Matthews Rips Dem Congressman: 'You're Pandering to the Netroots'
Chris Matthews on Friday accused Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) of pandering to the far-left members of the liberal blogosphere known as the netroots.
As they heatedly debated the future of healthcare reform on MSNBC's "Hardball," Matthews continually pressed the Congressman over his assertion that Democrats would pass a bill via reconciliation.
"You ever call up a Democratic senator and say, why don`t you do this by reconciliation?" chided Matthews.
When Grayson's answer didn't make sense, Matthews scolded him: "You`re pandering to the netroots right now...Every night, we deal with two worlds, the real world of Congress that has to do things and get things passed, and this outside world represented by the netroots and other people out there, like yourself, who play this game" (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let`s bring in Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida.
Look, I`m not sure. I think I know what that means. Make the good fight. Make your big pitch. They have lost sight of the sales pitch in trying to get the thing made. But you still are faced with the realities. You don`t have the 60 votes to break the filibuster in the Senate.
REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: I don`t think we need them.
MATTHEWS: You don`t need 60 votes?
GRAYSON: We have had a Congress now for 222 years. How long has there been a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate? How long? You tell me. You`re a student of history.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s been a long time. And let me tell you, that`s why nothing ever gets through Congress.
GRAYSON: Well, that`s not true.
MATTHEWS: Name me a major bill that Congress ever got through that was partisan.
GRAYSON: We got tax cuts for the rich from the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Easy. Anybody can cut taxes. That`s not hard.
GRAYSON: No, tax cuts for the rich, 51 votes.
MATTHEWS: It`s easy. That`s easy.
GRAYSON: Well, it turns out that, in the 222-year history of the Congress, we have had a filibuster-proof majority for all of 14 years. And, somehow, we managed to pass legislation on all those other occasions for over 200 years.
MATTHEWS: But you haven`t created a major new program like health care for everybody. Can you pass a major new program like Medicare in the current environment, where there`s such division?
GRAYSON: We not only can. We have to. We have to do that.
MATTHEWS: But you can -- you`re just talking. How do you do it?
GRAYSON: It`s not talking. There are people are dying in America every year because they have no health care.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. OK. You know, this show is about reality.
MATTHEWS: Tell me how you pass this bill with 41. You just got a guy elected in Massachusetts who said he signs his name 41, because it means enough to stop this bill.
GRAYSON: Reconciliation needs 51 senators.
MATTHEWS: Well, what are you talking -- what procedure do you know that Harry Reid doesn`t know, that Dick Durbin doesn`t know...
GRAYSON: What makes you think Harry Reid is not going to do it? I was calling for this six months ago.
MATTHEWS: ... that all those top guys, that Ted Kennedy didn`t know, the secret route to the Indies that only you know about?
GRAYSON: Have they said they`re not using reconciliation? What are you talking about?
MATTHEWS: These senators can`t do it. They have said they can`t do it.
GRAYSON: Why do you think they can`t use reconciliation?
MATTHEWS: Because you talk to any one of these senators, you talk to any of them lately, and what do they tell you? What do the Democratic senators tell you?
GRAYSON: What do you think, I`m their confessor? No.
MATTHEWS: OK. You ever call up a Democratic senator and say, why don`t you do this by reconciliation?
GRAYSON: What makes you think they`re not going to do it?
MATTHEWS: They`re not going to do it.
GRAYSON: What do you know that I don`t know?
MATTHEWS: Because they have refused to do it because they cannot get past the filibuster rule. The United States is different than the House. You`re allowed to talk as long as you want in the Senate, unless you get cloture.
GRAYSON: Not with reconciliation. Reconciliation is 51 votes, not 60 votes.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean, reconciliation? You can`t create a program through reconciliation.
GRAYSON: You can create an amendment through...
MATTHEWS: Nobody`s ever done one.
GRAYSON: The bill has already passed with 60 votes.
MATTHEWS: Name a program.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, just name me the program that`s ever been created through reconciliation. Name one, one.
GRAYSON: As I said, tax cuts for the rich was...
MATTHEWS: That`s not a program. That`s -- under reconciliation...
MATTHEWS: ... you`re allowed to do two things, change fiscal numbers. You`re allowed to raise taxes or cut programs` spending. You cannot create something.
GRAYSON: You`re saying that. You don`t know that. Nobody else thinks that.
MATTHEWS: I just spent three years on the Senate Budget Committee when I was kid. Let me tell you, you can`t do it.
And you can ask -- by the way, have you asked any senator this question, this program -- this plan you have?
GRAYSON: I`m in the other place. I`m in the House, not the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you run for the Senate and try to -- that`s why you`re not in the Senate.
GRAYSON: Oh, that`s why I`m not in the Senate. OK, now, I understand.
MATTHEWS: In the Senate, you have to get 60 votes.
GRAYSON: OK. Well, we got that clear.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think the Democrats fought like hell to get 60 votes? Why do you think they really -- the president and everybody else is dying over the fact they lost Massachusetts? Because it didn`t matter? You think they`re all crazy over there, but you`re smart?
GRAYSON: No, I didn`t say that.
What I`m saying is that everybody has been talking about reconciliation, and nobody has had the guts to do it.
MATTHEWS: Name a United States senator that is willing to do this. You keep talking about it.
GRAYSON: I think that`s what you will probably see at this point.
MATTHEWS: Want to bet?
MATTHEWS: Do you want to bet they`re going to do this? In other words, they killed themselves to get 60 votes, but now they`re going to say, all we need are 50, and have Joe Biden break the tie?
GRAYSON: They shouldn`t have killed themselves to get 60 votes. This is something they could have done six months ago.
MATTHEWS: This is netroots talk. This is outsider talk.
MATTHEWS: And you`re an elected official, and you know you can`t do it. You`re pandering to the netroots right now. I know what you`re doing. You are pandering.
GRAYSON: You are wrong. This is something that we talk about the leadership in our caucus meetings every week.
Tell me how you convince the United States Senate Democrats, 59 of them, to do what you want them to do. How do you change their minds? Because they have made up their minds.
GRAYSON: They want to pass the bill.
GRAYSON: The only way to pass the bill now is to use reconciliation.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And they`re going to do this?
GRAYSON: I think they will.
MATTHEWS: When will they do this? Because I want to write this down. When are they going to do something that has never been done before, create a program through this reconciliation process?
GRAYSON: You know, they have used reconciliation time and time again. You`re saying create a program, as if that`s something that is dramatically different from everything else the Senate does. It`s not.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me tell you, the purpose of reconciliation is to take measures, cutting taxes, or raising taxes, or cutting spending, to reconcile actual government spending and tax policy with previous legislation that you have passed.
You haven`t passed a bill to create a health care plan.
GRAYSON: When did you become a Senate parliamentarian? Did I miss that?
MATTHEWS: Well, I worked over there for many, many years. And I worked for the speaker for six years. I worked 15 years up there.
MATTHEWS: And I know what I`m talking about. And you ask anybody in the Senate right now -- go call the Senate Legislative Counsel`s Office and ask them if you can do this. Go ask the parliamentarians if you can do this. You haven`t bothered to do that.
GRAYSON: No, the leadership -- my leadership has done that. And my answer is yes.
MATTHEWS: OK. This is just a moot point.
OK. So, in other words, there`s going to be a health care bill and it`s going to be passed by reconciliation? You predict that?
GRAYSON: I think that there will be an amendment passed by reconciliation. We already have a bill passed. We just have to merge the two bills.
MATTHEWS: And when will this happen, so that we will get this thing done and we will stop arguing about it?
GRAYSON: Thirty days or less.
MATTHEWS: Thirty days or less, we will have a health care bill passed through the process of reconciliation?
GRAYSON: I believe so.
MATTHEWS: You believe so?
GRAYSON: And I certainly hope so, because America need it.
MATTHEWS: Do you predict it? Do you predict it?
GRAYSON: I think it`s the most likely option at this point.
MATTHEWS: This is the problem, Congressman, in this problem.
MATTHEWS: Every night, we deal with two worlds, the real world of Congress that has to do things and get things passed, and this outside world represented by the netroots and other people out there, like yourself, who play this game, and it doesn`t get done.
GRAYSON: What are you talking about? I sit in meetings with the Democratic Caucus week after week.
GRAYSON: You talk about netroots, netroots, netroots.
I`m telling you, this is what we`re talking about. This is what the leadership is telling us.
MATTHEWS: OK. We will make a side bet. It`s not going to happen.
Anyway, Congressman Alan Grayson, a true believer who believes you can get things done by willing it to get done.
Makes you wonder what's going on with Matthews lately.
I haven't seen this kind of objectivity from the "Hardball" host since before 9/11.