tv The Last Word MSNBC October 13, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT
that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. tonight there's a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll and you're not going to believe who the new republican front-runner is. hint. 999. >> the 9-9-9 special. >> that is so cool. >> with surging poll numbers comes a little more scrutiny. >> someone once said simplicity is genius. >> rich republicans think it's genius. >> it's a package. 9-9-9. >> 9-9-9. >> the 9-9-9 plan replaces payroll tax. >> with a 9% flat income tax the poor would pay more while the rich would have their taxes can ut. >> the democrats would never put a 9% sales tax on the poorest americans. >> i've gone through the math.
>> i don't think anybody in this town takes herman cain seriously. >> his tax plan doesn't make sense to me. >> the pizza guy who says 999 999 times -- >> flavor of the week. >> herman cain flavor of the month. >> haagen-dazs black walnut because it tastes good all the time. >> support for mitt romney won't budge. >> he can't break 25%. >> it is amazing his number doesn't move. >> i'm asking you to reconsider. >> the other candidates decided romney was going to be the nominee, too. >> governor huntsman and representative bachmann were trying to be cute. >> perry was clearly underprepared. >> rick perry was tan and -- >> things were looking up for the president. >> favor the president's proposals overwhelmingly by 2-1. >> president put forth and idea. >> poll numbers show the public is behind it. >> $447 billion package. >> people agree by large margins with the democrats.
in a just fully released nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, herman cain has rocketed to the top of the republican field with 27%. mitt romney is now in second at 23%. rick perry slides to third with 16%. ron paul is holding steady at 11%. followed by newt gingrich at 8%. and the fall from grace for michele bachmann has landed her at 5%. it's been a remarkable two months for herman cain. in the august version of this poll, cain was tied for fifth with that 5% that michele bachmann now has. rick perry claimed the top spot at 38% and mitt romney was in the same number two spot unchanged at 23%. whatever you do, don't call herman cain the flavor of the week. >> i'm feeling great because a lot of people are taking a second look and then saying, maybe this long shot is not such a long shot. flavor of the week?
no. because there's a difference between the flavor of the week and haagen-dazs black walnut because it tastes good all the time. call me haagen-dazs black walnut. >> haagen-dazs black walnut went after yesterday's front-runner mitt romney in last night's bloomberg/"washington post" debate. >> can you name all 59 points in your 160-page plan and does it satisfy that criteria of being simple, transparent, efficient, fair and neutral? [ applause ] >> herman, i've had the experience of my life of taking on some tough problems. i must admit that simple answers are always very helpful, but oftentimes inadequate.
>> in today's "daily beast" republican campaign consultant mark mckennen writes "herman cain is going to be around for a while and people should start taking him seriously. if he's not president, he could be vice president or bet the under and just start calling him mr. secretary." joining me now, mark mckinnon, former adviser to bush and mccain campaigns and adviser for nolabels.org. howard fineman, aol director for "huffington post" media group and msnbc analyst. thank you both for joining me tonight. >> hi, lawrence. >> i'm not sure if the world is ready for herman cain, but republican voters seem ready for herman cain. he didn't rocket all the way up to that now seems stratospheric 38% rick perry was at in this poll last time around. this is an amazing move for cain in this poll. >> it is an amazing move for herman cain, and i think it's
very possible he could sustain it. he's been in the race, he got in pretty early. he's been pretty disciplined about his campaign. he's run a good campaign. he's a very sunny, optimistic guy. he's very confident. he's very bold. he's very assertive, as you've seen in the debates. he absolutely dominated the debate last night. i tell you, at least a third, maybe half of the debate was spent either talking about him or talking about his plan or he was defending his plan or describing his plan. it was all about herman cain. when the debate is all about you, then it's not a surprise when you wake up the next day and sitting atop the polls. this race is all about herman cain right now. >> howard fineman, i want to talk about this poll we just released. nbc poll. many stunning things in it. one of them being the mitt romney number. the only number in the poll to hold steady, absolutely unchanged at 23%. the front-runner status switches around him.
rick perry drops out of that slot. herman cain moves into that slot. what's going on with mitt romney in. >> well, his numbers don't move any more than his hair does, but if you talk to people in new hampshire, when i was up there yesterday and today, was at the debate then i heard herman cain before the new hampshire legislature which i want to tell you about. first on mitt romney. somebody observed to me a very shrewd politician up there observed to me that even though romney's numbers in new hampshire look good, and he's in the low 40s in new hampshire, the road signs, the signs you see for mitt romney are on the public highways and have been placed there by staff people. you don't see any mitt romney signs on people's lawns. it's the difference between paid staff on public highways and personal commitment. he just doesn't have personal commitment. he has the establishment in new hampshire and that's about it. that's why he hasn't moved up or
down. as far as herman cain is concerned, i can verify what mark was saying. i saw herman cain speak to the new hampshire legislature today. he did a much better job than any of the other candidates who spoke and there were several others who did. he was pure ronald reagan. sunny optimism, simple ideas and faith in the future of the country. he touched every base. you know, he says i'm not -- i've never been a politician, i've never been elected to office but it was a very shrewd speech that touched on everything that core main street conservatives in new hampshire care about and he got a standing ovation at the end. >> howard, quickly, was it a scripted speech? >> no. it's something he's honed. as mark said, he's run a good campaign. i don't think he has a good organization everywhere, but in terms of his message, he's owned it not just on 9-9-9 which is problematic, by the way, because it would involve a sales tax on milk and bread and beer and
everything else. but on immigration, on regulation, on foreign policy, it's simple, clear, direct and optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of individual liberty in the country and even the second amendment, he finished with a flourish about the second amendment which is very popular in new hampshire and gun rights. talked about -- ended the speech with the phrase live free or die. it's corny but it's what the new hampshire people love. as i say, he got a standing ovation at the end. >> mark, i'm going to dig in to 9-9 f -9 later in the show. now that he's the front-runner, the details are going to matter. it's simply an abolish medicare, abolish social security plan, not only stop the funding to them, actually abolish them. there's a lot there that's going to hurt him as this campaign progresses if, if mitt romney decides to go after him. i mean, mitt romney went after rick perry simply for calling social security a ponzi scheme
which politically is bad enough. but herman cain actually wants to abolish it. will mitt romney go after herman cain the same way that he went after rick perry? >> i think my suspicion is that he won't right away. i think that they see enough people rise and fall now that they're going to give this a couple weeks. they're going to let you guys take a look at him, vet him, which he hasn't been vetted. his plan obviously is going to get a great deal of scrutiny. i don't think it purports to do what you're suggesting it does. he'll have an opportunity to defend it and we'll have a lot of time discussing it. economists are poring over it. arthur lafford came out and supported it today. the interesting thing is, at least he puts a plan out there and it's an interesting plan and it's a bold plan. that's what we need right now. it's good we're having this debate. my suspicion is romney will give this a couple weeks then if he
has to load up, he'll do it later. i think they see this as just another one who's likely to lose out over a couple of weeks. >> mark, later in the show i'm going to read the part of herman cain's plan where he specifies how he wants to get rid of social security and medicare. howard, i want you to listen to what herman cain said this morning to chuck todd and let's just consider whether answers like this are going to work as he goes further into the campaign. let's listen to this. >> how do you reassure voters that despite all the experience you're running on in the business community, your time on the fed, you missed the housing bubble and missed the economic collapse? >> i will have people around me who are going to help me do deep analysis on some of these things. okay? so, yeah, i miss some of these things. i'm not perfect. i'm very quick to say i made a mistake or i miss ed ed it. i didn't have sophisticated analyses helping me draw
conclusion i was drawing at that time. >> howard, i'm going to get better advisers. how is that for an answer? >> that was a pretty lame answer because he's running on business expertise, but he's running on something besides that. and he's actually glorying in the fact and bragging about the fact he's the only one in the race who isn't by any stretch of definition a politician. meaning he's never been an elected official, he's never served in public -- you know, elected official, never served in elective public office. yes, he was on the kansas city fed. he brags about that. he says, i'm going to bring on outside fresh managerial look that's not been tainted by politics in the way mitt romney's experience or jon huntsman's experience has been tainted by politics. so he's bragging in a way about his ignorance of politics. he said before the legislature today in answer to the notion that 9-9-9 could never pass in
theelect legislatures, let alone in the congress. he said, you know what, i don't propose things because i think they can pass, i propose them because i think they are right. that, again, is a line that drew huge applause. he quoted from ronald reagan over and over and over again why other people aren't doing it in the race, i don't know. it works for howard cane. >> howard fineman, mark m mckinnon, thanks for joining me tonight. >> thanks, laurps wrence. coming up, i know you think you heard a lot about herman cain's 9-9-9 plan. you don't know the half of it and the media doesn't either. we're going to go inside the 9-9-9 plan and show you herman cain's not so secret plan to abolish, abolish social security and medicare. it's not just a tax plan. that's coming up.
coming up, don't listen to anyone who tells you that president obama is in trouble with democrats. he is not in trouble with democrats. the new nbc news poll shows that president obama has more democratic support than bill clinton did at this point in his re-election campaign. and herman cain's numbers do not add up in his 9-9-9 plan. that is just the beginning of the problems with that plan. the 9-9-9 plan abolishes medicare and social security. abolishes. [ engine revving ] [ [ sponge ] the prognosis is bleak. you may need to soak overnight. nurse...! [ female announcer ] dawn power clean can give you the power of an overnight soak in just 5 minutes. [ sponge ] it's a scientific miracle!
night's vote and say, well, that's it, let's move on to the next fight. but i've got news for them. not this time. not with so many americans out of work. not with so many folks in your communities hurting. we will not take no for an answer. >> that was the president speaking today of the republicans' rejection of his jobs bill in the senate last night. 24 hours after that vote in the senate, the new nbc news/"wall street journal" polls shows overwhelming public support for the president's bill. when the specifics of the bill, taxing the wealthy, cutting payroll taxes for working people and funding new road construction, were clarified, 63% favored it. while only 32% opposed it. only 30% were supportive of it before it was fully explained. this shows that the more people know about the bill, the more they like it. the more the president talks about the bill, the more popular it becomes. instead of seeking compromise with republicans after last
night's vote, today the president went on the attack. >> a republican minority got together as a group and blocked this jobs bill from passing in the senate. they said no to more jobs for teachers. no to more jobs for cops and firefighters. no to more jobs for construction workers and veterans. no to tax cuts for small business businessowners own middle class americans. >> as republicans continue to shift loyalties almost weekly to new presidential candidates whose popularity quickly fades, the president continues to have extraordinary support from democrats. 73% of democrats believe the party should renominate president obama. compare that to president bill clinton's best polling to that very same question which was 67% in 1995. joining me now, former dnc chairman and cnbc contributor howard teen dean. thanks very much for joining me tonight, governor. >> lawrence, thanks for having me on. >> things look awfully good for
the president now among democrats and i'm one who never really felt that he had a problem with his democratic base. what should the president be doing now in trying to focus that base on how they can make some kind of legislative progress on a jobs bill? >> well, i think there's two reasons things are great for the president right now. in his base. the first is that the president really has had a total change of tactics. since the jobs speech. he's been out there giving talks like he just gave, just showed on the show. he's in fighting form. he's ready to take on the republicans. and he really is going to be a
fighter which i think most the democrats believe you have to be. the second is, we're now coming into focus now, what the opposition looks like. there's nothing better than focusing the mind of a democrat who's a little bit disenchanted than thinking about rick perry or somebody like that in the white house. i think the president is in good shape among democrats. interestingly enough, i saw a nine scientific poll in oklahoma because i was following politics in the cherokee nation before i came over and the jobs bill in oklahoma is about 50/50. that's without necessarily explaining it. that is the most conservative state in the united states of america. as judged in the last presidential election. so the president, i think the president is going to win this thing. people are not that interested in mitt romney. herman cain i think is going to eventually collapse. i don't think he has a real campaign. they're looking around for anybody with strength and a
message and don't like mitt romney. who i think will eventually be the nominee but will be pretty damaged. >> the president is obviously going to keep the political pressure on republicans on the jobs bill and see if he can turn that political pressure into legislative pressure. let's listen to more of what he had to say about it today. >> would we rather keep the tax code with its loopholes exactly as they are for millionaires own billionaires or do you want construction workers to have a job rebuilding roads and bridges and schools? because you know a lot of our kids in the community are learning in trailers right now. in the end, this is a debate about fairness and who we are as a country. >> howard dean, let's sit on the other side of the aisle for a moment and try to imagine we're in the republican cloakroom in the senate and we're watching this polling go against us on this legislation and we're watching this president very
effectively keep the pressure on us with voters. what would republicans need to do to try to change the subject or somehow escape the pressure that the president is putting on them? >> well, they're almost out of tricks. they've thrown everything at them over the last three years they possibly can. the president's core message is exactly what it has to be for him to win a second term. which is i'm for the middle class. here's the republicans' problem. everybody knows they're not for the middle class. they're mad at the president because the economy is in bad shape even though they don't blame him, they're still mad because they have to be mad at somebody. the president positioned himself now as a champion in the middle class, a champion of ordinary working americans. that really is 99%. i think the republicans have got a tough road. this president is on his game and has been since he gave that jobs speech. >> howard, i thought one of the
moments, many moments in the republican debate last night indicated they were just completely out of touch with reality on the street, especially on the street in the occupy wall street protests. there was newt gingrich saying these people don't pick up after themselves. they were all ready to offer some kind of attitude or pinion about about the protests and none of them have visited the locations or seen any of these people. when these people are fighting against foreclosures, are fighting against the kinds of things that have hurt people across the board politically in this country, real voters out there, how does it help republicans to just kind of pretend they're some kind of scruffy protesters with nothing important to say? >> it disasters , it's a disaster for them. i can't believe they're doing this. the only people who poll worse than congress are people on wall street. it's shocking what they're doing.
in terms of the political calculous, i just can't believe it. i think this is a disaster for them. they have a long time to recover. i tell you one thing about herman cain's candidacy. it's going to help rick perry a lot. they're going to realize unless herman cain gets a real organization together can't win this but is giving perry breathing time to recover. i think rick perry is going to have a chance to recover now. >> former vermont governor howard dean. thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks for having me on. coming up, herman cain's 9-9-9 plan is not just a tax plan. it is a plan to abolish medicare. it's a plan to abolish social security. and it's not a secret plan. it's written right there in herman cain's own campaign literature. and in the "rewrite" tonight, warren buffett's response to the congressman who asked buffett to release his tax return. the republican congressman, big surprise, does not outsmart warren buffett. aren't you
still ahead in this hour, we keep hearing about herman cain's magical 9-9-9 tax plan. did you know it will leave you without social security or medicare? and mitt romney wants to distance himself from president obama's affordable care act, but that's hard to do when his advisers had a dozen meetings at the white house. one of those advisers, jonathan gruber, will join us to discuss how romney's health care plan became a national model. [ male announcer ] new vicks nature fusion cold & flu syrup. flavored with real honey. powerful cold medicine that leaves out artificial flavors and dyes and instead uses something more natural, honey. new vicks nature fusion cold &
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you turn it upsidedown, i think the devil's in the details. >> in the spotlight tonight, herman cain's media honeymoon as the front-runner ends right here, right now. the truth about herman cain's 9-9-9 america. herman cain's 9-9-9 tax plan is the most vicious assault on the middle class and the working poor and the most lavish giveaway to the rich that has ever been proposed by a presidential campaign front-runner. we have issued a standing invy take to herman cain to return to this show and respond to everything you are about to hear about his 9-9-9 plan. much of which you will be hearing for the first time. like his plan to abolish social security and medicare. you haven't heard about that because his republican opponents haven't bothered to actually read the 9-9-9 plan. here's what it says about social
security and medicare. for the generations of workers who have paid into social security and medicare, the federal governmentnefailure to retire is undeniably stealing. these are generations who have worked and sacrificed to leave this country a better place for their children and grandchildren, as they retire. the current behavior of an out of control federal government does little to ease they're minds. the federal government has imposed expensive and often counterproductive social and welfare programs on the states and the people. it is time to admit the mistakes and get the federal government out of the way. this will allow states, cities, churches, charities and businesses to offer a helping hand instead of a handout where they live. people closest to the problems are the best ones to solve the problems effectively. so herman cain wants to abolish social security and medicare and suggests you an ask your state
or your city, you know, your city that has all that extra money that it's hiring extra teachers with, or your church or your local charity to provide you with a pension and health care when you're over 65. that's his idea. two to your local church and see what they can do about your re retirement income. go to your local church and see if they can provide you with health care. that is why herman cain is untroubled by the fact that every estimate of the revenue his 9-9-9 plan would raise shows it would raise much less than the federal government needs to fund social security and medicare. cain's plan is a 9% tax on personal income. a 9% tax on corporate income. and a 9% sales tax. this would result in people in the top tax bracket, the richest among us, paying less than 18% of their income in federal taxes compared to the minimum of 35% that they currently pay on salary income. the biggest tax cut ever proposed for the rich in this
country. it would also mean the biggest tax increase on the working poor who currently pay no federal income tax. they would now pay 18% in federal taxes. % 9% in income taxes and 9% on every dollar they spend which of course is every dollar they earn. herman cain is fond of pointing out the working poor are paying 15% of taxes to the federal government. what's more with having them pay 3% more? the trouble is, of course, they are not paying 15% in payroll taxes. they are paying half that. their employer pays the other half of their social security and medicare tax contributions to funding those programs. now, no doubt some of the campaign staff for the other republican candidates are learning right now for the first time as they watch this program that herman cain's plan includes abolishing social security and medicare. not just abolishing the payroll taxes that fund both of those programs, but abolishing the
programs, themselves. now that they know that, you can expect mitt romney and other republican candidates who have attacked rick perry for calling social security a ponzi scheme to start to point out that the new front-runner, herman cain, is far more of a threat to social security than any of the other republican candidates. herman and is the republican candidate who has declared in writing, in his 9-9-9 plan that he wants to abolish social security and medicare and leave it to the states, to cities, to churches and to charities. herman cain doesn't mention how much state taxes would have to go up in order for a state to cover social security. he doesn't mention how much taxes would have to go up in states and cities for them to cover medicare. he doesn't mention those things because it would highlight the utter absurdity and complete impossibility of his idea. herman cain's america would be a cruel place. it would be a return to the pre-social security america
where our poverty rates were highest among the elterly, where the elderly were left to fend for themselves when they fell ill. the pre-food stamp america where if you and your children couldn't afford enough to eat, you could always go door to door and beg for food. that mythical america where all you had to do to get ahead was pull yourself up by your boot straps. the only thing standing between us and herman cain's america is the sanity of our democracy which as of tonight still holds. joining me now for a look inside the 9-9-9 plan, bruce bartlett who analyzed cain's plan in "the new york times." he's a former in the reagan white house. and author of the new book "the benefit and the burden: american tax reform, why we need it and what it will take." bruce, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> happy to be here. >> i want to get into some of the tax details of this and
let's start with, we know it doesn't raise enough revenue. there are questions about exactly how much revenue it raises in order to keep the federal government funding the programs it has now. let's consider a 9% sales tax, for example, on all new goods. that would be a 9% federal tax. basically a 9% price increase on every automobile sold in america. that would pretty much -- that would be the most destructive thing anyone could think of for the american automobile industry, isn't it? >> it's not just that. since there's no mention in cain's plan about any joining me tonight. >> happy to be here. >> i want to get into some of the tax details of this and let's start with, we know it doesn't raise enough revenue. there are questions about exactly how much revenue it raises in order to keep the federal government funding the programs it has now. let's consider a 9% sales tax, for example, on all new goods.
that would be a 9% federal tax. basically a 9% price increase on every automobile sold in america. that would pretty much -- that would be the most destructive thing anyone could think of for the american automobile industry, isn't it? >> it's not just that. since there's no mention in cain's plan about any exemptions, we have to assume that if you go to the hospital and you have a $100,000 operation, you're going to have to pay $9,000 more on top of that. all food, all clothing, rent, would have to be covered. but i've heard him say at the same time, i didn't read this in his plan, i heard him say this, that used goods would somehow or other would be excluded. that's just going to make a massive complication of our whole consumption system and of course the national sales tax will be on top of state and local sales taxes. many people are going to be paying 20% at the checkout. >> so, for example, in the
housing industry, new housing would cease in america. there would be no more building of new housing because it would be subject to the cain tax when you sold new housing. all used housing which is what we all live in now, all of that could be sold and escape the cain tax, no matter how much the housing was involved. i mean, this notion that he can tax only, you know, have an effective sales tax that was really going to raise revenue and not crimp the economy, not crush consumer demand, taxing only new goods, not clear at all whether he taxed services in the 9-9-9 plan. did you see him taxing services in there? >> there's no mention of it being excluded so presumably all services including medical services, legal services, anything you can imagine including a great many things that the states don't even attempt to tax, would be included in the cain plan. >> and in other areas of the
cain manifesto, there are all sorts of reference to how all, all social spending should be abolished, any kind of social safety net spending should be abolished, which he would have to do if he was going to switch over to this plan which would very likely crush the economy in so many ways. let's go to the 9% income tax. how that works throughout the income structure. obviously at the bottom it hurts very badly. at the top it is just an incredible windfall. >> well, that's right. keep in mind that the tax base under c arks ain's plan on the income side is not remotely like the income tax people are familiar with. there would be no personal exemption. no standard deduction. no deduction for mortgage interest. no child credit. no earned income tax credit. so basically you can take your total gross income, including some things like municipal bond interests that are not even part of gross income, and you can
just take 9% of that. so anybody paid less than 9% of their gross income in taxes is going to have a big tax increase. >> bruce bartlett, thank you very much for joining me tonight. we're going to continue to dig in to 9-9-9. it is remarkable what is in there and what is not in there. the details he leaves out. bruce, thanks very much for joining me. >> thank you. coming up, a republican congressman criticizes warren buffett for not releasing his tax returns but the oracle of omaha gets the last word. that's next in the "rewrite." later, mitt romney is having a hard time distancing himself from president obama's affordable care act especially because some of his former advisers actually attended a dozen meetings at the white house to consult on the presidenent's healalth care e act.. one e of thhose advisesers will l join me coming up. let's go come with me, let's go come with me, let's go cruise like a norwegian i'm your blind spot. [
a war of words bet ween a republican congressman and warren buffett. guess who wins? that's in the "re write." and an nbc news report reveals three health care advisers who helped draft mitt romney's massachusetts health care reform law had 12 meetings in the obama white house advising the obama administration on their health care reform law. nical gum protection. it helps eliminate plaque at the gum line, helping prevent gingivitis. it's even clinically proven to help reverse it in just 4 weeks. crest pro-health clinical gum protection.
congressional republicans continue to show more fidelity to their oath to anti-tax lobbyist grover norquist than to the oath of office. billionaire warren buffett continues to humiliate them for that. warren buffett wrote this piece for "the new york times." "i paid only 17.4% of my taxable income, and that's actually a lower percentage that was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office." that provoked president obama to propose the buffett rule to eliminate the possibility that super rich would pay lower tax rates than the middle class. kansas republican congressman tim hulescamp had this reaction to the buffett rule. >> i'm saying if we're going to shape an entire nation's tax policy based on one man's claim, show us the proof. if mr. buffett came before my budget committee, we'd expect to see the information under oath and that's a reasonable expectation if we're going to
change our nation's tax policy based on his claim. i'll trade my tax returns for his tax returns and we'll compare them then make a discussion about tax policy after we see them. >> congressman huelskamp followed that up by a letter to warren buffett with a i'll show you mine if you she ow me yours proposal. this letter was publicly released today. the statistics published by the irs, assembled by the congressional research service available to every congressman which show that the 400 highest income americans, the 400 highest income americans whose income averaged $227 million each, paid only 21.4% in federal income taxes. that's 14% below the actual top tax bracket rate. the federal government has the
numbers numbers proving buffett's point. the congressional research has those numbers. the congressman doesn't seem to know that. in his letter, buffett specifies the key points in his tax return. "to be specific, my adjusted gross income, line 37, was $62,885,038. my taxable income, line 43, was $39,814,784 and my federal income tax, line 60, was $6,923,494. in addition, my payroll taxes were $15,300. and to the congressman's i'll show you mine if you show me yours dare, buffett replied, "after the "wall street journal" suggested i publish my return i stated i would be happy to do so. the next morning if their boss, rupert murdoch, one of my ultra
rich colleagues, would similarly make his return available. so far, the "wall street journal" employees have apparently had no luck in getting their boss to participate." do we have any volunteers for the next republican congressman who wants to try to outsmart warren buffett? good luck with that. [ male look, every day we're using more and more energy.
governor romney, your chief economic adviser, glenn hubbard, who you know well, he said that romney-care was obama-care. >> the truth is our plan is different and the people of massachusetts, if they don't like it, then get rid of it. right now they favor it 3-1. i'm not running for governor of massachusetts. i'm running for president of the united states. as president i will repeal obama-care. >> that was mitt romney's latest attempt to distance himself from the massachusetts health care reform law and from president obama's 2009 affordable health care law. romney's comments follow a report from nbc news michael isikoff released yesterday that revealed the ex-pent to which the obama administration consulted with the architects of romney's health care law when
developing their legislation. "the records gleaned from white house visitor logs reviewed by nbc news show senior white house officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by romney in 2006. one of those meetings on july 20th, 2009, was in the oval office and presided over by president barack obama, the records show." hours before last night's debate, a reporter asked romney to respond to the report that his aides advised the obama administration on health care reform. >> actually i don't believe they were aides. they're people who were consultants and so forth. i'm sure the president got lots of ideas but the one person he should have talked to that he never talked to was me. if he had talked to me, i would have told him the plan he was crafting wouldn't work.
>> bun of governor romney's health care reform consultants was m.i.t. economist jonathan gruber. he attended 5 of the 12 meetings at the obama white house in 2009 including the meeting with the president. joining me now, professor of economics at the massachusetts institute of technology, jonathan gruber, thanks for joining me tonight, professor. >> you bet, lawrence. good to be here. >> all right. come on, come clean. you were in the room with president obama discussing health care reform and you did, in fact, work with the romney administration in massachusetts. come on, professor, you have to tell us the truth. >> the truth is that the affordable care act is essentially based on what we established in massachusetts. it's the same bassic ic basic structure applied nationally. john mcdonough who advised the white house said it's the massachusetts bill with a few
more zeros. that's a description with what the federal bill did. >> it's laughable where we reach the point where we have the great investigative reporter michael isikoff going in there to get these diary facts in the white house to prove what we all know. i want you to listen to what mitt romney had to say when he was signing the bill in massachusetts. >> i want to thank the many, many people in this room who were critical and coaxing the bill i'm about to sign. jonathan gruber at m.i.t. devoted hours and hours to an economic econometric model. >> who helped him and who helped president obama? >> i'm hurt, lawrence. i think i'll live. >> the truth here is as simple as we make it. that there was one model in the country to really look at, an individual mandate model that the president ended up adopting. after, by the way, campaigning for the presidency against the
individual mandate. hillary clinton was the individual mandate candidate. barack obama was against it. so obviously the massachusetts experience with it was part of what moved him in the direction where he ended up. >> you know, when i was advising both the obama administration and congress throughout 2009, the number of times i got asked how did you do it in massachusetts, what made it work in massachusetts, it was the administration and congress are taking a big leap into unknown territory. the fact they have that example to lean on was so comforting for them in taking that step. >> the big leap was done without a single vote to spare. so it is my considerate opinion, having watched a great deal of congressional legislation move, that the bill would not have passed if there had not been a real world model to point to answer many of the questions about the individual mandate that house members and senators were asking both in hearings and panicked last minute voting decisions on the floor. how is the individual mandate working in massachusetts?
>> it's working exceptionally well. in massachusetts we've covered two-thirds of our uninsured and our nongroup, individual insurance market which was really broken, we've cut the premiums in half. so we've fixed a broken insurance market and covered most of the uninsured. >> massachusetts had a high rate of coverage before you even went to the mandate. romney makes a very strong point about the obama bill is full of taxes to pay for it and the romney bill did not have tax increases in it to pay for it. >> yeah, i mean, that's just technically true but intellectually not really straightforward. basically in massachusetts, the financing for our bill came half from the federal government and half from an existing tax that former governor and presidential president michael dukakis put in to finance care for the uninsured. we didn't have to raise tax in massachusetts because the money was already there. at the federal level, we didn't have that luxury. it wasn't like china where we can pay half the cost of the affordable care act. there was no bigger government coming to help us out.