Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday February 7th, 2011
Read the transcript from the 6 p.m. hour from Monday
Guests: Robert Borosage, Hisham Melhem, Nita Lowey, Kathleen Hennessey
CENK UYGUR, HOST: President Obama speaks to the right wing Chamber of Commerce today. I think that‘s a really bad idea, and I‘ll explain why.
And a week after Republicans tried to redefine rape, a state representative in Georgia wants to stop calling women who suffered rape victims. Are Republicans waging a war on women?
Congressman Nita Lowey speaks out tonight.
And a Reagan reality check. The real Ronald Reagan would make Tea Partiers sick. My case on how Republicans today would be trashing The Gipper‘s liberal policies. Yes, I did say “liberal.”
And Alan Simpson calls for drastic spending cuts in a way nobody else can. First, he talked about milking cows. Now he‘s talking about other body parts. Uh-oh.
All right. Today President Obama went over to the Chamber of Commerce to make nice with big business. Now, I think that‘s a bad idea, and I want to explain to you why.
First of all, the Chamber of Commerce is, without a doubt, a right-wing organization. You shouldn‘t feed the bear that wants to eat you for lunch. That‘s a saying I just made up. What do you think?
All right. Now I‘ll show you why.
Last year, the Chamber spent $33 million to defeat the Democrats in the midterms. That doesn‘t look very friendly to me. That looks like they might be on the other side.
And in 2009, insurance companies gave the Chamber of Commerce more than $86 million to fight against President Obama‘s health care law. What part of that is confusing?
President Obama, I got bad news for you. They are just not that into you.
Secondly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has nothing to do with the U.S. Now, I‘m going to get back to that in a second, but first, let‘s take a look at the president‘s speech.
Even though the Chamber has consistently worked against the president and his party, Obama still showed up with a message of appeasement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Which brings me to the final responsibility of government, breaking down some of the barriers that stand in the way of your success. As far as exports are concerned, that means seeking new opportunities and opening new markets for your goods. Now, another barrier government we can remove—and I hear a lot about this from many of you—is a burdensome corporate tax code with one of the highest rates in the world, which brings be to the last barriers we‘re trying to remove, and those are outdated and unnecessary regulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oh! It‘s so painful. He‘s making every Republican talking point there. He‘s talking about so-called free trade, he‘s talking about high corporate tax rates, when they have got a million loopholes and they didn‘t pay that money any way.
He‘s talking about burdensome regulation? This is a Democratic president or a Republican president?
But the president, as usual, of course presented both sides. That‘s what he does. Now, here he talks about the merits of regulation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I also have to point out the perils of too much regulation are also matched by the dangers of too little. And we saw that in the financial crisis, where the absence of sound rules of the road, that wasn‘t good for business. Even if you weren‘t in the financial sector it wasn‘t good for business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. That‘s true, and that sounds so much more reasonable. All right. You are getting both sides.
But the problem is, in effect, you do not get both sides. If you just had it the president‘s way, it wouldn‘t be that bad. You‘d say, all right, look, a little too much regulation here, a little too regulation here.
But the right wing blocks all of the Democratic proposals. They get the Republicans to do that. And when the president agrees with them, and says, all right, I‘m going to take away the regulation there, or I‘m going to lower your taxes there, they‘re like, fantastic.
So you get a one-sided view. That‘s what I‘m scared of.
Now, don‘t get me wrong. The president did ask big business to support the little guy today in return for favorable treatment of big business. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If we‘re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can‘t just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living, as well as your bottom line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Again, if it worked that way, I would love it. That would be great. But these corporations‘ interests are global.
They are not in it for the American worker. And I‘m not saying that as a bad thing. Let me give you an example.
Caterpillar, they‘re based in Peoria, Illinois. Right? Their profits more than quadrupled in the fourth quarter of 2010 over the previous year because of a surge in overseas demand. That‘s a good thing.
The company is thriving thanks to global commerce. Good thing.
In 2010, Caterpillar hired 19,000 people. Lovely. But only 7,500 were in America.
They also announced plans to build eight new facilities. Great! But only three of them are in the U.S.
Look, I‘m not against Caterpillar if they make money abroad or if they even hire abroad. It‘s OK. But giving our tax breaks to them, or lightening of their regulatory load, in the hopes against hope that they are going to create jobs here in America, it‘s just misunderstanding the system, misunderstanding the process. That‘s not how it works.
In the end, the president still tried to appeal to their patriotism at the Chamber of Commerce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I know you love this country. I know you want America to succeed just as badly as I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Wrong again. Look, I‘m not saying they are bad people. And I‘m not saying that they don‘t America to succeed as individuals as you do, I do, as the president does. But they are part of a corporate machine.
By law, they‘re not allowed to give a damn about America. If it costs two cents less to make something in China, they are going to make it in China and they‘re going to hire in China. If they didn‘t, they would get fired.
Pleading with the corporate machine to do the right thing is futile.
I wish the president would at some point understand that.
All right. Joining me now is Robert Borosage. He‘s the president of the Campaign for America‘s Future.
Robert, do I have this right, or if the president just asks really nicely, maybe the Chamber of Commerce will change their minds and go, oh, my God, you‘re right, I should hire in America?
ROBERT BOROSAGE, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA‘S FUTURE: No, you‘ve got it right. And we can see it in the recovery.
We‘ve got record profits in corporations, and we have a massive job problem here at home. And largely, that‘s because the big corporations are making more and more profits abroad and locating their plants there. And it will take a changed public policy to turn that around.
UYGUR: You know, I want to give you a quote by Leslie Margolin. She was with Anthem Blue Cross. She was in fact their president. Right?
But when she complained about a 39 percent tax—I‘m sorry, a rate hike, what they did was they said, all right, thank you very much for working here, but your work is done. And her quote is, “I thought the rates were too high. I thought the impact on our membership was too significant.”
So the minute she said that, they showed her the door. So I‘m not saying these people are evil, but isn‘t the system set up in a way that they‘re not allowed to be the good guys? If they are, they‘re removed for the sake of profit.
BOROSAGE: Well, they have to make as much money as they can. And now, in recent years, we have seen them accumulate more and more of that money at the top, among the CEOs and the top executives.
I mean, when this economy was growing under Bush, the top one percent were capturing about two-thirds of all of the rewards of growth—we‘ve never seen that before—while most families were losing income. And that‘s, again, got to be changed by public policy.
It‘s not going to be changed by the corporations themselves. Those executives have a quite personal stake in keeping the system as it‘s working now.
UYGUR: So then let‘s get into practical matters. What should the president do? Because, of course, his advisers, who, in my opinion, are center-right, to say the least, are like, oh, my God! You have to get to the Chamber of Commerce and please them! You have to make them happy!
Do they have a point? If not, well, then, what is the president supposed to do when he talks to the Chamber of Commerce?
BOROSAGE: Well, I don‘t know that I would go talk to the Chamber of Commerce, which, as you said, is just a right-wing lobby group that makes its money raising money from big corporations that prey on American taxpayers. But I do think he has to make business comfortable. I don‘t have a problem with that.
I do think we need though a policy for making things here in America.
And that‘s where we‘ve gone wrong.
You know, Germany is a very high-wage producer, but it‘s an export superpower. And the reason is it has an industrial policy that ensures that the companies keep high-quality jobs in Germany. And we‘ve got to move to that, and that will take a very different set of policies than begging the Chamber of Commerce to be patriotic.
UYGUR: Well, Robert, that‘s a great point, so let‘s stay on that for a second, because a lot of people say, well, what can we do? The jobs are going to go to China, India, et cetera. But Germany has figured it out. They‘ve figured out a way to keep the jobs.
How are they doing it?
BOROSAGE: Well, they do a combination of things. The workers have unions, and they have a stake in the company leadership. And so they make collective decisions.
They have long-term capital from their banks that‘s not speculative. They make collective decisions about what kinds of plans they move abroad and what technology they‘ll keep at home.
They have a middle level of corporations that are funded by municipally-located banks that are geographically located and very dynamic. And the combination makes them a superpower. And they also manage their trade with China and the like so that they don‘t get overwhelmed by the Chinese mercantilist policies.
UYGUR: Yes. You know, I love the idea of Obama going to the Chamber of Commerce and saying, hey, I‘m going to make you work with unions so that we keep the jobs here.
BOROSAGE: Well, you know, he said that workers have to share in the profits this time. But if we don‘t change policy, we‘ll go back to that old economy.
UYGUR: So this isn‘t going to work. I mean, him reaching out and saying, all right, I‘m going to cut some regulations if you promise to be good guys, it might be well intentioned, but let me ask you that as the last question.
Real quick here, do you think Obama thinks it‘s actually going to work if I appeal to their patriotic duty, that they‘ll put on a flag lapel pin and get out there and hire Americans? If he doesn‘t think that, why is he doing it?
BOROSAGE: No, I don‘t think he thinks that. I think he does think that he can get the Chamber of Commerce perhaps to be an ally in his quest to get money to invest in infrastructure and research and development and education and training, all of which would help business.
UYGUR: Right. Well, they‘re like, oh, if you‘re going to give us more money, yes, we‘ll agree to that.
UYGUR: So that‘s not much of a stretch. I don‘t think he had to do a big speech to get them on board for that.
All right. Robert Borosage, thank you so much for your time this evening. We really appreciate it.
BOROSAGE: A pleasure. Take care.
Now it‘s official. The Republican Party is bought and sold by these right-wing billionaire brothers. We follow the money trail tonight and show you exactly how they bought our politicians.
And Sarah Palin speaks out about Egypt. Oh, no. She‘s rambling about a 3:00 a.m. phone call, and of course it makes no sense. We‘ll share it with you.
UYGUR: Over the weekend conservatives were on the attack against President Obama‘s stance on Egypt. Now, that‘s no surprise.
And look, I don‘t agree with Obama‘s stance on Egypt. So there‘s nothing wrong there. You just have to make some small degree of sense while you‘re doing it.
Unfortunately, this time around it was Sarah Palin, so she struggled with that concept. Now let‘s see if we can figure out what she‘s saying here together. OK? Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR: It‘s a difficult situation. This is that 3:00 a.m. White House phone call, and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House it seems that that call went right to the answering machine, and nobody yet has—nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know. And surely they know more than the rest of us know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: One thing we do know, that somebody knows more than you know.
OK. Did anybody else understand that? Oh, well, you know, when you take it at 3:00 a.m., or you don‘t take it at 3:00 a.m.. And, you know, I‘m either pro-Mubarak or anti-Mubarak, but I don‘t know what a Mubarak is. So I‘ll just say that he didn‘t pick up the phone.
Like, as she‘s doing it, I wonder if her fans are listening and going, oh, yes, she nailed it, or if they‘re like, I don‘t know either but she‘s on our side?
All right. Listening to Sarah Palin on Egypt is a little like taking foreign policy advice from this guy --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOMER SIMPSON, “THE SIMPSONS”: I am too smart. I am too smart. S-m-r-t—I mean, S-m-a-r-t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: A little unkind, but not that far off.
But there is one conservative that you do have to credit to, and that‘s William Kristol. He attacks some of the insane rhetoric coming out of Glenn Beck. Here‘s what Kristol wrote in “The Weekly Standard.”
“When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists or invents the connections between caliphate promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He‘s marginalizing himself just as his predecessors did back in the early in the 1960s. Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the Democrats.”
Now, pause here to give the neocons some credit here. Now, a lot of other neoconservatives did not go that direction.
Bill Kristol talked so much about democracy in the Middle East, it was a little refreshing that he apparently kind of meant it. And he is backing the Democratic movement here in Egypt. So credit where credit is due.
But now speaking of signing with a dictator, let‘s talk for a second about the guy that might be leading the transition process, Omar Suleiman.
Now, he‘s the vice president of Hosni Mubarak. He was the head of his intelligence unit, the very feared intelligence unit. He‘s Mubarak‘s basically right-hand man. He‘s also the guy who helped the U.S. with the rendition program by basically torturing our detainees. And if all that wasn‘t enough, he‘s also the one who exaggerated the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, WikiLeaks exposed what our ambassador to Egypt thought of Suleiman and the Egyptian government‘s efforts to scare us with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is what a cable to the director of the FBI said in 2005:
“The Egyptians have a long history of threatening U.S. with Muslim Brotherhood bogeyman. You should push back on that. And on the contrary, the Muslim Brotherhood‘s rise signals the need for greater democracy and transparency in the government.”
Again, credit where credit is due. The first credit to WikiLeaks for letting us know that even the U.S. government knows, oh, the Muslim Brotherhood is just a bogeyman. But credit to the Bush administration for having ambassadors that actually pointed that out to the FBI.
Look, I kept bringing up Omar Suleiman last week. And I did it for a reason. He‘s the one that kept trying to scare us about the Muslim Brotherhood, as you just saw there, and he was the one that I know—I had a sense that we were going to back in transition.
And I‘ve got to ask you, did anyone in television talk more about Omar Suleiman last week than I did?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Omar Suleiman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oh, it was nice. And it turns out I was right. We‘ve got the administration saying now, Omar Suleiman, not so bad. Not so bad.
Here‘s Hillary Clinton this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it‘s important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now Vice President Omar Suleiman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Ah. All of a sudden, oh, Suleiman, he‘s our boy. He does renditions for us. Everything is going to be all right.
I don‘t think so. Look, supporting a dictator‘s right-hand man isn‘t really that much better than supporting the dictator. So I would like for real change and real democracy.
Now, for more perspective on Suleiman, let‘s bring in Hisham Melhem.
He‘s the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya.
Once again, let me ask you, is Omar Suleiman one of the bad guys, or am I misrepresenting his record?
HISHAM MELHEM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL-ARABIYA: Now, you‘re not misrepresenting it. In fact, by the way, the cables that you were citing were written by Frank Ritadarni (ph), who is a career diplomat I happen to know, and I dealt with in the past, and he‘s a first-rate diplomat. And I think he‘s reporting from Egypt based on these WikiLeaks documents, is right on spot. He‘s correct.
And I think that‘s why many people in (INAUDIBLE) last week, when he was appointed as vice president, were not thrilled. He‘s one of the pillars of the regime. He‘s all of the things that you mentioned before. And we‘re told by people who know him very well that he‘s actually on Mubarak‘s right when it comes to reforms.
The fear here is that we may end up with a situation where we will have Mubarakism without Mubarak, because most of these people are in key positions now, Ahmed Shafiq, the new prime minister; Suleiman; the minister of defense, Tantawi. All of these people were picked by Mubarak. And I have very—I mean, no reason to believe that he would embark on any kind of reform or any kind of opening unless he does that with a sledgehammer and a lot of pressure from the United States, and unless he feels the heat from the streets.
UYGUR: All right. But let‘s do what we do on this program, which is keep it real.
Is the U.S. secretly a little happy about this, like, oh, look at that, we pressured Mubarak to leave, and Suleiman the reformer came in? I mean, we know what the deal with Suleiman is, right?
MELHEM: Look, the concern now is that the United States is sending mixed signals. The United States now is backtracking. And if you look at the statements by the president—and to be fair for President Obama, he‘s being consistent. He talks about transition that should begin now.
Over the weekend, we had the incredible situation with Frank Wisner, the former ambassador to Egypt, who was sent there just because he‘s close to Mubarak. The idea should be that he should be close to Obama, not to Mubarak. He should represent the president of the United States, who sent him there as an envoy, not as a friend of the president of Egypt.
And then you had what seemed to be as backtracking on the part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she said essentially there has to be a transition that should be supervised by Omar Suleiman. And this came after Omar Suleiman met with some representatives of the opposition, and he in fact did his own spin on the meeting and projected the false image that there is a “consensus,” only to be denounced by some of those who met with him that he‘s not telling the truth.
So we are dealing with a guy who is extremely smart, cunning, shady, who is going to buy time and to outmaneuver the opposition.
MELHEM: He‘s engaged, by the way, now—he and Mubarak—in a word of attrition, a word of attrition against the demonstrators and the freedom movement in Egypt. And they‘re trying to buy time, trying to undermine them, trying to isolate them.
MELHEM: And I think if the United States is not sending a clear message that we are with the reform, they will run the risk that we are with the status quo. And this would be a severe blow not only to America, but to Obama, and it will be seen as a betrayal of his landmark speech in Cairo in June, 2009.
UYGUR: Well, then let me ask you that last question. What do you think his true intent is? Is this just a tough diplomatic situation and he‘s splitting the baby here, or do you think that the U.S. establishment thinks, oh, good, if we can sneak another one of our guys in, that‘s fantastic, and we‘ll pretend we‘re for reform?
MELHEM: Look, Cenk, I mean, we have to admit, this is a fluid situation, this is an uncertain situation. We‘re already going through a transition. Things are unfolding in the streets, and the administration found itself trying to catch up with the street. That all is understandable, and one should—I mean, they‘re in an unenviable position.
At the same time, clarity is demanded now. The United States should be clear, should be, as they say, on the right side of history. And we should tell people in the Middle East, as the president said, that there are more options than just being ruled by autocratic, repressive, so-called non-secular groups—
MELHEM: -- or be condemned to live under theocracy.
There has to be a third way, obviously, which is a democratic way. And I think this is where the American message should be. We should be—this president should be faithful to his own speech in Cairo.
UYGUR: Yes. I wish he would be. You know, I think you‘re right. I think that‘s where we need to be but. I‘m not sure that‘s exactly where we are now given the backing of Suleiman.
But Hisham Melhem, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.
MELHEM: Appreciate it.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, Republicans trying to redefine rape, but that failed. But they are still trying to push an extreme agenda on abortion rights. We‘ll have the latest on that story with Congressman Nita Lowey of New York.
And Speaker Boehner loves the cameras, ,but not all of them, it turns out. We‘ll give you his latest flip-flop.
UYGUR: The cameras you always see in the House of Representatives, it turns out they‘re not owned by C-SPAN, they‘re owned and operated by Congress. So C-SPAN wanted to bring in their own cameras. They wanted to get reaction shots, get all the speeches, et cetera.
And last year, Speaker Boehner supported the increased transparency all the way. That‘s because the Democrats were in charge.
A Boehner spokesperson said, “Representative Boehner is committed to making the House more transparent and accountable.”
As long as it‘s the Democrats that are being transparent. Oh, he didn‘t add that part.
So, just last week, though, ,Boehner is still on board. He told the Radio and Television Correspondents Association that he‘s OK with more media. But all of a sudden, now that they‘re in charge, things seem to have changed a little bit and he seems to have changed his mind.
Here‘s his new quote: “I believe the American people and the dignity and decorum of the United States House of Representatives are best served by the current system of televised proceedings provided by the House Recording Studio.”
Did I say you could bring cameras in here? Oh, my bad. My bad. I didn‘t mean you could bring cameras in here. I meant you couldn‘t as long as we‘re in charge. Now, given the obvious hypocrisy, I want to see spin act again where they could bring the cameras, Boehner responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Hell no, you can‘t!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That never gets old. All right. Alan Simpson, he knows part of the president‘s deficit commission. He says, he‘s dissatisfied with the politicians, they‘re not really taking on the deficit. He says, you got to take on Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and defense. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: There‘s only one way to do this, you dig into the big four. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense. And anybody giving you anything different than that you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat and give them the green weenie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I don‘t know what a green weenie is and I‘m pretty sure I don‘t want to know. But here‘s what I do know. Give him credit for wanting to put defense on the table and maybe cut that, right? And he does say, hey, he‘s interested in more taxes but how? He wants to raise taxes according to deficit commission on the middle class but lower taxes on the rich. And when you talk about Social Security, well, this is what he said once. He said it was, like, quote, “a milk cow with 310 million blanks.” Yesterday, he clarified that a little bit saying that he met America was like that cow and not just Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: I meant to say that America was a milk cow with 300 million tilts and not just Social Security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: OK. He said it, I didn‘t. And I don‘t see how that makes it any better. Well, you see how he sees you, like you are leaching off the system, you‘re milking off of it, all with your entitlements. I‘ll say it every time, Social Security is called an entitlement because you paid into it your whole life. That‘s why you‘re entitled to it. You would have to be a green weenie not to know that. Whatever that is. OK.
Now, freshman Congresswoman Anne Buerkle from New York held her first town hall and apparently, she wasn‘t quite ready. She got several questions about her own health insurance. She said well, how come you take government run health insurance? What do you mean? I don‘t take government run health insurance. I get insurance through my employer. The staff had to hand her a note, turns out I get government run health insurance. Why? Because she‘s a government employee. Well, I love that irony.
She‘s like, well, since I‘m a government employee taking government run health insurance, that‘s only OK for me to back the government in saying, government health insurance sucks for everyone else. I‘m not sure I‘m following that logic. But I love she didn‘t know. What? What? Me? Yes, I‘m on government run health insurance? Who knew that? Huh. That‘s pretty good. She didn‘t add that last part but she‘s keeping it, that‘s for sure. Now, Republicans waging a war on women? Now, we got for trying to redefine rape. This state representative in Georgia wants to stop calling women who suffered rape, victims. We‘ll tell you what he wants to call them instead. Congresswoman Nita Lowey on that controversial story.
And Republicans love to praise Ronald Reagan as poster boy for conservatives. But the FOX don‘t lie, FOX News would destroy Reagan if he were in politics today. We‘ll give you the reality check on Reagan.
UYGUR: Welcome back on this show. I‘m Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks, thanks for watching. We have a lot more to get to you tonight. Starting with the republican effort to redefine rape. Oh my God. Here we go again. Down in Georgia, state representative Bobby Franklin has come up with a bill to amend the state criminal code to refer to rape victims as, quote, “accusers until their rapist is convicted,” which of course makes that conviction all the more difficult. Incidentally, Georgia ranks 11th nationwide in cases of forcible rape. Now, the stigmatize rape victims are little more and try to discourage them from coming forward, maybe you can make it to number one, Mr. Franklin.
And speaking of forcible rape, House Republicans recently failed in their attempt to use that narrow definition of rape in a piece of legislation aimed at further reducing federal funding for abortion. But now, there‘s a new bill out there sponsored by Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Pitts that would be even worse for women‘s rights, their bill is called, the “Protect Life Act.” But of course, it does the exact opposite. Right now hospitals in America that get federal funding are required to stabilize any patient that comes into their emergency room no matter what. So if a woman needs an abortion to save her life, they have to perform one or transfer her to a hospital that will. Now, this is to save her life.
This is not for optional abortions. Hospitals that say hey, I don‘t want to do an abortion for my conscious, can still turn away women if there is no emergency. But on this new bill, the requirement to treat women whose lives are in danger would go away. Hospitals that don‘t want to terminate a pregnancy wouldn‘t have to nor would they have to transfer the patient. So, if a woman needs an emergency abortion to save her life, tough luck. Too bad for her and her family. Now, can anyone explain to me how that is pro-life? That makes no sense to me.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York. Congresswoman, this is getting out of hand. I mean, have I interpreted this bill right? I mean, are they really saying you show up to a hospital, you need emergency procedure to save your life, too bad, what I got to do.
REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK: Cenk, I really appreciate your discussing this issue. I want to make it very clear that no federal funds is used for abortion, and what is to tragic about the Pitts bill and the Smith bill is we‘ve been debating these issues for years. And the republican majority was elected to focus on jobs and instead they are rehashing the same issue over and over again. And they want to put Planned Parenthood out of business and we should remind our viewers that over two million people go to family planning clinics to get diabetes services, screening for breast cancer, screening for cervical cancer, all kind of medical services. And to think that they want to deny coverage for those who go to a hospital to save their lives is amazing. No federal funds are used for abortion. I can‘t believe we‘re still debating it. They don‘t give up.
UYGUR: Well, you know, they are the majority in the House now. This bill sounds so incredibly extreme but does it have a chance of passing with the Republicans in the majority?
LOWEY: I would hope not. I would hope not because it‘s so extreme.
It doesn‘t make any sense. And then they keep talking about other things. So that the only kind of abortions that can be supported are forced abortions. Forced abortions. Forced rape. This is so amazing. It‘s shocking to me. Let‘s get on with the discussion of jobs and make it clear, no federal money is used for abortion period.
UYGUR: Right. Congresswoman, I want to get to that point right, you know, I used to think that this really—they were pro-life, they found that life begins at conception. So, perfectly reasonable point of view. You know, whether you agree with it or don‘t agree with it. But with all these bills including the state one in Georgia, said, I‘m beginning to think that this doesn‘t have anything to do with conception. I mean, this one is certainly is a pro life. They are willing to let the woman die in the street. So, I mean, is this really against women? Is that what‘s driving this?
LOWEY: You know, I think you are right on target. Because frankly, everybody is entitled personally to believe what they want to believe. I don‘t question anybody‘s personal belief. Chris Smith, Joe Pitts, anybody. The important thing is, what right do they have to impose personal views on all women in the United States of America. They don‘t want even women to be able to get contraception covered by insurance companies. So, they want to put family planning out of business. If they have an issue and go to a hospital, they don‘t want to let them get treated. This is really anti-women. It‘s not pro-life to me. And again, I respect their personal views but they can tell other people to let a life get lost and let women suffer because they are taking these very extreme views. Let‘s get on to creating jobs in this country.
UYGUR: Yes. There‘s a great irony of Republicans talking about, oh, the Democrats are all here between you and your doctor. Nothing gets between you and your doctor be more than saying your private insurance can‘t cover your contraception. That‘s the government stepping in. No, no, no, no, don‘t give them the contraception.
LOWEY: But they will pay for Viagra, it‘s OK.
UYGUR: Yes. Viagra. See again, these pro-men, anti-women, I mean, you see a trend over this. So final question here, are you going to be able to stop this? How do we stop this portion of this bill from going forward?
LOWEY: I would expect that common sense will prevail and we will block this portion of the bill that most of the Republicans want to focus on jobs and not deny women basic rights and put their life in jeopardy. That‘s really the issue and you said it very well. Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Thank you, congresswoman. We really appreciate you joining us.
LOWEY: Thank you. Thank you, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, ahead, we take down the ghost of Reagan, we‘ll show you why conservatives are celebrating the wrong man. If he was around today, they would hate him.
UYGUR: We go inside the money, we‘ll reveal how the Koch brothers control the Republican Party, that‘s next, you don‘t want to miss it.
UYGUR: Now, we come at the story of the Koch Brothers and how you can buy our government? David and Charles Koch each worth $21 billion. They own Koch industries, an oil and chemical giant that stands the second largest privately owned company in the U.S. In 1980, David Koch ran to the right of Ronald Reagan as a libertarian party‘s vice presidential candidate. When that failed, they changed tactics and decided to buy Washington instead. This is a story of how they did that.
First of all, they decided to him, you know what, why don‘t we start think tanks? So, they funded 35 conservative or libertarian groups. They spent almost $48 million to fight global warming or that opposition to global warming groups, of course. That was from ‘97 to 2008. I wish they would fight global warming, they do the opposite. And we‘ll tell you why in a second. They also funded the CATO Institute, the Federalist Society, and Americans for prosperity. These are some of the largest conservatives groups in the country. Now, let‘s go to America for prosperity. They spent $40 million in the 2011 election cycle mainly against Democrats.
They use that in 100 races across the country in Congress. And with that money, they held rallies, they did phone banks, they canvas door to door, basically pretending to be grassroots when in fact, all they cared was not just about the congressman but specifically about the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And what did they do there? Well, they spent $279,500 and they gave it to 22 of 31 Republicans on the committee. They also gave 32,000 to five Democrats. Now, why did the Americans for prosperity care about the new Republicans on the House panel? Well, I‘m going to get to that in a second.
But look at what they did with the freshman. Five of the six freshmen benefited from Americans for prosperity in 2010. So, hey, they are definitely on their side. Nine of the 12 signed on to the pledge on greenhouse gases that they wanted Americans for prosperity wanted them to take. So, what was that pledge? Well, here it is. They said that the pledge on greenhouse gases is quote, “ask politicians to denounce a democratic led effort to compel oil refineries to clean up emissions of greenhouse gases through a so-called Cap-and-Trade system.” Now, do you get what‘s happening here, folks?
They are in the oil business and they are saying, hey, we don‘t want oil refineries to get cleaned up. Because if you clean up oil refineries and have less pollution and less global warming, it costs the Koch brothers a tremendous amount of money. So, they invest a little bit of money to buy these politicians, they specifically target the commerce and Energy Committee and then voila, look at that, hey, those are all my boys! And what‘s the first thing they want to do? The Republicans of course want to limit the EPA from controlling global warming. Say, hey, back off the oil refineries. Those guys paid our bills. That‘s how our politicians get bought and in this case by the Koch brothers.
With me now is Kathleen Hennessey, reporter from the “Lost Angels Times,” she co-wrote a fascinating story about the link between the Koch and the GOP in today‘s paper. All right. Kathleen, this program by the Kochs to buy influence seems has been an enormous success, is that right?
KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, LOS ANGELES TIMES: It‘s certainly been successful. I don‘t think I would say that they were buying influence so much as they were.
UYGUR: Renting it?
HENNESSEY: They set out several years ago to sort of beef up their political operations. They were among many Republicans, you know, during the Bush era who felt that small government, free market policies were not being followed and they decided several years ago to sort of amp up some of their operations. And I think we‘re seeing, it was a gradual process and we‘re seeing the results of that now.
UYGUR: And it was just a lovely coincidence that they‘re free trade, free market policies wound up helping them pollute a little more. I mean, that‘s just how it goes, right?
HENNESSEY: Well, they would say that, you know, they are certainly—that they believe that a certain amount of regulation is too much regulation. This is a long standing ideological position for David and Charles Koch. David Koch was a libertarian candidate in 1980 as you mentioned. So, you know, they would argue that this is their ideological position and they‘ve been true to it. And may also benefit their company‘s bottom line. Certainly both seem to be true at this point.
UYGUR: Let me ask you about Representative Mike Pompeo, he‘s from their home district and he has some interesting ties to them. Can you tell us about that a little bit?
HENNESSEY: Sure. Congressman Pompeo has a long relationship with the Koch brothers there. He received a bit of investment in a company that he started many years ago which he since sold. And, you know, he‘s from their home district. So, he‘s known quantity to them and connected to their industries and for instance, he hired a former Koch lawyer as his chief of staff.
UYGUR: That‘s funny. Again, a wonderful coincidence where they invest in his business, he makes some money and then when he‘s in Congress, he hires their guy as chief of staff. Again, probably just a coincidence. So, let‘s go to Fred Upton who is also on the committee. Now, he was a little skeptical in regards to the right wing talking point on global warming. He originally tells a little bit about that. Where was his original position and where is he now?
HENNESSEY: Well, his original position and his original statements indicate that he at the very least considered global warming a serious problem that needed to be taken seriously. He as part of an effort to win the chairmanship once Republicans had won in November, won control of the House, he had to, you know, make sort of a campaign for the chairmanship and there was some opposition from other conservative groups and he made a lot of steps basically sort of toughening up his rhetoric on the EPA in particular and its role in regulating greenhouse gases. And he was successful in that effort. And, you know, became the chairman and shortly after came out and wrote an Op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal” basically endorsing the same policy that Americans for prosperity has been advocating for a long time.
UYGUR: They‘re among these top ten donors. He gets the money from them. Kind of changes his position, all of a sudden, he thinks global warming is no big deal. But probably a wonderful coincidence. All right. Now, one last question for you real quick. You know, we got the pollution that might come from refineries, et cetera, but there‘s actually an excellent investment for them because it also affects their taxes, right? Tell us a little bit about that.
HENNESSEY: Well, I don‘t want to say that this is part of a—I guess that their approach and their tactics is one that‘s sort of been taken by democratic fundraisers and benefactors as well, that they sort of in many ways describe themselves as following the playbook of George Soros and other—and that they are trying to coordinate sort of various groups advocating for a point of view and that‘s what they would argue that they are doing in this effort.
UYGUR: All right. I know. Their point of view saving them millions perhaps billions in taxes. Well, look at that. Again, a wonderful coincidence.
All right. Kathleen Hennessey of L.A. Times, thank you so much.
HENNESSEY: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Conservatives were having a love fest for Ronald Reagan over the weekend. When we come back, I‘m going to rain on their parade, I‘ll show you why Reagan wouldn‘t be considered a conservative today, in fact, he‘s a poster child of what Republicans can‘t stand.
UYGUR: In this past weekend, conservative celebrated what would have been President Ronald Reagan‘s 100th birthday. Republicans tried to outdo each other and praising him. Oh no, I love Reagan more. I love Reagan more. The reality is that Reagan actually turns out, really not nearly as conservative as they say he was. In fact, I think there‘s no way he could have gotten elected as a republican today. Are you ready for this? I don‘t think there‘s any way he could have gotten elected as a democrat today. FOX News would have ravaged him. Let me show you why. When he was president, did you know that Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times?
And when he was governor of California, Reagan signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up until then? Now, what do you think FOX News would have said about that? President Reagan almost tripled the federal budget deficit during his time in office, the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion. That‘s almost three times as much debt as the U.S. had accumulated in the first 80 years of the 20th century. That‘s a lot of debt. I thought Republicans were against debt. President Reagan also illegally gave weapons to Iran. He negotiated with terrorists. Secretly sold arms to Iran in exchange for American hostages and money for contrast. That was the Iran contra fair.
Does it get any worse than negotiating with terrorists? And in 1984, Reagan pulled American troops out of Lebanon. President Reagan deployed an American peace keeping force in Beirut but after 241 U.S. services members were killed in a bombing ordered by Hezbollah, he ran for the hills. President Reagan also—and this is crazy I know, but I‘ll explained, he helped to start the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. How? Reagan was trying to fight the Soviet Union which made sense but he trained, equipped and funded the Islamic Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan. His plan backfired a little bit when they became the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, which were the tough fighters for that group. I‘m not giving all of the blame for him there. But it did turn out that way.
Now, if all that wasn‘t bad enough, this one is going to sting. Reagan gave amnesty to three million undocumented immigrants. He signed a law that made any immigrants, he signed a law that made any immigrant would enter the U.S. before 1982 eligible for amnesty. Complete amnesty. Now, if you think Reagan sounds like a no good lib at this point, and you‘re wondering why anyone calls him a conservative, it‘s partly because of context but also partly because of what he did on race.
In Philadelphia, Mississippi, he gave a speech about state‘s rights and that‘s where some civil rights workers had died. I wonder why he gave that speech. And by the way, he was against the anti-part time legislation handed to him. He vetoed it, luckily, they overcame his veto, so the one thing Reagan was conservative on was racial issues. And that didn‘t really sit pretty as you can see with history. Boy, what an American hero.
All right. That‘s the show for today. “HARDBALL” is up next. So, enjoy that.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”: Who‘s beckoning Glenn Beck? Let‘s play “HARDBALL.”
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