Talking to Newsweek's Richard Wolffe, Matthews cited a Marist poll showing little appetite for cuts to the program. After noticing that the highest level of support for reductions comes from self-identified Tea Partiers, the host smeared, "And the only one the Tea Party people want to cut is Medicaid because it's for poor people and minorities."
Speaking for these Americans, he added, "That's how they see it at least." On Wednesday , Matthews made the same point, attacking, "...The only cuts that [Tea Partiers] seem to want are the cuts for the poor people."
The cable anchor complained, "Strong, zealous Tea Party people have brought themselves to willingness to cut poor people. That doesn't surprise me..."
A transcript of the April 21 exchange, which occurred at 5:41pm EDT, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Here's a Marist poll we showed yesterday. Let's take a look at it. Nobody wants to cut Medicare or Medicaid. Now, look at these care numbers. I find it fascinating. Hold that first number up there. [Graph onscreen: Democrat support to cut Medicare at 5% Tea party support: 28%.] If you are the President of the United States and you are a Democrat, you are protecting Democrats here. Look, five percent say no Medicaid deal on the deficit. None at all though. You go to the Republican side and they don't want it. And- To me, Richard Wolffe, I just don't see the numbers here for any kind of dramatic cuts in these programs. People love Medicare. And the only one the Tea Party people want to cut is Medicaid because it's for poor people and minorities. That's how they see it at least.
RICHARD WOLFFE: You do not have to be a high paid strategist to figure out where a politician running for election needs to be on this issue. And that does sort of raise, sort of, questions about how serious people are when they say they want to cut spending. But the bigger issue, the sort of meta issue here, is are the voters ready for sort of another big change to the system? After two wars, after an economic collapse, after health care, are they ready for this debate about the social safety net and Medicare. Obviously, Paul Ryan is banking big time that they are. But, all the evidence is that people want things to calm down. That's why the voted for divided government. A big plan like this really opens you up to a big threat.
MATTHEWS: It sounds radical.