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MSNBC's Matthews Rants: Paul Ryan's Plan Will 'Kill Half the People Who Watch This Show'

While discussing Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare on Monday, Hardball host Chris Matthews smeared the Republican congressman, trashing his idea as something that is "going to kill half the people who watch this show." [MP3 audio here.]

Matthews, along with liberal guests Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, dismissed Ryan's reform goals. Fineman hyperventilated, "The good thing for the President is the Paul Ryan Medicare plan, because it makes people angry. And, first of all, it scares seniors." Matthews lobbied, "Yes. Well, it should."

Fineman defined scaring seniors as a "valid reason" for such talk from the White House. The panel then discussed the plan, which puts caps on what the government will pay, while exempting those 55 and older.

A giddy Matthews cheered, "So, the plan is the President says, look, let them offer a big slash in Medicare,' which is going to kill half the people who watch this show."

A transcript of the April 11 segment, which aired at, follows:

HOWARD FINEMAN: The good thing for the president is the Paul Ryan Medicare plan, because it makes people angry. And, first of all, it scares seniors.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, it should.

FINEMAN: Yes, and it should. But, at the same time, it exempts 55 and over, so it's going to really annoy younger people who are going to at some point get - supposed to get the Medicare benefits- 40 to 55-

MATTHEWS: Howard, you know- you're close to me in age. Let me just point this out.

FINEMAN: Yes. Right.

MATTHEWS: Most people who follow the news and watch the newspapers every day and watch television shows like this on FOX or this network, MSNBC, or anywhere, on CNN, they- those most attuned to this debate over the budget are either retired or close to it.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They are very sensitive to the fact that they have planned in their retirement that their medical costs will be covered by their Medicare plan. They don't have to save $20 million so they can pay for their medical expenses when they get older, right, which are going to get more costly as they get older. Right? Which is going to get more costly as they get older. The federal government promised that back in the '60s, that they would take care of people who have worked their whole life for their medical costs. Now the Republicans are saying, no, no, we're not going to do that anymore.

FINEMAN: I totally agree. My only point was, in addition to scaring everybody for those very valid reasons..

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: It's not going to win points among younger people below 55 either.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

FINEMAN: Because they're going to turn it into the plan where you only get a certain amount of money.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: In other words, all the changes are going to be for those younger people. So they're the ones who ultimately will get screwed.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Here's your Borders book $10 gift certificate that's going to pay for your million dollar health care costs. It's a joke.

WOLFFE: Right. But here's the perverse thing. For a start, the age exemption didn't work for Bush when it came to Social Security.

MATTHEWS: It went nowhere.

WOLFFE: So they know that's political-

MATTHEWS: Why? Because people don't hear this?

FINEMAN: They don't hear it. They don't hear it.

WOLFFE: They don't hear it. But that's a political opportunity that, perversely, this White House is not going to leap on right now. There may be lots of people in the Senate on the Democrats' side who say, let's use it as a political football, but this president...

MATTHEWS: Well, they're saving it for November.

WOLFFE: This President - no, no. The president is going to say, if there's a deal out there, let's do it, but the deal has to be reasonable; the deal has to include taxes. What's unreasonable...

MATTHEWS: This is smart. In other words, don't- Don't let it be dead on arrival.

WOLFFE: No.

MATTHEWS: Let the Republican sit out there, sit out there, as the basis for a compromise. They're that smart? They're that smart?

WOLFFE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They're that smart?

WOLFFE: They are smart enough to play that game, but they're going to say, if you are serious about deficits, you cannot leave taxes off the table.

MATTHEWS: Okay. Will that ever sell with the country? Will the Congress ever adopt a combination of some modification or cost-cutting, which we know has to come into place, somehow squeeze the costs of Medicare- medical costs, and a tax increase for people who can afford it, as a- as a more democratic, a more fair way to deal with this problem? Will they get that through and signed by the president, or is that just a posture?

HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, I think it's a possibility but they'll be glad to talk about it for the next few months. The one thing the president doesn't want to do is talk about tax increases in isolation.

MATTHEWS: Fair enough. I'm with you.

FINEMAN: As Richard was saying, you've got - you can't - that won't work for Democrats, even if you're just going to tax rich people. You have to put it in the context of a plan.

MATTHEWS: Okay. You guys are so smart. I'm with the smart people here.

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, the plan is the President says, look, let them offer a big slash in Medicare,' which is going to kill half the people who watch this show.

- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.