MSNBC Host Urges U.S. Senate to Block Wisconsin ‘GOP Power Grab’

Apparently MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson has forgotten the concept of federalism. At least that’s the way in appeared on Thursday, when she suggested that the United States Senate should somehow intervene in a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over changes to the state government in Wisconsin.

In the wake of network news accusing Wisconsin Republican state lawmakers of staging a “legislative coup” against the incoming Democratic governor, on her 10 a.m. ET hour cable news show Thursday, Jackson declared: “The election’s over, Democrats won....now, the Republican Party there is looking to limit how much power those Democrats will get....Democrats accuse the GOP of being sore losers, ignoring the will of the voters to do what they want.”

The headline on screen warned of a “GOP power grab” within the state government.

 

 

The host began a softball interview with Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin by wondering if the federal lawmaker would put pressure on incumbent Governor Scott Walker to veto any legislation limiting his successor’s authority: “Governor-Elect Evers says he was planning to call Governor Walker overnight to urge him to veto this. Have you spoken personally with Governor Walker?”

In part, Baldwin responded by using the death of President George H.W. Bush to scold the state GOP:

I have to just say, I am so struck with the big contrast that I’m looking at. Yesterday I attended the funeral services for President George H.W. Bush. And a lot of focus was made on the letter that he left to his successor on his desk, that basically he said, “You are now the president for all of us and I’m rooting for your success.” And I think about what’s happening in Wisconsin and what sort of note essentially Governor Walker is leaving for his successor.

Jackson followed up by urging some unspecified action by the U.S. Senate: “We know there are some legal options available if Governor Walker does move forward with this sweeping proposal, does sign this bill into law. But what, if anything, can you do, can the Senate do, if that happens? Do you have options?”

After Baldwin focused entirely on the possibility of filing legal challenges, Jackson pressed: “But it sounds like what you’re saying, Senator, just so I can understand, is that this has got to really be up to the courts. There’s not much that you, as a sitting senator, and that this body can do in Washington.”

Jackson then teed up Baldwin to demand that House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin native, get involved in the controversy:

There are other high-profile from Wisconsin, including one with a national platform who is a Republican, House Speaker Paul. When asked by the Huffington Post if Speaker Ryan had any comment on what’s happening in the state that he is from, that he knows, as spokesperson replied “I don’t have anything for you.” Do you think Paul Ryan should be stepping up and addressing this in any way, or more than he is now?

Again, Baldwin invoked the late President Bush in her talking points: “Well, I do think that this is about leadership and this is – he, too, was at the funeral service yesterday for President George H.W. Bush. He, too, knows about the concept of when power peaceably moves from one person to another and one party to another...”

Jackson wrapped up the segment by observing: “Senator Tammy Baldwin, I appreciate you joining us to talk about this big issue happening, not just in your state but on the national level, too.”

How is a partisan political fight in a state government a “big issue” on the “national level”? Jackson never actually explain what action she thought the legislative branch of the federal government should take to address partisan divisions in the state government of Wisconsin – talk about a power grab.

Here is a full transcript of Jackson’s December 6 interview with Baldwin:

10:39 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: But in Wisconsin, it’s a different story, right? The election’s over, Democrats won. They beat the Republican incumbent in the races for governor and AG. Okay, well, now, the Republican Party there is looking to limit how much power those Democrats will get. With a proposal on the desk of Governor Scott Walker right now that would prevent the guy who’s replacing him, Governor-Elect Tony Evers, from pulling the state out of a federal lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, limit early voting, and it would be lawmakers, not the governor, would control most appointments to an economic development board.

Republicans say they’re trying to course correct after Walker amassed too much power. But Democrats accuse the GOP of being sore losers, ignoring the will of the voters to do what they want. Joining me now to talk about this, somebody who knows the state well, Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Senator Baldwin, thank you very much for being with us.

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN [D-WI]: It’s a pleasure.

JACKSON: Governor-Elect Evers says he was planning to call Governor Walker overnight to urge him to veto this. Have you spoken personally with Governor Walker?

BALDWIN: I have not since this legislative attempt to disrespect the will of the voters started to take place quite recently. You know, the measures were introduced on Friday night and action begun on Monday morning.

And – but, you know, I have to just say, I am so struck with the big contrast that I’m looking at. Yesterday I attended the funeral services for President George H.W. Bush. And a lot of focus was made on the letter that he left to his successor on his desk, that basically he said, “You are now the president for all of us and I’m rooting for your success.” And I think about what’s happening in Wisconsin and what sort of note essentially Governor Walker is leaving for his successor.

Tony Evers is going to be the governor for all of Wisconsin and we should be rooting for his success and not taking away his powers and authority to make good on the very things that Wisconsinites voted for him to accomplish.

JACKSON: We know there are some legal options available if Governor Walker does move forward with this sweeping proposal, does sign this bill into law. But what, if anything, can you do, can the Senate do, if that happens? Do you have options?

BALDWIN: Yeah, well, first of all, let me just talk about there are several different measures. One measure would restrict access to the polls by early voting. We saw this, many of the same legislators, vote to restrict access to the ballot box several years back and a federal court actually overturned that part that relates to early voting. I have every reason to believe that voting rights advocacy groups are going to bring this to court. And since they’re reviewing a very similar measure, I think that I’m very encouraged by the likelihood of success. Some of the other issues have to deal with separation of powers.

JACKSON: Right.

BALDWIN: We’ve seen courts elsewhere in the country, North Carolina in particular, take up similar cases. I do believe that the legislature is overreaching and really just disrespecting the voters of my state.

JACKSON: But it sounds like what you’re saying, Senator, just so I can understand, is that this has got to really be up to the courts. There’s not much that you, as a sitting senator, and that this body can do in Washington. Is that a fair summation?

BALDWIN: Well, I would say I take a little issue with that. One of the big issues that’s being focused on is the issue of health care. And I know I was in my own campaign for re-election as the governor was – Governor-Elect, Tony Evers was running –

JACKSON: Right.

BALDWIN: We were both talking a lot about the need to protect people with pre-existing health conditions, the need to, you know, dispense with that would rip away health care coverage for millions of Americans. And so, there are ways in which I could team up with the incoming governor to address the issues, the subject matter, but not necessarily reverse what the state legislature has just done.

JACKSON: Senator, let me ask you this. You are obviously a high-profile person from Wisconsin, you are a Democrat. There are other high-profile from Wisconsin, including one with a national platform who is a Republican, House Speaker Paul. When asked by the Huffington Post if Speaker Ryan had any comment on what’s happening in the state that he is from, that he knows, as spokesperson replied “I don’t have anything for you.” Do you think Paul Ryan should be stepping up and addressing this in any way, or more than he is now?

BALDWIN: Well, I do think that this is about leadership and this is – he, too, was at the funeral service yesterday for President George H.W. Bush. He, too, knows about the concept of when power peaceably moves from one person to another and one party to another that we ought to be supporting and rooting for that person for the success of all of us. And I hope that Speaker Ryan is still as invested as he ever was in the success of Wisconsin. So I think he absolutely should speak up about this.

JACKSON: Senator Tammy Baldwin, I appreciate you joining us to talk about this big issue happening, not just in your state but on the national level, too. Thank you.         

BALDWIN: Thank you.


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