal background checks for gun buyers are not only among the most popular gun reforms in the country, with over 90% support in many national polls, background checks for people buying guns are among the most popular policies of any kind in the country. gun related or not. it is remarkable to think that something with 91%, 92% popular support might be too controversial to get any republican senators votes but right now it is still an open question whether republicans will vote for it. if it does pass the senate , if it passes the senate , is there the question whether it can pass the house . the house is controlled by republicans . do republicans in the house support universal background checks the way that 91% of the country does? do house republicans supreme court background checks ? maybe. sort of. at least for a second, it seems like they did.
>> do you think background check , improving background checks might be part of that?
>> they should actually do a real background check on everyone.
>> holy cow . omg, right? that this is position held by 91%, 92% of the country. so it shouldn't be that remarkable. but learning that the republican speaker of the house is in favor of doing a real background check on everyone, as he said, that seems like news, right? that seems like a breakthrough. that would mean if it does pass the senate , when it gets to the house under john boehner , it might pass. we might get real background checks for everyone buying a gun. that's what he said he favors, right? a real background check on everyone. except right after he said that, then he said that's not really what he favors.
>> now, what the speaker meant by that, i should say, i had to go back to his office and say, is he coming out in favor of an improved background system. no.
>> no? ants to havehat he said, but said. he maybe forget for a second there what his actual policy position is supposed to be on this issue. his office had to clarify what he said when he said he wants background checks is not actually what he believes. that's not the policy he supports even though he said he did. john boehner is not alone. in having this specific kind of problem in public. you may have also seen today the republican governor of ohio just came out in favor of civil unions for gay people . he did do that. he said he was in favor of civil unions for gay people . just as republican house speaker john boehner came out in favor of background checks for a second and he had to take it back. today when ohio governor john kasich came out in favor of civil unions , it was only for a second and he had to take it back.
>> if people want to have civil unions and transfer resources, i'm for that. i think marriage is between a man and woman. if you want to have a civil union , that's fine with me.
>> if you want to have a civil union , that's fine with me. interviewing john kasich about his views on gay rights . this is a very relevant issue in ohio republican politics because ohio senator ron portman just changed his position to be in favor of gay marriage now because he has a gay son. he told this interviewer he has talked to senator portman about the issue, he does not share senator portman 's view gay people ought to have equal marriage rights but he is fine with civil union , except he is apparently not fine with civil unions . he forgot he is actually against them. his office followed up with a statement that said the governor does not actually mean it. quote he may have used the term " civil union " loose lin this instance. the governor's position is unchanged. he gay marriage and changing ohio 's constitution to allow for civil unions . ohio republicans banned civil unions for gay people in 2004 and john kasich supports that ban. when he said today quote if you want to have a civil union that's fine with me. he did not mean it. he forgot he doesn't actually believe that. his office had to clean it up and remind him he is actually way more anti-gay than he thinks he is. he had to take back his statement. this happens in republican politics a lot. remember in the presidential campaign , this used to happen to mitt romney all the time. the worst one was that cnbc interview he did with scott pelley .
>> my position has been clear throughout this campaign. i'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the me ovother.
>> rape and incest and health and life of the mother, except that's not supposed to be his position. he forgot what his actual position was. his campaign that to clean it up for him. the romney campaign will not say the candidate misspoke but a spokeswoman said he does not actually support an exception for the health of the woman. mr. romney did not misspeak, he just speaked something that missed what the he actually meant. it was also the time at a town hall debate and mr. romney was horrified by the whole idea of.
>> it i don't believe employers should tell someone whether they should have contraceptive care or not.
>> at the time, seemed like quite a relief. all these republicans support it. mitt romney does not support the blunt amendment to let your employer decide whether you kcan provide contraceptives. the problem is he forgot athat he supports the blunt amendment. that was supposed to be his position.
>> of course i support the blunt amendment. remember the statement, he is not pushing up daisy's, he is dead. your employer deciding whether you can get contraceptives. he forgot. sounds awful when you put it that way.
>>> senator rand paul is in the mid of a screw-up right now. he wants to be seen as a libertarian but also want to be taken seriously in republican politics and republican politics are rather extremely anti-abortion right now. rand paul wants to be seen as small government guy but wants a government big enough to monitor every single pregnancy in the country to force all american women into the government's chosen outcome for their pregnancy. you don't get to decide about your pregnancy, the government gets to decide. rand paul has introduced personhood legislation that would ban all abortions in america federally. it would also likely ban some forms of hormonal birth control, like the pill and even invitro fertilization . under his bill, you would have no choice, no exception, you get no say, the government decides, rand paul will decide for you. but then when rand paul was asked about that policy of his this week in an interview he reacted by saying essentially, that sounds horrible. i don't believe that. yes, senator, yes, actually you do.
>> sir, just to be precise, if you believe life begins at conception i suspect you do believe that, you would have no exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother, is that right?
>> well, i think that once again puts things in too small of a box. what i would say is there are thousands of exceptions. there are a lot of decisions that are made privately by families and their doctors the law won't apply to.
>> it sounds like you believe in some exceptions?
>> well, there's going to be, like i say, thousands of extraneous situations, where the life of the mother is involved and other things that are involved, so i would say that each individual case would have to be addressed.
>> each individual case decided privately by families and their doctors instead of a government imposed policy that gives you no choice in the matter and doesn't take into account your individual circumstances. people who support that are called pro-choice. that's what most americans believe. you, senator, on the other hand, your policy is the opposite of that. did you forget? i know it sounds awful but it is what you are doing, what all of you guys are doing. rand paul , you are for banning abortion without exceptions federally. mitt romney , you're for the blunt amendment. john kasich , you're actually against civil unions . john boehner , you don't want background checks for gun buyers after all even though none of you really seem to believe that's what you're supposed to believe. why does this happen so much in republican politics and how does the other party or country at large argue policy with a party that so often does not seem know what their policy positions are let alone actually believe in them.
>>> joining us is ezra klein , msnbc policy analyst . thanks for being here.
>> good to see you, rachel.
>> occasionally republicans do not just talk about policy and get confused therein. occasionally they make policy the case with a big spending bill they left wifor the government shutdown they left for the president to sign today. is there something in policies they do enact that show they do understand those policies and believe in them more than this other stuff they seem to not even really understand?
>> there are a couple of constants. lower taxes on rich people , not lower taxes for everybody, right? they don't like taxes, but letting the payroll tax cut expire was in fact their policy. lower taxes in general. lower taxes on richer wealthier americans. cutting social programs. entitlements they go back and forth. medicare they go back and forth. you remember mitt romney and paul ryan ran in the election as they were going to stop the democrats terrible intention to cut medicare , then paul ryan got back winto the house and writing a budget he kept all those cuts and added new ones and had more added into this is program. the real shock in recent weeks or real frustration trying to cov covers the budget debates. republicans cover five issues, they want to cut the democrbudget deficits and cut defense spending and simplify the tax code and lower tax rates . in a deal with president obama they could get the first four, more deficit reduction, protect defense, the democratic president would get some cover in cutting medicare and social security and they could simplify the tax code by taking out expenditures. they are now saying they want none of those things and also not going to get the tax rates and keep the sequester and not have a deal. i've asked a lot of them to walk me through the reasoning here and honestly never come to an answer i understand a little bit.
>> does that mean they're post policy. even some things that seem like constants don't actually a matter them, it's pure politics, just positioning themselves visa vis-a-vis the president and not interested in a particular outcome for the country?
>> i would like to have an answer where that isn't true. i really would. i've been trying to find it. i'm sure part is i'm not smart enough to do so or found the right people to have spoken to them. it's hard to come up with one. we can go back today, earlier michele bachmann on the floor of the house saying obama-care is going to kill women and children and senior citizens . the real assault on the constitution was, of course, created by republicans , the heritage foundation in '89 wroug brought in the center alternative to the bill passed by mitt romney and endorsed by jim demint in 2008 and as soon as president obama took it up, they turned on it right there. the power the president has decide writing republicans will be that next day or next week or next month is enormous and deeply depressing.
>> i feel like looking at freudian slips in social policies or policies that aren't as central to their agenda in washington is actually an important window into them not really being invested into policy at all. i think the republican party is really going to reinvent itself, messa messaging isn't the key part of it. being rooted in policies for the country.
>> ezra, msnbc analyst, thank you.
>>> president obama gave a big, very highly anticipated speech in jerusalem today. while he was in jerusalem he got a major award. the way the american news media covered that moment will be the most amazing picture you see today. that is next. today is