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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday, March 4th

Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour

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Guests: Jim McDermott, Annie Lowrey, Bill Press, Peter Morici, John

Hofmeister, Stephanie Miller

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Welcome to the show, everybody. 

Hey, we‘ve got good news tonight!  That doesn‘t happen every day. 

We‘ve got more jobs, and things are looking up for the economy. 

But, of course, the Republicans are going to be Debbie Downers.  We‘ll explain that in a second. 

So, today we find out that the private sector added 222,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate is finally below 9 percent. 

President Obama shared the good news today in Miami. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This morning, we learned the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years. 


Our economy added another 222,000 jobs in the private sector.  That‘s the 12th straight month of private sector job growth.  So our economy has now added 1.5 million private sector jobs over the last year. 


UYGUR:  So, that sounds pretty good, right?  So what did the Republicans say?  Not good enough. 

Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling put out the following statement: “The real question is why is it taking so long and why is the recovery so weak?”

So he‘s not having it.  And guess what?  It turns out it‘s all Obama‘s fault. 

Now, here comes the twisty twist.  That‘s new.

It turns out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor decided to go the other way and say it is good news, and it‘s all because of the Republicans.  He called the jobs report “an encouraging sign,” and then said, “Republicans are responding to voters‘ calls in the last election to be change the culture in Washington.  To put it simply, less government spending equals more private sector jobs.”

Now, that‘s funny, because the GOP spending cuts have not yet begun.  They have not taken effect at all.  But somehow they‘re responsible for the job growth. 

Well played, Cantor. 

Do they really believe it, as they say?  That‘s what I‘m always amazed by. 

Now, of course, what‘s likely to be the real result of those spending cuts?  According to nearly every expert in the field, including Republicans, huge job losses.  And those losses have already begun. 

Thirty thousand state and local government jobs were already lost in February because of spending cuts.  Now, that‘s not theoretical.  That‘s real.  Real jobs lost this month. 

Now, when you turn to the private sector, even Republican experts are saying that the House Republican plan to cut $61 billion from the budget will kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Ben Bernanke—and remember, of course, he is a Republican—said that it could result in 200,000 jobs lost.  Moody‘s economist Mark Zandi, also a Republican, said it could slow economic growth by half a percent, and that would kill 700,000 jobs. 

If you think all that is bad, Goldman Sachs estimates that the Republican plan could slow growth by as much as two percent, which would mean millions of jobs lost.

Now, that‘s all the jobs that might get lost because of their new round of cutting that that‘s about to happen.  And already, we‘ve seen some public sector jobs lost, as we saw last month. 

Now, this is what they promised you when they got elected --  


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER:  Why isn‘t the president focused on creating jobs that the American people are asking for?  The American people keep asking, where are the jobs? 

Where are the jobs? 

Where are the jobs? 

Where are the jobs? 

Americans are still asking the question, where are the jobs? 

These reforms have put us in a position to start immediately in January on the challenges that the American people are demanding that we address, and it starts with a Pledge to America, and it will start with jobs. 


UYGUR:  Well, Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs?  It looks like they‘re here today.  And what are you doing?  You‘re saying not good enough, et cetera, et cetera. 

You know, the other thing is, you said that you were going to create jobs, and look at all the jobs that you‘re now going to lose, apparently, because of your spending cuts.  And what are you doing about it?  That‘s my question. 

Since you took over, well, let‘s take a look. 

These guys have been doing since about January 5th, of course—since Boehner took the gavel, we can see what their real priorities are by looking at the list. 

Look, January 19th, they voted to repeal health care reform.  OK. 

Nothing to do with jobs. 

January 20th, introduced a No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. 

Well, that‘s about abortion. 

February 8th, House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on federal funding for abortions. 

February 9th, Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on Protect Life Act.  Yes, that would again be abortion. 

February 16th, voted to slash funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.  Hey, a little Variety.  OK. 

And February 18th, voted to reduce regulations for gun dealers, and voted to prohibit federal funds going toward Planned Parenthood.  We‘re back to abortion. 

And February 19th, they voted to strip funding from the EPA. 

And all that has what to do with jobs?  It would appear absolutely nothing. 

And then, on top of all of that, you saw Cantor‘s statement earlier. 

We created the jobs without spending cuts.  That‘s what we did. 


So, now, today, when the news was all about jobs, Boehner probably, finally did something about jobs.  Right? 

No.  I‘m getting news that he apparently did not. 

Now, are you ready for this?  He turns out he took action to go after gay marriage today.  Gay marriage.  Gay marriage. 

Are you kidding me, man?  Unbelievable.  They haven‘t done a thing about jobs.  They‘re a joke. 

All right.  Now joining me is Congressman McDermott from Washington. 

Congressman McDermott, thank you for joining us. 

Let me ask you this.  Let‘s get right to it.  Is this part of a plan by the Republicans to actually cost the American economy jobs so they can turn around and say in 2012, oh, you see that, Obama, he cost us the jobs? 

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON:  Well, Cenk, you‘ve pulled the curtain away from what their hidden agenda is.  You have to remember one thing.  If you just remember this for the next 24 months, you will understand what‘s going on. 

They want to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.  Everything they do is directed at that.  And what‘s happening right now is their worst nightmare. 

Here, we‘ve got more jobs, and they say the only thing we should be doing is cutting spending.  And everybody says no, no, that‘s the wrong thing, you‘ll lose 700,000 jobs.  Goldman Sachs is saying it‘s a bad idea.

They simply only have one note.  And that note is, beat Barack Obama in 2012.  If it costs the economy, if it costs the taxpayers, if it costs the workers, we don‘t care, as long as we beat him in 2012. 

UYGUR:  Now, Congressman, I know you‘re one of the more progressive members of the House, but I‘ve got to keep it real here.  Why are the Democrats playing their game?  I mean, it looks like we‘re having a conversation about how much to do in spending cuts, when everybody, including all the Republican economists and the head of the Fed, et cetera, are saying it‘s going to kill jobs for you guys. 

Why don‘t you guys say no, we‘re not going to do that? 

MCDERMOTT:  Well, we‘re caught in a situation where they‘re running the government two weeks at a time on the Republican side.  They want to keep chaos in this country for the next 10, 12 months if they can do it.  And our attempt is to say all right, let‘s make some cuts because the president has talked about cuts. 

Everybody knows, ultimately, in the long term, we‘ll make cuts.  Let‘s make some and give a continuing resolution, and let this thing run until next September. 

The Republicans will not allow the economy to settle down.  They want chaos on a daily basis. 

UYGUR:  Right, but if you‘re dealing with people like that, shouldn‘t you at some point draw the line and say, look, if you do cuts beyond this, I think it‘s going to cost the economy jobs, so I‘m not going to stand for it?  Shouldn‘t the president draw that line and say—because right now, all we‘ve done so far is agreed and agreed and agreed to spending cuts, and the Republicans haven‘t moved an inch. 

MCDERMOTT:  Well, one of the things the president has got to deal with is, if he refuses to some cuts, then he‘s going to wind up with being blamed for shutting the government down.  That‘s the hidden agenda here.

What they‘re doing is, two weeks at a time, they‘re pushing this continuing resolution along, waiting for the time when it comes to raise the debt limit.  And the Republicans think that on that day, when they have to continue a resolution, and the debt limit raise, they will have maximum leverage to get the things to Planned Parenthood and to the EPA and everything. 

They are looking to create chaos.  And the president is trying to fight them, but it‘s a tough battle. 

I mean, the other side doesn‘t care about government.  They are needleless (ph).  They really—the Speaker is just Johnny One Note—cut spending, cut spending.  That‘s all he says. 

He never talks about jobs.  He never talks about how you‘re going to make the economy work.  Everything he‘s done has been to undermine the president‘s efforts. 

UYGUR:  All right.  “Johnny One Note Boehner.”  I like that. 

Congressman Jim McDermott, thank you for your time this evening.  We appreciate it. 

Now turning to Annie Lowrey.  She‘s joining me.  And of course she covers the economy for Slate.

Annie, are the job numbers pretty good, really good?  You know, what do we think of the news today? 

ANNIE LOWREY, SLATE.COM:  Well, there are sort of two ways to look at it.  This month was a really good month. 

Businesses are adding more jobs for the first time in a while.  Private employers added more than 200,000 jobs.  And so, for the past few months, we‘ve seen the unemployment rate go down, but we haven‘t really seen job growth.  And here we see job growth. 

So that‘s great.  That‘s really good news.  But it isn‘t that quick. 

At the current pace of job growth, it would take about 10 years, possibly even 15 years, for the U.S. to drop down to a relatively normal unemployment rate, something like five percent.  And 8.9 percent unemployment is very, very high.  It‘s very high. 

And a lot of people remain unemployed.  So, in that sense, we‘re still digging ourselves out of a very, very deep hole. 

UYGUR:  So, Annie, let‘s talk solutions then, because, look, you know, the Republicans are saying we‘re going to do these spending cuts.  Everybody says that‘s going to cost us more jobs, put us in a bigger hole.  And the Democrats are debating with them about how much to do in spending cuts, which I don‘t think makes a lot of sense, but that‘s the direction that they‘re going. 

So how do we actually create jobs? 

LOWREY:  Well, private businesses are adding workers.  There‘s probably two things here. 

One is that all of this talk of maybe not resetting the debt limit and maybe cutting billions of dollars in government spending immediately, that spooks businesses.  That raises their uncertainty.  So that‘s bad for them. 

And the other thing is it‘s just true that government spending does create jobs, absolutely.  It creates them directly n the sense that local governments use that money to pay for kindergarten teachers and firefighters.  And also, indirectly, in the sense that the government just buys a lot of services that help keep a lot of businesses afloat. 

So this is very, very worrying, especially the idea that there would be massive, sudden cuts.  That‘s not good. 

And so there‘s no real short-term debt problem, but there‘s a very big long-term debt problem.  And if people focused on the solutions for the long-term problem, that would be OK.  But right now, I think that they‘re creating a lot of unnecessary fear. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Now, look, we‘ve got the economy picking up a little bit.  The job numbers are pretty good.  If you do the spending cuts, it‘s going to take—it looks like everybody agrees that it‘s going to take this dip.  Right? 

So what‘s the Republican plan over the next two years?  Do you think that there‘s a real plan for them to thinking that no, really, we‘re going to get bigger and better jobs by 2012, or do you think, no, they‘re just not honest actors, they don‘t want the jobs? 

LOWREY:  You know, I don‘t know.  I think—I‘m not certain—I‘m not sure if their disingenuousness goes to the point that they actually want to crater the economy in order to get Barack Obama out of office.  Certainly, I know that some people think that.  But there isn‘t a ton that they can do except for keep government funded at the levels that it is right now, increase government funding in the places that need it.  And also, just let private businesses go ahead and continue to add jobs.

One way or another, this recession was a terrible recession.  It‘s going to take a long time.  And unemployment does lag.  And so the recovery needs to take stronger hold.  And to that end, I think that certainly all the talk about really massive government cuts right now obviously is scaring a lot of people. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Washington, as always, headed right in the wrong direction.  When it looks like we‘ve got a little bit of help on the way, they‘re going the wrong way.

All right.  Annie Lowrey, thank you for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

LOWREY:  Thanks so much.

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, coming up, John Boehner keeps talking about “the will of the people.”  So why is he pushing policies most Americans didn‘t vote for and don‘t want?  We‘ll go inside the numbers to show you how true that really is.

And Limbaugh and his crew have been slamming the Wisconsin protesters, but wait until you hear what we learned about them.  Uh-oh.  We‘ve got a huge heaping of hypocrisy coming on the way. 

Plus, more reports from the gutter.  You know, kind of where Mike Huckabee has been hanging around lately this week.  His new target, Oscar winner Natalie Portman.  But does this guy even understand the hurt he may be unleashing? 

What is Natalie capable of?  Check this out. 


NATALIE PORTMAN, ACTRESS (singing):  I‘ll leave you screaming, take all my dry cleaning.  (EXPLETIVE DELETED), man.  It‘s my name that he‘s screaming.


UYGUR:  Well, you better not mess with Natalie.  That showdown is coming up.


UYGUR:  You don‘t know anything about Washington.  The reality is that the Democrats have been doing all of the giving and the GOP has been doing all of the taking. 

Today, President Obama gave ground on the budget for an amazing third time without getting anything in return.  Now, let me explain it. 

Two weeks ago, Republicans made it clear they wanted to cut $100 billion from the president‘s proposed 2011 budget, not the 2010 budget.  Now, that‘s important, because the 2011 budget is a little larger because it‘s the next year.  There‘s normal growth. 

And Republicans agreed.  Here‘s what House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in February.  “When we crafted the Pledge to America, this was in the late summer, early fall.  And the assumption we were operating on was the president had proposed his fiscal year 2011 budget.  That is where the $100 billion minimum comes into play.”

Now, that‘s really clear.  Right?

So when the White House agreed to cut spending by $40 billion from their 2011 proposal, it was making a huge concession.  That was basically giving the Republicans almost half of what they said they wanted. 

So what happened next?  Of course, the Republicans said nope, $40 billion shouldn‘t count at all. 

Here‘s what Cantor says now.  “It seems that Harry Reid and the vice president are going to come forward with $40 billion in cuts.  That‘s not cuts, that‘s the status quo.” 

And John Boehner asked, “When will Democrats get serious about cutting spending?”

Now, do you understand what just happened there?  Everybody is talking about cutting $100 billion from the 2011 budget, including the Republicans.  Right? 

Then Obama does it.  He cut $40 billion from exactly what they all agreed to.  And the Republicans suddenly move the goalpost and say oh, no, no, no.  We wanted you to cut $100 billion from the 2010 budget.  So that would require a lot more cuts. 

Now, that‘s obvious and it‘s wrong and it‘s blatant.  But the worst part was the White House response. 

In addition to the $40 billion that they already gave them, the administration also agreed to $40 billion more in cuts because of that current temporary budget bill.  You remember that from earlier in the week.  And today, they announced $6.5 billion more in cuts. 

So now that‘s just about over $50 billion in cuts, and that‘s more than half of what the Republicans initially asked for.  Of course, still not good enough.  The Republicans have not budged $1 in these so-called negotiations. 

But don‘t worry.  The White House already says it‘s going to give them even more.  This is Gene Sperling, the top White House economic adviser.  And he said, “We can meet them halfway.  We have made it clear we are committed to doing that, and we are willing to cut further if we can find common ground on the budget with reducing spending in the right way.” 

Now, why would that signal to them that you‘re going to give into their demands?  Why would you do that?  You just told them you‘re going to do further cuts and they haven‘t given you a dollar!

Before the negotiations began you gave them $40 billion.  Now you‘ve given them $10.5 billion more. 

These guys are the world‘s worst negotiators.  In my dreams I‘d play poker in the White House.  I‘d have all their money by the end of the night. 

I raise, you fold.  I raise, you fold.  Of course.  Every time I raise, you fold. 

I mean, it‘s obvious.  The Republicans have figured it out. 

When they asked Sperling about further cuts, he said, “Stay tuned.”  Because they‘re going to agree to more cuts before the Republicans agree to a damn thing.  Plenty more where that came from. 

So far, after all this, now, how much have they gotten from the Republicans in return?  You guessed it, nada, nothing, zilch. 

With me now is Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show” on Sirius Radio. 

Bill, set me straight, man.  I mean, I don‘t have a lot of faith in these Democratic negotiators.  What am I getting wrong?


BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Hey, you want to play poker, Cenk?

Hey, listen, First of all, I‘ve got to tell you, as part of the White House Press Corps, I‘m the last one to be defending President Obama, because I‘m usually the one down there that‘s hammering him for giving in too much, like on health care, like on the tax cuts, and like on the budget deal.  But here‘s the way I read it now. 

I think you‘re right, the president has given away the four, he gave

away the six.  You add that to the 40, and that‘s what Gene Sperling were

talking about.  They‘re, like, at $50 billion, and the Republicans are

still at $100 billion.  But I think the administration‘s strategy is this -

they want to give in at the beginning and then—

UYGUR:  And then give in at the end. 

PRESS:  No.  Then draw the line and make the Republicans look so unreasonable for wanting to go beyond that. 

And as you‘ve been talking about so far on the show, they‘ve got a lot more ammunition now because of the jobs report.  And I think they can show with Moody‘s and with Bernanke that if they go beyond this, that Republicans are going to shut down the economy, shut down any future growth, you know, kill any economic recovery, and make them look so unreasonable, that they won‘t go any further. 

UYGUR:  Now, Bill, Bill, Bill, look, here‘s the thing.  I hear you, and I got that strategy.  Everybody gets that strategy. 

But the Republicans already look unreasonable.  And it can‘t possibly be good negotiation strategy to say before we start the negotiations, I will give you $40 billion. 

PRESS:  They look unreasonable to you.  They look unreasonable to me.  I don‘t think given the size of the budget, size of the deficit, they look unreasonable to most Americans yet. 

But I think the administration is getting close to painting them in that corner.  And don‘t forget, there‘s one other fact out here, is that Obama has already said he‘ll veto their full plan.  I mean, which is a pretty strong threat.  I never heard him give it.

UYGUR:  Oh!  So, if he gets zero percent, then he‘s going to veto. 

But if he gets five percent, 10 percent—

PRESS:  No, no, no.

UYGUR:  Now Bill, let me ask you that.  This is really important. 


UYGUR:  Because he‘s already given away half.  You agree to that, half is out the door, and they haven‘t really started negotiations.  The Republicans haven‘t given them anything.  Right?

PRESS:  Right.

UYGUR:  So he‘s got to go at least another half.  That‘s what‘s going to happen.


UYGUR:  I mean, you tell me if it‘s not.  Are they really going to stand their ground on $50 billion?  They‘re not going to, right?  They‘re going to give away another 25, 30, 40 percent, right? 

So, in the end, what are we left with?

PRESS:  No.  I don‘t think they are.  I think they‘re there, and I think they‘ve got the ammunition now to say we can‘t go beyond this because you‘re going to shut everything down.

I mean, when Moody‘s says that we‘ll lose 700,000 jobs, when Bernanke says we‘ll lose 200,000 when the CBO, Congressional Budget Office, says you‘ll lose 200,000 if you repeal health care, now this recovery is finally chugging along.  Right?  And 192,000 jobs, Cenk. 

And the president is going to let the Republicans just kill the whole thing?  I don‘t think it‘s going to happen. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Bill—

PRESS:  It‘s a kabuki dance you and I are watching.  It‘s just beginning.

UYGUR:  Right.

PRESS:  Maybe it will work, maybe it won‘t.  But I think that‘s their strategy. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Bill, I love your optimism.  I want to thank you for joining us.  You‘ve been a good sport. 

I hope you‘re right and I‘m wrong.  That doesn‘t happen often on TV, but I‘m telling you, I hope I‘m wrong and you‘re right, they say strong and they get a good deal from the Republicans. 

PRESS:  Hey, so do I, but I‘m not sure I am. 


UYGUR:  OK.  All right.  Good. 

PRESS:  All right.

UYGUR:  That‘s what I thought.  All right, Bill.  Thank you. 

Now, ahead, why these guys are completely out of touch with the American people.

And there‘s actually some things that make less sense that Charlie Sheen, it turns out.  Three things more irrational than Charlie Sheen when we return.  Hint: one of them will also get you high. 


UYGUR:  And a bill in Texas is targeting illegal immigrants.  Of course, it‘s because it‘s Texas.  They want to get really tough with them.  But the bill does have one Texas-sized loophole that you‘re not going to believe.  The mansion would create tough new punishments for anyone who quote, “intentionally knowingly or recklessly hires an illegal immigrants.”  Now, that‘s actually good, because that‘s going after the employer, that makes sense.  The penalty includes up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.  That‘s pretty serious.  But there is one giant exception.  The law would not apply to those hiring illegal immigrants to work as housekeepers and landscapers.  Do you get that?  So they‘re like, oh, if you hire an illegal immigrant, I don‘t want any part of that.  But if my house keeper?  I wonder if those politicians have housekeepers.  My nanny, my gardener?  No, no, no, no, I have to keep hiring those.  My laws apply to you, they don‘t apply to me.  Now that‘s a typical politician. 

All right.  Now, despite bashing the protesters in Wisconsin, O‘Reilly and Hannity actually have something in common with them.  And it will surprise you.  And Mike Huckabee slams Natalie Portman.  Why did he target her?  And here‘s a little controversy, is he right?  We‘ll talk about that.


UYGUR:  Tonight, I‘m going to prove to you that the country is clearly and indisputably liberal.  Now, here‘s the people that don‘t get it—everyone in Washington who insists the country is center right, when it‘s no such thing.  And Republicans, exhibit is House Speaker John Boehner.  “The Wall Street Journal” explained today, quote, “House Speaker John Boehner say, he‘s the chairman to offer a budget this spring that curbs Social Security and Medicare, despite the political risks and that Republicans will try to persuade voters that sacrifices are needed.  Boehner wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. 

Now, how many times do we have to go through this?  People don‘t want to cut Social Security.  Look at the polls.  They want you to cut the deficit by raising taxes on the rich.  That‘s not me.  That‘s the American people.  The polls couldn‘t be clearer.  But wait until you get a load of this latest poll.  The program from public consultation, part of the University Of Maryland School Of Public Policy decided to do something really different and revolutionary.  They said to the voters, you do it.  You do the federal budget.  After all, it‘s just basic Math.  The amount of money the government spends versus the amount of money that the government takes in.

You know what the polls just discovered?  Americans did a way better job at reducing the deficit than the politicians did.  Guess what else they found?  Americans are totally liberal.  Now, they might not identify as liberals, and they might even identify themselves as Republicans.  But most Americans are united in what they value.  Now, let me give you the numbers and examples.  These are the things that they sad should be increased.  Increased spending in pollution control at 17 percent, 18 percent increase in humanitarian assistance.  Then the numbers get really big.  And 92 percent increase in higher education, 110 percent increase in renewable energy.  And 130 percent increase in job training programs. 

Look, the American people want us to make an investment in jobs.  It‘s obvious.  But they also want cuts and where they cut?  Well, defense spending.  Twenty six percent cut from the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Eighteen percent cut from weapons purchases.  And 15 percent cut military aid to or other countries.  What‘s the total?  The American people cut spending by more than $145 billion, now that‘s excellent work.  The republican budget slashers can only dream of a number that big.  But Americans didn‘t say mission accomplished.  They, unlike the Republicans in Congress, are actually serious about deficit reduction.  So they aren‘t happy to just cut spending.  They also raised taxes.  Sixty five percent raised corporate taxes and 75 percent raised income taxes. 

And not just on the supper rich, a majority of people raised taxes at least a little bit on people making over $100,000 a year.  The American people actually believe in a shared sacrifice.  So here‘s the bottom line, when the American people did the budget, they cut spending by more than $145 billion and they increased revenues by more than $291 billion.  So, the total deficit reduction was a whopping $437 billion.  Nicely done.  Now, if all that was not clear enough for you, I‘m going to give you one more poll.  Because look, the whole country is like oh, no, you don‘t understand, et cetera.  No, it‘s not.  Look at the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.  These are the things that they‘ve said are acceptable.  The top scorers, number one, they said ending tax breaks, 81 percent.  Eliminate earmarks, cut defense funding, end big oil tax cuts, and end tax breaks for people making over $250,000. 

Those are the things they find acceptable.  Are you ready for what they find unacceptable?  Coming in at number one—I‘m sorry, number five, actually.  Is cutting unemployment benefits.  And then this is in order of priority.  Cutting head start, cutting student loans.  They don‘t want any of this.  Cutting heating assistance to the poor.  Cutting Medicaid, cutting Medicare, cutting education, cutting Social Security.  They‘re saying don‘t do it.  Those are the things we don‘t want cut.  And those are exactly progressive priorities.  Absolutely in line, all the polls that you look at.  So, now you know.  That‘s the reality.  The country is progressive, the country is liberal.  The only place that isn‘t is Washington, D.C. 

Joining me now is economist, Peter Morici, he‘s a professor at the University of Maryland.  Professor, thank you for joining us. 


UYGUR:  You know, I look at that poll and I think, God, can it get any clearer?  Am I missing something?  It looks like the American people are pretty darn liberal based on those numbers?

MORICI:  I think you‘re missing a lot.  I mean, they did elect to at 90, 95 Republicans to Congress last year because they were upset that the. 

UYGUR:  Nope. 

MORICI:  Wait, they didn‘t elect that many?

UYGUR:  No, I‘ll tell you, that is—we‘re beginning with a false premise. 

MORICI:  Oh, I guess, you get to talk and I get to listen.  OK, I understand it. 

UYGUR:  Just getting started.  Hold on, now.  We‘ll give you a shot.  What I‘m saying is a false premise because, look, just because they elected them doesn‘t mean that they have the same priorities. 

MORICI:  Can I finish, Cenk—can I finish my thought then?

UYGUR:  All right.  Go for it, have at it, hoss.  Go ahead. 

MORICI:  All right.  Hold on.  They elected a lot of Republicans and it was a reaction somewhat to Barack Obama‘s liberalisms.  What we tend to find is that Americans are much more moderate than either political party or the networks with their slants will admit.  If we have a democrat in the White House who‘s very liberal, they tend to get disgusted and show in polls that they‘re not happy.  They were against health care and so forth.  Now the Republicans have come to town and they think that victory means that they can slash spending all over the place, get rid of government regulation, cut taxes, the American people will be happy.  That‘s not true either.  Americans tend to be more moderate than leaders of either party will acknowledge or either FOX or MSNBC will embrace. 

UYGUR:  Professor, I‘m going to challenge you with facts.  The facts I just gave.  Is it a so-called moderate position in Washington for an overwhelming majority to say raise taxes, raise them, raise them, raise them.  Cut defense spending.  That is not what Washington considers a moderate position.  If it was, I would love it.  I would agree.  The American people are right there in the center, right?  But if you‘re watching it, you would call that incredibly level, are you kidding me?  If Obama proposed that, the Washington media would lose their minds. 

MORICI:  I did have—I do have the burden of having read the results of the poll.  And it‘s also fair to say that Americans talked about raising the retirement age, that‘s a way of cutting Social Security.  They did reject a national sales tax, something that Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama salivate to have.  So, I think that. 

UYGUR:  So, they want to raise other taxes. 

MORICI:  What I think what they‘re talking about is shared sacrifice.  They want to cut spending in places and they‘re willing to cut spending on things that affect them.  Also, they‘re willing to increase taxes but they most would like to increase taxes on other people.  Wouldn‘t we all.  If you ask the majority of Americans, should we increase taxes of people making more than $100,000?  You‘re going to get a yes vote because most people make less than $100,000.  

UYGUR:  Wait, wait, wait.  Professor, then why don‘t we do it?  We live in a democracy.  Why don‘t our politicians represent us?  If the great majority of us want to raise taxes on people making over $100,000, because we‘re in a real budget mess.  Why don‘t we do it?

MORICI:  Well, now we‘re getting someplace.  The seminar is making progress.  What we‘re seeing here is that.

UYGUR:  I love your condescension, it‘s hilarious.  Go ahead, professor. 

MORICI:  I‘m trying to bring you along now.  What we‘re seeing here is that.

UYGUR:  I‘m sure but you haven‘t showed anything yet.  Go ahead.

MORICI:  I‘m sure, quite a bit, you just don‘t want to acknowledge it.  What we‘re seeing here is that political leaders on both sides tend to view their elections as mandates for extreme positions.  Barack Obama is much more liberal than the population would like. 

UYGUR:  That‘s 100 percent wrong.  I just showed you the numbers—

Obama weighed in the right of their country.  The country is saying positions that are much more progressive than Obama. 


We just showed you the numbers.  And you‘re the university!

MORICI:  I had nothing to do with the poll.  I‘m in the business school. 

UYGUR:  That‘s obvious. 

MORICI:  OK, which is a good thing. 

UYGUR:  Your position is indefensible.  Go ahead.

MORICI:  OK.  The country is also not as conservative as Speaker Boehner would like us to believe.  Right now, the Republicans are in town, they‘re pushing a hard right agenda.  And the American people are responding in pulse.  Just as when President Obama came to town, and he wanted health care, well, the majority of Americans did not want those health care law passed but he forced it on us anyway.  And we get this kind of back and forth. 

UYGUR:  Nonsense. 

MORICI:  So, I think that it‘s unfair to say that Americans are extremely liberal or extremely conservative.  If they were extremely liberal, they wouldn‘t have booted the Democrats out of office for passing health care.  That is a fact. 

UYGUR:  Economist Peter Morici, thank you for your time. 

MORICI:  Thank you for having me.

UYGUR:  Even though you‘ve—I appreciate it even though you‘ve been completely and utterly wrong. 

MORICI:  As are you!  As are you!


UYGUR:  All right.  It‘s lasting us.  It‘s lasting us.  And we appreciate you for joining us.  I just want to make this absolutely clear, OK?

MORICI:  Absolutely.

UYGUR:  When you say the elected Republicans, so they might concern of principles, no.  The Republicans spent millions upon millions of dollars if they raised from incredibly rich people, so that they can do ads pretending to be on the side of the American people.  What if they campaign on?  We showed it earlier on the show.  We‘re going to create jobs.  They come in, they don‘t create jobs at all.  They tricked the American people.  You know that in elections, it turns out commercials make a difference. 


MORICI:  That‘s why Barack Obama can raise so much money on Wall Street. 

UYGUR:  I agree.  Conservatives. 

MORICI:  Democrats for a reason.  They get their way, I mean, the Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street. 

UYGUR:  Look, I actually agree with that, but then you‘re agreeing with me that they‘re too conservative.  All right.  Professor, we‘ve got to go.  


MORICI:  Take care. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Thank you.  We‘ll be right back.           


UYGUR:  By the way, that last segment was an awesome example of conventional wisdom thinking.  I keep showing the guy numbers and you could say, (INAUDIBLE), and I think the Republicans are too conservative, on right down the middle.  But why, why, what are the numbers?  What do the American people think?  Well, I‘m not going to tell you.  OK.  All right.  I‘m being a little unfair because he‘s not here anymore.  I would love to have him back on again.  So, now, why are Bill O‘Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh hypocrites when it comes to union bashing?  You‘re going to want to find that out too, come back.


UYGUR:  Now, I‘m going deeper to one particular area, the federal budget that really guess me work out.  And you can see I get worked up sometimes.  That‘s oil subsidies.  I have no idea why American taxpayers are subsidizing the world‘s most profitable industry.  Honestly—rest of America.  In our NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, 74 percent said it would rock to end tax credits for oil companies.  Let‘s get rid of those.

Joining me now former Shell Oil CEO, John Hofmeister, he is the founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy and author of the book, “Why We Hate the Oil Companies.” 

All right.  Now, you are the former CEO of Shell and you‘re saying, we should end the oil subsidies?  That‘s interesting, why? 

JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER SHELL OIL CEO:  Well, I testified several times that in a high oil price environment, the actual subsidies are so small, they‘re very incidental to a business, the size of the one I was formerly with and other major oil companies basically testified the same thing.  But that‘s when the oil price is high.  When the oil price is low, subsidies make a bit a big difference, because it may keep people drilling who would otherwise stop drilling.  But I also distinguish that smaller oil companies are different.  They have a different business model.  So, making a right decision is not just putting all the oil companies under the same paint brush, there has to be some distinctions made. 

UYGUR:  So, it doesn‘t make any sense that when oil is at like $100 a barrel, that we give literally the most profitable companies in the world, Exxon Mobile et cetera, an incentive to drill for oil?  I mean, doesn‘t that sound crazy?  Shouldn‘t we craft a law at the bare minimum that actually says all right, if it‘s low prices then we give you a subsidy, if it‘s high prices, no way? 

HOFMEISTER:  Well, I think there should be that kind of a bargain struck.  But here‘s an even a more important bargain.  Because I believe we need more oil produced domestically, so we don‘t suffer the volatility that we do, how about a discussion about raising the royalty rates in return for more drilling.  That‘s a discussion that I think would be great for the government, it would be great for the American people.  And the oil companies wouldn‘t really mind because they would have more production.  That would be a solution to kind of problem that we have right now. 

UYGUR:  All right, look, another thing is—why are we giving them a subsidy at all?  If you can make money drilling for oil, have at it, hoss.  That‘s a great job.  Again, it‘s a free market, sad day for you. 

HOFMEISTER:  But remember, just about a decade ago, oil was $10 a barrel and we were shutting down the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico because nobody would drill.  The Clinton administration is the one that actually put the incentives in place. 

UYGUR:  And they did it wrong.

HOFMEISTER:  To keep the administration drilling, they did it wrong, absolutely. 

UYGUR:  All right.  John Hofmeister, thank you for your time.  We really appreciate it.  And we appreciate your honesty as well.  That‘s great.

HOFMEISTER:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, Did Mike Huckabee just have his Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown movement?  He blast Natalie Portman‘s troubling pregnancy.  But will follow that was actually really disturbing.  And Stephanie Miller sounds off on Huckabee, next.           


UYGUR:  Last night, we told you about how Mike Huckabee went after President Obama.  Well, now he‘s going after Natalie Portman.  Why?  Well, it turns out in an interview with conservative radio host, Michael Medved, Medved noted that he was disappointed with the acceptance speech from the seven-month pregnant actress because she give a shutout to her fiance and the father of her upcoming baby, saying he had given her a quote, “wonderful gift.”  Medved said the most wonderful gift would have been a wedding ring, prompting this response from Huckabee. 


MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR:  I think what‘s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boast of, hey, look, you know, we‘re having children, we‘re not married but we‘re having these children and they‘re doing just fine.  Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can‘t get a job and if it weren‘t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care.  So, it‘s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.


UYGUR:  Yes, interesting point.  Glamorizing the idea of children out of wedlock is totally unfortunate.  Well, here‘s one problem. 


BRISTOL PALIN, SARAH PALIN‘S DAUGHTER:  Being on the show is stressful.  But when I come home and see Tripp, it just brightens my day.  Mark came over and we showed Tripp our dance, Tripp really he loved it. 

And I just wish he was old enough to vote. 


UYGUR:  Oops.  I don‘t remember Governor Huckabee going after Bristol Palin for being such a bad example to America‘s youth.  A little selective, huh?  Otherwise, good point, Mike.  You really showed Natalie Portman.  And you got her. 

All right.  Now, let‘s bring in Stephanie Miller.  She‘s a nationally syndicated radio talk show host.  Stephanie, great to see you here. 


UGYUR:  Yes.  First, as a matter of politics, does it make sense to go after a very popular actress like this?  Maybe it does with his base as the overall country thinks, yes, Huckabee, go get Natalie Portman. 

MILLER:  Well, he‘s raise are up in the south, Cenk.  I‘m not saying it‘s racism about the first black president, “The Black Swan,” I don‘t really know.  All I‘m saying is at least he went after the real person rather than the fictional character like Dan Quayle.  At least he didn‘t go to that black swan is screwing up our kids.  Or he didn‘t blame it on her upbringing in Kenya.  So, right away, you have to give them some credit, but as you say, the rest of it, he‘s just completely wrong.  First of all, she‘s engaged and going to marry the father.  So, how is that glamour I think single motherhood?  She‘s choosing to get married.  And second of all, as you say, most single mothers don‘t choose to be single mothers.  The guy splits.  So, I don‘t even get his point, do you?

UYGUR:  You know, I don‘t overall, and I didn‘t expect “The Black Swan” thing.  That was interesting.  That was a good one.  Now, but here‘s the thing, right?  Let my play devil‘s advocate here for a second.  Because, you know, of course when Dan Quayle went after Murphy Brown, everybody made fun of him, et cetera.  But look, pop culture does have a huge influence on the country.  And by the way, since then, of course, the births for single mothers has gone up.  I don‘t think it‘s necessarily related to Murphy Brown, but pop culture does have an influence.  Don‘t you think, Stephanie?

MILLER:  Well, yes, Cenk, but you know, they‘ve historically said that, you know, a lot of fictional characters don‘t even have genitals have been, I don‘t know, Bert and Ernie are gay, Tinkie Winkie is gay.  I mean, I don‘t know.  Where does it stop?  As I say, she‘s making the choice to marry the father, so I don‘t understand how that‘s glamorizing single mother hood. 

UYGUR:  Yes, that is an indisputable point.  And look, some people simply don‘t have a choice, right?  I mean, some Americans cannot have babies inside of a traditional marriage.  So I mean, is Mike Huckabee telling them to take, you know, a long walk off a short pier?

MILLER:  Well, yes, exactly.  How about the fact that, you know, the Bush family, the McCain family, the Cheney family, all of those kids have come out in support of gay marriage.  So, you know, a lot of people don‘t want to have kids outside of marriage.  So, it‘s like, how about you leave the moralizing aside and let people form the families that they want? 

UYGUR:  Stephanie, one more thing.  How about gays and lesbians, I mean, they can‘t have babies inside of a kind of marriage that Mike Huckabee would deem to approve.  So, is Huckabee saying that‘s it, you‘re not allowed to have kids?

MILLER:  Well, I don‘t think gay people can hope to raise children as well as Charlie Sheen but, you know, I think they should be allowed to try, don‘t you, Cenk?

UYGUR:  I absolutely do.  All right.  I have to stop on the Charlie Sheen point.  You can‘t get better than that.  All right.  Stephanie Miller, thank you for your time tonight. 

MILLER:  Thanks, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, before we go, I would promise you some things I was going to do a whole rant on the war on drugs.  We‘ll do that on another day, that‘s the thing that didn‘t make any sense as we told you earlier in the program.  And then we told you about Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O‘Reilly, something that would surprise you because they are so anti-union.  And we had all these clips ready but you know more ready.  They‘re speaking anti-unions stuff forever.  So, what‘s the surprising fact?  It turns out they‘re all union members.  They‘re part of a union that is actually related to the AFL-CIO of all things.  They‘re part of AFTRA.  O‘Reilly even said, hey, they got me a great contract when I was at “Inside Edition.”  So, the unions are good when they get Bill O‘Reilly a great contract.  When they get teachers a little more than 40,000, not as good. 

All right.  That‘s the show.  Thanks for watching.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.

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