Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Read the transcript from the Thursday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Ed Rendell, Bill Press, Rep. Jared Polis, Justin Phillips
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening, everybody. Welcome to the show. I‘m glad you‘re here. Thanks for joining us. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Now, you know that there are reports all over Washington that the Democrats and Republicans are close to a deal on the budget. The figure that they‘re talking about is $33 billion extra in spending cuts. Late yesterday, Vice President Biden seemed to confirm that this was, in fact, the case.
Now, I want to make the argument to you tonight that that is a huge loss for the Democratic Party. But you know, of course, for the Tea Party, it‘s never enough. They were upset. They had a gathering today. People say it was a big gathering. It numbered in the hundreds. They‘ve had much, much larger gatherings than that today (ph), of course. And it appears that they‘re going to get a lot of what they wanted, but of course, they said it‘s not good enough anyway.
We‘re going to come back to them in a little bit. But also there‘s this idea in Washington that—and it‘s really conventional wisdom—the president is going to win if it‘s a negotiated compromise. Hey, he got a deal.
To me, that doesn‘t mean much. Anybody can get a deal. Like, if you wanted a deal, you could have just said, All right, I‘ll give you $61 billion, in which case, by the way, they would have moved it, and then he would have given them that. The question is, What‘s in the deal? That‘s why I think the conventional wisdom is wrong.
Look, I wish it weren‘t so, but I got to be honest with you, I don‘t think the Democrats won on this at all. And let me show you why. Look, remember, the Republicans originally wanted $800 billion in tax cuts, and in December, they got $800 billion in tax cuts. That‘s a big fat check. They got it. They got exactly what they wanted.
Then at the beginning of February, they said that they wanted $32 billion in spending cuts. And guess what happened? Now they got $33 billion in spending cuts, if this deal is accurate. That‘s a billion dollars more than they originally asked for. That‘s another big fat check. So when it came to taxes, they got exactly what they wanted. When it came to spending, they got exactly what they wanted.
Now, later, because of the pressure from the Tea Party, the GOP moved their number and said they wanted $61 billion in cuts. But in reality, when all of this started, their real ask was for $32 billion. So it looks like they‘re going to get more than they could have imagined at the beginning of this process.
So in the midst of the Tea Party bellyaching, the reality is, it‘s mission accomplished for the Republicans. They got all the tax cuts, they got all the spending cuts they wanted, and then some.
So look, you got to understand something. Am I rooting for the president? I thought he was a better candidate than McCain. I made that very clear before the elections. So of course, I want him to succeed. I desperately want him to succeed! So am I happy telling you, Hey, you know what? I don‘t think he did in this case. I think it was a loss.
And look, let me ask you. Well, what do you think? I mean, when you look at those numbers—don‘t worry about what I think. Who cares what I think. What do you think? I mean, when you look that, don‘t you go, Oh, my God, they‘re giving them a billion more than they originally asked for?
Why do we constantly give in? It‘s a source of frustration for all of us! And there‘s got to be an answer to it, and so far, I haven‘t seen it. It‘s—and you know, the thing is, a lot of people are saying, Oh, Tea Party‘s crazy, radical, et cetera. And look, we‘re going to talk to somebody from the Tea Party later. And I think they‘re radical in a lot of ways and they won‘t negotiate. But the sad thing is that their strategy kind of worked. They wanted to push the country to the right, and so they made more and more demands. And then you know what happened? The Democrats went along with those demands. Whatever they ask for, we go a little more than halfway. So when they asked for more, we went more and we gave them more spending cuts.
Those are not progressive values. I wish we had a win tonight, but I don‘t think we do. And my job is to show you the numbers, show you the reality, let you make your own decision on it.
All right, now I want to bring in a guest right now. And it‘s, of course, former Pennsylvania governor and NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell. Governor, look, am I seeing it wrong? Let me—I‘m asking the audience. I want to ask you, too. I mean, when you look at those numbers, if I‘m a Republican, I‘m snickering while nobody‘s looking, going, I can‘t believe I got a billion more than I originally asked for!
ED RENDELL (D), FMR. PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, let me start off by saying, Cenk, that I care what you think. And I think you‘ve been doing a good job on this issue.
You‘re absolutely right about all this, but the thing that‘s so tragic about this is we‘re playing on the wrong ballfield. Look, all of us understand that the federal deficit has to come down. At the same time, the president‘s absolutely right, we‘ve got to invest in the things that are important to the growth of the country and keeping the country competitive.
But we‘re cutting right now from discretionary spending. And discretionary spending‘s less than one eighth of the budget. The big items, the things that we should be looking at—the military budget, the long-term entitlements—and I know that‘s hard for some of our folks to hear, but that‘s where the money is—we‘ve got to start looking at those things. We shouldn‘t take it out on the discretionary social spending.
And there are things that are outrageous. I mean, we give the oil companies almost $4 billion in tax subsidies a year in the budget, and yet we cut out LIHEAP, which is Low Income Heating Assistance, mostly to older people, $2.5 billion. Well, we could save LIHEAP, keep it intact, by just taking away 60 percent of the subsidies we give the oil companies. The oil companies are doing well. They don‘t need the subsidies.
We‘re all out of whack, but we‘re fighting in the wrong playing field. This is all like an argument about who receives the ball first. The game hasn‘t even started. The game is next year‘s budget.
UYGUR: Well, look, I know this. We seem to have lost this game that‘s at hand...
RENDELL: We have lost this game. I agree.
UYGUR: All right. So governor Rendell, I mean, that‘s the thing. You know, you agree with that. You know, Congressman McDermott comes on last night. Congresswoman Kaptur comes on. Everybody agrees, like, we‘re on the wrong—Bernie Sanders—we‘re on the wrong battlefield. We‘re playing the wrong games. We‘re losing these games, et cetera. But we have the White House and we have the Senate, so why are we losing? I mean, isn‘t it a frame of mind? Isn‘t it a constant, like, All right, I‘m going to give in and those—like, doesn‘t it seem like that‘s real fundamental problem is we have the wrong strategy?
RENDELL: Well, and it traces back, in my judgment—and you‘ve heard me say this on your show before, Cenk—it traces back to the way we campaigned in the 2010 election. We campaigned like scared rabbits. We didn‘t fight and say, Look, there is a role for investment, there is a role for the safety net. Good Lord, ladies and gentlemen of America, do you want these programs cut, or do you want millionaires not to receive a continued tax break?
You know, it‘s interesting. The public was all in favor of cuts until they saw what the cuts were. I told you I think last week, there‘s a poll in Pennsylvania that says 98 percent of the people don‘t want education cut to balance the budget. Well, good Lord, 98 percent of—that‘s just in Pennsylvania -- 98 percent of Pennsylvanians can‘t agree today is Thursday, and that‘s a staggering number.
UYGUR: Right. But I—you know, I hear you on all that and you‘re right about all that, but...
RENDELL: Where were we last fall? Where were we last fall?
UYGUR: So what‘s the problem? That‘s what I‘m trying to drill down to, right, because everybody that comes on this program seems to agree that we should fight harder. We should fight for progressive values.
RENDELL: Well, here‘s the problem...
UYGUR: But we never seem to do it! So I mean, what goes wrong? What is it in Washington that the Republicans always have the framing, and we accept their framing and give up instantly?
RENDELL: Because Republicans are willing to stand their ground for things that they believe in, even when those things might be unpopular. I mean, you see it in Wisconsin. You see it in Ohio. Polls not—you know, polls began (ph). They continued to go forward on ending collective bargaining rights, even though the people of Wisconsin and people of Ohio don‘t want to do it.
They seem to have a lot more courage of their convictions than we do. We seem to tend to cut and run as soon as there‘s the slightest bit of trouble instead of talking about our values. And our values are the right values.
And then there‘s a second problem. The president like the governor, like the mayor in cities and states, is the adult in the room, and they do have the responsibility of making government work. They do. When I was governor, I felt it was my responsibility to put it all together. And so you‘re in a position where you do want to—not make deals, but you do want to keep things going and going forward.
UYGUR: No, no, no. But here‘s the thing, Governor. Look, I‘m going to press you on this more because we—we always talk generally, like, Hey, Democrats are doing the wrong thing, Washington‘s doing the wrong thing. But there‘s individuals behind this. And I know the executive has to make tough decisions, and nobody on our side is saying, Don‘t make a deal. Of course you got to make a deal at some point. The question is...
RENDELL: Make the right deal.
UYGUR: Make the right deal. And it seems like we never make the right deal because, honestly, the president is always willing to negotiate and he never draws the line. I mean, shouldn‘t he call their bluff at some point? Shouldn‘t he say...
RENDELL: He should call their bluff...
UYGUR: ... I‘m going to stand here and I‘m not going to constantly give in to you guys?
RENDELL: And the way to do it is to take the items that have the most emotional appeal, like low income heating assistance, like—the Republicans want to cut the mortgage assistance program right now in America? Come again? You want to cut the mortgage assistance programs, and you‘re giving the oil companies $4 billion in tax breaks? No way!
So the president should say, Guys, I‘m willing to negotiate on this, but there are some things that are so important to the social fabric of this country, some things so important to American families that are in trouble, they‘re off-limits. They‘re off-limits.
UYGUR: Right. Unfortunately, Governor, you know low income heating assistance—that‘s the first thing President Obama gave up, even without the Republicans really asking for it.
RENDELL: And it‘s crazy because that‘s something that there‘s—
Americans understand. They understand. They don‘t want anybody to go without heat during the winter. Americans understand that. Just like Pennsylvanians understand that we shouldn‘t be cutting education funding.
RENDELL: They understand it. So we should fight—we should take a few things and fight and draw the line there and say, That‘s not the America that we want. We‘re not going to see Exxon get tax cuts and older people not get heating assistance.
UYGUR: Right. Well, again, we agree. I hope somebody in Washington is listening.
RENDELL: Well, I think there—I think there are people that are going that way. And Cenk, I think the big battle is going to be next year‘s budget because that‘s going to set the tone...
UYGUR: I always hear next year, though. I always hear next year.
RENDELL: Well, you‘re right. You‘re right to be frustrated.
UYGUR: You know? And I hear they‘re going there and I never see them get there. That‘s my problem.
RENDELL: You‘re right to be frustrated.
RENDELL: We‘ve got to draw the line and fight for the things that are
the things we believe in and the things the public believes in.
RENDELL: That‘s the thing that gets me. We didn‘t fight against the tax cuts for the top 2 percent when the polls showed 65 percent of Americans, including a lot of Republicans, thought that they should—those tax cuts should expire.
UYGUR: Absolutely. Governor Ed Rendell, thank you for your time tonight. We really appreciate it.
RENDELL: It was fun.
UYGUR: All right. Now, with me is Bill Press. He‘s the host of “The Bill Press Show” on Sirius radio. You know, Bill and I spoke about a month ago on the same issue, and I said that President Obama and the Democrats would give away a lot more to the Republicans. Now (INAUDIBLE) a little bit. I‘m sorry, Bill, but I‘m calling you out on this a little bit.
BILL PRESS, RADIO SHOW HOST: That‘s fair. That‘s fair.
UYGUR: All right. Now, at the time, I want everybody to remember, the president giving an initial $40 billion in cuts from his 2011 budget proposal. And then he gave another $10 billion in cuts during the continuing resolutions. So he‘d given about $50 billion in cuts already. And our discussion that Bill and I had was whether he would give in more.
Now, let me show you a little bit of tape on that. Let‘s watch.
PRESS: All right.
UYGUR: He‘s already given away half. You agree with that. Half is out the door. They haven‘t really started negotiations. The Republicans haven‘t given him anything. Right?
UYGUR: So he‘s got to go at least another half. That‘s what‘s going to happen. I mean, you tell me if it‘s not. Are they really going to stand their ground at $50 billion. They‘re not going to, right? They‘re going to give away another 25 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent, right? So then what are we left with?
PRESS: No. 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.
UYGUR: All right, Bill, you know, I feel like a bit of a jerk pointing that out, but was I right there?
PRESS: Well, first of all, I have to say, you know, the cruelest thing you can do to any of us, right, is to play a tape of something we said...
PRESS: ... three weeks ago because you know, in this town—look, Cenk, I believed what I said then. And I do think that they have gone too far. But I do have to caution you about one thing. I think it‘s important to point out. There ain‘t no deal yet. I mean, they‘ve said $33 billion. Boehner hasn‘t agreed to that. Harry Reid (INAUDIBLE) to that. Joe Biden has said that. Number one, we don‘t know what are in those $33 billion of cuts. We tried to find out at the White House today. They wouldn‘t say, if they know. And two, again, you know, the Republicans can‘t necessarily even deliver on $33 billion. So I just want to caution you and your—and our friends and listeners, this game is not over yet. I think the Democrats...
UYGUR: But let me...
PRESS: ... they have gone too far. I would agree with you and Ed Rendell.
UYGUR: Right. So let me press you on that a little bit, though. But
UYGUR: You don‘t think that the Democrats are going to take that $33 billion number and walk it back, right? I mean, if anything, the Republicans are going to say, No, it‘s not good enough. And then I worry that they might even give them more. But you don‘t think they‘re going to walk that back to, like, a more reasonable number, do you, the Democrats?
PRESS: No, no, no. No. No. Once they give $33 billion, they can‘t take it back. But what‘s the real battle here is not between the Democrats and the Republicans. As you know, the real battle is between John Boehner and the Tea Party. He lost 63 of his own caucus on the last vote. He had to get Democratic votes.
So I think—as you were just saying, I think it‘s time to call their bluff now and let them shut down the government and then take—pay the price because it would be a hell of a price to pay if they do. I really don‘t think Boehner has the votes even for $33 billion. So this is far from over, Cenk.
UYGUR: So that‘s the critical part, Bill, because look, the fact that they have internal dissension doesn‘t really mean much unless it leads to something, right?
UYGUR: It has to have a conclusion. And the conclusion is, Hey, wait a minute, if they shut down the government because of that internal dissension, boy, aren‘t they crazy? And boy, hey, you shouldn‘t support those guys, right? I mean, that would be the conclusion.
But it seems like the Democrats are desperate to avoid that conclusion. So that doesn‘t seem to make sense to me, right?
UYGUR: You see what I‘m saying?
PRESS: Look, you know, they don‘t want it. I don‘t think, frankly,
Boehner wants it. I don‘t think Mitch McConnell wants it. But I think
it‘s the tail wagging the dog across the street with this Tea Party, and
these Tea Party freshmen really feel, you know, they‘re like the kamikaze -
kamikaze Democrats, I used to call them. They‘d go over the cliff, right, rather than compromise. And that‘s where they are. So...
UYGUR: So that‘s why...
PRESS: I don‘t think the Democrats can give more. And I think the Democrats have to hold—they shouldn‘t have given this much. They can‘t give any more. And if it means shutting down the government, let them do it.
UYGUR: Yes, and look, it‘s not a matter of us saying shutting down the government. It‘s a matter of saying, at some point, I can‘t just give you 100 percent of what you want. That‘s crazy talk. We‘ve already given and given and given. So if you want to take that action, you got to shut it down.
But look, one last thing for you, Bill...
UYGUR: ... and I don‘t know if this‘ll be another point of disagreement or not, but I think the Tea Party has done an amazing job. I don‘t say that, like, as a good thing. It‘s a very unfortunate thing. But they have pulled this debate further and further right, and they got more and more spending cuts. So I mean, don‘t you have to say that crazy or not, it worked?
PRESS: Well, first of all, I agree with you. They have done an amazing job in splitting the Republican Party and pulling the Republican Party to the extreme right, to the point of view—look at that rally today, a hundred people out here in Washington. There were 100,000 last summer. I think they‘ve become so extreme that they‘re losing their support among the public, Cenk. But they still have these freshmen members of Congress who are demanding $100 billion and who have the votes. That‘s where their power is right now.
And I think they‘re more powerful than John Boehner, and Michele Bachmann is the real speaker of the House of Representatives today.
UYGUR: That‘s an interesting comment. All right, always a great conversation with you, Bill. Bill Press, everybody. Thank you.
PRESS: Love it. All right.
UYGUR: All right, now, as you just saw, the Tea Party held a rally today on Capitol Hill, and they want to tell everyone that they want more budget cuts. Of course, they always want more. But how many cuts will be enough? Well, you know what we‘re going to do? We‘re going to ask one of the leaders of the Tea Party and try to find out. He‘s coming on the program.
And as more Republicans go after the president‘s Libya policy, one top Republican in the House can‘t find Libya on a map. He‘s not sure which continent it‘s on. I‘m not kidding. All right, that‘s ahead.
UYGUR: We just talked about the Tea Party how they just had a big rally to say, Hey, you know what? We want even more budget cuts. Well, what we‘re going to do a little later in the program is we‘re going to have one of leaders of the Tea Party movement on here, and we want to ask him, when is it ever enough? Will you ever compromise? And if you don‘t, what does that mean? Are you ready to drive the Republican Party and the entire government off the cliff? We want to bring them on. We want to ask them. We‘re going to do that in a little bit.
Come right back.
UYGUR: News was announced recently that the big banks have paid back the $250 billion in TARP money that they‘d originally taken from taxpayers. So a lot of people put up a flag saying, Hooray, mission accomplished.
They hung the banner. TARP was a success.
Again, I hate to break it to you, that‘s not the reality. And let me
show you why that‘s not the case. So look, there were dozens of ways that
money was funneled to the banks outside of direct cash infusions, and the
Treasury Department doesn‘t want to tell you about that because it‘s
inconvenient. I can give you so many examples, but let me just give you
three egregious examples and you‘ll see what I‘m talking about
Originally, $475 billion of TARP went to insurers, auto companies and borrowers. Now, a lot of that money was funneled through the banks—to banks, I should say, through companies like AIG. So that was what they called a back-door bail-out. So now you want to know how much of that has not been repaid? $187 billion. So when they tell you all the money came back, it‘s not true. $187 billion in back-door bail-outs is still out there and hasn‘t been repaid.
Second, the Fed took over $1 trillion in government-backed mortgage securities from the banks. Those were the toxic mortgages. In other words, the banks unloaded their worst assets onto us, and not just a little bit, a trillion dollars! They didn‘t want to tell you about that part, right?
Now, look, principled conservatives and progressives like Ron Paul, Alan Grayson and others fought tooth and nail to make sure that we didn‘t have that kind of financial trickery coming out of the Fed. And this shouldn‘t be a political thing. It shouldn‘t be a partisan thing.
Now, but the third part of all of this will drive you absolutely crazy. Acting Assistant Secretary Timothy Massad has just admitted that the banks used small business lending fund to repay their federal bail-outs.
What does that mean? Look, that‘s the banks paying back the federal government with federal government money. They take what was supposed to go to small business lending, and they, Oh, thanks a lot for giving me that money, now I‘m going to pay back the bail-out. Well that‘s our money! You‘re just paid us back with our money! I mean, it‘s a joke! It‘s a joke.
And the extra kicker is that small businesses didn‘t get those loans so they could hire you and we could have the economy improve again and unemployment go down. So the banks diverted the money that was supposed to create jobs to paying back their own bail-outs.
Look, don‘t take my word for it. Neil Barofsky, who‘s the special inspector general for TARP—so he‘s the guy who was in charge of making sure they did it right—says they didn‘t do it right. He said that allowing the banks to do all this, not regulating them effectively after the crash and not attaching any strings to those bail-outs could lead to, quote, “disastrous consequences.” That was his parting warning as he left this week.
And one more thing. Doesn‘t it strike you as a little weird that Republicans almost never complain about Tim Geithner, even though the economy is the largest issue and he‘s the Treasury Secretary? And did you notice that the Tea Party, which was originally formed because of anger about the bail-outs, has never done one protest at the Treasury Department or a single protest at Wall Street. So how does that make any sense? If you‘re angry about the bail-outs, why didn‘t you do that?
It‘s funny how the one thing that professional politicians and the people who are funding the Tea Party all agree on, whether they‘re Republicans or Democrats, is that the banks must always be protected. So don‘t believe the hype.
All right. Now, later in the program: Remember when Nancy Reagan said “Just say no”? Well, it‘s time to say the same thing about the war on drugs. I‘m going to try to make a case for it, why it isn‘t working. That should be fairly easy. But I‘m not the only one. Turns out a United States congressman agrees, and he‘s coming up on this program.
And for the past two years, all Republicans could do was talk about jobs, jobs, jobs. But one of them has gone off script. And that is a very funny and interesting thing that she said. You can wait until you see it. That‘s coming up, as well.
UYGUR: In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which, in essence, began the federal criminalization of pot. Now, it‘s been nearly 75 years since then. I got to ask you, how‘s that war on drugs going for us?
Now, let me be a little bold and ask you this, as well, or say this to you. I can prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt how ridiculous this war on drugs is. Really? Can I? All right. Let‘s—well, watch and see.
Raise your hand if you think we will ever win the war on drugs, that we would have, for example, a United States president come out and say, Today, we have completely defeated drugs. We won, drugs lost. Seriously. Did any of you raise your hand? Does anyone in the country believe that? Even the most ardent, the drug czar, like, yes, drug—does he really think we‘re going to win the war on drugs and people aren‘t going to take drugs anymore?
That sounds crazy, right? So why do all of our politicians insist on fighting this senseless and very expensive war that we all know is completely and utterly unwinnable? Well, good news. It turns out not all of them do. Joining me now is United States congressman Jared Polis, who has called for the end of the marijuana prohibition.
Congressman, first of all, you know, as far as this war on drugs, I
don‘t know of a policy in our history—I mean, maybe the Cuba embargo,
you know, competitive, but this one is even longer than the Cuban embargo -
that is more of a failure. So when you ask people who are on the other side, what‘s their argument? What‘s their argument? Like, do they think we‘re winning?
REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: Yes, you know, it does remind me of the Cuba embargo, and I‘m a co-sponsor of the bill to eliminate that, as well. You know, it‘s obvious we‘re not winning to anybody who looks at it. I mean, drugs are fundamentally a health issue. Is there abuse of drugs? Absolutely. DO people abuse alcohol, tobacco and marijuana? Yes. Should we have a national health strategy around reducing that? Yes. Does throwing people in prison for smoking a joint make any sense? No.
UYGUR: All right, so I want to know if there‘s real momentum for this. You know, how many congressmen do you have on your side? Are we getting somewhere here?
POLIS: I would say, it‘s increasing number, Cenk and what‘s happening is a lot of the initiatives is taken on the state level. We‘re now over 15 states that have medical marijuana. My home state of Colorado, there‘s a study yesterday that came out that show us now the legal marijuana is now a $1.7 billion industry. They‘re getting organized. The patients, the providers, they‘re lobbying Congress. And I think members are beginning to pay attention. You don‘t find a lot of them that are die hard opposed to it. A lot of the members of Congress are kind of waiting to see which way the wind goes on this one.
UYGUR: Well, you know, and you see, we have a list of people who say that they are for decriminalizing marijuana, you know, Barney Frank, Blumenauer, Hinchey et cetera, et cetera, but on the Senate side, we have an interesting person. Jim Webb, he hasn‘t said that he‘s for legalization, but he apparently wants to look into the issue somehow. Are you encouraged by that? And what exactly do you think Senator Webb wants to do?
POLIS: I am, and I think what we‘re going to see is more senators from states that already have it legalized or medicalized will feel pressure from their states, pressure from the people he used it legally, to at least conform the federal laws to the state laws and allow them to do it. That‘s one of the reasons that I recently launch fearlesscampaign.com/drugpolicy, it‘s a Web site that will provide an organizing tool to those of us who want to see a change with regards to our health policy, advancing bills of the federal level that effectively decriminalize marijuana.
UYGUR: Right. And you said earlier that the movement is really gaining home in the country. And that‘s true. Because you see it in the poll numbers, for example in 2000, only 31 percent supported legalization. In 2010, now it‘s 46 percent. So, that‘s gone up 15 percent. That‘s a huge number. You know, but there‘s another side of this, too, congressman, which is the money. Tell us about how much this is costing us. Because that should drive conservatives crazy. We should get agreement on that.
POLIS: Not only is it costing us money, it‘s actually costing us lives. The illegal trade in marijuana contributes about half of the money to the criminal drug cartels along the U.S. Mexico boarder, which strike a debt blow against them and for law and security if we legalize and regulate the production of marijuana, on top of that, the financial costs, the money were flashing down the drain, treating what is fundamentally a health issue as a criminal issue.
UYGUR: And, you know, of course, what a lot of people at home are thinking this, yes but we can‘t really legalize, can we? But then everybody would do drugs. But when you look at other countries like Portugal, actually drug use goes down when you legalize drugs. Are you getting any headway on that? Are people finally realize, oh my God, it‘s, look at this, middle school drug use has gone down in five years after Portugal decriminalized, in the HIV infection rate. Also, went down 17 percent. Because, then, it was safer right? Are you getting headway on that? Are you able to convince people, no, just because you legalize, it doesn‘t mean everyone goes nuts and starts smoking it every minute of the day.
POLIS: One of the arguments that we used a lot, is if we can legalize and regulate marijuana, we can more effectively keep it out of the hands of children. As long as it is underground market, the corner drug dealer doesn‘t care if he saw somebody who -- 44. If we can regulate it and just as we enforce our alcohol laws, it stores, we feel that we can reduce the abuse of minors with regards to marijuana.
UYGUR: All right, Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, thank you so much for your time tonight. We really appreciate it.
POLIS: Always a pleasure, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, the fail of the week involves a congressman who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee. And you know this is going to be good because it turns out he doesn‘t know much about foreign affairs. You don‘t want to miss that story.
UYGUR: Now, earlier in the program, we told you about how the Democrats appear to be ready to give up more and more ground. And of course, it‘s not good enough for the Tea Party. They want even more in cuts. In fact, they held a rally today outside the capital as you see there. The crowd is a little underwhelming but they still had a lot of heavy weights there. Pens was there, King was there, Bachmann was there, all their top congressman. And as usual, the message was as blunt as ever. They‘re not giving an inch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA: At $61.5 million, that‘s where the fight came down on HR1, the first CR. All right. So, let‘s fight on that, then. That‘s ground we‘ve taken, let‘s hold it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Well, I mean, that‘s exactly what they said, they said, all right, I can‘t believe the Democrats have given us all this. Well, let‘s hold that ground and ask for more. Now, if we gave them $61 billion, everything they wanted. Would it be good enough then?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: They gets time to get serious, don‘t you?
BACHMANN: And cutting $61 billion in my opinion is a starting point, it is not the goal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: No, of course not. Because if you you‘re giving 61 billion, they‘re going to ask for 120 billion. If you‘re giving that, they‘re going to ask 240 billion. That‘s what the problem is when you keep giving and giving, you encourage Bachmann as you does that laser—it can goes, oh, my God, I want more cuts.
All right. Now, but there‘s got to be some room in negotiating, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: Liberals in the Senate would rather play political games and shut down the government instead of making small down fame on fiscal discipline and reform. I say shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Well, he is very clear on that, shut it down. That‘s apparently what the Tea Party wants, but hey, don‘t trust me.
Let‘s bring out a Tea Party guy and found out for ourselves. Justin Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation. Justin, thank you for joining us. Well, we got an audio issue. I thought we had an audio issue earlier. Apparently, we do. I don‘t hear, sad day. Here‘s what I‘ll tell you, Justin, is saying in the press at least. He says of course it‘s not good enough. And that the $30 billion in cuts, they‘re not really cuts. It‘s a joke and that, in fact, Boehner should be fired if he goes along with this. I would like to ask him, under what circumstances he should be fired or under what circumstances Justin would be happy but let‘s try again. Justin, do you think Boehner should be fired if he agreed to $33 billion?
JUSTIN PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, TEA PARTY NATION: Hey, good evening. In the immortal words of the Verizon guy, can you hear me now?
UYGUR: Yes, I can. God bless. Go forward.
PHILLIPS: Hey, yes, I actually, I do think he should be fired. As you quoted me accurately, $33 billion is not a cut, it‘s a joke.
UYGUR: Here‘s the thing, Justin. What I‘m curious about, I mean, you get that you‘re negotiating with somebody, right? I mean, like for example, for the tax cuts, I hated them. I didn‘t want any of those tax cuts. I think they blew up the budget. I think they‘re terrible idea. But if you said to me, $400 billion in tax cuts or $800 billion, I would say all right, I‘ll take the $400 billion, because I‘m negotiating with somebody, I give somebody another side. Do you get that on this process that you have to compromise at some point?
PHILLIPS: Maybe you can compromise at some point, but when the House is on fire, you don‘t sit there and negotiating about how long you‘re going to stay. You get everybody out.
We have a $1.65 trillion deficit this year. Our national debt is now equal to our gross domestic product. When are we going to stop spending? When are we going to stop borrowing?
UYGUR: But Justin, what I‘m hearing from you in this regard, you‘re saying maybe I would compromise on some future date, but maybe not today and not on this. You want a hundred percent, you want 61 billion, and even if you got 100 percent of what you wanted, would you still want more?
PHILLIPS: Right now, I want hundreds of dollars in cuts. And hey, let me tell you something, a month ago, the government accounting office came out with a report that said, we could save hundreds of billions of dollars, just by eliminating programs that are not working or that are duplicative. So, I want to know where is anybody in Congress, Republican or Democrats, why are these guys having fights on who gets to introduce the bill that says, let‘s cut hundreds of billions of dollars. Nobody is going to object to cuts of hundreds of billions of dollars that eliminate fraud in waste.
UYGUR: Well, look, there are hundreds of billions of dollars in fraud and waste, I wish there were, that would be easier.
PHILLIPS: Sure, there are, the government accounting office says, there are.
UYGUR: No. That‘s not how it works, look, at this point, in your mind, obviously, Democrats in the Senate can‘t win, when you have no interest in that, but John Boehner also can‘t win, right? I mean, even if he got you the 61 billion, you still want him fired, right?
PHILLIPS: At this point, he‘s not committed to 61 billion, I don‘t even know if he‘s committed to 33 billion. Honestly, I don‘t know what the guy is committed too. He talks a great game when he gets out there on the road, talking to folks outside of D.C., but when he goes back up to D.C., who knows what he‘s doing. But he‘s not cutting the budget. And that‘s what the American people wanted when they put him in power.
UYGUR: You‘ve got to be living in the situation that you‘re in. I know, ideally you would cut it all. There would be nothing, there would be no government. We would live in a wonderful, you know, libertarian anarchy, Ayn Rand inspired, you know, Sharia law, Valhalla, it would be all this lovely things. But in this situation, the Democrats hold the Senate and they hold the White House. So, why should they give you what you want because you want it really bad?
PHILLIPS: Because the Republicans control the House and nobody can make the Republicans in the House appropriate money.
UYGUR: All right, well, then, all right, then Democrats control the Senate and nobody can make them do anything. So, right back at you.
PHILLIPS: That‘s right. The Republicans can stand firm and say guess what? We‘re cutting a whole lot out of this budget. Because we have a fiscal crisis here. Look what‘s going on in Europe. They have a debt crisis, how did they get there? They got into a lot of debt. Well, guess what America is doing.
UYGUR: Look, if you want an argument about how to cut the budget, you would lose that argument massively in my opinion. And I‘ll tell you why, OK? It‘s because you don‘t want to raise taxes at all. You‘re ignoring one side completely and I don‘t know how you feel about defense. I would be interested in that. But you‘ve got to cut defense. Even if you cut all the discretionary spending you want, you still would have a $1 trillion deficit. So, you‘re going about it all the wrong way. But that‘s not my point. My point is look, right now we‘ve got a situation where the Democrats control the Senate and they control the White House. Why do you think they should bend to your will? That doesn‘t make any sense. You‘ve got the compromise if you actually care about governing?
PHILLIPS: How about, here‘s the reason why they should listen. We had a referendum in November. And guess what, the American people spoke loudly and clearly about what they wanted. So, the Democrats need to pay attention.
UYGUR: All right. Just a little.
PHILLIPS: They‘re going to be out the door in November.
UYGUR: No, I hear you. I hear you. Let me ask you about that. In 2006, the electoral spoke very clearly, overwhelming victories for Democrats. Did you come out after that election and say George Bush should stop it and the Republicans Party should stop, and we should just simply listen to what the Democrats say?
PHILLIPS: Oh, absolutely not.
UYGUR: Oh, really?
PHILLIPS: No, absolutely not, and you know why?
UYGUR: That‘s weird.
PHILLIPS: No, that‘s not weird at all. You know, why, the Republicans were acting just like Democrats. They were big money spenders back then. The American people got sick of it. They said, hey, no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, we‘ll put the other guys in charge for a while.
UYGUR: So when the Democrats get overwhelming victories, we should listen to the Republicans. And when the Republicans get overwhelming victories, we should listen to the Republicans.
PHILLIPS: We should listen to the conservatives. Because they certainly make a whole lot more sense than the Democrats do.
UYGUR: But, no, that‘s not a logical argument. If you used talking about the mandate of the people in 2006 and 2008, huge mandate, that‘s why the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. But you‘re saying, ignore that will of the people. Just pretend, by the way, you know, you guys are losing support, right? I mean, you see the polls, right? You‘re down to 47 percent popularity in March in terms of the Tea Party. You‘ve lost how many points here, 19 points since January of 2010. You can get the sense that maybe your intransigence isn‘t really working with the American people?
PHILLIPS: Hey, I‘m reminded that the great quote form Israeli, there‘s lies, there‘s damn lies and then there‘s polls.
UYGUR: OK, the polls are inconvenient, and logic is inconvenient.
OK. I hear you.
All right. Justin Phillips, thanks for having the conversation. We appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: Thanks for inviting me.
UYGUR: All right. Now, up next, Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert is at it again. Oh, Gohmert with another wild conspiracy theory. We‘ll show you what he‘s up to this time.
UYGUR: Well, we‘ve got a new segment “Fail of the Week.” This is going to be fun. Republican freshman Congressman Tom Marino isn‘t quite sure said that Obama administration made the right choice by using military action in Libya. He told the Grand Times Tribune (ph) that he supports the intervention but said the administration should have consulted with Congress beforehand. Now, that‘s only fine which is the point of view. Well, then Marino went into question the intervention more. And that‘s when he released after it.
Get along with this question about our actions in Libya. He says, quote, where does it stop? Do we go into Africa next? I don‘t want to sound callous or cold but this could go on indefinitely around the world. Do we go into Africa next? I hate to break it to the congressman, but Libya is in Africa. See you right there between Algeria and Egypt, right there in Africa.
All right. Now, just when you think it can‘t get any worse. You want to know what committee he sits on? The Foreign Affairs Committee. And the subcommittee, an issues related to African foreign policy. You can‘t make this stuff up. So, this was a very easy selection for our first ever fail of the week. Nicely done, congressman. There it is.
UYGUR: For the past two years, the—race for Republicans has been where are the jobs? Well, this week, Democrats stood that questions, right back after republican - stood in a debate on the mortgage program called HAMP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: They have no plans of their own to address the foreclosure crisis. Like the jobs bills they said they would have. We have yet to see them.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: The American people sent, made changes and expected jobs. They‘ve gotten zero job bills at all.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Job growth is picking up. Invest and grow jobs should be the mindset of the American Congress, for that‘s what we were sent back to Washington to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, Judy Biggert, a republican represent from Illinois would surely agree because before the election, here she was emphasizing the same point about the need to focus on jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JUDY BIGGERT ®, ILLINOIS: Federal agencies and bureaucrats are lining up to issue to businesses across the country new and costly rules, regulations and data collecting requests. It‘s fuelling uncertainty. It‘s stifling job growth and where are the jobs?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Where are the jobs indeed? But now that the GOP is in charge, they have created no jobs whatsoever. So that‘s a little inconvenient. So here‘s Representative Biggert new stance on jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIGGERT: Stop talking about the jobs, let‘s focus on what is the substance of these amendments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Will you guys stop talking about jobs? Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, blah, blah, blah, blah. Let‘s take one more thing at Representative Biggert before and after the elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIGGERT: Where are the jobs?
Stop talking about the jobs. Where are the jobs? Stop talking about the jobs. Where are the jobs? Stop talking about the jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: They make it too easy on us. It seems the representative has a wild indifference to jobs, now that she‘s secured her own. Funny how that works. All right. Now, it was only amount of time before Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert came out with another wild conspiracy theory. Remember, he‘s the guy who wants to get rid of birth rights citizenship because of the threat of “Terror Babies.” That‘s not scary. That‘s like a new movie coming up around Holy Week, “Terror Babies.” Now, he‘s out with another whopper, last night while he was ripping health care reform on the House floor, Gohmert suggested the military campaign against Libya, was all a ruse so the president could deploy his private army. What?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT ®, TEXAS: We‘re being sent to Libya and going to use our treasure and our American lives there. Maybe there‘s intention to so deplete the military that we‘re going to need that presidential reserve officer commission corps and non-commission corps that the president can call up on a moment‘s notice involuntarily according to the Obama care bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: There‘s of course no special presidential military corps in the health care bill. There‘s already Reserve Corps but it has nothing to do with the military, is made up of doctors and other health workers. They report to the surgeon general who will not be taking part in the military intervention in Libya. So, it‘s getting so bad, do we really have to disprove the president doesn‘t have a private army that he‘s going to unleash because of health care? Where do they even come up with this stuff? Gohmert thinks, he went into Libya, so that President Obama can take us private army and then enforces health care with it, yes, it has nothing to do with Gadhafi that‘s why he‘s doing it.
Look, I‘m not even sure that even Glenn Beck can top that one.
Congratulations, Louie. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Tuesday night, we showed you how Governor Rick Scott of Florida was using the state and possibly Rick‘s own businesses. Tonight, it‘s Congressman Darryl Issa‘s turn, Issa is going under the spotlight. Uh-oh. He‘s in trouble now. Watch out.
All right. So, think progress is a brilliant report by—it turns out that Issa has invested part of his fortune in real estate companies where holdings around his districts in Southern California. What of Issa‘s most valuable properties is a medical office building on west Vista Way in Vista, California. Issa‘s car alarm company Biporelo A.C. (ph) purchased the property in 2008 for $16.6 million. So far nothing wrong. Makes a purchase, in his district, no problem. But around the same time that it was purchased, Congressman Issa requested $2 million worth of earmarks to widen and improve, you guessed it, West Vista Way. The road right in front of his building.
What a wonderful coincidence, at first he only got $245,000 for the project. Now, that wasn‘t as much as he wanted but it‘s a good start. So he went back for more. Next year, Issa made another earmark request to improve the road again. This time, he was able to pull in another $570,000. Bringing his grand total in earmarks to $815,000. Now that‘s $815,000. That‘s going to mosey on down the road in this case literally from your pocket straight in front of Issa‘s businesses. Look, these are the Republicans pretending to cut spending. Unless, of course, that spending is going right in their pocket.
So what Issa is planning to do with all the taxpayer‘s money, he manages—what is it? Well, it‘s going to turn that he‘s going to add parking lots which is very nice for a property, widen West Vista way, so more people can come to his properties, add bus stops so more people can come to his properties. And improve the sewer system, well, everybody needs that. And all around, Issa‘s multimillion dollar, probably, it gets a wonderful coincidence. It must be nice to be able to do all of that on someone else‘s dime. Now, that‘s a lot of money in earmarks for a guy who said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA ®, CALIFORNIA: Mr. Speaker, the amount of earmarks violating both republican and democratic House rules against earmarks is beyond the counting of any of us. Mr. Speaker, I make a point of order than an earmark is tantamount to a bribe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: An earmark is tantamount to a bribe, he knows that, even though he knows he asked for all that earmarks for a road that leads to his property. It‘s amazing to me. It‘s awesome. They have no compunction whatsoever. Now, another fun fact. A firm representing Issa‘s real estate company is out of—the Vista medical building by bragging about its, quote, “excellent access with freeway visibility.” Yes, a freeway built with your money! And one more irony about all of this. Issa since then has become the head of the oversight committee. They put this guy in charge of making sure everyone is following the rules and not ripping the government off. You have to hand it to the Republicans. They do have a good sense of humor. Unreal as always.
All right. Everybody, thank you for watching. We appreciate it. You always follow me online at theyoungturks.com. And all of course on YouTube as well, at theyoungturks/TYT nation is where you can find us on Facebook. “HARDBALL” is up right now.
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