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Interview with Representative Barney Frank

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - August 1, 2012

Guests: James Roosevelt, Jr., Barney Frank

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Rachel, do you love good fried chicken as well?

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: What I was going to tell you is you have to remind me at some point to tell you the story of the first time I took my girlfriend Susan to a Popeye`s and she thought it was called Pope yes.

(LAUGHTER)

DYSON: That`s because the Pope digs the stuff, too. And like Beyonce, he wants to put a ring on it.

MADDOW: Well done. Thank you. Good to see you guys.

We`re just that Catholic. It overrides everything else.

All right. President Obama spent the full day today campaigning in the great state of Ohio. The great swing state of Ohio, not incidentally. While he was there today, Mr. Obama unveiled what looks to be a new phase -- a new really pointed attack on his opponent this November, Mitt Romney. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The centerpiece of my opponent`s entire economic plan is not only to extend the Bush tax cuts, but then to add a new $5 trillion tax cut on top of it.

(BOOS)

OBAMA: The bulk of this would go to the wealthiest Americans. What this means is the average, middle-class family with children would be hit with a tax increase of more than $2,000.

Let me make sure people understand this. They`re asking you to pay an extra $2,000, not to pay down the deficit, not to invest in our kids` education. Mr. Romney is asking you to pay more so that people like him get a tax cut.

(BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: He`s asking you to pay an extra 2 grand so people like him can get a tax cut. He`s doing it for himself.

This is a pointed new development in the campaign. It hits on two important things. Everybody keeps saying the Republicans want to run on the economy and the Democrats want to run on something else.

I think the Democrats want to run on the economy, too. The two things they`re hitting on is this, one is the economic plan that Mr. Romney is proposing. Brand new analysis out that does echo consistent analysis all along shows that what Mr. Romney is offering, which is what congressional Republicans are offering as well, is in effect a package of huge economic benefits for the wealthiest Americans, one that would make things harder economically for the vast majority of people, for the middle class. That sort of tax plan.

That sort of an anti-populist economic plan that is bad for most people but good for the rich people -- I mean, that could be a political liability even in the best of times, but in the worst of times where the only people doing well are the wealthy, being able to describe a candidate`s tax plan like that is essentially a political sieve you can use against them.

The twist to that knife right now is the personal part of it. This is to new development in this part of the campaign. Beyond the question of whether Mr. Romney`s proposals will help wealthy people like him essentially as a class.

There is also now the specific personal question of how much his economic plan would help him -- him, Mitt Romney as an individual, someone who lives, we all know now, in a sort of different tax universe than most of the rest of us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: We know that there was one year when you paid about a 13.9 percent tax rate. Can we clear this up by asking you a simple yes or no question? Was there ever any year when you paid lower than the 13.9 percent?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I haven`t calculated that. I`m happy to go back and look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Happy to go back and look. That was this past Sunday on ABC. There has will been no word from Mr. Romney on whether he went back and looked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: ABC News reached out to the campaign today after Romney`s answer. A spokesperson would only reiterate, "Mitt Romney has paid his taxes in full compliance with U.S. law and has paid 100 percent of what he has owed."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So, still no answer. That was Monday on ABC.

Two days later on Wednesday, Mr. Romney still apparently has not given them the information that he said he was going to give them. Remember, when he said he was happy to go back and look, the question he was asked was whether he ever paid less than the 13.9 percent tax rate we know he paid in the one year for which he has released tax returns.

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