Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Read the transcript from the Wednesday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Chris Larson, Lee Fang, David Sirota, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Sandy
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Welcome to the show, everybody.
Tonight we have an amazing story coming out of Wisconsin. Have you heard this yet? I almost couldn‘t believe it.
You know how we‘ve been telling you about how the billionaire Koch brothers were financing Governor Walker and his attack on the middle class. Well, Ian Murphy, the editor of the alternative online magazine “Buffalo Beast,” prank-called Governor Walker in Wisconsin pretending to the one of the brother, David Koch. And are you ready for this? Walker bought it. He took the call and chatted with the fake Koch brother for 20 minutes.
The guy who said he‘s not going to talk to anybody, he‘s like, oh, the Kochs are calling? Oh, that‘s my boss. I‘ve got to pick it up. Twenty minutes! His office confirmed it.
I couldn‘t believe it. It‘s an amazing look into Walker‘s thinking. We hear Walker in his own words giving details of how he plans to cripple public employees in his state.
Now, we‘re going to give you a whole breakdown of the tape in one second. And wait until we get to the part about baseball bats and parties in California.
But first, on the call, Governor Walker wasted no time threatening worker layoffs.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: I got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We‘ll announce Thursday, and they‘ll go out early next week, and we‘ll probably get 5,000 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, too.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: Yes, ready with the layoffs, 5,000 to 6,000. Going to ratchet it up.
But that‘s not fair. You said this was about the budget. Now they say yes, we‘ll give you all the pay cuts you want. And you say, don‘t worry, Mr. Koch, I‘ll fire them if you want me to.
Then Walker made it clear that he has no intention of compromising with the Democrats.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: We don‘t budge.
IAN MURPHY, “BUFFALO BEAST”: G-d damn right.
WALKER: You stay firm. In this case, you know, we say we‘ll wait it out.
If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers who will be laid off, sooner or later there‘s going to be pressure on these senators to come back.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: So, of course he says right there, we‘re not going to budge, we‘re never going to budge. We‘re going to make sure they budge.
Next, the governor tells the fake Koch about a plan to get the Democrats back to Wisconsin by saying he‘ll talk to them, but it turns out it‘s all a trick. Watch.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: I would be willing to sit down to talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders. Talk, not negotiate, and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I‘ll only do it if all 14 of them come back and sit down in the state assembly.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: He says, look, I‘m not going to negotiate with them. I‘m just going to talk. I‘ll have them come in and yell at me for an hour. But in reality, once they‘re in the state, he‘s got a plan that he‘s ready to unleash that says, oh, once you‘ve agreed to it, I don‘t care if you recess or you don‘t recess. The minute you step in and you take that first action, well, we‘ve got quorum and we can go ahead with our plan.
It‘s the whole thing. It‘s to trick the Democrats into coming back. He‘s telling them one thing, but he‘s telling the Koch brothers, don‘t worry, I‘m going to do something completely different.
Now, the Democrats can‘t fall for that, can they?
All right, look, then he doubled down on his refusal to negotiate. And the fake Koch used the opportunity to give the governor tips on how to deal with the Democrats. Wait until you get a load of this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: My sense is, hell, I‘ll talk. If they want to yell at me for an hour, I‘m used to that. I can deal with that. But I‘m not negotiating.
MURPHY: Bring a baseball bat.
WALKER: Yes. I have one in my office. You‘ll be happy with that. I got a Slugger with my name on it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: This guy is Al Capone, walking around with a baseball bat, talking about how they‘re going to take care of these guys? I mean, look, it‘s a fake Koch brother and he‘s feeding him, and he‘s seeing if he‘s going to take the bait.
And Walker steps up and goes, oh, yes, grab the bat. Let‘s go. Where we going?
Then toward the end of the conversation, Walker started talking about how he was setting the example for other states and setting the agenda to bust unions all over the country.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: I talk to Kasich every day. John has got to stand firm in Ohio. I think we can do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida. I think Snyder, if he got a little more support, probably could do that in Michigan. I mean, you start going down the list, you know, a lot of us—there‘s a lot of us new governors who got elected to do something big.
MURPHY: You‘re the first domino.
WALKER: Yes. This is our moment.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: Do you get what he‘s saying there? Mr. Koch, thank you for your $43,000 contribution to my campaign. Thank you for all the work you‘re doing on my behalf right now. Here‘s what I‘m going to do for you in return. I‘m going to start that domino effect, this is our moment, and then we‘re going to go to Ohio, kind of like Howard Dean.
We‘re going to go to Ohio! We‘re going to go to Michigan! We‘re going to go to Florida! Yeah! And grab baseball bats all over the place.
Look, this is exactly what we told you last night. We told you they were coming to bust unions all over the country. This doesn‘t have to do anything to do with Wisconsin‘s deficit.
And when the billionaire calls, he says, oh, yes, you‘re right, Mr.
Koch. Absolutely, Mr. Koch. Let‘s do it all over the country.
Well, look, it might not be the domino effect that Walker was dreaming about, because it turns out today, thousands of protesters in Indiana won. The Republican state Senate leader dropped their attempt to eliminate collective bargaining rights.
Why? Because people stood up. And then all of a sudden they got a little scared. They‘re like, oh, my God, it‘s the protesters. They‘re actually doing democracy.
Also today, Iowa‘s Republican governor Terry Branstad nixed his state‘s own union-busting bill. So two important victories there.
But now back to the call, Walker also weighed in on his quid pro quo. Now that he‘s delivered for Koch Industries, what can the Koch lobbying machine do for Wisconsin Republicans?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: One thing per your question is the more groups that are encouraging people not just to show up, but to call lawmakers and tell them to hang firm with the governor, the better, because the more they get that reassurance, the easier it is for them to vote yes.
MURPHY: Right. Right.
WALKER: The other thing is more long term. And that is, after this, you know, the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particularly in some of these more swing areas, a lot of these guys are going to need—they don‘t necessarily need that for them, but they‘re going to need a message out, reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state. So, to the extent that that message is out over and over again, that is obviously a good thing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. You get what‘s happening there? All right. We need reassurance for the Republicans. OK? How are you going to get that reassurance? You‘re going to get ads. You‘re going to have to give us a little back for what we did for you.
Then finally, the fake Koch dangled a reward in front of Walker for all his hard work going after working Americans.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MURPHY: Well, I‘ll tell you what, Scott. Once you‘ve crush these bastards, I‘ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
WALKER: All right. That would be outstanding.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: That would be outstanding. Parties in Cali.
UYGUR: They‘re going Tupac style. They‘re like, yes, after we‘re done with the bats, we‘ll go to California and grab at least a couple of brews.
Now, do you see how all this works? Walker gets campaign cash and help from the Koch brothers, then he takes out his bat and goes to work on the unions, and he gets rewarded with parties in California, more ads, more reassurance, and the cycle goes round and round. And you get screwed and the middle class gets screwed, and the Koch brothers get richer.
And if you didn‘t know, now thanks to that tape, you know.
And joining me now is Wisconsin Democratic state senator Chris Larson, one of the 14 Democrats that Governor Walker thinks he can intimidate.
Well, you know, you heard the tape. And on the tape he says, oh, these guys are weak. You know, they‘ll bend. I won‘t ever compromise. And I‘ll trick them into coming into the state.
How do you respond to that?
CHRIS LARSON (D), WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: Right. Cenk, thanks for having me on the show.
Yes, we‘re not falling for it. I‘ve actually worked with Walker for the three years before he was governor, when we were both in Milwaukee County. And this is the kind of stuff that he does.
He appreciates this right wing race to the bottom. I mean, he‘s really living in this moment where he‘s trying to lead the country and trying to lead these other Republican governors.
And no, we listened to it all today. I woke up early, I got this in my e-mail and forwarded it on to the other senators. And everybody listened to it.
You know, and their jaws just dropped on the floor, because we though, OK, maybe there‘s some piece in him that wants to compromise and find a solution for Wisconsin on this one. And I don‘t think he even mentioned what was going on in Wisconsin or the deficit at all in this.
It was all about busting the unions. So it really gave away his cards. I mean, if you listen to the whole audio, it really speaks for itself. It tells you exactly what he‘s trying to do.
UYGUR: All right. So let‘s talk about how this plays out then, because his plan was to trick you to guys to come into the state, pretend to negotiate, then not negotiate. And then say, ha ha, I‘ve got quorum.
So now that you know he‘s lying to you, how do you respond? Does that mean you‘re going to stay out longer?
LARSON: Right. Well, I think if anything—I mean, the Democrats we weren‘t going to be coming back until this backwards budget bill was pulled off the table. But I think he mentions in that call—and you might play this clip later, where he‘s talking about Senate Republicans who are getting shaky. Because we‘ve had tens of thousands of people coming out and marching on the capital.
We‘ve had six days straight of public hearing, where people are talking about the effects this has on them. And so they‘re the ones who are really getting shaky. And he‘s had to call them each night to make sure that they‘re not falling away.
Well, I don‘t think they‘re going to be taking his call tonight. I think that they‘re going to be coming back to the middle and saying, look, this guy doesn‘t even care what‘s going on in Wisconsin. He‘s trying to impress some billionaires, he‘s trying to impress some other people in other parts of the country. And we need to worry about friends and neighbors back home that are going to be devastated by this.
So I think those are the ones who may end up being shaky. But we‘re pretty rock solid against this.
UYGUR: All right. Now, to that point, I actually want to play you a clip where he talks about Ronald Reagan because it goes to his state of mind. Let‘s play that for you.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: I stood up and I pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan and I said, “You know, this may be seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers.” And I said, “To me, that moment was more important than just labor relations or even the federal budget. That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall in the fall of communism.” I said, “This is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history.”
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: This guy thinks he‘s changing the course of history. He thinks he‘s the Gipper, right?
So is he playing to a national audience here? Does he not care what‘s going on in Wisconsin because he wants to project this image of being the next Ronald Reagan to conservatives across the country and to the Koch brothers?
LARSON: Right. I mean, he‘s got to be listening to them because he‘s not listening to the folks back in Wisconsin.
It seems we‘ve kind of seen this before, where Republicans try and emulate Ronald Reagan and do impersonations of Ronald Reagan. And this just kind of puts that right up front, that that‘s all he‘s trying to do is trying to relive eight years of Ronald Reagan, or four years of Ronald Reagan. And this is not what people are talking about back home, you know?
This is something where we‘re trying to solve some budget problems, we‘re trying to move forward. And he‘s trying to play out this Republican fantasy where he can out-right-wing the right wing, where he‘s trying to outdo Christie over in New Jersey and Kasich in Ohio. And I think he mentions in this call, too, where he‘s trying to talk about how a Republican governor doesn‘t want him there because of what he‘s doing here, and people would elect him governor there.
So it‘s really sad that this is where it‘s going. I mean, there‘s serious problems back home.
I‘m getting calls from friends who are concerned about their jobs, people who are teachers. And then he‘s off doing this. Instead of, you know, taking calls from make believe billionaires, he should be listening to the folks back home.
UYGUR: All right. State Senator Chris Larson, thank you for your time tonight. We appreciate it. Stay strong. Stay strong.
LARSON: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now let me turn to Lee Fang from ThinkProgress.org, who‘s been investigating the Koch brothers. He‘s been tracking this all along.
Lee, first, this isn‘t isolated. Tell me a little bit about what the Koch brothers did to set up shop in Madison, Wisconsin, after Walker‘s victory.
LEE FANG, THINKPROGRESS.ORG: Well, in addition to hosting Tea Parties and bringing folks out to support the governor, they actually opened a new government affairs shop, which is, you know, basically lobbyist talk to a lobbying office. They hired seven new lobbyists. They‘re really expanding their operation to take advantage of a very friendly government there.
UYGUR: Yes. And what are they trying to get, do you think? I mean, obviously, they already have got the thing where they want to bust the unions and they want tax cuts, et cetera. But talk to me about this possibility of no-bid contracts.
FANG: Well, there‘s a line item in this budget. In addition to this collective bargaining issue, there‘s a line item that allows no big contracts, so Governor Walker can sell off the state‘s power plants. Now, Koch Industries has a lot of oil and coal interests already in the state, so that‘s something that would be very good for their business.
But here‘s the dirty secret about Koch Industries. Even though David and Charles Koch like to talk about being free market libertarians, the dirty secret is their entire business is based on government contracts. They basically started the company 50 years ago, their father, by building refineries for Stalin in the Soviet Union. In the Bush years, they got a no-bid contract to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And in the past few years they‘ve been using eminent domain to seize up land to build new pipelines.
UYGUR: Why do you think they buy the politicians? Because they want to milk the government. It‘s the most ironic thing I‘ve ever seen.
Finally, real quick here, is this the quid pro quo you‘ve been talking about and a lot of people have been talking about all along? Is this how the game is played? Have we seen that through this phone call?
FANG: Well, absolutely. I mean, this call really showed the substance of what Governor Walker was thinking.
You know, he was talking to David Koch, or what he thought was David Koch, like it was his supervisor. I mean, he was just giddy to spill his guts and to brag about how this is not about the budget, but about busting unions.
You know, two months ago, David Koch actually met—the real David Koch met with Speaker Boehner in the Speaker‘s office on the first day of Congress and threw a big party for all the new Republicans he helped elect. So maybe Scott Walker thought this was the same type of relationship that Boehner has with Koch.
UYGUR: All right. Lee Fang, thanks for joining us tonight. Thanks for staying on top of this story. Very important. It turns out to be incredibly accurate, too. Thank you.
Now, Republicans are demanding pay cuts for teachers. So why was it OK for bankers bailed out with public money to get raises? That hypocrisy is revealed right ahead.
We also reveal the extreme agenda of the Republican governors throughout the country. We‘ll show you the amazing numbers behind their plan to transfer money from the middle class and poor to the very rich.
And the heart-wrenching story of a mom who blames her son‘s suicide on a kickback judge who‘s been convicted of racketeering in a plan that sent young people to for-private detention centers so they could all get paid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My kid is not here! He‘s dead! He isn‘t here!
He ruined my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) life!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: She‘s going to join me live to tell her story.
We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: Remember when taxpayers bailed out the banks? Since the public was funding their pay, some suggested that we do a cap on their bonuses. Makes sense, right?
Well, the banks cried about their need to—are you ready for this—retain talent, because they‘re so talented. Now, it was an argument that they made over and over. How could they keep anyone in the banking business without at least $500,000 in bonuses? And usually a hell of a lot more than that.
Now, you know what‘s funny? I don‘t hear people making that argument about teachers. When it comes to teachers being paid by the public, all we hear about is how we have to cut their pay and we have to cut their pensions to balance the budget off of their backs. No talk about how we have to retain their talent.
Now, of course, they don‘t have the talent of destroying our whole economy like the bankers did. They just teach our kids. The reality is that most workers, including teachers, often need collective bargaining.
Why? Because if Melissa goes in to ask for a raise by herself, here‘s the answer she‘s normally going to get from the place that she works if she doesn‘t have collective bargaining—“You‘re fired. I‘m going to get Bob to replace you. End of this. You‘re done.”
The whole point of collective bargaining is that if you put all of the employees together, then they can be on an even playing field with management. If they pull that rug out from underneath you, you‘re in a world of trouble and exactly where corporate executives want you—defenseless and at the mercy of your employer.
Now, luckily, most Americans already got this. Look at this “USA Today”/Gallup poll. When asked, “Are you in a favor of a law taking away some collective bargaining rights of most unions?” Thirty-three percent, they said, yes, we favor that. We want to take away those rights. Sixty-one percent said no, we don‘t want that taken away.
That‘s a huge advantage, and people get it. You need collective bargaining, otherwise you‘re in a lot of trouble.
But guess what? There are signs that the teacher unions also lead to better student performance.
When you look at graduation rates in high school, in states with collective bargaining for teachers, they do fantastic. You see those top four right there? All collective bargaining, the top four. OK? Much higher than the national average.
And then when you look at how teacher unions affect student performance overall, when they put the 17 different studies together, a professor who is now at the University of Louisville concluded, “The evidence suggests that unionism raises achievement modestly for most students in public schools.”
Now, look, this evidence is interesting. I‘m not saying it‘s overwhelming. And when they put the studies together, they said it has a modest positive affect. It‘s not overwhelming, but, hey, it looks like the unions actually help the kids. They certainly help on the graduation rates, and it looks like they help in overall performance, too.
Well, you say, all right, OK, so they‘ve got good teachers and they‘ve good students coming out. But how about the deficits?
Doesn‘t getting rid of collective bargaining help straighten at your deficit at least? Nope.
Deficits in states without collective bargaining are actually running at above 30 percent. You‘ve got Nevada, you‘ve got Arizona, you‘ve got North Carolina. These are huge deficits as a percentage of the spending in that state.
So how about states where they have collective bargaining? Now, those states where the deficits are supposed to be terrible, right? Oh, my God, collective bargaining kills your deficit. No it doesn‘t. They have actually less than 10 percent of spending as compared to deficit.
Massachusetts, as you see, is at 8.6. New Mexico is at 6.1. Montana, also incredibly low.
So, it turns out getting rid of collective bargaining doesn‘t necessarily save you any money, it seems to make students perform worse, and it hurts people who we trust to teach our kids. Now, what does that say about our values?
Well, actually, it doesn‘t say anything about our values because the country agrees with us. We say yes, we need collective bargaining.
So what does it say about Republican values? And what does it say if you vote for them and those values?
That‘s what we want you to think about.
Now, to help me think about it is David Sirota. He‘s a national syndicated columnist and host on AM 760 in Colorado. And honestly, the guy I stole this idea from.
David, you wrote today about teachers and bankers and comparing the two. That was originally your idea. Tell me more about that.
DAVID SIROTA, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, we have two sets of public employees, or publicly paid employees over the last few years here in the news. Right?
You‘ve had publicly paid bankers who have been paid handsomely by multitrillion-dollar treasury and Federal Reserve bailouts. And you have another set of public employees who have been in the news—teachers, firefighters, police officers. And there seems to be two standards.
One standard for the bankers is we can‘t limit their pay. When pay caps were proposed to limit their executive pay to $500,000 a year, they said we can‘t limit their pay because it would hurt their ability to retain talent.
The same argument hasn‘t been made for, as you say, for teachers. In Wisconsin, they make an average of $48,000 a year. And the question is why the two standards?
And what the answer is, is that the Republicans who say that we shouldn‘t limit the pay of publicly-taxpayer-financed bankers, but we should limit the pay of teachers is that they believe that the priority should be for the government to better and better reward people for going into a financial industry that cannibalizes wealth, rather than into parts of our economy like teaching, like police, like being a police officer, or a firefighter, that actually protects wealth and builds public wealth.
UYGUR: David, you know, let‘s talk about the irony here, because I think there‘s a huge irony, because they say, oh, these public unions, they‘re taking public money and influencing politics with it. But in reality, the guys who claim to be libertarians and in favor of free markets are the ones who seem to have captured the government and milk it for so much money, and that‘s the bankers.
SIROTA: That‘s exactly right. Look, it‘s definitely true that there‘s a problem in our politics, a pay-to-play problem all across our politics.
You‘ve got to put in money to get any legislator in many cases to listen to you. But the issue here is that if the people who are claiming that this is a problem about unions, they have nothing to say about the fact that corporations spend hugely more amount of money buying politicians than unions. That they don‘t seem to have any problem with corporations buying regulators to not regulate corporate industries, corporations buying legislators to pass massive tax subsidies to those corporations.
So there‘s really a double standard here, a hypocrisy. And I just keep going back to the idea that if we‘re going to pay publicly-financed bankers more than $500,000 a year, shouldn‘t we at least be paying teachers a little more than $48,000 or $50,000 a year?
UYGUR: And that‘s exactly the problem with the values that these guys propose. There are no values at all.
And then when teachers get together, or firefighters, or any of these unions say, hey, let us at least bargain with you—I mean, we‘ve agreed to the pay cuts—let us at least have the ability to bargain with you, hell, no. They get crushed.
SIROTA: And here‘s the real problem. Right? If we want better schools, if we want better firefighters, better police forces, we‘re going to have to apply the same rhetoric, the same idea that we‘ve applied, and I don‘t think very properly, to banks.
If we want to attract better teachers, we‘re going to need to pay teachers better. If we‘re going to attract good police forces and good firefighting units in the future, we‘re going to need to pay for that. That‘s Econ 101. That‘s if you get what you pay for, you don‘t get what you don‘t pay for.
So you can‘t really complain that your schools aren‘t good if you‘re also saying that you want to cut the pay of teachers and cut their pensions.
UYGUR: All right. David Sirota, great article, and thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.
SIROTA: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: Now, Glenn Beck is unfortunately at it again. Get this—he compares reform Judaism to radicalized Islam.
Oh, come on, man.
We‘ll tell you why he went after reform Jews this time around.
And this Republican in Georgia wants to outlaw miscarriages. We‘ll tell you how he would make miscarriages a felony against what he calls prenatal citizens.
UYGUR: Last month, 400 rabbis took a stand against Glenn Beck, demanding he stopped with the Nazi references. They published an open letter, asking Rupert Murdoch to sanction Beck for his anti-Semitic language. Well, Beck and his crew were back to talking about George Soros again. Of course. And the letter that we just preferred to came up again. So, here was Beck‘s take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It‘s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way to where it is just—radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the reform Judaism, it is more about politics. I‘m not saying that they‘re the same on and they‘re going to take it to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Glenn beck says!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: It‘s not about terror or anything else. It‘s about politics. And so, it becomes more about politics than it does about faith. Orthodox rabbis, that is about faith. There‘s not a single Orthodox rabbi on this list. This is all reform rabbis that made this list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: First of all, of course, that‘s a lie. There were orthodox rabbis on the list. He made it up, as usual. Second of all, reform Jews are the least fundamentalist and radical Muslims are the most fundamentalists in their respective religions. So, how does that make any sense? It is as always the exact opposite of the truth. Now, the only reason he‘s doing it is because he wants to lump reform Jews with radical Muslims because he doesn‘t like them. The easiest way to smear anyone in the Beck world is to compare them to a Muslim. Now, he also tried to characterize reform Jews as some sort of a fringe movement within Judaism. They are in reality, the largest denomination within Judaism in this country. Something I think he‘s doing like a show in bizarre world. He tries to find the exact opposite of what‘s true and he says it every day. Maybe he‘s thinking, well, it worked for Costanza.
So, now, much more serious story. And that was pretty serious but this is much worse. Declaim that the Republicans are waging a war on women is not hyperbole, it‘s totally real. I‘m going to prove it to you tonight. A new republican proposal in Georgia would make miscarriages, not abortion, miscarriages punishable by death. You didn‘t hear that wrong. Women who have miscarriages could be put on trial for murder and in Georgia given the death penalty. The bill by republican State Representative Bobby Franklin calls fetuses prenatal citizens, and tries to outlaw any termination of a so-called prenatal citizen.
Here‘s the text of the bill, quote, “prenatal murder means the intentional removal of a fetus from a woman with an intention other than to produce a live birth. Such term does not include what‘s known popularly as a miscarriage, so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such an event.” Now, what does Franklin mean by human involvement? Who knows? He didn‘t specify. So, a woman has to prove that her miscarriage did not have human involvement. Now, what happens if you tripped and you fell and you had a miscarriage? How do you prove it‘s not human involvement? It‘s crazy.
So, the bottom line is women already suffering the tragedy of a miscarriage might be forced to go to a police station to defend herself against the potential murder charge. I mean, come on, man! Are there no bounds of reason? That‘s sick, it‘s twisted, and yes, it‘s absolutely misogynistic.
All right. Now, up next, the extreme GOP agenda might be coming to a state near you. We‘ll show you why they are completely full of it when they say they care about deficits. What‘s their real agenda? Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation” on the real goal of the wave of radical new governments. And Newt Gingrich is grilled by a young student. He‘s asked how he can talk about family values after two extramarital affairs. Zinger! We‘ll show you how he got embarrassed.
UYGUR: Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker claims he‘s trying to fix the deficit by busting public unions in Wisconsin. But he‘s about to hand out $140 million in new tax breaks over the next two years. So what happens? I thought you had a big deficit problem? Apparently not when it comes to giving out cash to corporate interests, right? But it‘s not the only republican for the same plan. For GOP governors across the country, it‘s not the about balancing the budget, it‘s not about shared sacrifice. It‘s about tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. It‘s about you sacrificing and the middle class sacrificing and the poor sacrificing, so Republicans can distribute more and more money to their biggest campaign contributors. Rich people and corporations.
And we‘re going to show it to you. And it is a vicious cycle. The Republicans love to talk about kitchen table finances. So, you know what, let‘s have some fun. Let‘s do some back of the envelope Math for you guys. Arizona‘s Republican Governor Jan Brewer says she wants to cut the deficit. So, she looks at her expenses and it costs $541 million to give health care to 280,000 poor people through Medicaid. Now, that‘s a lot of people that they‘re going to get cut for Medicaid, so she cuts it. She cuts for Medicaid and puts $541 million towards reducing the deficit.
All right, great. Except wait. She also wants to give out corporate tax breaks which will cost Arizona $538 million in loss revenue. So cutting Medicaid didn‘t really reduce the deficit at all. I‘m amused by that. OK. She turned around and handed the money right back to the corporations. And that‘s how it works. You see, it‘s just a transfer of cash from the poor in that case to the rich. There‘s nothing to do with the deficit, just took from one hand and gave it to the other. Now, let‘s look at an even more egregious example. Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder, he wants to cut $1.2 billion from schools, universities and local governments.
But you‘re going to be shocked where he wants the money to go instead.
It turns out he wants to give out $1.8 billion in tax cuts for business. Shocking. As you see, it doesn‘t even balance out. So how does he plan to close the rest of the gap? By raising taxes on individuals. That‘s a little sound effects. OK. So, any republican who tells you they want to cut deficits while cutting taxes, I‘ve got to be honest with you, they‘re lying or they‘re terrible at Math. Or who knows, maybe both.
Joining me now is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation.”
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”: Good to see you.
UYGUR: It‘s good to see you. And, you know, obviously they‘re playing games with the numbers.
UYGUR: Take it from either the middle class or the schools or the poor and gives it to the rich. But let‘s talk about the consequences here. When you cut Medicaid to those 280,000 people in Arizona magically get better. Another thing that Brewer did, 5200 people who are seriously, mentally ill, she doesn‘t want to treat them anymore. So, are they going to get better, no, they‘re going to be on the street.
HEUVEL: No, no, I mean, this is, you know, this are about distorted priorities, this is about an extremist republican flank which wants to defund the priorities for people. They want to balance budgets on the backs of working people of low income people. There is an alternative. There‘s always an alternative in politics and history and I think people are waking up Cenk and seeing that enough. Enough to give tax breaks to corporations and the very richest, and that it‘s not about deficits as you said. This is junk Math. And what I think Governor Walker has overreached. I really do, I think it‘s clear for the first time and maybe 30 years since President Reagan, just recently tried to break the back of labor which is after all, the only counterforce for working people in this country against powerful corporations. I think there‘s more sympathy, unity and attention being paid to labor and working people and how these Republicans are just out to lunch when it comes to their priorities.
UYGUR: Katrina, I think you‘re right in terms of that, we‘re seeing now in Indiana, in Iowa and other places, republican governors running for the hills because they‘re seeing the numbers for Walker and it‘s not good.
HEUVEL: Not good.
UYGUR: And they‘re looking at the national numbers we showed earlier in the show. You know, where people are in favor of collective bargaining. And it‘s by two to one margin nearly. So, they‘re a little bit in a panic, so I get that part. But I wonder if everybody else gets what‘s happening here. Because Rick Scott just won. Here‘s another example from Florida, right? And Rick Scott says that he‘s going to give away $4 billion in corporate tax cuts and property tax cuts and he‘s going to take away $3 billion from education. That‘s what I‘m wondering. Do the people of Florida realize they voted for this? They think yes, fantastic, take away our education.
HEUVEL: I think we‘re in a turning point moment in this country in the last, let‘s say two weeks. People are waking up. And they‘re in the streets. There are going to be 50 rallies around this country. Maybe a million people in the streets of this country. And what are they saying? Enough! You‘re giving our people‘s money away. Invest in our country, invest in jobs, invest in education. Keep cops on the street, keep teachers in the classrooms. Enough with these perks for corporations. There‘s a movement called U.S. uncut, which is inspired by an article in “The Nation.” If we can recoup from the very richest who brought us this financial crisis and from corporate tax dodgers, we can balance budgets in a fair way. Justice, fairness, concepts that may be coming back to America in this moment.
UYGUR: And look, it‘s also a matter of truth, too because, you know, Rick Perry in Texas, bragging about how he‘s got the Texas miracle. It turns out he used 97 percent of the budget gap that he had, he covered up with stimulus money, the money he claimed to be against.
HEUVEL: And Cenk, think about the idiocy of these governors turning away recovery money. Turning away recovery money, they could bring jobs to their states because they are so ideological that they are willing to hurt their citizens to stand for what? An ideology which is pay to play? Pay for corporations, pay for the richest. Be on their side. There‘s a reason Scott Walker took David Koch‘s call, even though it‘s a prank call. Koch Pac contributed $43, 000 to his campaign. Enough to pay to play politics. Can we get some peoples politics back in this country?
UYGUR: Absolutely. And look, you see it all over the place. And I think finally they‘re getting called out on it a little bit. And, you know, and you‘re right, Kasich and Walker turned down stimulus money, they turned down huge stimulus money, and so to Rick Scott in Florida and after you don‘t take $800 million for a transit plan from the federal government, then you‘ve say, oh I got a deficit problem, I got a deficit problem because you didn‘t take the money.
HEUVEL: The key now is we‘re seeing democracy in action. Democracy is not just about the ballot box. But let‘s get to the ballot box and vote this people out. Because I think Americans are decent, generous people and their priorities are not being reflected in these state houses. The polls begin to show that the center, as described in this country is, you know, the Washington consensus, the beltway and now the state house governors. Anyway, we‘ve got to fight back because it‘s a culmination of a 30-year campaign of the right and these governors now to try and bust the middle class working people in favor of what, you know?
UYGUR: Katrina, thank you so much. You‘re absolutely right. Because that is—the Washington consensus is nowhere near the center of the country.
HEUVEL: No, it isn‘t.
UYGUR: .and we‘re seeing it right now.
UYGUR: Thank you so much for joining us.
HEUVEL: Thank you.
UYGUR: We really appreciate it.
HEUVEL: Thank you.
UYGUR: Now next, a mother loses her son and blames a judge convicted of racketeering for sending young kids to detention centers. It‘s an incredible story of how private companies can abuse the public trust. The mother Sandy Fonzo speaks out. She joins me next.
UYGUR: The Obama administration to get an important stand today, the administration will no longer defend the federal law that marriage can exist only between a man and a woman. It‘s a major reversal and one of the progressives have been waiting for, for a long time. Of course, as when Republicans had to jump in immediately with the righteous indignation that there won‘t be as much discrimination anymore. Speaker Boehner‘s spokesperson immediately e-mailed this quote. Quote, “While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation.”
Oh come on, you‘ got to be kidding me, man. Are you serious? You just spent all this time talking about abortion, putting in bills about repealing health care reform, going after Planned Parenthood. Those aren‘t controversial things that split the nation? You haven‘t put together one bill on jobs. And now you‘re complaining about this? And how it‘s not their appropriate time? You‘ve got to be kidding me, man. It‘s a joke as usual from Boehner. We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: Now here‘s a scene of incredible emotion outside of Pennsylvania court as a mother went fact to face a judge who sent her son to jail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDY FONZO, MOTHER OF AN ALLEGED “KIDS FOR CASH”: Do you remember me? Do you remember me? Do you remember my son? My kid is not here. He‘s dead! He ruined my (BLEEP) life!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, let me tell you why she was so upset and so right. That judge had just been convicted of racketeering and tax fraud. He was accused of taking part in what prosecutors called a “Kids for Cash” scheme. In return, Judge Mark Ciavarella of Pennsylvania‘s Luzerne County allegedly place juvenile defendants at their facilities. Now, the judge of course, he never took a bribe but the money happened to magically show up to his account after he sent the kids to the detention center.
Sandy Fonzo‘s son Ed was one of those kids wrongly sentenced by Judge Ciavarella. His mother said, the incident broke his spirit, and last June, he committed suicide. And there were many, many others as well. In one case, Ciavarella sentenced a boy to two years for joyriding in his own mom‘s car. Another boy landed behind bars for stealing a $4 jar of nutmeg. All together, Pennsylvania has expunged the records of more than 6,000 juveniles that the judge sentenced. And how did all this get started? Prosecutors say Ciavarella and another judge plotted to shut down the county-run detention center in 2002.
It has placed the county signed a lease worth $58 million with a developer, Robert Powell. The county paid Powell‘s company more than $30 million between ‘03 and ‘07 to house juveniles at Pennsylvania child care and west of Pennsylvania child care. Powell‘s pled guilty to being an accessory to conspiracy and awaits sentencing. Now, look, here‘s part of the problem. If you say to companies, hey we‘re going to pay you a lot of money if you put these kids in prison. What‘s their motivation? To put more kids in prison. And that‘s exactly what they did here. And they didn‘t care what happened to the kids. And they wound up giving the money to the judges and the judges got convicted and the judges took the money, sent the kids. They didn‘t care, 6,000 cases! We can‘t farm out some things. Sometimes the government has a role. And the role in this case is, we‘ve got to make sure we look out for our citizens. We can‘t live it in private hands. And it doesn‘t save us any money anyway. They got the money. So it‘s just a total and utter waste.
If you think I‘m upset by it, let‘s bring in Sandy Fonzo, she‘s the mother that was affected here. Tell me about your case, Sandy?
FONZO: It was just a simple little tiny little normal 17-year-old incident that just turned into—I‘m just—I‘m sorry.
UYGUR: I know, I know.
FONZO: It was a little tiny mistake that a teenager made that most teenagers do make in those times. He was at an underage drinking party and ended up in front of the Judge Ciavarella and everything just snowballed from there. He never had a chance to, you know, come back to his old self. He was never the same.
UYGUR: It‘s an incredibly traumatic incident. How long was he at the detention center?
FONZO: He did six months when he sentenced him, all together.
UYGUR: Right. And when did you find out that the judges were possibly taking money to send the kids away for longer and longer?
FONZO: I knew from that first time that I went in front of him when, you know, when nobody was allowed to speak and they shackled them and took them away. And I knew something was wrong. There was something definitely wrong there. But I didn‘t, you know, start learning until the juvenile—the Philadelphia Juvenile Law Center came into the picture and started, you know, since ‘93, they were fighting different cases and they went in front of him a lot of times, and started getting more involved in finding things out. And then it started coming out more.
UYGUR: Right. And there‘s so many moms and dads who say look, we went in and we thought it was going to be a simple, you know, slap on the wrist. There first offense, they‘re 12, they‘re 10, they‘re 13.
FONZO: And they can never escape it now.
UYGUR: And the minute they were in, they got sent down there.
FONZO: Yes. They were lined up one by one and they‘re shackled and taken out. And there was, you know, it‘s nothing that anybody could do about it.
UYGUR: Now, you know, you got a chance to confront the judge there.
And what were you feeling and why did you react that way?
FONZO: I went there because I wanted to see him. He was supposed to be taken out by the county marshals and taken to prison right that day. And when I got there, I found out that wasn‘t the story, they were releasing him to go home with his family. And it was just another slap in the face. It was just absolutely ridiculous. I mean, he had two years coming up, you know, with this case that he had. These kids had one minute. He was, you know, these appeals that he keeps having. The kids got nothing. The kids didn‘t get time to go home. They were shackled and taken, and sent right away.
UYGUR: Of course. Because he‘s got a team of lawyers. And, you know, the kids didn‘t have anything. Sandy, you know, I feel sick for what happened to your family. I want to thank you for joining us and, you know, words can‘t make it better.
FONZO: Can I just say out of—you know, all of the interviews and everything that I‘ve been doing, I haven‘t been able to get like—what I want to do now, you know, so that my son‘s death was not in vain. I want something good to come out of this, I want to be able for all of these parents to come, you know, through with their stories, show up with me at the sentencing. I want hundreds of thousands of them for Ciavarella to have to walk through and see the faces of all those kids that he‘s impacted and all the lives and families that he‘s impacted. I want them to contact this judge. I have an address on my Facebook page. Tell him that we will not accept this minimum plea. You know, I‘m living a life sentence from him. You know, we‘re trying to put together a book with these stories. The Web sites are listed on our site.
UYGUR: So everybody look it up. Sandy Fonzo, of course, the mom involved. You‘ll be able to find her Facebook page et cetera. Sandy, again, thank you for joining us.
FONZO: Thank you so much.
UYGUR: We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Newt Gingrich gave a speech last night at the University of Pennsylvania and he was confronted by a student who said, hey, you know what, you got married three times, what about family values. Then she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISABEL FRIEDMAN, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: As a successful politician who‘s considering running president, how do you set the bar for moral conduct and a trusted voice of the American people, how do you reconcile this hypocritical interpretation of the religious values that you so vigorously defend?
NEWT GINGRICH, 58TH SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I
have had a life which on occasion has had problems. I believe in a forgiving God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oh, now he believes in a forgiving God. When Bill Clinton was being impeached, not so much. We couldn‘t find that forgiving God. Now that he‘s on the line, he says, oh, absolutely. Look, I‘m proud of Isabel Friedman who asked that question from University of Pennsylvania, where I attended. Nice job. Thanks for watching the show everybody. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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