Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Tuesday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Phillip Dennis, Juan Cole, Jane Barrett, Alan
Grayson, Bill Sammon
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Welcome to the show. I am Cenk Uygur.
Today, we appear to be in the middle of a big budget battle between the Democrats and Republicans. But I don‘t think that‘s the case at all.
I‘m going to explain this fun graphic to you in a second. I like that. It looks like an egg, but it‘s actually a rock.
I don‘t think we have a fight on our hands at all. I think we have one side who will not budge at all, and we have another side that wants nothing but to give concessions.
So, let me start explaining this graphic that you‘re looking at.
Initially, the Democrats gave $40 billion away to the Republicans. President Obama‘s budget proposal for 2011 got cut by $40 billion. That included giving away, you know, the heating oil for the poor, giving away community organizing, et cetera, et cetera, and then two weeks continuing resolution in March 2nd got passed, giving away another $4 billion. As you show there.
And then, another $6 billion was cut—I like the sound effect—as part of another three-week continuing resolution that got passed on March 18th. So far, the GOP has not moved at all, and you see that jump, that last one? Well, that‘s today. The Democrats have offered $20 billion more in cuts. And what have the Republicans done in return? Nothing.
They have not moved an inch. So why are these guys continuing to do this? It doesn‘t make any sense.
The Democrats are stretching like an accordion and the Republicans—because of that Tea Party rock you saw at the end of that graphic—are like an immovable rock.
So, you might be wondering why? Why do they have these incredibly different negotiating strategies, let‘s say, right?
Well, look, Democrats look at the national polls and the White House looks at the national polls. One of these polls they see is this one. It‘s by “Bloomberg,” OK? And it says that 20 percent say that holding out for deep cuts and risking a shutdown is a very bad—or is in favor of it, I should say. Seventy-seven percent say that compromise is the way to go.
So, Obama looks at that and goes, I‘m going to run in a national election, that‘s a national poll. And so, that‘s the right way to go, right? So why aren‘t the Republicans reacting that way? Because they should look at that same poll and have the same reaction, right? Why are they in the position of defending the 20 percent?
Well, it‘s because they‘re not going to run in local races. These are
I‘m sorry, in national races. These are House Republicans that are going to run in their local races. In a lot of the districts, they‘re in incredibly safe Republican districts.
So, they‘re not going to lose to the Democrats, they think. They think the only way they lose is to—in a primary to a Tea Party candidate. So, in which case, they don‘t move, because the Tea Party tells them not to move. So, obviously, then, the Tea Party becomes incredibly important.
So what does the Tea Party believe?
Now, this is an interesting question, because a new poll shows their incredible extremism. When you ask non-Tea Party conservatives and that‘s conservatives: is Barack Obama destroying the country? Only 6 percent agree. When you ask Tea Party conservatives, 71 percent believe Barack Obama is destroying the country.
Now, look, there‘s something visceral there that doesn‘t make sense. Destroying the country? Well, what, Bill Clinton didn‘t destroy the country, Al Gore didn‘t destroy the country, none of these other Democrats. But somehow, Barack Obama, he‘s something that is dangerous. He‘s not like them. He‘s another. There‘s something driving them and they will not budge.
It reminds me when Dick Cheney, when offered a great offer by Iran said, you know what? We don‘t negotiate with evil, so we will even turn that down. Now, that‘s absurd.
What—and you begin to wonder—is that how they view Obama? Is that why they won‘t move? Because they think any compromise to Obama is a compromise they cannot live with. So, if you‘re a Democrat, what lesson do you learn from this?
Well, look, you can‘t negotiate this. They‘re never going to move.
If they don‘t move, why should you keep moving? It doesn‘t make sense.
We showed you the graphic. Forty billion, 6 billion, now 20 billion and they still won‘t move an inch. Are you crazy?
All these concessions—all it does is it encourages them. And now, the Democrats are having an internal battle on whether they should blame the GOP publicly.
Are you ready for this? Of course! Of course, they should. You‘ve got to show that to the American people. If you don‘t show it to them, how do they know? You‘ve got to make your own case.
All right. Now, someone who isn‘t afraid of making that case is Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. She‘s joining us now.
Congresswoman, look, as you see that, is there any sense in still sitting at the negotiation table with these guys when they won‘t move an inch and they say, they just keep saying, no, no, no we‘re not going to budge at all?
REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: Well, there‘s a real problem on the Republican side of the aisle. They have a lot of frogs, and they can‘t keep a majority of them in the barrel. They can‘t keep the majority of them in the barrel. And it‘s sad.
Some of the new members that have come here within 100 days have been bending over backwards for the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in this country, Cenk, where they are literally trying to balance the budgets on the backs of the middle class and the working class, and they‘re not holding accountable. They‘re raising money from the very same groups that caused the deep recession we‘re in—from Wall Street, which only pays 15 percent of taxes compared to 35 percent like other businesses.
KAPTUR: And they‘re fighting eternally. They‘re not making G.E. pay its fair share of taxes. Well, G.E. is not paying any at all. Or ExxonMobil that just raised our gas prices to $3.50. They‘re not going there.
They‘re trying to fight among themselves about how much more they‘re going to take out of the hides of the American people, the people who are actually paying their fair share of taxes.
UYGUR: Well, Congresswoman, apparently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agrees with you. I want to come back and ask you what you want to do about this.
But, let‘s watch first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The Republicans refuse to negotiate on a final number. That‘s because the biggest gap in this negotiation isn‘t between Republicans and Democrats. It‘s between Republicans and Republicans.
The infighting between the Tea Party and the rest of the Republican Party, including the Republican leadership in Congress, is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table. And it‘s pretty hard to negotiate without someone on the other side of the table to talk to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, that‘s all exactly true, what you said is true. So, the question is, what are you going to do about it? You got another side who won‘t budge. Are you going to keep giving in?
KAPTUR: Well, I hope that we don‘t keep giving in because you can‘t get where we need to go on 14 percent of the budget. In other words, what they‘re trying to do is an impossibility.
The governor of Michigan, a state in deep economic recession, just said he‘s going to cut six weeks of unemployment benefits. Rather than dealing with: how do we create jobs? Because that‘s the real answer. If we create jobs and keep the focus on jobs, we can gain the revenue to balance the budget.
They‘ll do anything to avoid that subject. And they‘re running into trouble internally because they can‘t get to where we need to be in order to balance the budget, and they‘re threatening a government shutdown now, because the current budget resolution only runs through April 8th. So, they‘re between a rock and a hard place.
And I would agree with the leader in the Senate that there‘s nobody on the other side of is the table, because they are in total disarray on their side of the aisle.
UYGUR: All right. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it. Interesting to see how it turns out.
KAPTUR: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, let me bring in a totally different voice. Philip Dennis is the founder of the Dallas Tea Party. I‘m sure he has a different perspective on this.
First thing I want to ask you is: what do you want? I mean, do you want the Republicans to just stay at that $61 billion number and not budge an inch?
PHILLIP DENNIS, TEXAS TEA PARTY ORGANIZER: What we want is or government to spend less money than it takes in in revenues, just like we must do to live our lives. That‘s exactly what we want. And that is—if that‘s extremism, if that is out-of-touch—well, then all of America is out of touch because that‘s the way we live our lives.
UYGUR: I hear you, and I‘d love to have that conversation, we might in a second. But what I‘m asking is a specific question. You got these budget negotiations. Democrats have given, given, given, $40 billion, $4 billion, $6 billion, $20 billion. The Republicans haven‘t moved an inch.
So, do you want they to move at all, or do you not want them to move and say no, even though this is supposed to be a negotiation, we will not give in anything?
DENNIS: We have a $1.65 trillion deficit this year alone. Last year, we had a $1.5 trillion deficit, which means that we are printing or borrowing over $5 billion a day to keep this government running and you‘re bragging because the Democrats want to cut four days of borrowing? I‘d say to the Republicans, you need to do a lot more.
UYGUR: You‘ve got to answer the question. I hear you. But I‘m asking you, you wouldn‘t budge. You‘re saying, no, you wouldn‘t budge.
DENNIS: I don‘t know if you hear me or not. Well, the Republicans promised in the campaign season to cut $100 billion in spending, which to most Tea Party people out here, we think that‘s just basically ridiculous when we got a $1.6 trillion deficit.
UYGUR: So, you won‘t budge?
DENNIS: So, now, they have backed off to $61 billion.
UYGUR: So, you wouldn‘t budge an inch?
DENNIS: Absolutely not.
UYGUR: So, how are they supposed to negotiate?
UYGUR: Look, Phillip, you know, you guys claim that you‘re in the business and stuff like that and you understand it. You know, I run a small business, my dad‘s run a small business for a long time. I know you get in negotiations, right? And in negotiations usually, you have to come to some sort of agreement. If one side says I‘m not going to budge at all, well, you‘re not going to have an agreement, isn‘t that right?
DENNIS: Well, let me ask you this. In your father‘s business, if he made $12,000 a month, did he spend $13,100 --
UYGUR: But, Phillip, I‘m trying to get you to answer a question. So, the question is: if you‘re in a negotiation, if you‘re in business, and you say I won‘t give into anything at all, do you think you‘re going to have a deal or you‘re likely not to have a deal?
DENNIS: Hey, listen, let the Democrats do what they vote and let the Republicans vote the way they did. I don‘t know what anybody missed in November with the elections there. We send a bunch of Democrats home. And this time, we‘re going to send a bunch of Republicans home if they don‘t do what we send them up there to do, which was to repeal Obamacare and to reduce the spending dramatically, not this $51 billion, $61 billion.
Like I said, we‘ve got $1.65 trillion deficit. It is not sustainable.
UYGUR: So, even if they got 100 percent of what they wanted, you still wouldn‘t be satisfied because you‘re saying $61 billion?
DENNIS: No, absolutely not. We got $1.65 trillion deficit. I mean, how much more money do you people want to spend and borrow?
UYGUR: OK. So, Boehner was a disappointment no matter what then, right, because he‘s only asking for only $61 billion?
DENNIS: Absolutely. So far, absolutely. That‘s been a tremendous disappointment.
UYGUR: So, you would shut the government down then?
DENNIS: Well, absolutely. Shut it down.
UYGUR: Shut it down, right?
DENNIS: Shut it down, until they—
UYGUR: All right. You‘re very, very clear about that.
DENNIS: Until the Republicans and Democrats that go to Washington, D.C. can learn to spend $1 less than the government takes in in revenue. We don‘t have a revenue problem in Washington. We got a spending problem. And it‘s unsustainable. How many secretaries of the Treasury have to come out and say, this debt is not sustainable until somebody in Washington, D.C. listens?
UYGUR: Let me address that for one quick second here. You know, you‘ve been making that point throughout. Now, you know that non-defense discretionary spending is only $610 billion and the deficit overall is $1.6 trillion.
If you cut it to zero, you got everything you want. They cut all the programs, EPA, gone, Department of Education, gone. Everything is gone, right? Zero. You still would have about $1 trillion. So, how do you balance this thing without going into defense or raising taxes?
DENNIS: I think most people on the Tea Party side would like to see across the board cuts and everything is on the table for cuts. Look, we have to—we have to totally revise the way Washington does business, because it‘s gotten fat and it has gotten large and it has gotten away from what the Constitution advocates. And that‘s—
UYGUR: So, you would cut defense?
UYGUR: All right. Good. Good, we have agreement on that.
UYGUR: Look, and, you know, right now, we‘re in historically low taxes as a percentage of GDP, et cetera. But you‘re still saying not low enough, you still want to cut taxes and give us a bigger cutting thing that we got to get passed. So, you really, really have to cut the heck out of defense.
DENNIS: Now, wait a minute, I haven‘t said anything about taxes. You said that. We‘re not averse to paying taxes. We‘re averse to paying our fair share. But—
UYGUR: So, you don‘t mind raising taxes if it‘s necessary.
DENNIS: Well, we will—absolutely, if it‘s necessary.
UYGUR: OK. Great.
DENNIS: Our government has gotten so much larger since Bush and Obama and their administrations and Americans that pay the bills, that create the wealth out there, that are seeing their children‘s futures mortgage so these people can spend money line drunken sailors. The only difference is drunken sailors spend their own money.
We are tired of it. We send the Republicans to change that. And if they‘re not going to make the big boy decisions we sent them up there to make, we‘re going to get bigger boys in 2012. If the Democrats want to spend—stand by this, oh, the Republican and Tea Party are extremists for wanting to cut spending—then, let them stand by their votes and we send them a whole bunch of them home last time. And we‘ll do more time this time.
UYGUR: All right. Look, Phillip, obviously, I don‘t agree with a lot of what you‘re saying, but those last two points I respect, because it‘s honest, because you can‘t do it from non-defense discretionary spending. So, if you‘re willing to go after defense and you‘re willing to say, hey, we should look at the revenue side, that‘s at least an honest conversation.
DENNIS: Hey, we spent $600 million in Libya over the last week, and no one knows what we‘re doing over there. Not even the president.
UYGUR: Right. That‘s different conversation. We‘ll do that in another night.
Phillip Dennis, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
DENNIS: Anytime. Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Next, some conservatives have a new theory on why President Obama is supporting al Qaeda. Yes, you heard that right. Now, where the hell did they come up with that? They got the idea from Gadhafi. Just when you thought they couldn‘t sink lower.
And BP managers might be facing manslaughter charges for the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers last year. Should corporate executives go to jail when people get killed at their companies?
UYGUR: Some conservatives are actually saying President Obama is helping al Qaeda. That‘s crazy. And Michele Bachmann adds Hezbollah and Hamas to that list as well.
We‘ll explain their theory, next.
UYGUR: The fighting in Libya rages on today. It swings back and forth between the rebel and the Gadhafi forces. Today, the rebels‘ advance stalled unfortunately. Libyan government forces stiffened their resistance near the hometown of Sirte, pushing the rebels into retreat.
Now, this comes less than 24 hours after President Obama‘s address, which, of course, predictably conservatives are pouncing on, arguing that the mission is still too vague and ill-defined.
But George Zornick from “Think Progress” is drawing attention to a different line of conservative criticism, one that‘s completely absurd. Some Republicans are pushing the idea that President Obama is helping al Qaeda by assisting the rebels get rid of Gadhafi.
Now, where do they get this crazy idea that it‘s better to leave Gadhafi in power? Well, conveniently enough, from Gadhafi.
Gadhafi argued last month that the uprising in his country was the work of terrorists. Quote, “Bin Laden, this is the enemy who is manipulating people. Do not be swayed by Bin Laden,” pretending that Bin Laden is again him. Al Qaeda is against them.
Gadhafi also said that al Qaeda was drugging Libyan citizens. Quote, “They give them pills at night. They put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, and their Nescafe.” Ah, the Nescafe theory. I know al Qaeda was eventually going after our Nescafe.
All right. But the hallucinatory pills would explain apparently where Gadhafi came up with this theory, because as a “Los Angeles Times” headline explained last week, quote, “U.S. finds no organized al Qaeda presence in Libya opposition, officials say.” Now, that‘s the conclusion of our officials.
And Gadhafi being outraged by terrorism is massively ironic to say the least. Anyone remember Lockerbie? Yes, that was Gadhafi.
So, some conservatives have decided to believe this anyway, that Gadhafi is fighting terrorism, and his opponents are al Qaeda, and that President Obama is supporting those guys.
Here‘s Brian Fischer of the American Family Association, quote, “Al Qaeda is behind the rebellion in Libya. So, this no-fly zone is, in fact, helping the Muslims who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, but helping our sworn enemies, especially if they are Muslims, does not seem to be a bother to Obama.”
It gets worse. Here‘s a guy who was the speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Here‘s what he wrote, quote, “Does President Obama acknowledge the danger of al Qaeda allies among the anti-Gadhafi forces and pledge to work for a moderate replacement government without extremist factions?”
Remember, Newt was a guy want to help the rebels and go after Gadhafi in the first place. But the concept of hypocrisy has been lost by Gingrich a long time ago.
And, of course, in the end, here comes Michele Bachmann. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: I have been very reluctant to see the United States go into Libya. For one thing, we haven‘t identified yet who the opposition even is to Gadhafi. We don‘t know if this is led by Hamas, Hezbollah, or possibly al Qaeda of North Africa. Are we really better off? Are United States‘ better interest—our interests better off if, let‘s say, al Qaeda of North Africa now runs Libya?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: How did Hamas get involved in all of this? Where did she bring that into it? She just wanted to throw everything in there. Obama is with the guys who might be with al Qaeda. That‘s what Gadhafi mean, Hezbollah and Hamas and other Arabs and Muslims, they‘re so scary.
In the end, why are these conservatives are now seeming to side with Gadhafi—well, it‘s because they share a common enemy—President Obama.
All right. Now, Let‘s bring in an expert, Juan Cole. He‘s a professor of history at the University of Michigan, one of the top experts in the country in Middle Eastern affairs.
So, first question, is al Qaeda heading the Libyan revolt?
PROF. JUAN COLE, UNIV. OF MICHIGAN: Al Qaeda is not heading the Libyan revolt by any manner or means. We know who the Libyan leaders are. They‘re based in Benghazi. They have declared a transitional government. Hillary Clinton has met with them more than once. Some of them are former regime elements.
They were people—some of them were around Gadhafi and broke with him. Others are just like the notables of the city of Benghazi. I mean, if f you had an uprising in Chicago, who would be leading it? It would be the Daleys and so forth. It‘s the equivalent in Benghazi.
So, no, it‘s not being led by al Qaeda.
UYGUR: All right. Now, one of our officials just said that, you know, there was a flicker in the opposition that it‘s al Qaeda-related, right? Is that true? Is there some portion of the opposition that is with al Qaeda?
COLE: Well, not the opposition. But, you know, from Derna and some of those eastern Libya cities, there were a few young guys who went off to fight in Iraq against what they saw as the American occupation. But how many were they?
I mean, the problem I have with a lot of this political discourse is that it doesn‘t have a sense of proportion? Were there 25? Were there 50? How many of the fighters who were taking on Gadhafi have that background?
And are they still in that mindset?
One of the reasons people left Libya to fight the jihads was because they were under a totalitarian government. They had no hope in changing their own societies. Even if there were a handful of those kinds of people involved in the opposition, might they not now be pulled into democratic politics if Libya can establish that kind of government?
UYGUR: All right. So, bottom line, Professor Cole, when we look at this opposition, is it basically a political statement to try to tie President Obama to some sort of al Qaeda faction with a tiny percentage of people that might or might not be there? Or does it have some validity to say, hey, you know what? Some portion of the opposition is al Qaeda, and if Obama is helping them, he must be helping al Qaeda?
COLE: There‘s no validity to it. There are some proportion of the opposition is certainly Muslim fundamentalist. But, you know, the Muslim fundamentalists in Turkey have gotten pulled into democratic politics. And that‘s the best thing that can happen.
The way you avoid them going to al Qaeda is precisely to have a more open system where they have to run for elections and they can‘t just use guns. So—you know, but the vast majority of people who have announced their opposition to Gadhafi in places like Misrata, and Zentan and Benghazi, they‘re just the youth of Libya. A lot of them are college educated. They have—you know, they put communiques. The language they use is that of secular nationalism.
So, this fear is just fearmongering.
UYGUR: All right. Professor Cole from Michigan, we appreciate it.
Thank you for your time tonight.
COLE: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: All right. Now, the recall effort for Wisconsin Republican state senators is going strong. We‘ll show you what progressives are doing now to rev things up. When libs attack, when we come back.
UYGUR: The crackdown on workers‘ rights is getting even more severe throughout the country, but don‘t worry, we will send in the cavalry in a second. There is a fight back.
But in Ohio, the Republican-controlled House could vote as soon as tomorrow on a bill limiting collective bargaining rights for the state‘s 350,000 public workers. Then the Senate would have to approve the changes and Governor John Kasich would have to sign it into law, which he has promised to do. And that is among the reasons why his popularity is dropping like a rock.
Governor Kasich—hey, don‘t worry, keep going, keep going, the cliff is right there. You got it. Move forward. You‘ll be all right.
And the battle in Wisconsin continues today. The progressive cavalry is on the charge again. Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are airing new TV targeting at the six of the eight Republicans whom state Democrats have vowed to recall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a Republican my entire life, I‘m appalled at what Scott Walker and the Republicans did. This hurts my family. It‘s about my kids and school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether you‘re a college student like me or kindergartner, the Republicans are hurting everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is for my children, this is for my wife, this is for my friends, my neighbors. This is for our community.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans declared war on the middle class. And with this recall campaign, we are fighting back, and we are going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I‘ve got to be honest with you, man, those ads are awesome. They‘re really good job. And then you realized, you know what? The middle classes fed up with this, and you know what? That‘s totally true, so they delivered the right message. As for Governor Scott Walker, he‘s still trying to implement the law stripping most collective bargaining rights, of course, but today, he had a bump on the road, a Wisconsin judge today ruled that there should be no further implementation of the law at this point, and that she will hear more testimony on this issue. You ask me, after they‘re done with the six state Republicans, Governor Walker comes up in January of 2012 for a recall. Think about it.
All right. Now, next, the federal government could be bringing manslaughter charges against some BP managers for the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion last April. Could they be held criminally responsible? And will it be BP employees or executives who go to jail?
And Florida Governor Republican Rick Scott wants to make welfare recipients and state employees take mandatory drug tests. Now, why is he wanted to do that? Would you believe me if I told you, he owns a drug testing company?
UYGUR: Justice Department investigators are considering whether to pursue manslaughter and forgery charges for the explosion aboard deepwater horizon ring which killed 11 workers. If pursued, the measures would finally hold the company with the history of problems responsible for its deadly negligence. Even before the BP spill, this was a company with many, many problems. It had been cited for 760 egregious willful safety violations between June of ‘07 and February of 2010.
By way of comparison, Exxon only had one over that same period. It beat Exxon 760 to one in safety violations, that is not a good record. But the company reached new levels of inept attitude and the days and months leading up to the explosion. BP was repeatedly warned by Halliburton, the company that it hired to seal the well with cement, that it should use 21 devices called centralizers to make sure the well was properly sealed. They opted and said to use just six. Can you imagine? They were more irresponsible than Halliburton. Now, on top of that they ignored clear warning signs in the hours leading up to the explosion.
Investigators learn that there was quote, “a very large abnormality in a negative pressure test,” which expert leaks in the well. But workers later decided that the test was successful after all. Gee, I wonder what kind of pressure was put on to get to that result. During the testimony months later, BP called that the fundamental mistake, although there were many mistakes, of course. Now, why the rush to get that work done? And to avoid dealing with promise that would lead approves to be deadly? Money, of course, BP leaks the Deepwater Horizon oil rig from Transocean. It was hoping to use that rig to drill another well in the gulf.
Now, BP had hoped to start a new well by March 8. The delays had put the company behind schedule. Based on an estimate of $500,000 per day to drill on the site, the delay of forty three days had cost BP more than $21 million by the day of the explosion on April 20. So, they risked the operation and people‘s lives because they wanted to hurry up and make more money. And there‘s no clearer example of their cost-cutting than the infamous blow-out preventer. The one thing that was supposed to be the fail state in cutting the flow of oil. This last line of defense didn‘t work for numerous reasons. Among the promise cited, a dead battery in its control pad, a useless version of a key component and last but not the least, the failure to install a 500,000 switch in case blow-out preventer failed.
Well, that extra $500,000 wound up costing them $20 billion in damages, and much more importantly, 11 lives were lost because of the explosion on that Deepwater Horizon oil rig. That‘s really—see those folks? I mean, I hate to tell you this, but they died. You know that, and they had families, and now they‘re not with us anymore, because somebody didn‘t want to spend a little extra money. And of course, an estimated 172 million gallons also spilled into the gulf affecting all of us. Look, corporations demand special rights in court, and they usually get them. Cases like Citizens United give them human rights like freedom of speech. But when it comes to responsibility, then all of a sudden they don‘t want treated like human beings, they don‘t want to be held criminally responsible for their actions.
Well, you can‘t have it both ways, you can‘t say you want all the constitutional rights of real human beings and none of the responsibilities. And who should shoulder that blame? How about the guys at the top who are making all of the money. They get all the up side, so shouldn‘t they be held responsible for the down side? My guess is that if we did that, and they were on the line, all of a sudden, we would have a lot more safety precautions, because those guys don‘t want to go to jail.
Joining me now is University of Maryland Law School Professor Jane Barrett to talk about this more. Professor Barrett, what would happen if we said, hey, you know, the CEO of the company is going to go to jail if people die on this job because of criminal negligence, do you think that that would help make the jobs a lot safer?
PROF. JANE BARRETT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think if there were personal accountability of corporate management for these types of accidents, that‘s clearly would make people pay more attention to the laws, and I agree with you, it would stop some of the workplace disasters we see.
UYGUR: And how about the specific case of BP? Do you think there is some chances that some people are going to go to jail, and if they do, who would that be?
BARRETT: I think that there is a possibility, based on the reports, the government is looking at a wide range of potential actions, ranging from false statements to Congress, false statements perhaps to investors, as well as what actually happened on the rig. The seaman‘s manslaughter statute has provisions to hold both of people who are on the rig responsible for negligence, as well as people who are onshore or up the corporate chain. The government can always use an aiding and abetting to kind of loop in the senior executives. I will tell you, this is a long process, this are not easy cases to bring, in my view one of the worst things could happen is if the government just simply settles for a large corporate fine and doesn‘t try to at least hold some individuals accountable.
UYGUR: You see, here‘s my problem with middle management, right? Or, set the guys on a ring, they have a ton of pressure on them, to make money, make money, we‘ve got to go, we‘ve got to open up that second rig, it‘s costing us a lot of money, and then if something goes wrong, then you blame them. And if they don‘t do it, and they don‘t succumb to that pressure, they get fired sometimes. So, it doesn‘t make more sense to move it up the chain, so that there‘s a culture at the company, oh my God, don‘t play with people‘s lives, because ass is.
BARRETT: Well, absolutely. The problem is under our system of laws, you‘ve got to have the evidence. And sometimes, the only way to get the evidence is by working your way up the chain just like you do in any other criminal case. If you‘re investigating a company for falsifications in terms of government contract, you start with the lower-level employees and you work your way up. That‘s not to say that all of those lower-level employees would get charged, but they‘re clearly going to be part of the investigation. And in my view, you need to get this investigation up to management that are off the rig who are making some of the decisions, if it‘s going to have a deterrent effect.
UYGUR: All right. Professor Jane Barrett, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
BARRETT: My pleasure.
UYGUR: We really appreciate it.
BARRETT: And look, I want to tell the audience one more thing here, look, again, I can‘t emphasize enough, those 11 guys died. It wasn‘t a simple mistake. It wasn‘t an act of God. It was people saying I want to save a nickel and a dime, and if people wind up dying, OK, so be it. There‘s something wrong with that, and I think the government should take criminal action on that.
UYGUR: All right. Now, next, Florida Governor Republican Rick Scott has signed an executive order that would make state employees take drug tests, but he‘s refusing to have a statewide database that tracks prescription drug abuse. Now, why the double standard? Could it be because rich white people take prescription drugs? I‘m keeping it real.
UYGUR: A FOX News executive gets caught on tape admitting he lied
during TV appearances about President Obama. He says he called him a
socialist, even though he thought it was a far-fetched idea. Is this how
FOX News manipulates its audience? And wait until you hear what he
instructed their so-called news people to do. That‘s coming up.‘
UYGUR: Florida Governor Rick Scott signed an executive order last week making drug tests mandatory for all state employees once every three months. Now, that is not permissible. The Supreme Court says, you‘re not allowed to do that. You can only test public employees if you have a reasonable suspicion of use or if they‘re working in a public safety job. Rick Scott says, who cares? I‘m going to test them anyway. Now, the state legislature is also considering a bill that Scott proposed during the campaign that would also test welfare recipients for drugs. And—he would also charge the welfare recipients for their own tests. They‘re on welfare. They don‘t have the money. That‘s why they‘re coming for welfare. Now, that‘s all bad enough, right? Ignoring the law, et cetera, et cetera. Why is he doing this? Are you ready?
It turns out that he cofounded urgent care chain by the name of Solantic. Are you ready for what Solantic specializes in? Drug testing. Oh, come on, man. I‘m blown away by that, mans. How does they do that? That is the most unbelievable conflict of interest I‘ve ever heard, and he said, no, no, no, it‘s OK, I transferred the interest in the company to a revocable trust, and so I don‘t have it anymore. Do you know who he transferred it to? His wife. Come on man, come on, this is the most brazen thing I‘ve ever seen. I guess he doesn‘t care. Well, look, here‘s why he doesn‘t care. Remember, this is the guy who used to run Columbia ACA. They pled guilty to 14 felonies. They were doing Medicare fraud. They paid a record $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines. He walked away a multimillionaire anyway. He got over $300 million in stock options.
So, he figures, I kept getting away with it. And now, I‘m the governor, why not keep going? But there‘s an extra twist. Rick Scott says that he will not allow a database to track prescriptions of Vicodin, Percocet and other painkillers. Now, the Republicans wanted that, the GOP legislature approved it two years ago, and they‘re mad about it now. He‘s the final republican, why is he doing that? But let me give you a sense of the problem first. Thirty four states use databases to keep track of Oxycodone and other painkillers. Florida is the largest state without one. Are you ready for this? The DEA said that during the first six months of 2010, Florida doctors sold nine times more Oxycodone than the rest of the United States combined, nine times more.
Obviously, there‘s a huge prescription drug abuse problem in Florida. It‘s a mill. And in fact, they‘ve wrote—written about it saying, it‘s a mill. Why does he want to stop that? Why does he pretend to care about drugs when it comes to welfare recipients or state employees, but he doesn‘t want his prescription drugs? Well, I‘m keeping it real here. Rich white people take prescription drugs. But that‘s his base, those are the people who gave him money. I mean, I can‘t think of anything else, why in the world wouldn‘t he go after that? He even Republicans are tearing their hair out saying, go after that. And by the way, there‘s also one other guy in Florida, who is a fairly famous prescription drug abuser, Rush Limbaugh. All of a sudden, Rick Scott says, oh privacy issues, privacy issues, we can‘t have that database. But there was one little final irony to all of this, Rick Scott is now a state employee. So, well, he also be tested? And why did he want to enable prescription drug abuse in his state so much?
Those are both good questions.
Joining me now is former democratic congressman from Florida Alan Grayson to answer some of those questions. Look, that conflict of interests blows me away. He‘s got a company making millions of dollars from drug tests and he‘s pushing the drug test all over Florida. I mean, should they investigate that? What should they do about that?
FMR. REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, look, he spends $70 million to buy the office of governor in Florida. He wants a return on his money. He promised us that he was going to run state government like a business, what he didn‘t realize is that he would going to run it like his business, like it‘s all his. And that‘s exactly what he‘s been doing. It‘s not only what you said, in addition to that, he wants to cut all state funding for health care clinics. There are four million people in Florida who can‘t afford to see a doctor when they‘re sick. They have to go to health care clinics. He‘s going to shut them all down. So, it will be forced to go to Rick Scott‘s clinic.
UYGUR: I mean, it‘s beyond absurd. So, again, you know, let me turn to the prescription problem because that‘s the whole another thing. Why does he not want to track this prescription drugs?
GRAYSON: Well, you said that Florida has nine times as much as the rest of the country combined. I think eight times as much as Rush Limbaugh alone. It‘s exactly what you said. I don‘t think he wants to take the heat from Rush Limbaugh.
UYGUR: You think it‘s just that simple? On Rush Limbaugh alone, he‘s like let‘s leave these guys alone.
GRAYSON: Well, look all the right-wing leaders have catered to Rush Limbaugh for years and years. You know, he says jump and they say how high? And you‘re seeing that now with the governor of Florida.
UYGUR: So, let‘s go back to the election first thing. There‘s a new poll out that says if elections were held today, Rick Scott would actually lose by 19 points. That‘s a huge swing. So obviously the people of Florida, once he got into power, and it didn‘t take long, we‘re like, whoa, that is not what we expected. So, what did they expect and what did they get?
GRAYSON: Listen, this is somebody who made his fortune by cheating sick people. And the only reason why he got in, in the first place is because Democrats in Florida like Democrats all across the country simply didn‘t vote in 2010. And it‘s like Ed Koch said his last elections, he said, the voters have spoken, and now they‘ll be punished for it. And that‘s exactly what you‘re seeing in Florida. We‘re being punished for it. This is someone who was unfit to be governor. This is someone who is unfit for any job. My thinking was that he would get elected, he would assume office and then he pardon himself and quit, but unfortunately he‘s doing far worse than that.
He‘s using the state of Florida to stuff money that‘s in his own pocket, because he thinks the real problems facing Florida today, with four million people without health insurance, with 13 percent unemployment, the real problem in Florida is that Rick Scott doesn‘t have enough money, and he‘s dead set on doing something to correct that problem.
UYGUR: So, follow up question. What can the people of Florida do about this? Now that they realize the scam that he ran on them and you see, they don‘t like him anymore, and they‘re like, whoa, I didn‘t know he was going to funnel all this business to his own companies, now run by his wife, what can they do about it?
GRAYSON: Look, it‘s a fundamental problem that the government is being run by a corrupt click called the republican party of Florida. The last person that charged the Republican Party of Florida was led away in chains and has been indicted. As if the state has been taken over by the mafia, that‘s how bad the Republican Party of Florida is. And unfortunately, the governor himself appoints five of the nine members of the Florida‘s ethics commission. So, you can be sure that all of those Republicans are going to do nothing about this. The only resource we may have in the end is to storm the Bastille.
UYGUR: OK. But seriously, what if he says, hey, you know what? Look, I am going to make more money, money is—to my companies because I‘m going to drug test everybody? OK. I‘m going to drug test you and your dog and all that money is going to get funneled to me. What are you going to do about it? What we can do about it?
GRAYSON: I‘m just glad that Rick Scott‘s company doesn‘t to proctologic examinations, because then we would all have to bend over and cough.
UYGUR: All right. Well, Congressman Grayson, you are definitely clear on the topic. And we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
GRAYSON: You‘re welcome.
UYGUR: All right. Now, when we come back, a FOX News executive is busted for lying about President Obama on TV. His confessions were caught on tape. We‘ll show you that next.
UYGUR: In a newly uncovered audiotape obtained by Media Matters, a FOX News executive reveals, he lied to FOX News viewers about Barack Obama during a 2008 campaign. Speaking publicly in 2009, on a Mediterranean Cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, FOX News Washington managing editor and Vice President Bill Sammon described his attempts to link Obama to socialism, even though he believed that idea to be far-fetched. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL SAMMON, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the plumber that he wanted to, quote, “spread the wealth around.” At that time, I have to admit that I went on TV and FOX News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. That‘s awesome. Oh, it‘s just being a little mischievous as the vice president of news. He found it far-fetched. But thought hey, why not manipulate our audience, anyway, it‘s right before the election? Why not lie to them and get them all worked up about how scary Obama is. Remember, this is supposed to be a fair and balanced news organization. As Media Matters reports, multiple times in October of 2008, Sammy use his position at FOX to get in front of a camera and try to link Obama to socialism and Marxism in any way that he could, even though as we just showed you at the time, he privately thought the concept wasn‘t true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMMON: Barack Obama said to the primary, you know, we need to spread the wealth around.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Right.
SAMMON: That is red meat when you‘re talking to conservatives and you start talking about spread the wealth around and that is tantamount to socialism. I‘ve read Barack Obama‘s books pretty carefully. And he in his own words talks about being drawn to Marxism.
SAMMON: As soon as I heard Barack Obama say, and it‘s gone at almost two weeks ago, spread the wealth around, I mean, the red flag went up. That is exactly code for income redistribution, which is tantamount to socialism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I like how he sprinkles in Marxism every once in a while. Just in case, socialism is a scary enough. Socialism, socialism, Marxism, that come from also made up. Sammon‘s campaign to smear Obama wasn‘t just limited to us on-air appearances by the way. He tried to get other FOX shows to join in on the socialism team by sending out a mass e-mail to FOX News staffers with the subject line, quote, “FYI, Obama‘s references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxist in his autobiography, Dreams from my Father.” He‘s telling them, hey, you better mention this staff on air.
Now, this isn‘t a simple suggestion by a disinterested party, this is the vice president of the network. We‘ve seen countless memos like this leaked from inside FOX. This is how they dictate the news over there. Why do you think they all repeat the same words over and over? You think it‘s a coincidence? No, it‘s because senior executives like Bill Sammon tell them what to say, and in case it wasn‘t clear enough, they come on air and say it themselves. In this case, Sammon was caught on tape admitting he didn‘t even believe the stuff. They should change the name to fake news channel because that‘s what they do over there.
All right. That‘s been our show. Thank you for watching. Follow me online at TheYoungTurks.com. And on YouTube at The Young Turks and Facebook at TYTNation and on Twitter at The Young Turks.
“HARDBALL” is the next one show, and it starts right now.
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