Interview with Senator Sherrod Brown

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - August 16, 2012


Guest: Sherrod Brown


THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, if you`re at all uncomfortable putting the hat on, please loan it to me. I have none of the same squeamishness.



MADDOW: Thanks, man.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

When Barack Obama took office in January of 2009 the economy was in absolute free fall. It was -- the Wall Street collapse and the overall financial collapse that occurred at the end of the George W. Bush presidency. Just free fall. I mean, great depression time. Yawning abyss.

And so shortly after being sworn in as president, the new president and the Democrats in Congress pushed through something that used to be a noncontroversial way of dealing with big economic downturns. When George W. Bush had had an economic downturn to deal with in 2008, he passed a stimulus. When Ronald Reagan had an economic downturn to deal with in 1981, he passed a stimulus.

When this new Democratic administration took over in the middle of a huge economic downturn in 2009, they did the same thing. They passed a stimulus.

Even though a stimulus had been a noncontroversial bipartisan tool of economic policy in the past, in 2009, with the new president, Barack Obama, in office, Republicans decided they were going to be against anything this new president put forward, even if it was the kind of thing that they had supported in the past under presidents of both parties. And so they decided they were against the stimulus. Every single Republican in the House of Representatives voted no on this stimulus.

But they didn`t just vote against it. They also made a big public case that the stimulus bill was bad for the country. That it would do harm to the country. That it wasn`t just a pointless or even worse than pointless to spend money in this way to try to help the economy, it wasn`t just a bad idea, it was an immediate evil that was going to make the country worse off than it already was.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: The president, in tandem with Democrats in Congress, have pushed through a $787 billion bill full of pork barrel spending, government waste, and massive borrowing, cleverly called stimulus.


MADDOW: Government waste, cleverly called stimulus.

Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia there. And that was a typical example of the kind of things they were saying. And whether or not you agree with Congressman Cantor`s argument, it is an intellectually cogent stance if you think about it, right?

I`m voting no on this thing. I think it will be harmful. If this is done, it not only won`t help anything, it will hurt the economy. So I`m voting no. It has an internal logic. It makes sense.

It makes sense unless you are the person making that case in public who is also writing this letter in private to the secretary of transportation asking for the terrible, horrible stimulus money to come to your district. Stimulus money that, quote, "will provide much needed new jobs and economic growth throughout the region."

That`s what Eric Cantor wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. After bashing the stimulus as pointless waste, here`s Eric Cantor touting the benefits of stimulus money when it made its way to his district.


CANTOR: We can create a lot of jobs, again, the estimates of job creations are 85,000 to 160,000-some jobs for common wealth, most of that in this area.


MADDOW: There were a bunch of Republicans who did this, and the issue here is not that there was going to be this money laying around and they didn`t want that money to be around at all, but as long as it was there, you try to get some for your district. That`s not the issue here.

The issue here is that these guys were making a public case that this money is bad, that it would hurt the economy. But then privately, they were asking to please get some of that money because of how good it would be for the economy.

You clearly don`t believe your own public arguments when you`re making private arguments alongside them like that. You`re just making a totally craven political case that has nothing to do with what you know to be true.

This happened to dozens of Republicans across the country. This was Congresswoman Jean Schmidt of Ohio saying in public, quote, "I did not believe that it would create the jobs that were promised. I take little pleasure in being correct."

But here`s Jean Schmidt in private, writing to the Labor Department asking for that stimulus money. That, quote, "will not only save jobs but create multiple jobs within southern Ohio." Well, which is it?

Here`s Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia getting all publisher`s clearinghouse with a giant check for stimulus money that he not only voted against but he publicly criticized as a boondoggle, an a dismal failure.

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