MSNBC Guest: Trump Is ‘Cut Off From Reality,’ Nixon-esque

Tuesday, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist interviewed the very liberal MTV News senior political correspondent, Anna Marie Cox. Geist asked, “ You know we saw the Women's March, we’ve seen a lot of activity in the streets over the last month. What is the practical impact of that on the Trump presidency?”

Cox answered by first taking aim at recent statements made about paid protestors:
“This is where we get into the problem about not agreeing on reality, right? If you have a group of people that really truly seem to believe that these are paid protesters that are out there... I haven’t gotten my check yet . . . If you believe . . .  that this is paid protest and somehow outside agitation, which is another phrase reminiscent of the Nixon era, then it doesn’t have an effect at all. Right? Except, just to indicate how cut off from reality the Trump White House is.”

Eventually, Cox answered Geist’s original question with: “I don't look at the street protests so much as an indicator of where the pressure point is as these town halls that are going to be happening this week and that are becoming a real focus. Much in the same way it is a little but of an equal and opposite reaction to the Tea Party. These are people who’ve actually read the Tea Party play-book and want to use those tools in the same way the Tea Party did.”

Host Joe Scarborough agreed exclaiming, “Right! And isn’t it interesting that Republicans looked at Democrats, and they were saying oh these are crazy people in 2009. They are just crazy people... Because that's all Democrats and the Obama administration... You know? They kept saying the Koch brothers are behind all these protests” Cox chimed in with, “Well the Koch brothers did fund Americans for Prosperity. There was a Koch brother aspect.” Scarborough, visibly offended, asked: “So you’re saying that the protests in 2009 were— ” Cox, backing off, interjected, “No I'm just saying there was funding — there is a parallel. You're totally right there's a parallel.”

Scarborough, continuing with his original point: “My point is, is if Democrats kept telling themselves, that’ oh this isn't real. This is funded by the Koch brothers, it’s not a grassroots type of organization and, boom!’ They get blind-sided. It seems like Republicans are doing the same thing right now.”

Now agreeing with Scarborough, Cox replied: “ The bottom line now is, it doesn't matter who gives money to the organization that helps organize this, much as Koch brothers gave it to Americans for Prosperity, that’s fine. It doesn't mean they paid the protesters. It doesn’t mean the protests aren't real.”

Co-host Mika Brzezinski joined the conversation by inviting associate editor of the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson to speak:

That actually brings us to Gene's piece, ObamaCare, because a lot of voters who might have supported Trump don't want to lose their health care. You write about ObamaCare's enduring victory. Republicans see that they have two choices. They can snatch health insurance away from millions of people or they can replace Obamacare with something that looks suspiciously like Obamacare with a different name. House Republicans have been hearing from constituents who would be bereft without the insurance they obtained under the ACA. A couple of GOP senators have even begun talking about repairing the law rather than replacing it. And whatever Congress eventually comes up will have to pass muster with Trump who promised to expand health coverage not reduce it. Republicans will win the battle over Obamacare label but Barack Obama already won the war. And if you remember he really doesn't care what you call it as long as people have it. It doesn't seem like Trump is going to take it away, Gene, from people if you listen...

Scarborough interrupted saying, “Trump gets crowds, Gene. He gets crowds. He sees those crowds at those town hall meetings.” Robinson answered:

He absolutely sees it. And guess what, Paul Ryan and house Republican leadership sees those crowds, too. And that's why the framework they came out with last week, look what's in it. No denial for pre-existing conditions. Keep your kids on the policies until they are 26. Some sort of assistance for those covered by medicaid expansion,. All things Republicans fought against tooth and nail last time and now are including in the plan just sort of as a matter of course. What President Obama did with Obamacare was, I think, completely change the terms of the debate over health care in a way that they are not going to be changed back, because stuff just isn't going to be taken away. And so that —  they are going to call it something else. Maybe Trump care, I don't know. But whatever they call it, it's going to look in terms of who it covers and how it covers them, it's going to look a lot like ObamaCare. It's going to look a lot like we've established that access to affordable health care as a right in this country not a privilege.

Brzezinski enthusiastically agreed: “And Obama gets the legacy on this. This is something no president has been able to do. And it wasn't easy and it's not perfect.” Cox added, “I am concerned that what the—   House and Senate Republicans put out so far it does look a lot like ObamaCare except it benefits wealthy and not middle class and poor. The idea they are going to give blank age related subsidies rather than income related subsidies. They are definitely changing Obamacare in a big way if they do that. So I'm concerned we're going to do exactly the opposite of what Obama would want, keep the more--” Brzezinski finished Cox’s thought with, “The neediest people getting the care that they desperately need.” Cox agreed, “Yes . . . that is what I am concerned about. And it would be fitting though if you switched the benefits to rich people and called it Trump care.”

As the segment continued, Scarborough reminded them:“They have been telling their people forever, elect us in '10, we'll get rid of ObamaCare, elect us in '14 we'll get rid of ObamaCare... Elect us in 16' we’re going to get rid of ObamaCare. But – the problem is, whatever they come up with, Donald Trump can change his mind at the last minute. He's not bought into anything.” Brzezinski grumbled, “Yeah well good luck getting re-elected” Cox, agreeing with Scarborough, said “ And he can put it on them. He could say, look, I asked you to come up with a plan and you didn't. And so blame them”

Scarborough, bringing Robinson back into the discussion: “And Gene, what he's going to find in the quote Trump revolution, is what Margaret Thatcher found. Margaret Thatcher raised hell in an extraordinary way, better than any conservative . . . She turned Britain around. And she took on the unions, she took on the male centric structure, she set London on fire. But you know what she didn't touch? National health care . . .  Talk about that because you were over there with the post at that time.” Robinson answered, “She wouldn't touch it with a barge pole as they say over there, and with good reason. One of the fascinating things is, in the plan that Paul Ryan put out last week, there are no-cost estimates. They don't even -- they don't go anywhere near the cost, because they are scared to. It's going to cost a lot of money. But Donald Trump said it's going to be cheaper and better and everybody is going to have it. So there you have it.”

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This is the exchange that took place on February 21

MSNBC-Morning Joe
7:20AM Segment
[7:25:15 - 7:36:17 ]

WILLIE GEIST: A bit of the debate in parliament yesterday over President Trump's upcoming state visit.
                    
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Wow

WILLIE GESIT: British lawmakers arguing over whether or not to withdraw the President's invitation, after a petition calling for it to be canceled was signed by more than 1.8 million people. And from coast-to-coast here in the US thousands of Americans marked the holiday weekend by participating in not my president day’s rally. Events were staged in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and more than two dozen other cities across the country. The rallies, not as big as those staged after President Trump's inauguration but the message was similar. In D.C. Hundreds held signs and chanted dump Trump. Police blocked off streets as the group marched toward White House. The events largely peaceful though in Portland Oregon several rally goers faced off with police. According to Oregonian, at least seven adults were arrested and six juveniles cited as well. Joining us now, MTV news senior political correspondent, Anna Marie Cox, good to see you.

ANNA MARIE COX: Good to see you. It’s good to be here this morning.

WILLIE GESIT: So we've seen, you know we saw the Women's March, we’ve seen a lot of activity in the streets over the last month. What is the practical impact of that on the Trump presidency?

ANNA MARIE COX: This is where we get into the problem about not agreeing on reality, right? If you have a group of people that really truly seem to believe that these are paid protesters that are out there. I mean I wonder– I haven't gotten my check yet, I don't know if you send it for benefits or what. The meetings are a mess. Let me tell you that. If you believe that there's genuinely -- that this is paid protest and somehow outside agitation, which another phrase reminiscent of the Nixon era, then it is – at all. Right? Except just to indicate how cut off from reality the Trump White House is. I don't look at the street protests so much as an indicator of where the pressure point is as these town halls that are going to be happening this week and that are becoming a real focus. Much in the same way it is a little but of an equal and opposite reaction to the tea party. These are people who’ve actually read the tea party playbook and want to use those tools in the same way the tea party did.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right! And isn’t interesting that Republicans looked at Democrats, and they were saying oh these are crazy people in 2009. They are just crazy people and this – Because that's all Democrats and the Obama administration, oh, this is–  this is this— You know? They kept saying the Koch brothers are behind all these protests- -

ANNA MARIE COX: Well the Koch brothers did fund Americans for prosperity. There was a Koch brother aspect.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So you’re saying that the protests in 2009 were --

ANNA MARIE COX: No I'm just saying there was funding — there is a parallel. You're totally right there's a parallel.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, what my point is, is if Democrats kept telling themselves, that oh this isn't real. This is funded by the Koch brothers, it’s not a grassroots type of organization and, boom! They get blind-sided. It seems like Republicans are doing the same thing right now going oh – because I get texts all the time from family members, oh, they are paying protesters. No they are not. No, they are not.

COX: And it does– and the bottom line now is, it doesn't matter who gives money to the organization that helps organize this, much as Koch brothers gave it to Americans for prosperity, that’s fine. It doesn't mean they paid the protesters. It doesn’t mean the protests aren't real. I mean if people show up on their own time to one of these things, that is a real protest. It doesn't matter.

SCARBOROUGH: Right, and well you know–  Also, Mika, you look at–  the people at the town hall meetings. You can't pay me enough you can’t pay anybody enough to go there and sit for four hours.

BRZEZINSKI: Oh those are voters. It's just not happening.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, this is grassroots.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah and that actually brings us to Gene's piece, ObamaCare, because a lot of voters who might have supported Trump don't want to lose their health care. You write about ObamaCare's enduring victory. Republicans see that they have two choices. They can snatch health insurance away from millions of people or they can replace ObamaCare with something that looks suspiciously like ObamaCare with a different name. House Republicans have been hearing from constituents who would be bereft without the insurance they obtained under the ACA. A couple of GOP senators have even begun talking about repairing the law rather than replacing it. And whatever congress eventually comes up will have to pass muster with Trump who promised to expand health coverage not reduce it. Republicans will win the battle over ObamaCare label but Barack Obama already won the war. And if you remember he really doesn't care what you call it as long as people have it. It doesn't seem like Trump is going to take it away, Gene, from people if you listen–  

SCARBOROUGH:  Trump gets crowds, Gene. He gets crowds. He sees those crowds at those town hall meetings.

GENE ROBINSON: Yeah. No. He absolutely sees it. And guess what, Paul Ryan and house Republican leadership sees those crowds, too. And that's why the framework they came out with last week, look what's in it. No denial for pre-existing conditions. Keep your kids on the policies until they are 26. Some sort of assistance for those covered by medicaid expansion,. All things Republicans fought against tooth and nail last time and now are including in the plan just sort of as a matter of course. What president Obama did with ObamaCare was, I think, completely change the terms of the debate over health care in a way that they are not going to be changed back, because stuff just isn't going to be taken away. And so that -- they are going to call it something else. Maybe Trump care, I don't know. But whatever they call it, it's going to look in terms of who it covers and how it covers them, it's going to look a lot like ObamaCare. It's going to look a lot like we've established that access to affordable health care as a right in this country not a privilege.

BRZEZINSKI: And Obama gets the legacy on this. This is something no president has been able to do. And it wasn't easy and it's not perfect.

COX: No, and I am concerned that what the–  house and senate Republicans put out so far it does look a lot like ObamaCare except it benefits wealthy and not middle class and poor. The idea they are going to give blank age related subsidies rather than income related subsidies. They are definitely changing ObamaCare in a big way if they do that. So I'm concerned we're going to do exactly the opposite of what Obama would want, keep the more --

BRZEZINSKI: The neediest people getting the care that they desperately need.

COX: Yes. Exac– that is what I am concerned about. And it would be fitting though if you switched the benefits to rich people and called it Trump care.

RICK TYLER: To be fair to Republicans, it's always harder, right, to take things away. It's relatively easy pr to say we're going to give you this, cover this in the government program, it is astronomically harder to say we are going to take this away. And thats why this whole debate about you have to have a replacement plan, another government solution because free market solutions are so out of favor, profit is so out of favor. Letting the market work is so out of favor. It's a very difficult thing I think.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah – for people with no voice.

SCARBOROUGH: Well – and actually it rubs against assurances of ObamaCare, which is–  a guarantee. You are going to get this guarantee.

TYLER: Right–  No matter how bad your coverage is.

SCARBOROUGH: And it's going to push up against free market principles at some point because that's what a guarantee is. And I think Republicans are in a mess right now. Because whatever Paul Ryan and Mitch Mcconnell and the smartest men and women in the room come up with, if they put it out this and the town hall meetings explode, Donald Trump is going to see that–

BRZEZINSKI: Why are they doing this first?

SCARBOROUGH: Why are they doing this first?

BRZEZINSKI: Because they can?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, It doesn't get any easier.

BRZEZINSKI: It's going to be disastrous, though.

COX: And Trump is setting them up perfectly.

SCARBOROUGH: And by the way, they have been telling their people forever, elect us in '10, we'll get rid of ObamaCare, elect us in '14 we'll get rid of ObamaCare.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah well good luck getting re-elected.

SCARBOROUGH: Elect us in 16' we’re going to get rid of ObamaCare. But – the problem is, whatever they come up with, Donald Trump can change his mind at the last minute. He's not bought into anything.

COX: And he can put it on them. He could say, look, I asked you to come up with a plan and you didn't. And so blame them.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah but this does not guarantee a better health care system-

COX: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: That's cheaper and reverses male pattern baldness and makes every 5'4" person 5'10". That's whey promised the people they would do.

TYLER: That what politicians –  they always promise

GESIT: This was a core campaign promise domestically for Donald Trump, we are going to repeal and replace ObamaCare. And there were a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump whose premiums went up for whom this was the thing they voted-

COX: There was also of people who voted for Donald Trump who didn't realize they were on ObamaCare.

BRZEZINSKI: We were also going to build a wall, and now it’s a fence.

SCARBOROUGH: But see there’s the rub though – there’s the rub. Republicans want to get rid of ObamaCare because it does great violence to their---

COX: World view

SCARBOROUGH: Ideological belief, right? Donald Trump's promise had nothing to do with ideological beliefs, it was you're going to get better service and it's going to be cheaper.

BRZEZINSKI: It was all about service.

SCARBOROUGH: You're going to get better service and it's going to be cheaper. And as we all said in the campaign, that will cost billions and billions of dollars--

COX: I can appreciate that. See people always forget the socialism part of national socialism. Like, that they forget that  – Trumps ideology, populism is -- it's socialisty.

TYLER: No, that is– It’s Populist.

COX: Nationalism and socialism go together historically. There's a socialism component of it. Donald Trump has no problem with government spending clearly.

SCARBOROUGH:  None.

COX: If it were up to him he–  

TYLER: Replace and replace ObamaCare.

SCARBOROUGH: And Gene, what he's going to find in the quote Trump revolution is what Margaret thatcher found -- Margaret thatcher raised hell in an extraordinary way, better than any conservative. I mean– She turned Britain around. And she took on the unions, she took on the male centric structure, she set London on fire. But you know what she didn't touch? National health care.

 ROBINSON: National health care

 SCARBOROUGH: National health care! You were there! And Maggie said we are going to war! But you get to keep your health care.

BRZEZINSKI: And men are vegetables.

SCARBOROUGH: Talk about that because you were over there with the post at that time.

ROBINSON: She wouldn't touch it with a barge pole as they say over there, and with good reason. One of the fascinating things is , in the plan that Paul Ryan put out last week, there are no cost estimates. They don't even -- they don't go anywhere near the cost, because they are scared to. It's going to cost a lot of money. But Donald Trump said it's going to be cheaper and better and everybody is going to have it. So there you have it.

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