Chris Matthews: GOP Congress Acting Like Government About to Be Overthrown in Military Coup

Update [17:01 ET]: Full transcript added.

Appearing on Saturday's NBC "Today," MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews proclaimed that efforts by House Republicans to pay for FEMA disaster relief by making budget cuts elsewhere was akin to "what parliaments do right before military coups in other countries." He then declared it was a "Complete disaster, complete failure to do their job." [Audio available here]

The segment began with co-host Amy Robach asking Matthews about the Obama administration discarding key provisions of No Child Left Behind without congressional approval. Matthews staunchly defended the action, ranting: "You have two points of view in the United States Congress. One is revolution, 'It's time to cut everything no matter what the fight, cut the spending, say no to the President.' On the other side, business as usual, 'Let's make the government work.' And in this case, the President gave up on Congress and said, 'I'm going to do it myself.'"

View video after the jump

On the issue of the FEMA spending, Matthews whined: "And this is over 1/25 of 1% of the federal budget. So here you have a Congress which enjoys the support of 1/8 of the American people – 1 in 8 – fighting over 1/25 of 1% of the federal budget and shutting down the federal government over it. This is a calamity....And the public, I think, is completely fed up with them."

At the top of the segment, Matthews announced what his response would be to every topic of discussion: "The answer to everything we're going to talk about this morning – Congress can't get anything done." Later, when Robach wondered how President Obama would handle the poor economy, Matthews again blamed the GOP: "[Obama's] not going to get his jobs bill through, either, Amy. As you can see the pattern here. The Republicans, rightly or wrongly, are focusing on spending. They'll cut every time there's a vote..."


Here is a full transcript of the September 24 segment:

7:13AM ET

AMY ROBACH: Education, the economy, and of course the upcoming election all big challenges facing President Obama. Chris Matthews is the host of MSNBC's "Hardball." Chris, good morning.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Good morning, Amy.

ROBACH: Talk a little bit about the potential impact here. The President's decision to make these changes to No Child Left Behind. Why did he decide to do this?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: No Child Left Behind; Obama Sidesteps Lawmakers With Own Plan]

MATTHEWS: Well, that's the great question and the answer is – the answer to everything we're going to talk about this morning – Congress can't get anything done. They don't know agree with the President. You have two – well, really, you have two points of view in the United States Congress. One is revolution, 'It's time to cut everything no matter what the fight, cut the spending, say no to the President.' On the other side, business as usual, 'Let's make the government work.' And in this case, the President gave up on Congress and said, 'I'm going to do it myself.'

ROBACH: You mention Congress can't get anything done. Well, on Friday, Senate Democrats blocked a House plan to keep the government from a partial shutdown. Deja vu here. Now we have Congress going away for the week. What's the likelihood they're going to be able to come together to avert this shutdown?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Here We Go Again?; Will There Be A Partial Government Shutdown?]

MATTHEWS: Well, I don't know because next week the Senate's going to meet, they're not going to get anything done because they're really not going to pass anything the House can accept. The House is out of business all next week.

It looks like the –  FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Administration – has – is going to run out of money at least by Tuesday, maybe the latest by Wednesday. The federal government is going to run out of money by the end of the month, which is basically the end of the week. So the government is about to shut down again.

And this is over 1/25 of 1% of the federal budget. So here you have a Congress which enjoys the support of 1/8 of the American people – 1 in 8 – fighting over 1/25 of 1% of the federal budget and shutting down the federal government over it. This is a calamity. I think this is what parliaments do right before military coups in other countries. Complete disaster, complete failure to do their job. And the public, I think, is completely fed up with them.

ROBACH: And then we just heard Lester [Holt] and [CNBC's] Melissa [Francis] talking about Wall Street having its worst week ever since the crash in '08.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBACH: In October of '08. The President, hitting the campaign trail next week. He's going to be pushing his jobs bill. What does he need to say at this point?

MATTHEWS: Well, he's not going to get his jobs bill through, either, Amy. As you can see the pattern here. The Republicans, rightly or wrongly, are focusing on spending. They'll cut every time there's a vote, they want to cut spending. The President is trying to do two things, which gets confusing on his part. He wants to spend money now to create jobs, but then he agrees with the Republicans, we've got to cut the debt in the long-term.

It's easier being a Republican in the sense all you have to do is say 'Cut, cut, cut.' The President has a very complex argument to make, which he's not doing a very good job of making, I must say. Which is we've got to get people back to work, we've got to get the economy rolling again or we're going to have a bigger deficits in the future.

ROBACH: And we have GOP contenders spreading across the country today, on the campaign trail and Governor Rick Perry, getting some really bad reviews for Thursday's debate. He's gone from bad, some critics say, to worse at this point. How much do debates count, at this point at least? And what does it mean for Rick Perry?

MATTHEWS: He has to break into the major leagues and he's performing like a AAA player, in baseball terms right now. He has got to go back and practice. You know the old Newhart joke, 'How do you get to Carnigie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.' And he has to do it, he has to take this seriously. He's obviously able to do the job, he hasn't prepared for it. The next debate, he has to win. He has to get out there and prove he can master the material, say what he goes to say. His mistake this week was he had a whole riff prepared on the flip-flops of Mitt Romney and couldn't actually pronounce the words on television. This is a primitive problem this guy has, he's got to beat it or he's going to get knocked out of this race by Iowa.

ROBACH: And then Chris, we have non-candidates still making news, the latest McClatchy/Marist poll, former VP candidate Sarah Palin coming within five points of President Obama. And then we have Chris Cristie again saying, 'No, I'm not running,' and then I read in the New York paper this morning that maybe he's giving it second thoughts. Do you believe these non-candidates are not running?

MATTHEWS: Well, okay the more serious – Yes, Amy, it's a great question right now because of Perry's faltering. I thought – a lot of us thought, I think, that Sarah Palin would be the big king-maker, if you will, behind Rick Perry at a critical moment, come in and back him and help him beat Mitt Romney. That looks like a hard shot right now, she may be thinking seriously about getting in this race at this point because she doesn't have someone to make king. I really think the Tea Party leader, and she is the leader, has to try to decide now, does she want the Republican Party to grab back the power from the Tea Party radicals, if you will, or does she want to get in there and win it for the Tea Party people? It's a critical question.

Chris Christie is the last hope of the old Republican establishment. The northeast, Midwest Republican Party which is not radical, it's somewhere center-right. That's why everybody wants him to get in the race. But it looks to me, just as a pundit right now, that Romney's in good shape to hold the Republican middle right now and the question is who's going to lead the Right in the Republican Party? And I really think with Perry faltering that Sarah Palin must be really edgy to get in this race.

ROBACH: Alright, Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS: It's exciting times for the Right.

ROBACH: It'll make it interesting, for sure. Thanks, as always.

MATTHEWS: Thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC