Guests: Barbara Lee, Spencer Ackerman, Amy Klobuchar, Luis Gutierrez,
Reihan Salam, Adam Serwer, David Sirota, Kim Bobo
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to THE ED SHOW. I‘m Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”, in for Ed Schultz.
These are the stories that are hot tonight.
No news is bad news, at least when it comes to General David Petraeus‘ confirmation hearing and the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Why are Democrats so willing to swallow the nebulous conditions-based withdrawal answer on Afghanistan when they opposed it had so vehemently in Iraq? I‘ll ask Congresswoman Barbara Lee about that, coming up.
Forgetting Thurgood Marshall. Elena Kagan disappoints Republican senators when she reminds them that she is indeed a living, breathing Supreme Court nominee and not in fact the reanimated corps of the legendary justice and civil rights attorney.
And House Minority Leader John Boehner makes an extraordinary comment, likening the worst financial crisis in 80 years to an ant, a small, innocuous, inconsequential insect you brush off when it crawls up your picnic table. Amazing.
But we start tonight with General David Petraeus, whose wife has to be just about the unluckiest spouse in politics right now, who is back on the Hill today before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing to take over the command of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from General Stanley McChrystal.
It was a relatively perfunctory affair. Petraeus reaffirmed over and over again there was no daylight (ph) between him and the president and that there was a change in personnel but no change in strategy, and that the deadline for the beginning of drawdown of U.S. troops, July 2011, would be conditions-based.
Now, that sound familiar? It‘s because it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Force level adjustments are based on conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground and the judgment of our military commanders on the scene, not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C.
BUSH: Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, in its current Afghanistan incarnation, the conditions-based withdrawal is that often sought-after beltway sweet spot of leaving both the Left and the Right disgruntled. Many Democrats want a firmer commitment to withdrawal, as Nancy Pelosi indicated yesterday, and any timeline whatsoever still ticks off Republicans, like John McCain, who made his unhappiness about that today known.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: If the president would say that success in Afghanistan is our only withdrawal plan, whether we reach it before July, 2011 or afterwards, he would make the war more winnable.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: It is important to note the president‘s reminder in recent days that July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits and turns out the lights.
SEN. JACK REED (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: So that you‘re fully supportive of the president‘s policy, including beginning a transition based upon the conditions on the ground in July of 2011?
PETRAEUS: To make it very clear, if I could, Senator, not only did I say that I support it, I said that I agreed with it.
HAYES: Now, if it‘s conditions we‘re waiting on, then we have to be honest about the fact that most metrics suggest they are deteriorating. And, even more troubling, is the people closest to the fighting, fighting the war, more or less acknowledge the conditions probably wouldn‘t get any better.
In the infamous “Rolling Stone” article, it was Major General Bill Mayville who serves as Chief of Operations for McChrystal, or did, at least. He said of the war, it‘s not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win.
So, to summarize, we will get out when things get better. Things are not getting better. Rinse and repeat.
Tell us what you think in our telephone survey. The number to dial is 877-ED-MSNBC. Our question tonight is do you think having General Petraeus in charge will change anything in Afghanistan? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no. I‘ll bring you the results later in the show.
OK. Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California, Vice Chair of the Progressive Caucus and the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining me.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Pleasure to be with you.
HAYES: Congresswoman, I‘m wondering if you are sensing in your conversations with your colleagues, and we‘re limited to the House side for now, if there is a growing sense of unease about the direction of the war and - and whether you‘re going - you‘re seeing movement among your colleagues towards a position in which you are not going to authorize the supplemental bill that‘s going to be coming up shortly?
LEE: Nine years ago, the American people were told we were going into Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden and to stop al Qaeda. As I‘ve said before, and you know this, this has been the longest war in American history.
What I see taking place now is the debate that we should have had nine years ago when I voted against such a broad authorization for an endless war, which is what that resolution did. I see now that debate beginning.
We recently have communicated with the president our sense of - of concern in terms of the timetable. We said we want to see an exit strategy, a timeline. We want clarity on this policy, and, quite frankly, yes, many members now are beginning to say what some of us said many, many years ago. This debate is just beginning, and I think you‘re going to see a lot of war weariness within the House of Representatives.
The American people are tired of this. The more money we spend, the - the cost of this war, when you look at what‘s happening in our own communities, in our own country, the American people are tired.
I think it‘s important to recognize that the generals will continue to ask for more money, more time and a longer period of - of keeping our troops in Afghanistan. If it‘s going bad, if it‘s going good, they‘re going to ask for the same thing.
So this is an endless war. We must begin to extricate ourselves from it and begin to look at how we can help develop a political solution to what has been a war without end.
HAYES: Well, but here‘s the question, right? I mean, it seems like if - if what‘s coming from the White House sounds like a sort of broken record, I mean, the same thing seems to be happening in Congress. I mean, and - and you deserve tremendous credit for a very courageous vote, originally, on this matter.
But - but the fact of the matter is, you know, ultimately, Congress does control the purse strings, and the question at the end of the day is the White House has signaled they‘re not going to change, and the endorsement of Petraeus shows that. You know, Congress has - has to come up with the money, and ultimately Congress does have the ability to cut that money off.
Is that something that you can see Congress doing, because, as it stands now, I think the White House thinks they‘re going to - they‘re going to buckle when the time comes?
LEE: Debate - the debate has just begun. We‘re not saying that this is going to happen tomorrow. I wish it would.
But when you look at what we‘re doing in terms of the supplemental, I don‘t support any escalation in funding. Actually, I‘m taking my amendment to the rules committee. Hopefully it would be made an order, which says that no additional funds for the surge in Afghanistan. Congressman McGovern is putting forth his amendment to say let‘s develop an exit strategy and begin to bring our young men and women home.
And so, I think what we‘re witnessing now is the debate that is beginning. My chair, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, has proposed a freeze of $3 billion, when you look at the corruption that‘s taken place as it relates to development assistance.
So we have to have some answers. We have to have some clarity, and I think now is the time for the American people to let their members of Congress know they want some answers, they want some clarity, and, in fact, the polls show us that they‘re really ready to say it‘s time to end this occupation, which is what it is, and bring our young men and women home.
HAYES: It does - it does seem like public opinion is ultimately going to be hopefully dis-positive in this, and I - I commend you for pointing that out.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee from the great State of California, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
LEE: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. For more on this, we‘re going to go to Spencer Ackerman, senior reporter for Wired.com‘s “Danger Room” blog, which is excellent, and a new post from Mr. Ackerman. You should definitely check it out.
Spencer, how you doing?
SPENCER ACKERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, WIRED.COM: It‘s great to be here with you, Chris.
HAYES: Good to see you.
So what did you make of - of the Petraeus testimony today? I mean, it seems like if you‘re - if you‘re David Petraeus, right, after all the stir and drag over (ph) from McChrystal, mission one today was don‘t make any news, and he - and he seemed to do a decent job of it.
ACKERMAN: And mission number two was signal that the administration is completely united, that July 2011 is the strategy going forward, and that the administration‘s political allies just simply can‘t shake him from believing that that‘s the right thing to do.
HAYES: Yes. And it seemed you got pressed on that. You wrote up on
on the “Danger Room” blog about the fact that this was something that you had to reiterate over and over again, but I think there is substantial disagreement about what conditions-based withdrawal means, don‘t you think?
ACKERMAN: Yes, exactly. I mean, it‘s the sort of thing where right now the term gets bandied around a lot, but what it means is - is really up for grabs, and the president pretty much decided he agrees with General Petraeus by picking him to go to Afghanistan, that it‘s really going to be, in substance, a slow walk strategy for transitioning the Afghan security withdraw - security control and bringing troops out after July 2011.
But as - as someone said at the - at the hearing today, he‘s sort of winking with his left eye at his progressive base that the withdrawal is going to be more substantial, so not only do you have, as you said earlier in this segment, the administration trying to sort of anger both the Left and the Right and find his beltway sweet spot, but also, from a strategy perspective, he‘s trying to have the benefits of showing that it‘s not really going to be an endless war but it‘s also not going to come to a close anytime soon, whatever that means.
HAYES: Right, which does seem like - it does seem like deja vu in certain respects.
Let‘s talk for a second about the counterinsurgency, you know, coin which is, of course, a - a sort of military doctrine that Petraeus was instrumental in developing in its current context as deployed in Iraq. You‘ve reported on it a great deal, wrote a great series for “The Washington Independent” about it.
I wonder, are we - are we going to reach any point of coin backlash? I mean, I think coin - what happened in Iraq has sort of given the coinistas, as they‘re called, this sort of confidence, and Petraeus is obviously the guy who kind of started that. Do you sense amongst your sources any beginnings to backlash that says no, actually there‘s only so much we can do with this approach?
ACKERMAN: You started to see some of that in military circles when the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Admiral Olson, who‘s, you know, real, you know, go out and - and find the terrorists and neutralize them type, made a point of saying that he found counterinsurgency to be a really insufficient strategy, that it has to do more of what he sort of jocularly called countering the insurgents, which is to say you find these people, you take them out.
ACKERMAN: All this population protection stuff, you know, maybe, maybe not, but let‘s keep our eye on the ball here.
But you heard Petraeus say today you can‘t just apply the rote lessons of Iraq, whatever they may be, to Afghanistan. These are different places.
So I think it still remains to be seen.
HAYES: The rote lessons of Iraq being stop going to war.
Spencer Ackerman, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
ACKERMAN: So great to see you, Chris.
HAYES: All right.
Coming up, Elena Kagan showed off her legal jujitsu skills in front of the Senate today. Republicans need to find (ph) a new line of attack.
And John Boehner is sounding off. He‘s crying for big business and saying the financial crisis was an ant that Congress killed with a nuclear weapon. My panel responds.
All that, plus tropical storm Alex threatens oil containment in the gulf. And FOX News apparently has a problem with enforcing the law.
You‘re watching ED SHOW on MSNBC.
HAYES: Coming up, the clock ticks on the Obama administration‘s lawsuit against Arizona‘s anti-immigration law. President Obama will give a speech Thursday about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
Today, he met with Congressional Hispanic Caucus members, and Congressman Gutierrez was there. He‘s going to join me at the bottom of the hour.
Stay with us.
HAYES: Welcome back.
Today was day two of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. As I mentioned yesterday, full disclosure, my wife works for the White House Counsel‘s Office.
Now, Kagan today proved she‘s schooled in the art of self-defense as Republican senators threw every bizarre, tenuous bank shot attack they had at her and even extorted a match note from her.
SEN. JON KYL ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There‘s a big guy that has the law on his side. The big guy wins. If the little guy does and the little guy wins, and that‘s consistent with - with what Justice Marshall believed.
ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I don‘t want to spend a - a whole lot of time trying to figure out exactly what Justice Marshall would have said, with respect to any question, because the most important thing - I loved Justice Marshall. He did an enormous amount for me. But, if you confirm me to this position, you‘ll get Justice Kagan. You wouldn‘t get Justice Marshall.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I‘m troubled by the fact that you hold up Judge Barak to be a judicial role model. You‘ve called him your, quote-unquote, “judicial hero”.
KAGAN: Well, I don‘t think that‘s a secret. I am Jewish. The State of Israel has - has meant a lot to me and my family, and - and I admire Justice Barak for what he‘s done for the State of Israel and ensuring an independent judiciary.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If you don‘t mind my request, write a letter to me, as short or as long as you like it, about Miguel Estrada.
KAGAN: I would be pleased to do that, Senator Graham.
HAYES: As short or as long as you like it.
Perhaps the most notable thing to report from today‘s hearing is that Kagan is, as advertised, really a charmer. The nominee who once derided this process as, quote, “vapid and hollow” was no doubt probably and possibly justifiably in for a cold reception. But today, Kagan displayed the disarming ease, wit and knack for a well-timed joke that have made her so uniformly well-liked by her colleagues in other endeavors.
Of course, beyond that, we still didn‘t get that much of an indication of what kind of justice she‘d make, although she does support letting cameras into the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: From all perspectives, televising would be a good idea.
It means I‘d have to get my hair done more often, Senator Specter.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Let - let me commend you on - let me commend you on that last comment, and I say that seriously. You have shown a really admirable sense of humor, and I think that is really important. And as Senator Schumer said yesterday, we‘re looking for somebody who can moderate the court, and a little humor would do them a lot of good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, thanks so much for joining me.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, thanks, Chris. It‘s great to be with you on THE ED SHOW, although you look a little different than Ed.
HAYES: Well, he‘s getting some much deserved rest.
HAYES: Can I ask you, you know, I know that you‘re - you‘re not going to want to rag on your colleagues, but did you find that exchange in which Senator Graham basically solicit a note of support for Miguel Estrada to be a bizarre one?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, when you listen to Senator Graham‘s entire exchange with Solicitor General Kagan, I think he was really quite impressive. (INAUDIBLE) obviously his command of the law and some of the issues that he talked about, but also he was incredibly positive and looked for the good in her and where they had points of common agreement. I think it was very positive for her confirmation process when you have those kinds of words coming from someone as conservative as Lindsey Graham.
As far as this letter, it really - I‘m sure he‘s just trying to get
her to confirm in writing what she said very clearly at the hearing, which
was that they had been friends in law school, that they had sat next to
each other, that she thought that he would have made a good justice and
that she appreciated the support that he gave her. I don‘t think it was -
it was a little odd, but I don‘t think it was a big deal at the hearing, so
I - I want -
I did want to say, what you said earlier, just her charm. She‘s been going at this, it may be 10 hours today, and she continues to sort of disarm these senators from the Right and Left. It‘s not that easy to disarm Arlen Specter with her charm.
Probably one of the more interesting moments was when Senator Graham actually said - was going down the road of some serious questions about the Christmas Day bombing and asked her where she was on Christmas and said kind of paused and said, what do you - no, he said, where were you? And she said, well, like all Jews, I was at a Chinese restaurant. And everyone thought she was joking but she said, no, I really was at a Chinese restaurant.
So, I mean, she was quite incredibly charming and smart throughout this whole thing, and really was never stumped once.
HAYES: Was there anything that came out of General Kagan today that surprised you, whether sort of jurisprudentially, questions she didn‘t answer that you were not anticipating?
KLOBUCHAR: I didn‘t know that she was going to come out so strongly for cameras in the courtroom. I thought that was great. I must sponsor that legislation. That was a nice surprise. I also thought that the way she handled the military recruitment at Harvard was very good, when she talked about how she had actually - the only time during the whole process where she teared up was when she read the letter from the soldier who was at the law school when he wrote a letter to piece for the newspaper in which he went on and on about how she was so supportive of veterans at the law school, and I thought that that was a sort of a surprising moment and nice touch.
HAYES: I noticed today she - she declined to - there was a very interesting exchange between her and Senator Graham. I think we actually have a piece of tape we‘re going to play you right here.
KLOBUCHAR: All right.
KAGAN: One could imagine a system in which because of the duration of this war it was necessary to ensure that enemy combatants continuing dangerousness. That is a question that I think has not been answered by the court.
GRAHAM: Do you believe it would serve this country well if the Congress tried to work with the Executive Branch to provide answers to that question and others?
KAGAN: Whether the Congress and the president work together, that courts should take note of that, that courts should - when - when that occurs, the action is at - it ought to be given the most deference.
HAYES: Now, in terms of executive power which has been something that a lot of people have spoken about in the run up to this, I‘m wondering what you are looking for out of General Kagan and her responses about questions like is the whole world a battlefield? How should we handle enemy combatants, et cetera?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think, here you saw that she was being cautious. This is an issue that can come before the court and she wasn‘t going to opine at that moment about how she thought that should end up. I think that question was more directed at when Congress and the president are in general agreement and can work something out, which is what one of the things that Senator Graham has been trying to do, that the court would give it greater deference, and she was acknowledging that in other rulings that that is the case.
So I think in - when you look at her record as a whole, you see one of balance. She said many times she was taking the positions of the administration.
My questions tomorrow, because these questions will continue, will be focused, one, on her work experience. I don‘t think people have asked about that enough. When you look at someone‘s whole life, I think it‘s good to look at their approaches and how that‘s going to influence what kind of judge they are, and then secondly some of the criminal issues.
I used to be a prosecutor, so I think there‘s been some cases that I don‘t think have been very practical, and one of the things I love about her that you could see during today‘s long questioning is that she is a pragmatist. She is practical, and she looks at sort of common sense solutions to problems.
HAYES: Pragmatism reigns supreme. Senator Klobuchar, thank you so much for joining me tonight. I really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, it was just great to be on. Thank you very much.
Have a good day.
HAYES: And enjoy - enjoy your shot tomorrow.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, John Boehner wants you to forget that whole financial crisis thing ever happened. Today, he compared the financial crisis to an ant, and I‘m going to debunk it. Next.
HAYES: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
House Minority Leader John Boehner unleashed a torrent of attacks on President Obama and the Democrats in an interview with “The Pittsburgh Tribune Review” yesterday. He also explained why Tea Party nation is so angry at the majority party. Boehner said, quote, “They are snuffing out America that I grew up in. Right now we‘ve got more Americans engaged in their government than at any time in our history. There‘s a political rebellion brewing, and I don‘t think we‘ve seen anything like it since 1776.”
Boehner went on to rail against what the - what he calls Obamacare and promised to repeal the law, if he gets his hand on the speaker‘s gavel. Boehner criticized the president for overreacting to the oil spill in the gulf because of his moratorium on deepwater drilling. Minority leader also thinks Congress overreached when House and Senate negotiators reached a tentative deal on financial reform. Boehner said, quote, “This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon”, end quote.
Now, Boehner isn‘t alone in attempting to minimize the financial crisis. Fact of the matter is as soon as the bankers and the big shots were in the clear, when the bonuses started flowing on Wall Street and politicians could hit their fund-raising goals again, the establishment suddenly lost that sense of panicked urgency they had when in the fall of 2008 it looked like the entire crown jewel of American capitalism was swirling around the drain.
Let‘s keep this in perspective. The baroque Ponzi scheme in which Wall Street engaged precipitated a recession that has, as I speak to you right now, left eight million people without jobs, 8.4 million people without jobs, three million homes foreclosed on, and as of 2008 at least a million more people living in poverty. And just today scared consumers are raising more worries of a double-dip recession.
The folks that number among those millions don‘t think this recession is just an ant or a bump in the road. For them, it is an existential crisis, the death of life dreams. For John Boehner and so many of his colleagues this doesn‘t amount to that big a deal because it‘s not their ox being gored. I live in Washington which has one of the strongest regional economies in the country, and I can tell you the boom times are back.
The only way to wake the American elite establishment out of its complacency about the slow motion disaster of the great recession is for the people getting hammered by it to organize and to interrupt this ruling class idol, to remind the people in power that the crisis isn‘t over and the real danger isn‘t overreaction, it is the sin of forgetting, the threat of failing to use this moment to fix a dangerously broken economy.
Coming up, it‘s down to the wire in Arizona. President Obama will give a speech on immigration Thursday, but no major announcement is expected. Congressman Gutierrez wants action now. He met with the president today and joins me ahead. And a big setback for supporters of the financial reform bill, they‘ve lost Senator Scott Brown. He pulled support because he says it will mean higher taxes. Will it pass? My panel weighs in. All that plus Vice President Biden towers the gulf and the DNC wants you to capture the crazy talk coming from Republicans.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
HAYES: Welcome back to the Ed Show. I‘m Chris Hayes in for Ed Schultz. The Battleground story tonight. We‘re down to the wire on challenging Arizona‘s immigration law. The Justice Department has exactly one month to file a lawsuit against Arizona and request to stay before its harsh papers please law goes into effect. Arizona‘s Republican Governor Jan Brewer claims the state only took action because the Federal government failed to. President Obama says, he is trying to take action. He wants comprehensive immigration reform and is meeting this week with reform advocates. But it remains to me seemed just how much political capital the White House is willing to spend, and, of course, the president can‘t do it alone. In order to fix our broken immigration system, some brave republicans in the senate particularly need to step up and convince a few other folks on the GOP side to come along.
For more, let me bring in Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a member of the Spanish caucus. He met with the president today to discuss immigration reform. So, I‘m going to resist the urge to ask him about Carlos Zambrano‘s meltdown and the cubbies. Congressman, thank you for joining me.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Chris, for resisting the urge.
HAYES: So tell me, give me the lowdown on what happened in this meeting. What was the tenor of it, and what did the president have to say?
GUTIERREZ: The president wants to garner all the different supporters
and sectors for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe to refocus and
re-energize us all and get us to the goal of passage of a comprehensive
immigration bill. He‘s going to begin—he‘s begun that process by calling in different constituent groups to discuss different tactics, strategy to get us there, and he‘s going to begin, I believe it‘s American University, this Thursday morning in which he will make an evaluation of the present state of where comprehensive immigration reform is at and why he believes it‘s an urgent issue that Americans refocus on.
HAYES: Congressman, if you had to rank what the obstacles are, I mean, originally I think there was hope of getting something, you know, before the mid-terms on comprehensive immigration reform, certainly a vote. If had you to rank what the obstacles are, I mean, do you think that the White House has expended insufficient capital? Is it democrats who are a little skittish about taking a hard vote on this, or is it republican obstruction?
GUTIERREZ: I think it‘s all of the above actually. You‘ve named them all, Chris, really you have. But that is Washington, D.C., right?
Sometimes the obstacles are bipartisan. Not only the debates or the fights
or what we struggle over are bipartisan, but actually the obstacle can be
bipartisan. But, look, I think what the president said today, at least to
us in the meeting was I‘m going to give a speech on Thursday. I want to
refocus the energy. I want to have a closer collaboration with you, and I
I got to say, look, it takes 218 votes in the house to pass something.
I know where 200 of those votes for comprehensive immigration reform. I‘m not exaggerating. They will come from the Democratic Party. You still need, 200 doesn‘t get you to 218. It doesn‘t pass you a bill. It‘s a great idea. It‘s 90 percent of your—but it doesn‘t get you both. So, we do need republican support and we need to figure out a way to bring them to the table.
HAYES: Let me ask you a question. You‘ve acted, you‘ve played a very interesting role in this whole process, you‘re sort of a liaison between the outside and inside. And I wonder how you can—there was a meeting with reform advocates, I believe it was yesterday. I‘ve heard that that, you know, things were a little testy in there, and I wonder how you would characterize relationship between some of the groups that are working on this and being quite frustrated and the White House which I think generally feels like hey, don‘t look at us. Don‘t attack us. What is the state of that relationship right now?
GUTIERREZ: You know, the state of that relationship is that we‘re waiting for Thursday, and we‘re waiting for this president. You know, most of—most of us supported him. I supported him in the primary, voted for him, twice, once in the primary and once in the general election. Look, he is the president of the United States of America, but he‘s a special person for me in terms of the hope that I have for changing America. And particularly, the hope that I have for what is the cardinal issue that brings me and wakes me up every morning and that‘s the reform, our immigration reform system to make sure the families, you know, that are here working hard, sweating and toiling have an opportunity to stay together.
So, I think that yes, there‘s friction but out of that friction can come good. Yes, we‘ve criticized him, we push this president but out of that pushing good can come, and I think what the president is kind of saying, hey, let‘s try to figure it out together. Here‘s my point of view. He made it in a very strong manner, but, look, we‘re not children here. We understand that there are differences, and sometimes those differences can be made in somewhat harsh terms.
HAYES: We‘re going to look for the speech definitely on Thursday and be talking about this more. Congressman, I really appreciate you taking some time.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Now, let‘s turn to our panel for some rapid fire response on these stories. We got Republican Senator Scott Brown saying, he‘s against the Wall Street reform bill he helped write. Why? Because he doesn‘t want to raise taxes on the banks. The so-called Macaca moment, this viral video of Republican George Allen making a racial slur at a camping event in 2006 killed republicans in the mid-terms. Now the DNC is doing a call out for intrepid voters to capture the crazy stuff GOP candidates are saying on the trail in 2010. And House Republican Leader John Boehner wants to push back the age in which Americans can retire and collect Social Security by five years to age 70.
With us tonight, Adam Serwer, a terrific writer, staff writer for “The American Prospect.” And my friend Reihan Salam, a blogger for National Review Online and an all around bon vivant. How are you gentlemen doing tonight?
ADAM SERWER, AMERICAN PROSPECT: Great.
REIHAN SALAM, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Great to be here.
HAYES: All right. You know, let‘s start with this. You know, the twitter feed and Brian Bretler (ph) TPM and a bunch of other people are telling me that this conference deal looks like it‘s falling apart. One of the people defecting Scott Brown from the republican side. Feingold saying, he‘s voting against it. Scott Brown had this to say, I‘m going to read this quote appears, he said, “I‘m writing to you to express my strong opposition to the $19 billion bank tax. This tax was not in the senate version of the bill which I supported and this new provision takes real money away from the economy, making it unavailable for lending on Main Street. Gives it to Washington. That sounds like a tax to me.” Reihan, do you think this thing is going to pass? Do you think this is in serious trouble?
SALAM: I think that there‘s some talk about, for example about, canceling the t.a.r.p. program early and raising some revenues that way, finding some other way to raise the necessary revenue to make the bill happen. But, you know, I do think that—I don‘t really trust politicians as a general rule and that includes Scott Brown. I don‘t know what his motivations are. What I do know is that there are some legitimate questions about this bank tax and whether or not it makes sense. I mean, it is leaving a lot of discretion to regulators. We don‘t know the exact shape of what this tax will go and look like it. And I think that, you know, it depends on whether or not you trust the regulators to do the right thing or if you think this should happen in an open deliberative way.
We‘re going to need some revenue and I think that, you know, maybe they are
going to come to a workable reasonable solution
HAYES: I think you had me at bank tax in terms of my support. Adam, what do you think? Is this sort of Scott Brown, it this the second time in as many years that Scott Brown has threatened to destroy a major piece of legislation?
SERWER: Well, I think unlike the health reform bill, I do think republicans with Senator Byrd‘s death, they have a little bit more leverage than they might have had otherwise. I do think the bill is ultimately going to pass. I think it‘s notable that Scott Brown is opposing a tax that would have made—that would have paid for the financial regulation bill because it taxes banks. I think that sort of says something about where republicans want to shift the financial burden of passing financial regulation.
HAYES: Let‘s—let‘s talk about the second story here. This is a pet peeve of mine. John Boehner wants to—and Reihan you have—on this I think, John Boehner wants to raise the retirement age of Social Security. We have some tape from him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: We‘re all living a lot longer than anybody ever expected, and I think raising the retirement age, going out to 20 years is not affecting anyone close to retirement and eventually getting the retirement age to 70 is a establish that needs to be taken. I think we need to look at the American people and explain to them that we‘re broke and that if you have substantial non-Social Security income while you‘re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we‘re broke?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Reihan, do you think this is a good idea, and if the answer is yes, why do you hate old people?
SALAM: I do think it‘s a great idea. I think John Boehner said a lot of silly things over the years and I think this is one instance where he thought, he said something very sound, very sober. I think it‘s a good idea in part because people really are living a longer period of time. He said that it‘s for people who are 20 years out from retirement and I think we have every expectation that people are going to be living longer and working longer going into the future. I think that, you know, it‘s really about preserving the viability of the program for folks who are poor who really need Social Security at a backstop in order to make ends meet once they reach retirement age. And I think to preserve that viability, you have to have that well, some rich people aren‘t going to get it and, you know, in the future when people are living to 100 or 170 I hope, then, you know, we‘ll going to have to cut them off at a later point.
HAYES: I will make a deal with you. We should raise it to 70 when average life span is 170. Adam, what do you think?
SERWER: Could happen sooner than you think. I think that there‘s actually an easy solution to this problem and what you do is you eliminate the taxable income cap on Social Security, and what happens then is the wealthy are paying into Social Security, but then they are also getting back from Social Security, and that completely eliminates the insolvency problem. And John Boehner‘s solution would work but it puts the burden on the backs of the elderly rather than on the backs of the wealthy, but even if you put it on the backs of the wealthy, they are still getting the money back. It‘s not just taking a bite out of their income. When you pay into Social Security, you get it back. So, there‘s a really simple solution that actually doesn‘t involve, you know, radically altering a program that‘s made the suicide rate among the elderly drop 50 percent since 1930.
HAYES: Excellent, excellent bit of trivia there actually.
SERWER: The Swedes delayed their retirement ages by the way, and I think they have done a very good job of reforming the system, so that the longer you work, the more you get and I think it‘s made the system more sustainable.
HAYES: OK. Look, I‘m going to move on to the third story, although I
I‘ll respond to Reihan on the internet later. Third story, I actually find this a little weird. I don‘t know, I feel torn on this. The Democratic National Committee wants people to go out and sort of capture these Macaca moments, this sort of army of citizen journalists. Obviously, you know, the Macaca moment itself was iconic, I think, useful in that it illustrated us a very problematic relationship of race relations with George Allen. What do you guys make of this? Reihan, what do you think?
SALAM: Well, I think that, you know, one of these things, it‘s a
little creepy and, you know, it‘s a surveillance society, et cetera, but I
think it‘s partly generational. I think, the people of our generation
understand that look, I mean, you are going to be watched, and I think
that‘s one of the burdens of running for public office. That means that
lot of bright, enterprising, thoughtful people aren‘t going to run for
public of course, but it‘s something that you have to live with, and I
think that, you know, I really resented when public officials are like,
well, how dare you subject me to scrutiny? And, you know, guess what, it‘s
part of the cost of living in a democracy and I think that‘s, you know,
it‘s a reasonable idea
SERWER: I think it‘s—I think it‘s kind of a Hail Mary from the democrats.
SERWER: And the reason why the Macaca moment was so damaging to George Allen was because he had a history of doing things like hanging a noose on his tree in his office and calling the NAACP an extremist organization. I mean, you may get some moments that embarrass people, but ultimately, if he doesn‘t fit into a record of odd behavior, it‘s really not going to damage anyone. I think it‘s sort of a silly strategy.
HAYES: Also, you never know who is going to get assaulted as we saw a few weeks ago. Adam Serwer of “The American Prospects.” Reihan Salam of the “National Review Online.” Thank you so much for coming on tonight. I really appreciate it.
SERWER: Thank you very much.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, everyone in Washington seems panicked about deficits, but few seem willing to ask just how long we continue to pour billions of dollars into war in Afghanistan. That‘s up next.
HAYES: We want to know what you think. Take our telephone survey. The number to dial is 877-ed-msnbc. Our telephone survey question is, do you think having General Petraeus in charge will change anything in Afghanistan? Press one for yes, press two for no. Again, the number to dial is 877-ed-msnbc.
HAYES: Since Ed is on vacation, I‘m going to put a spin on his Playbook and call it my Nerd Book this week. So, in tonight‘s Nerd Book, some members of Congress have had enough of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into Afghanistan while the u.s. has 10 percent unemployment and deficits. Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York, Head of the House Appropriation Subcommittee and State and Foreign Operations says, she refuses to give, quote, “one more dime in aid to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai takes a stand against corruption.”
She said, quote, “Too many Americans are suffering in this economy for us to put their hard-earned tax dollars into the hands of criminals overseas.” The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman David Obey went further, saying, he would block war funding until Congress extends unemployment benefits. And the Pentagon seems to understand that its days of receiving blank checks from Congress are numbered. An effort is under way to slice more than $100 billion from its budget over the next few years.
Joining me now for more on this is Syndicated Columnist David Sirota who wrote a great column of the Guns and Butter this week. David, thanks a lot for joining me.
DAVID SIROTA: Thanks for having me, Chris.
HAYES: David, you wrote about the fact that—we‘ve sort of avoided traditional guns/butter decision over the last few years and then at some point, we‘ll going to have to face up to it. Do you really think we are, or are we going to keep punting this?
SIROTA: I think we are. I think that what you‘ve seen is not just a call for a guns versus butter debate by traditional liberals like David Obey, like Nita Lowey but what‘s interesting to me is that you‘re seeing people like Senator Tom Coburn, the right wing republican from Oklahoma using his position on the president‘s budget commission to call for an audit of Pentagon spending. You‘ve heard Secretary of Defense Robert Gates say that he wants to cut $100 billion out of the Pentagon‘s administrative costs. Maybe it‘s not war costs, but at least that‘s something.
You‘ve even seen a political story about the Tea Party folks saying, and this is organizers, not candidates, but at least organizers saying that if we‘re going have a serious discussion about spending, we‘re spending right now a single t.a.r.p., one bank bailout a year, $700 billion now on the Pentagon every year. And if you‘re going to have a discussion about spending, you need to have a discussion about how much we‘re overspending on the Pentagon.
HAYES: Do you think—I mean, one of the things that I was wondering about this is the degree to which there‘s public recognition of the numbers. I mean, the numbers get big and it‘s diffused. People understandably don‘t have a great handle on the Federal budget. Do you think that folks realize how much we are spending on—on both the wars specifically, but just generally in defense? It‘s gone up something like almost 100 percent since 2000.
SIROTA: Right, National Journal recently reported that President Obama is on track to become the—in a single term the largest amount of defense spending since World War II. I think you‘re right. I think the public doesn‘t necessarily understand when you hear a billion, 100 billion, 700 billion, a trillion, it gets very confusing. Here‘s what I think the public does understand. They do understand that we are in a recession. They do understand that we are spending more on our defense, on defense right now, than almost every other industrialized nation in the world combined, and when you hear comparative numbers like that, I think people really understand it, and they understand that especially when it comes to war funding, the funding of actual occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that‘s not necessarily money to build jobs, defense industry jobs in congressional districts. That‘s money that‘s literally going out of the country and leaving the country for good.
HAYES: You work for David Obey and you talked about him in your column. What do you expect to see out of him in the next month or so?
SIROTA: Well, he‘s retiring, and I think that in some ways there‘s—there‘s kind of a throw caution to the wind attitude, although anybody who knows, David Obey knows that he‘s sort of had that for a while in, a good way. And I think now with the president so aggressively pushing for an escalation, pushing now for $33 billion—another $33 billion spending bill for the Afghanistan war, I think Obey means what he says when he says we‘re not going to cut another check for this war in specific until we get real jobless benefits, until we get a real jobless program. We should be spending at least as much on creating jobs here at home as we are spending to Afghanistan.
HAYES: Agreed. David Sirota, Syndicated Columnist, radio host in the Denver area. You should check him out if you‘re lucky enough to live there. Thanks a lot.
SIROTA: Thanks Chris.
HAYES: A final page tonight. Tropical storm Alex is swirling in the gulf and likely to become a hurricane, it‘s kicking up wind and 12-foot waves. BP and the coastguard sent oil skimmers back to shore today. The storm will also delay a device. BP says, could double the amount of oil being captured.
Meanwhile, Vice President Biden made a trip to the gulf coast today stopping to talk to business owners. He insisted the $20 billion payment that the president secured from BP is just the beginning of the compensation.
Coming up, fox News has a problem with every worker in America getting the right to be paid. Next.
HAYES: Finally tonight, I want to talk about the hatchet job, fox News did in an online report about the Labor Department‘s efforts to protect fair wages in this country. The Department of Labor recently launched a campaign to enforce laws governing minimum wage and overtime. The initiative includes this public service ad featuring Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor: You work hard, and you have the right to be paid fairly. I‘m U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and it is a serious problem when workers in this country are not being paid every cent they earn. Remember, every worker in America has a right to be paid fairly whether documented or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It was that last part that drove fox News around the bend, not surprisingly. The campaign though is clearly aimed at informing workers of their rights and getting employers to pay fair pay laws. The only word fox heard was undocumented.
For more, let me bring in the Kim Bobo, she is the Founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Worker Justice. Kim is also author of the book “Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid - And What We Can Do About It.” I have read it and it‘s a really eye-opening book. Kim, thanks for joining me.
KIM BOBO, INTERFAITH WORKER JUSTICE FOUNDER: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I think people probably don‘t understand the problem that this is attacking, I mean, is this a real issue? Are people really getting cheated out of wages?
BOBO: Wage theft is a huge crisis in this nation. For low-wage workers, about 26 percent of low-wage workers don‘t get paid the minimum wage even though the law is clear. For those low-wage workers who work overtime, a study shows that 76 percent of them don‘t actually get the overtime that they are owed. And then tipped workers don‘t get their tips and workers are misclassified as independent contractors when they are really employees, so it‘s really a national crisis right now in terms of workers not getting paid.
HAYES: And do you—how was enforcement in the Bush administration and how is it under the Obama administration?
BOBO: Well, the new administration, the Obama administration appointed an excellent Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, and she has really come in with a real commitment to enforce the labor laws. That‘s what we need. We need these laws enforced, and as part of that enforcement effort, she decided that we needed to reach out to workers and explain to them we can help. The Department of Labor can help you get paid for all the work that you do. And so, this is a terrific outreach program that they have, and in fact if any of the listeners haven‘t get paid, they should call, the number is 1-866-4-uswage. Because this is a huge crisis. So, this outreach program using PSAs and other outreach mechanisms is terrific.
HAYES: OK. Kim, thank you very much. I‘m sorry we‘re up against the break here. Kim Bobo of the Interfaith Workers Justice, thank you for joining me tonight.
Tonight in our telephone survey, we ask you, do you think having General Petraeus in charge will change anything in Afghanistan? Shockingly, 32 percent say yes, 68 percent say no. Thank you so much for watching, I‘m Chris Hayes of The Nation. Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/chrislhayes. We‘ll see you tomorrow. “Hardball” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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