Guests: Leo Gerard, Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. John Boccieri, Rep. Tom
Perriello, Steven Rattner, Todd Cranick
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The plot to buy America: The Chamber of Commerce, campaign ads for Republicans, the Federal Election Commission, and contributions from foreign companies.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Many of these groups are paying their membership dues in what appears to be the same 501©(6) account that the chamber uses for attack ads against progressive candidates.
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OLBERMANN: And Rupert Murdoch and the chamber of doom: he is upset about News Corp‘s $1 million donation to the Chamber of Commerce because he was told it would be a secret.
Running on, not running from.
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REP. TOM PERRIELLO (D), VIRGINIA: My name is Tom Perriello. I represent central and southern Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The new polling—he is neck and neck, despite being proud that he voted for health care and other reforms. The congressman joins us.
The shocking news from Detroit: American-built car sales up, even though sales incentives are down. Foreign-built car sales—flat, even though sales incentives are up.
Who‘s shock? The people who would have killed the auto industry just to see those union jobs die—people like Christine O‘Donnell.
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CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I don‘t think that any company is too-big-to-fail. This kind of madness has to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Cranick fire, day four. Gene Cranick‘s son Todd joins us, on the family‘s decision of accepting your offers of help on the culpability of the pay-to-spray system and the firefighters themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you blame them in any way?
TODD CRANICK, GENE CRANICK‘S SON: I sure do. I sure do. Gutless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And hypocrisy now. The quote from “The Nation,” “I looked after Dobbs‘s horses while I was illegal.”
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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LOU DOBBS, RADIO HOST: Mother of God, what kind of country are we?
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
With tens of millions of dollars pouring into the 2010 elections from secret sources, the charge is on to find out which foreign companies and which U.S. companies operating overseas are secretly funding the campaigns of the U.S. political party that supports sending American jobs overseas.
Our fifth story tonight: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce firing back tonight at the progressive think tank that ripped off its veil and how Rupert Murdoch let slip that he is one of the mystery millionaires funding the chamber‘s $75 million effort to elect Republicans to Congress next month.
Details on Mr. Murdoch, presently, we begin with Senator Al Franken. The Minnesota Democrat today pressing his attack on the Chamber of Commerce, following up on his request for an investigation by the Federal Election Commission, this afternoon saying he might file a formal complaint in order to trigger such an investigation. Federal law forbidding the use of money from foreign nationals in U.S. election activity.
The chamber, run by Republican donor Tom Donohue, has reportedly spent more than $10 million this week alone, and it‘s not even Friday. This is part of the $75 million campaign supporting the races of two House Democrats, nine Senate Republicans and 22 House Republicans. The chamber says it does not use the donations it gets from companies overseas to finance political ads here.
According to “The New York Times,” however, quoting, “Under tax rules, it is a funnel—rather, it must funnel its donations into a general fund used for all of its activities, political and nonpolitical alike. Its donors are not permitted to direct funds for specific political uses.”
As Senator Franken explained today, it does not even much matter whether it keeps separate the money that comes from overseas through the dozens of groups overseas that are affiliated with the chamber.
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FRANKEN: The biggest problem is that many of these groups are paying their membership dues into what appears to be the same 501©(6) account that the chamber uses for attack ads against progressive candidates like Jack Conway, Barbara Boxer, Joe Sestak.
Technically, what the chamber has done may not be illegal, but you know, let‘s be honest here. Money is money. It‘s fungible. And when the Bahrain petroleum company sends the chamber $10,000, the $10,000 in American money, American money that the chamber was going to use for office furniture can now go to a new attack ad, you know, on Barbara Boxer for her stand on clean energy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The White House weighed in on the issue, calling on the chamber and similar groups to reveal the donors behind their campaign activities.
But today, President Obama dramatically upped the ante, referring to the chamber‘s funneling of foreign money into campaign ads as what it is—a threat to democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So, groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections. And they won‘t tell you where the money for their ads come from.
So this isn‘t just a threat to Democrats. All Republicans should be concerned. Independents should be concerned. This is a threat to our democracy.
The American people deserve to know who‘s trying to sway their elections.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And if we just stand by and allow the special interests to silence anybody who‘s got the guts to stand up it to them, our country is going to be a very different place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The battle comes just after Republicans fought to block a law that will reward companies for bringing outsourced jobs back to the U.S.
The chamber yesterday telling “The Plum Line” blog, quote, “These accusations by a George Soros-funded, anti-business blog are clearly to take business and its representative organizations out of the advocacy process. A plaguing field that is not exactly level when you consider that labor unions and their allies far outspend business on election efforts.”
Joining us now, one of those bullies, helping to take on those helpless corporations, Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America.
OLBERMANN: Great thanks for your time tonight, sir, and please don‘t beat me up.
LEO GERARD, UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA: No, I won‘t beat you up. I just—I‘m astonished, Keith, that, you know, the corporate special interests are outspending all the rest of us, that‘s everybody else, about 20 to one.
And, you know, the chamber—I agree with Senator Franken—the chamber has issued what they call issue alerts. They issue alerts they send to Chinese companies, to Indian companies, to Russian companies, to Asian companies, to Middle East companies and tell them, “Democrats are trying to create local employment. It could jeopardize your company.” And they solicit money with that.
And, you know, I‘m stunned that America would tolerate this. This is something that is unbelievable, that only in America would a Chamber of Commerce try to do this. Keith, they should change their name to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce or Russian Chamber of Commerce because that‘s what they‘re acting on behalf of.
OLBERMANN: You know, in a very real sense, Mr. Gerard, they are—they are soliciting campaign donations to help the corporations—foreign corporations—that are supposedly in competition or American companies that are supposedly in competition with them. It is a complete reversal of what you think something called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would be doing.
GERARD: It‘s a sham. They don‘t speak for the local mom and pop to join the local Chamber of Commerce. They‘re speaking now for Middle East oil companies. They‘re speaking for Chinese companies. They‘re speaking for Indian companies.
And as you said a moment ago, just in the last 10 days, they campaigned against a bill that would have brought jobs home. And they said that that bill was jobs neutral, it wouldn‘t create enough jobs. That‘s baloney.
And at the same time, they were issuing what they called issue alerts to companies in China, many of which we all know are state-owned. They‘re asking state-owned companies to give them money to put into their general fund so that they can fund attack ads out of the other money.
Money is fungible. This ought to be investigated. Every American ought to be outraged, Republican, independent, Democrat. And I‘m just stunned that they could even believe they could do this. This is an attack on working families in America. It‘s an attack on democracy, and I‘m outraged and everybody else should be.
OLBERMANN: Well, surprisingly enough, there aren‘t a lot of Republicans speaking out against it, which leads to the question, it might seem obvious, but perhaps you can give us more deep of an answer. Why would foreign countries want to elect Republicans instead of Democrats?
GERARD: Well, one of the reasons they want to do that is Democrats have been talking about job creation at home. They‘ve been talking about creating green jobs at home. They‘ve been talking about economic renewal.
They‘ve been talking about—and I‘m really proud that this is happening—they‘ve been talking about strengthening the trade laws. And, Nancy Pelosi, who they‘re vilifying—you can understand why they vilifying her—she‘s decided that they want to have a made in America economic strategy to rebuild industrial America.
The Chamber of Commerce is opposed to that, and they‘re soliciting money from Russia and India and Bahrain and Egypt, and every other place they can get money from.
And the hypocrisy, Keith—I got to calm myself down—the hypocrisy is they know they‘re issuing what they call the issue alerts. Issuing these alerts and soliciting funds. They‘re soliciting these funds. They‘re not just memberships.
OLBERMANN: So, what do we do about all this, Mr. Gerard?
GERARD: Well, look—like Senator Franken said, I don‘t know if this is illegal. It certainly is immoral. It certainly is unethical. It certainly isn‘t the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
They ought to change their name to the Chinese Chamber of commerce or the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
But at the very least, we ought to have an investigation and we ought to find out what they‘re doing. And I don‘t accept that you can take money out of this one hand, put it in that pocket and then take the other money out of the other pocket, and go buy furniture when that money is now other is going to be used to have an attack ad.
They did 8,000 attack ads against Democrats by the 15th of September. They‘re ramping that up against Democrats. They‘re not running any attack ads against Republicans. This is America being put up for sale to foreign interests by the Chamber of Commerce. And everyone—everyone ought to make sure that every Democrat that‘s running gets elected, just to teach these people a listen.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll settle on the anti-U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That‘s probably the easiest name for it.
Leo Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers of America—great thanks. A pleasure, sir. Thank you.
GERARD: Thank you. And I‘ll try to calm down.
OLBERMANN: Good luck. I won‘t.
As promised now, the smoking gun demonstrating how millionaire and billionaire conservatives use the Chamber of Commerce‘s tax status both to allow them to bypass limits on direct donations to candidates and to avoid the scrutiny their massive funding would invite.
Rupert Murdoch, the Australian immigrant, telling “Politico,” which reported last week his $1 million to the chamber, he, quote, “didn‘t expect its existence to be revealed.” “We‘re members of the Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “And I just thought I was being a good member.”
Murdoch potentially inviting trouble with the new revelation about his previous million dollar gift to the RGA, Republican Governors Association, claiming it had nothing to do with FOX News and, quoting again, “It had nothing to do with FOX News. It was actually my friendship with John Kasich.”
John Kasich, the Republican candidate for the governor of Ohio was on the FOX News payroll for nine years, even after he announced in 2008 that he was laying the groundwork for his campaign back home. “Media Matters” reporting that FOX put on the air at least 123 times as contributor or host until he formally kicked off his campaign last year.
The Democratic Governors Association complaining that FOX even put up the URL for his Web site while he solicited donations from FOX viewers, presumably including Rupert Murdoch.
P.S. “Think Progress” reporting tonight that friendship as a cause for a corporate donation itself might violate a court ruling in Delaware where FOX is incorporated. Corporate directors are not permitted to use their position of trust and confidence to further their private interests. Oops!
Let‘s turn to Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Democratic whip. Welcome back to the program, sir.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you so much for having me back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And joining us as well, a target of the Chamber of Commerce campaign, Congressman John Boccieri of Ohio.
Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight, too.
REP. JOHN BOCCIERI (D), OHIO: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll get to the chamber, but I want to begin with Congressman Clyburn on Mr. Murdoch‘s News Corp. A million to the RGA, $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is bankrolling $75 million attack—what is the Democratic strategy, the political strategy, for dealing with a media outlet that has now put its money where everybody has known its mouth has always been?
CLYBURN: Well, this is the same. I think we know the definition of fair and balanced. Fair to the Republican Governors Association and you balance that out with the United States Chamber of Commerce. That‘s what‘s going on here. It is absolutely a shame.
And I would hope that the American people looking in on this kind of activity will begin to focus on the fact that we now know why we can‘t get this economy moving as fast as people would like. We have created legislation to make it in America. And the other side that‘s been fighting that legislation, I think they voted against it 11 different times. That is an outrage.
We, now, in South Carolina, where I‘m from, we see jobs going overseas. We see what has happened to our textile mills. It‘s all because there was this plan to export jobs. And the chamber, Donohue, a guy that I have lot—I know very well—and I can‘t understand him saying that it enhances competition to get rid of jobs in local communities.
We‘re trying to create jobs in the communities where people go to the polls to vote, where people really need to uplift themselves, do good for their families. And here, we see them being denigrated and every attempt that‘s made to uplift these people now being outsourced.
Outsourcing jobs like this is absolutely the worst thing that you can do to local communities throughout this country. And I really believe that people are beginning to focus on this. And they‘re going to rise up by November the 2nd. And they are going to show that make it America is what it‘s all about.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Clyburn, is there a legislative response to the idea that there is a national cable news outlet that goes beyond having a point of view and actually starts to shill for partisan causes and actually starts to donate to partisan groups of one party?
CLYBURN: Well, I don‘t know that there‘s one yet. That‘s one of the reasons I have always been a little bit upset about us getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine.
I do believe that there needs to be a very critical look taken, especially at FOX News and what they‘re doing. They are absolutely undermining democracy in this country. They are drowning out the voices of what I would call the ordinary person in this society. That is not what our country is all about.
We should be about encouraging people to be a part of the governmental process, rather than going out, targeting the folks that they are voting for, for defeat, and using foreign money to do it. That is absolutely incredible.
OLBERMANN: All right. And to that point and to the chamber, Congressman Boccieri, “The Plum Line” reported today that you had a uniquely personal kind of response to this news about where the chamber gets its money, their attacks on you. Can you share that personal response with us?
BOCCIERI: Well, Keith, I you never dreamed I would see the day when the United States Chamber of Commerce is using foreign money to launch domestic attacks against Americans. This is unbelievable to me, that we would allow foreign governments to influence our elections. The community I represent in northeast Ohio has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been shipped overseas.
And now, the very same multinational corporations that took our jobs overseas are using foreign governments and foreign entities and the United States Chamber of Commerce to launch attacks against the member of Congress who‘s trying to bring those jobs back. I mean, it is unbelievably unprecedented.
I believe the Citizens United decision ahs handed the electoral keys of government over to big corporations. It‘s as if the Supreme Court allowed the Chamber of Commerce to roll up to the drive-thru window and super size the campaign contributions.
The most I can get from one individual in these contributions, they are barely rare, is $2,400. Well, the chamber can turn to a foreign entity and say, we need $240,000 to take out this member of Congress who thinks that you should be playing by the same rules as Americans do.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Boccieri, what do you need from the national party right now in terms of trying to push back some of that tidal wave?
BOCCIERI: Well, I hope that there‘s going to be some investigations. Keith, I put my life on the line for this country. And I never dreamed I would have a foreign government now, while I‘m serving our government in the United States Congress launching attacks against me because I believe that America should grow it, build it and assemble it here in our own country. I never dreamed that this day would come.
There should be investigations. There should be reports given. And the Chamber of Commerce needs to own up and answer to the American people, to suggest that we—they shouldn‘t open their books, that they shouldn‘t disclose this and be transparent while they‘re purportedly spending millions of dollars is just outrageous.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Clyburn, last point, can Congress do what Mr. Boccieri needs? Is there an investigation possible of the money that goes in to the Chamber of Commerce?
CLYBURN: Oh, sure. But not between now and November 2nd.
CLYBURN: That‘s the problem here. All of this damage will be done over the next four weeks. Then we‘ll come back in January with a new Congress. Yes, there will be some kind of investigation.
I think Senator Franken has talked about filing their formal complaint. But then it will be too late for people like John Boccieri who I think has served two tours on behalf of this country. Joe Sestak, the highest ranking military person to ever served in United States Congress having this stuff (INAUDIBLE) -- that is absolutely incredible. And the American people should reject this on November 2nd.
OLBERMANN: The House whip, Jim Clyburn, Congressman John Boccieri—thank you both for your time, gentlemen.
BOCCIERI: Thank you, Keith.
CLYBURN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: One of their colleagues is running for re-election in conservative territory against the supposed playbook on his own record, including health care reform. And new polls say it‘s working for him. Tom Perriello joins us.
Also, Gene Cranick‘s son, Todd, that family‘s decision to accept help, a help you offered after their home burned down, and how you can help.
OLBERMANN: The Virginia Democratic congressman who is bucking the trend on running on his record, not away from it, joins us next, as polls show him pulling back into a tie.
Bad time to come out and say the auto bailout was a mistake, after the new Detroit data comes out and shows the American auto industry she wanted to kill off is alive and thriving.
America‘s foremost hypocrite on undocumented immigrants. Not only are there undocumented immigrants working with his daughter‘s horses, they‘re reportedly also working on his house.
And Todd Cranick and how you can help—ahead.
OLBERMANN: If you buy the conventional wisdom that has been allowed to fester about this year‘s midterm elections, a freshman Democratic congressman in a district that went for McCain in 2008 should be tossed. The freshman Democrat who voted for health care reform, cap and trade, and the stimulus could not beat a wad of chewed bubble gum for a seat in the House.
But in our fourth story: Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello isn‘t running against Bazooka Joe, just to Republican. And instead of running from the resume, he‘s running on it.
New polling suggests his odds of winning are now even. “The Hills” new figures for the fifth Virginia congressional district have the incumbent Perriello just a point behind his Republican challenger, Virginia State Senator Robert Hurt. Perriello, 44; Hurt, 45. The Keith number, the margin of error plus undecided is 15 points. Extraordinarily high.
The Hurt campaign this morning released new fundraising figures, $900,000 in the last quarter, their largest to date—evidence that national Republicans want this seat badly.
And then there‘s the special interest dollars coming in on their behalf. The Family Research Council, the Chamber of Commerce, each running ads to unseat Perriello.
For his part, he has the support of MoveOn.org; yesterday, endorsed by the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars. And along with 58 other Democratic House incumbents, endorsed yesterday by the National Rifle Association.
And joining me now is the freshman congressman from Virginia‘s fifth district, Tom Perriello.
Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.
REP. TOM PERRIELLO (D), VIRGINIA: Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: E.J. Dionne in “The Washington Post” wrote something interesting today about your campaign of actually admitting to and sort of being proud of your voting record, on things like health care reform and the stimulus and the rest. He described it as a test case for populism surviving in a deeply conservative territory. I take it you agree with him.
PERRIELLO: Well, I still think we can outcompete, outwork and out-invent any country in the world. Unfortunately, the elites on the other side have given up you on this country. And some in our own party.
And I think what we need to do is get back to fighting for the working and middle class, and not be afraid to stand up for an agenda of building, making and growing things in America. I think what we‘ve done in the last year is to make health care more affordable and easier for our businesses to afford it and compete.
We‘ve tried to get ahead of China and India on the new energy economy where the other side has seemed to want to hand the keys over to the petro dictators and to China.
Now that we see whose funding their campaigns, it makes a little more sense. But for those of us who have to look in the eyes of families that are struggling and businesses that are trying to outcompete, we understand how urgent this is. So, we‘ve got to stand up for an agenda and fight back for this ability to make things in America again.
OLBERMANN: Yes, you just mentioned the chamber. And they endorsed your opponent yesterday and they‘re running ads against you that said your vote on health care is, to quote the ad, “hurting Virginia families.”
What‘s your response to that?
PERRIELLO: Well, I mean, I think they have a few problems. One obviously, this money that‘s coming in from Bahrain and China and Russia is, you know, a huge, huge breach in terms of what‘s good for American democracy.
But I also just came from a local chamber event. And I think the disconnect between small business owners on Main Street who like that 35 percent tax credit on premiums that we gave them, they like the more than $1 billion that have gone out in the last two weeks through our Small Business Jobs Act. They like the fact that small businesses are going to get to negotiate the same kind of rates big businesses get.
So, I think when it comes to this agenda, whether it‘s outsourcing or tax credits, you really see the chamber going not just off the rails but way to off to China, compared to the small business owners that are struggling in my community.
OLBERMANN: If you‘re in a tie right now with Mr. Hurt, virtually so, why aren‘t more Democrats doing it your way no matter what their district looks like?
PERRIELLO: Well, you know, for me, it‘s got to come back to what called you to this in the first place. I got into this because if felt like people weren‘t getting a fair shake, that our core, we were getting outcompeted as a country because we had stopped believing that we could do this better than other countries.
And the elites, in particular, in both parties, I think, were behind that. When we stand up for the people instead of protecting the powerful, we unleash an innovation and entrepreneurship that is second to none. I see it already happening with our dairy farmers, our poultry farmers and people inventing the next great car, an inventor in my district that just won the X prize for the 100 mile per gallon car, that‘s what makes us great, not this race to the bottom with China the Republicans want, and outsourcing agenda, but a race to the top.
We can still do this better. And I think we should put that on the record, not just to win with it, but to have a mandate to come in in January and start to rebuild America‘s competitive advantage.
OLBERMANN: Last point, the enthusiasm race. There is evidence in it from that “Hill” poll, there is an enthusiasm gap between the two parties in your district. It‘s not overwhelming but it‘s there. Have you observed it? What can you do about it? What can any incumbent Democrat do about it?
PERRIELLO: Well, we got to have the enthusiasm gap in reverse in our district. The conservatives don‘t trust my opponent, Senator Hurt. They see him as kind of a career politician, close to the lobbyists and supporting outsourcing. Our side is very excited because I have stood up and fought back.
And I think independents are looking for someone with a plan to turn this around and not just hiding behind cheap slogans. So, I think we see that enthusiasm gap in reverse and that‘s important.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Tom Perriello of Virginia, great thanks for your time.
PERRIELLO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Something else Democrats are not running on, the bailout in Detroit worked. New sales numbers are showing American-brand cars surging. Import brands flat lining to the dismay of anti-bailout Republicans like Christine O‘Donnell.
OLBERMANN: The auto industry and the auto on industry jobs the Republicans wanted to watch die. New stats, it‘s alive, it‘s alive. And the anti-bailout crowd looks pretty foolish tonight.
First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day from Karen Tumulty from “Time Magazine,” complete with an attachment: “Christine O‘Donnell was ‘Time Magazine‘ person of the year in 2006. See.” She was. She is you. Dennis Craig Ferguson pointed out, if she‘s you, that means she can become another person, which means she is a witch. Let‘s play Oddball.
I‘m not a witch. We begin on the Internets, your daily science lesson. Here we explore the concept of inertia. Many asleep on subway car, train slows down, friction between man and seat keeps him from sliding. Excellent friction, but he might have needed a little more air resistance. Down goes Frazier. If only Galileo were around to see his work in action. Yay, science.
Frankfurt, Germany, Gutentag (ph). What do you do when a coffee table book just isn‘t enough? Yes, it‘s the dining table book. Measuring in at six feet by nine feet, this is the world‘s largest book. An Australian publisher decided people are tired of going to the Internet or to a regular sized Atlas, so he made this giant, 128 page super book. If you need a new wall or you‘re simply interested in cartography and you‘re a giant, this is the book for you. But try and budget some time to read it, because unlike, say, “Pitchforks and Torches,” it takes some time to get the whole page turning thing down.
Time marches on.
The surprise for the anti-bailout crowd, as the American auto industry gets up off the mat. Next.
OLBERMANN: Had it been allowed to happen, it would have crippled the Midwest. A million jobs lost, suppliers shut down, domestic and foreign car manufacturing plants forced to close. Yet, in our third story, despite that grim near miss, the Republican party continues to campaign against the bailout of the auto industry, even though new sales data out tonight proving its success.
Delaware Senate nominee Christine O‘Donnell just the latest Republican to rail against the government measures taken to save American automakers and thus a million American jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN DELAWARE: Our leaders in Washington have lost their way and no longer follow the Constitutional principles. Otherwise, we wouldn‘t have Obama-care. We wouldn‘t have these massive bailouts. We wouldn‘t be taking over GM.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Like asking a kindergartner to explain Einstein. The so-called taking over of General Motors has actually worked. The company has been turning a profit, stabilized its market share. This afternoon, GM announced plans to manufacture a new compact car, the Buick Verano. Thus planning to restore more than 1,500 jobs lost a Michigan plant that was idled just last year.
The “Detroit News” reporting that once that plant is up and running again, it is expected to employ workers on two shifts, and turn out 160,000 vehicles a year. The first round of bailout funds, dispensed under that well-known liberal union sympathizer George Bush, continued under President Obama. Republicans blasting the intervention as a way to help the unions. Even though Congressman Barney Frank noted “the single-most effective thing that the federal government has done to preserve and set the basis for manufacturing in America was to intervene with General Motors and Chrysler.”
Ford never received government funds, but arguably was saved by the government‘s action. It has been boasting healthy profits since, while Morgan Stanley predicts increased earnings for the company, estimating Ford‘s ability to generate revenue has been significantly underestimated.
This as new data from the auto research firm TrueCar.com shows sales are up for American brand cars, even as buyer incentives have been decreased. Meanwhile, foreign car sales remain flat despite an increase in buyer incentives.
Joining me now is the Obama administration‘s former lead auto adviser, counselor to the secretary to the Treasurer, author of “Overhaul.” Steven Rattner. Mr. Rattner, good evening. Thank you for your time.
STEVEN RATTNER, AUTHOR, “OVERHAUL”: Thanks very much for having me.
OLBERMANN: What kind of credibility it do those who deride the bailout now, with this new evidence in, have?
RATTNER: I think with every passing day, with every piece of new evidence, they have less and less credibility. You laid out the case very clearly and very effectively. Sales are doing well and are up for the Detroit three. Profits are back. The companies are healthy. They‘re beginning small car production in Michigan. I think you said it all very, very clearly.
OLBERMANN: And about one thing we didn‘t talk about, Cash for Clunkers. That program was an utter failure too?
RATTNER: No, quite the opposite. Cash for Clunkers not only created a huge surge in demand for cars at a time when our economy needed stimulus -- and it was a stimulus program—but, in fact, sales didn‘t drop off afterward nearly as much as the pessimists and the critics of the program said it would. So, in fact, Cash For Clunkers was another great success that many people made fun of before it was put into place.
OLBERMANN: This kind of knee jerk automatic reaction that suggests this was all done to benefit the unions, and the unions run and ruined the auto industry, depending on which decade you‘re in—how would they explain the success of Ford? Ford did not go bankrupt. Doesn‘t it still have unions?
RATTNER: It does. Ford, in fact, faced exactly the same set of issues as General Motors and Chrysler. The same unions, as you pointed out, the same competition from Japan, the same gasoline prices, the same credit crisis. Yet, Ford got through it. So, While I think there‘s a lot of responsibility for this problem and a lot of shoulders, a lot of hands, including some with the unions, I don‘t think that was, by any means, the largest part of the problem.
I would also say that I was in the White House when these decisions were made. And these decisions were not made on behalf of the unions, just as President Bush, as you pointed out, didn‘t make them on behalf of the unions. They were made on behalf of the country as a whole, at a critical time in our economy.
OLBERMANN: Do you think the White House, either politically or for the sake of this kind of intervention, is doing enough in terms of talking this up at this point, and reminding people, or even just underscoring for people that it worked? Because the perception from many political quarters that we don‘t necessarily have to elucidate about is that it was a failure and socialist this and disaster that.
RATTNER: It‘s very frustrating to all of us who were involved with any of these rescue operations -- I think it is a nicer word than bailouts actually. But the president has tried. He went out this summer and he visited a Ford plant. He visited a Chrysler plant. He visited a GM plant, as well as many ancillary types of auto companies. I think the problem is that there‘s so much noise around this, and so much brow beating of this issue that it‘s just been very hard for him to break through.
So I think he‘s been trying. Certainly he wants this to be perceived as a success, because it was a success.
OLBERMANN: Steven Rattner, the former counselor to the secretary of the Treasury, and lead auto adviser on—and we‘ll use your term—the rescue. Thank you kindly.
RATTNER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Cranicks have made their decision to accept help after their shocking loss of their home to fire. Todd Cranick and how exactly you can help, if you want to, ahead.
The Republican misstep in West Virginia. The actors cast to play disgruntled voters in their commercial, from the memo, “we‘re going for a hickey, blue collar look.”
And When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the surest sign that the polls are right and the Democrats are coming back; how some Republicans are softening their positions from, you know, Neanderthal to like Cro-Magnon.
OLBERMANN: Todd Cranick, controversy over the decision to let his parents‘ home in Tennessee burn and their decision about accepting your offers of help. That‘s next, but get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.
The bronze to the group Americans United for Life. It has put out attack ads on a dozen Democratic congressman. One radio spot blasts Colorado Congressman Ken Salazar. Calls him that five times in 60 seconds. It‘s John—John Salazar. Ken is the secretary of the Interior. You might have heard about him after the BP disaster. He was in all the papers. That‘s our main defense against Citizens United, stupidity.
Speaking of, the runner up, Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, out there defending a commercial for its West Virginia candidate John Raese. Even after an e-mail leaked in which casting and wardrobe suggestions were offered for the actors by the committee‘s ad agency, complaining about West Virginia Democratic candidate Joe Manchin. “Down filled vest, John Deer Hats, not brand new, preferably beat up, trucker huts, not brand new, preferably beat up. We are going for a hicky, blue collar look. These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miners, trucker looks.”
Just to ratchet up how the Republicans feel about West Virginia and the hicky people who live there, they did not deign to shoot the commercial in say, Charleston. They filmed it in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
But our winner, Lou Dobbs the fired CNN commentator, now lingering on radio. We told you as early as 2007 that despite the kind of don‘t tread on me immigration bombast that led him to pronouncements such as the illegal employer is the central issue in this entire mess, Dobbs, in fact, was supporting undocumented workers because of his daughter‘s involvement with a horsey set. The equestrian sport is considered the second largest employer of workers without papers behind the food industry. One estimate has 50 percent of the industry undocumented.
Somebody cleans out the stables. Whether directly or indirectly, Lou Dobbs and people like him pay them, while muttering about the people who pay them. Last night, “The Nation” reported it‘s even worse than that, concluding that through contractors, “Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multi-million dollar estates, and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter Hillary, a champion show jumper.”
It cited five men from Mexico, one of whom stated flatly, “I looked after Lou Dobbs‘ horses while I was illegal.” Dobbs has responded in typical, hypocritical, holier than thou fashion: “I have never, nor has the Dobbs Group at any time, hired an illegal immigrant. I was going to take the day off, but sometimes circumstances overwhelm those plans. This is one of those days.”
He called the article a “fairly typical hit piece, a smear piece. You understand my sensitivity going after my 22-year-old daughter. That doesn‘t sit well with me.”
Nobody went after your daughter, Lou. You‘re the do as I say, not as I do phony, not her. Stop hiding behind your daughter‘s skirts. Lou, as the illegal employer, I am the central issue in this entire mess, Dobbs, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: A home caught fire today in Weakly County, Tennessee, a neighbor to Obian County. According to the Weakly County Sheriff‘s Office, its fire department requested and got assistance from the South Fulton Fire Department. Their help was guaranteed as part of a mutual aid contract between the county and the town.
In our number one story, today the system worked and the local government took action. Last Wednesday, it did not work very well when the local government refused to act and the home of Gene and Paulette Cranick burned to the ground, as the South Fulton Fire Department stood by and watched. The Cranick‘s son, Todd, is still upset. He‘ll join us in a moment.
First, we‘re happy to finally announce how you can help. You can donate in one of two ways: by regular mail to Gene or Mildred Paulette Cranick, care of Heritage Bank, Post Office Box 1410, Fulton, Kentucky, 42041. And we‘ll repeat that address before the end of this news hour. Or you go to the Paypal website, click send money, enter the email address, CranickFireFund@yahoo.com. CranickFireFund@yahoo.com, and follow the instructions they give you thereafter. We‘ll give you that address again, too.
Again, the Cranicks say the insurance will indeed cover most of what was lost in last week‘s fire. These funds will help them cover the balance. Yesterday, we brought you video from a news conference outside the Obian County Courthouse. Chief Bob Revis (ph), the fire chief of Hornby, Tennessee, whose department is currently not subscription based, defending the pay to spray system as a last resort.
Among the reporters covering the event was the son of Gene and Paulette Cranicks, who was unmoved by the chief‘s defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD CRANICK, SON OF GENE AND PAULETTE CRANICK: Are you aware that my neighbor was standing there with an open checkbook and told them to put it out, no matter what it cost? My dad, an open checkbook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. I‘m aware.
CRANICK: It‘s not like the money wasn‘t there. Seventy five dollars versus 5,000 or 10,000 dollars, which would you rather have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Now here is Todd Cranick, whose parents‘ home, as you know by now, burned because they didn‘t pay the 75 dollars fire surcharge, forgot to send in the check. Todd, thanks for your time tonight. How are you and how are your parents doing?
CRANICK: I‘m fine. How are you? Mom and dad are fine.
OLBERMANN: Good. Glad to hear that.
Since this happened, there‘s been a lot of anger directed toward these fire fighters themselves. Do you think that‘s entirely fair or is this more the politicians ‘fault?
CRANICK: First off, we don‘t condone violence. What little brother did was not right and he knows it. I‘m not—what they did was wrong. To stand and watch a man‘s house burn is morally and ethically wrong. I couldn‘t do it myself. I don‘t know where to put the blame.
OLBERMANN: Does it look from what you‘ve seen in the last couple of days around there that anybody around there has gotten the message about this? That it is really ultimately unfair to put fire fighters or family owners in this situation? That no matter what the rule might be, when the rubber hits the road like if did at your folks‘ house, you‘ve got to do the right thing.
If this happened tomorrow a mile from where you‘re sitting, would they still let the house burn down or have people gotten the message?
CRANICK: I personally think they‘d let it burn. It‘s a hard call, but yes, I personally do, because the little fire chief made the statement today on—I believe it was Fox—you‘ve got to draw the line somewhere. Yeah, I‘m pretty positive they‘d let one burn.
OLBERMANN: You know—and obviously from what you just said—you know exactly how big a story this has become around the country and what it means to people. Some people seem to think that what happened to that house that we‘re looking at behind you, what‘s left of it, was a good thing, a lesson. I want to play a clip of one of those people and then get your reaction to what he says. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If you don‘t pay your 75 dollars, then that hurts the fire department. They can‘t use those resources. And you would be sponging off of your neighbor‘s 75 dollars, if they put out your neighbor‘s house and you didn‘t pay for it—I mean, if your neighbor didn‘t pain for it, you did, and they put out their house, your neighbor is sponging off of your 75 dollars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as they put out the fire of somebody who didn‘t pay the 75 bucks, no one will pay the 75 dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Todd, obviously that was Glenn Beck, the commentator who also called what happened to your parents equal justice. What do you make of that? What would say to him, and point out where he might be wrong in this?
CRANICK: I‘m glad you played that. I‘m been wanting to hear that for a couple of days now. My response to that is that would you rather have 75 dollars yesterday or 5,000 or 10,000 dollars in your hand right then? The money was there. Thank god for my neighbors and my friends. Bless their hearts. I love them to death.
The money was there, more than the 75 dollars. If that man thinks that it was all about the 75 dollars, he‘s lost his mind. Personally, if you offered me 75 dollars yesterday or 5,000 today, I‘m going to take the 5,000 today. It goes a whole lot farther I think.
OLBERMANN: Is that—do you think maybe we just stumbled on to the solution of this thing? Maybe this system would work if you had a part of it where if there was actually a fire, you could pay it on the spot? I mean, if exactly that situation happened with your parents and the fire fighters were authorized to say, OK, we‘ll take your IOU and then, as soon as the flames are out, give us the cash, maybe that‘s the way to work out of this?
CRANICK: No. That‘s not going to work, because there are people out there that will tell you, yeah, I‘ve got the money. Then, when it comes time to pay up, they don‘t have it. I understand that. That‘s understandable. However, I do think there is a solution to all the problems. It‘s going to take somebody with more of a brain than me to figure it out.
OLBERMANN: Me too. The good side of the reaction around the country
as you know, we have been swamped with people who want to help. While we show this mailing address and the Paypal address again, tell me the monetary situation that your parents are in right now regarding the house and what the donations will go for.
CRANICK: Well, right now everything‘s fine. The preacher talked to dad the other night and I talked to dad. What money he‘s got is not going to last forever. There‘s no—we don‘t know for sure when this insurance adjuster is going to come through. And I told him there are people out there, thousands of people that want to help and want to do. Go ahead and accept it. What you don‘t need or don‘t want send off to a children‘s hospital, Red Cross, you know, whatever. Do good with it. Don‘t just sit on it, and do good with it.
OLBERMANN: That‘s why it‘s not called sponging off your neighbor.
It‘s called being a neighbor. You answered my next question.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Todd Cranick, we thank you for your time again.
And all the best to you and your family. We‘ll keep touch.
CRANICK: Can I say one more thing?
CRANICK: I do believe there are certain legalities here. And there needs to be some federal and state-wide investigation go on here and find on out what is going on. Because I‘m being told that none of our tax dollars are going to any of these fire departments. And I find that relatively hard to believe.
OLBERMANN: I understand that completely. We‘re looking into that right now. Again, Todd, thanks for your time.
CRANICK: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: That‘s October 7th. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Goodnight and good luck.
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