Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday, April 1st, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Ed Rollins, Fmr. Gov. Ed Rendell, Robert Reich, Tim Burga, Chuck
Canterbury, Ana Kasparian
CENK UYGUR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome to the show, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur. Today, we begin with some good news about the country‘s economic recovery. The Labor Department says that the economy added 216,000 new jobs last month with private employers driving nearly all the gains. That is very good news. This combined with February‘s private sector job growth means that private hiring has added 470,000 jobs in the last two months alone.
Now, because those figures, the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 8.8 percent. It‘s fallen a full percentage point over the past four months, the sharpest drop since 1983. Obviously, very good news. And all that points to the fact that this administration is pushing the needle on unemployment. Now, just take a look at this chart from Steve Bennett (ph) at the “Washington Monthly”.
It shows the monthly job losses since January of 2008. Red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration. And blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration. OK. I pause there for a second. Look at that thing. It is so obvious what‘s going on. It‘s incredibly clear. This administration has stopped the bleeding in terms of the economy and jobs.
It is making positive headway. Is it enough? That‘s a good question. That‘s a fair question. We‘ll get into that a little bit later. But, obviously, we‘re going in the right path. So, today, the president how (ph) to this progress warned that Republicans possibly forcing a government shut down is actually a very bad idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that compromises within reach. If this budget negotiations break down, we could end up having to shut down the government, just at a time when the economy is starting to recover.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, that makes sense, right? Well, sadly, not to the Republicans. They want cuts at any cost, even if it means a government shutdown. Even more irrationally, they want those cuts, even though reports have shown that such measures would destroy cut 700,000 jobs through 2012. Now, here‘s John Boehner ignoring those two facts and pushing his budget plan, anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, ® SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Today‘s jobs report is welcome news, but Washington needs to do a lot more to end the uncertainty and get our economy moving again. It‘s clear that we need to cut spending. We‘re going to fight for the largest spending cuts that we can get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, let‘s see if that makes any sense. Remember, more spending through the stimulus plan created new jobs, you saw the graph. So, how would cutting spending help? And that doesn‘t make much sense to me, but it doesn‘t have to. It‘s a Republican plan. Now, the GOP is being so childish in pushing cuts the Republicans tried to rewrite the constitution bypassing the government Shutdown Prevention Act.
That‘s a bill put forth by Eric Cantor, and they claim that if you magically pass a bill in the House twice, that the Senate doesn‘t have to pass it. Maybe you have to click your heels twice, too. That makes no sense. Anybody would know that. So, Anthony Weiner decided he was going to have a little bit of fun with it. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER, (D) NEW YORK: Rules are not a big thing for them to follow, because this is why it‘s hard. It‘s a big book. So, I brought you this. “House Mouse, Senate Mouse.” Permit to read. “It‘s the floor of each chamber of the Senate and House where each senator and each Congress mouse gets to vote on the bill, and if enough do—if enough do—this president signs it if he likes to.”
“Well, the Senate mouse - mice—the senate mices haven‘t passed this yet.” Perhaps, if this were the rules that the Republicans had to follow, it‘s a much thinner book and it rhymes, maybe you‘d get it right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right, that was fun. It looks like that, at this point, the Republicans are actually so annoying (ph) to negotiate, but there one risk to entire economic recovery, though, and that is not fun. Look, it doesn‘t really make sense (ph), unless, you relies to what they might actually want. The economy not to get better. Remember, the one number they care most about is 2012.
And they could make argument, hey, you know what, the president didn‘t create jobs, you should elect a Republican president. That‘s a very cynical. Let‘s hope that‘s not the plan, but I don‘t see what else makes sense.
But we‘re going to bring you some guests that might enlighten us. Joining me now is Ed Rollins, the long-time Republican strategist, who‘s also political director for President Ronald Reagan, also with me, former Pennsylvania Governor and MSNBC political analyst, Ed Rendell.
All right. Ed, let me start with you. You‘re in the studio here with me. Obviously, I‘ve said a couple of tough things about the Republican plan. First, let‘s start with Eric Cantor bill. I mean, that‘s crazy, right, the House passing the bill twice. What is that?
ED ROLLINS, FMR REAGAN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It‘s probably not constitutional and, I think, at the end of the day—
FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Probably not?
RENDELL: Ed! Ed!
ROLLINS: I was telling our host here. I said this is a perfect, you know, fast Eddie you and slow Eddie me. And I‘m so glad MSNBC gave you a job because they now take you up that unemployed roll where you were there for about a month. So, it‘s good to be on with you, as always.
UYGUR: All right. So, we agree that it‘s not constitutional.
RENDELL: Tell me I‘m going to rule the constitutional, unconstitutional, but, you know, the bottom line is 218 votes give you the rules. You can pass whatever you want to pass, but the courts get to play.
UYGUR: Right, it‘s nonsense. OK. Now, let‘s get to the heart of the matter. Jobs. Ed, fill me in on this and we‘ll have the governor respond. How does it make sense that spending cuts would lead to more jobs, especially given the data we showed?
ROLLINS: Well, I think, obviously, you‘ve got to argue that runaway trillion dollar debts are not good for the economy either. And as long as you‘re spending money that you don‘t have and borrowing money to create jobs, what is the cost of the jobs. I think anytime we get people back to work, it‘s a positive thing for America. And what I take issue with you is saying, Republicans don‘t want this economy to move.
Every American wants this economy to get back in play. We‘ll argue on lots of different issues and we‘ve got plenty of things to fight over this presidency race with, but tanking the economy is not one of them.
UYGUR: All right. I want to get back to that. That‘s an important issue, but I want the governor to respond that spending cuts might actually somehow create jobs and given the facts that we showed here tonight.
RENDELL: Well, look, Cenk, to be fair, reducing the deficit can, in fact, have a significant effect on the economy, but it takes time. It takes two, three years for the benefits of that to start to kick in. I mean, we saw it in the Clinton years when Bill Clinton, with the help of the Congress, reduced the deficit, eliminated it and started producing surpluses, that triggered economy growth like we haven‘t seen in our lifetime.
So, I think Ed has a point in the long run, but in the short run, it is clear that that‘s not going to have an immediate effect on helping the economy. And what does help the economy is properly targeted government spending, properly targeted government tax cuts which, in fact, do help, like the expensing on small businesses. That‘s clearly been a big help. Smart tax cuts, but not across the board tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
So, there‘s no question that spending cuts are not the immediate answer to the economy. There‘s no question that the stimulus did produce significant new jobs and helped us retain a ton of new jobs. And right now, there‘s a storm cloud in all of this good economic news. And it‘s not the government shutdown, because I don‘t think that will have an immediate effect.
The storm cloud is the continuing loss of public sector jobs. Since September of 2008, we‘ve lost 436,000 public sector jobs. Some of those were necessary, some of those were things that had to be done, but I am worried that in July, when all of the budget cuts, the Wisconsins, the Ohios, my own state of Pennsylvania, when those layoffs begin to kick in, we‘re going to have hundreds of thousands of loss of public sector jobs and that‘s the thing that is going to chill and maybe delay this economic recovery.
UYGUR: Now, I agree with a lot of those points. And so, I want to have a little bit of fun here and go back to my controversial theory that you took issue with, Ed Rollins, because, look, balanced budgets, I‘m totally in favor of them. And I believe that you can get balanced budgets if you cut spending as well, perhaps, raising taxes, depends on who you raise taxes on, et cetera, et cetera, and I believe it‘s a good long-term strategy.
But they‘ve got to know that in the next couple of years, it is not going to help bring jobs. And you‘re telling me the Republicans aren‘t going to turn around and blame President Obama for not creating jobs if we don‘t have it in 2012.
ROLLINS: We are certainly going to blame President Obama for everything. That‘s the strategy of a campaign and whoever our nominee is and get a long a ways to go before that‘s chosen, will make every case he can against the sitting administration. Equally as important, the president gets to lay claims to all the things that he wants to lay claim to. The critical thing here, though, is we can‘t dip ourselves back into a second recession here.
And you can‘t have trillion-plus-dollar jobs. What the governor talked about, the very, very tough job, at least, governors across the country, and he was one of the great ones -- probably get lose my Republican housekeeping seal by saying that, but I thought you were. Governors have to balance the budget, and so, unfortunately, a lot of very tough decisions have to be made. And I think we argue at the federal level you have to make the same kinds of tough decisions.
RENDELL: But I think that‘s a good point. You have to make those tough decisions, but you can also do other things. For example, in Michigan where Governor Snyder is making tough decisions, some of which he has to make. He‘s also cutting business taxes by almost $900 million. Now, wouldn‘t that $900 million be better stay in the Ohio—excuse me—in the Michigan budget and continuing to employ thousands of people?
ROLLINS: Only if—I mean, I would argue the business cuts are going to basically help stimulate business.
RENDELL: How fast? How fast? They will, but how fast?
ROLLINS: That everything has to be about getting business, small business, in particular, back to where they can hire people, and I think the faster the better. That‘s the bottom line here.
UYGUR: No, but that‘s a great question, and I want to focus in on that, because, look, that goes again to my idea that over the next two years, the Republicans don‘t mind that much if you lose some jobs because then they‘ll use it against President Obama. So, they think maybe it helps down the road. It hurts the short term. Everybody is—it‘s a win for them.
ROLLINS: Right now, Republicans who committed to make gigantic budget cuts in the 2010, most of them are worried about one job and that‘s their job. And that when you look at the tea party that was 41 percent of the vote, at least self-identified, and 88 percent of them voted for Republicans, they want cuts and they want deep cuts. So, my sense is John Boehner has got a tough job here between his members who are trying to be responsible and some—
UYGUR: I‘m going to go at it one more time. In the next two years, those spending cuts, do you think they create jobs or they might possibly cost jobs?
ROLLINS: I think they can do both. I think they can basically create jobs, and they certainly can get us to a point where we‘re not putting our kids and grand kids in debt.
RENDELL: And I think for the long run, you‘re absolutely right, Ed. But I don‘t think this is the time to be cutting business taxes. It‘s not the time to be raising business taxes either. But it‘s not the time to be taking $900 million off of business taxes, and, in fact, because of that, having to lay off tens of thousands of people. That doesn‘t any sense.
ROLLINS: Certainly, we‘ll have a lots of test models out there, Republicans and Democrats, and Jason‘s (ph) states are doing—some are raising taxes, some are cutting taxes.
RENDELL: Well, I‘ll give you a great test model, if I can, Cenk. In Pennsylvania, my last year as governor, we invested $400 million in infrastructure. We invested another $600 million in promoting energy jobs. We invested another $500 million in economic development. And Pennsylvania just was reported this through February to have the third highest number of jobs created in the last 12 months, 107,000.
And that was due to investment. And I stopped the business tax cuts they were phasing in the first six years of my administration. I froze them. I didn‘t raise business taxes, but I didn‘t continue to cut them because I thought we needed to preserve the jobs that we had. And it paid off for Pennsylvania. And I think we have to have a mix—and Ed you‘re certainly right, in the long run, this deficit‘s got to go down.
And we‘ve got to do a lot of things to make cuts, but we‘ve also got to close those tax loopholes. I mean, you tell me why, Ed, we should be giving the oil companies who are making record profits $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies.
ROLLINS: I‘m all for an overhaul of our tax system, which would be fair and equitable. And we close a lot of loopholes, just as long as we don‘t basically use it as an excuse to raise additional taxes on Americans.
UYGUR: All right. Final question for you, Ed, real quick here. If you were advising the president, be honest, would you say to him, yes, go ahead and cut spending like the tea party wants that $61 billion, it will help you create jobs and gets you re-elected. Would you really tell him that?
ROLLINS: If I was a Democrat and I was depending on my constituency group, no, I wouldn‘t. I think the president has a responsibility, though, to sit down and try to make some of this happen. Obviously, we have one house of the Congress. Senate is still controlled by Democrats. And that means it all has to sit down at the table and try and find some compromise.
The democrats had all last year to pass a budget. They chose not to.
Now, they basically have got to have the Republicans in the room.
RENDELL: But Ed, what would you advise the president to do? To continue to agree to give oil companies subsidies in the tune of $4 billion, and at the same time, cut the mortgage relief program that costs $3 billion?
ROLLINS: You know, I think the bottom line is—the president went off yesterday and talked about energy. Whatever the reason these tax cuts and benefits have been in there is to try and make the American oil companies stimulate jobs.
RENDELL: American oil companies are making record profits, Ed. They don‘t need our taxpayers‘ money.
ROLLINS: At the end of the day, they basically need more production and that‘s the key thing.
RENDELL: Yes, but they don‘t need it by our subsidies. They‘re making record profits.
UYGUR: All right. I love that conversation. Ed Rollins and Ed Rendell. Thank you both. Ed, it‘s nice to be with you.
RENDELL: Nice to be with you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, next, we‘ll look into the real state of our economy. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has a brilliant analysis of that, and he will be with us next.
And a little later, my friend and (INAUDIBLE) will join us to talk about some really interesting stories in the news today, like the one in Montana where a state legislator actually say DUI laws are destroying our way of life. I‘m not kidding, but wait till you hear why he‘s for drunk driving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They‘re destroying them. They‘re destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years. These taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: President Obama should stop trying to please the Republicans. It‘s not going to work. I‘ve been saying it for a long time. Now, a couple of weeks ago, the president took a ton of heat from the right for filling out his NCAA brackets when critics said he should have been focusing on Japan and the Middle East. That criticism might have had something to do with why they president didn‘t throw out the first pitch yesterday at national‘s park.
Come on. Of course, that‘s why he didn‘t do it. He even acknowledged all the criticism he took for the brackets when he was talking (ph) to Diane Sawyer (ph) recently. So, he‘s obviously aware of it. You know how President Obama responds to criticism from the right. Well, if you don‘t know, just ask Shirley Sherrod and Van Jones.
So, was Fox happy to see that the president stayed holed up in the oval office instead of heading to the ball park on opening day? Of course not. Fox News‘s headline on this was, quote, “Obama chickens out of throwing out the first pitch.” Of course. I told you you‘re never, ever, ever going to please them. Their job is to attack Democrats.
You can‘t appease Fox News and your conservative critics. So, on this one, let‘s get the facts straight. If Obama pays attention to March madness, he‘s ignoring the country‘s problems. If he doesn‘t participate in opening day, he‘s a no good wimp. I‘m just amazed that the White House hasn‘t realized this yet. Will you stop paying any attention to them?
Don‘t base your actions on their criticism. Come on. It‘s obvious.
We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: Just a little while ago, we‘re talking about the politics of today‘s new job numbers, but I also want to talk about the reality behind the numbers. What does it mean for our economy? The news today was that 216,000 jobs have been added where the private sector driving most of the game. And unemployment rates slip to tens of a point down to 8.8 percent.
Look, obviously, that‘s a good thing. And yet, there are still 13.5 million people unemployed, and there are almost a million people in this country who simply given up looking for a job. And most interestingly, consumer confidence is dropping through the floor. Why is that? Are these positive job numbers a sign of good things to come? Or do we still have a serious structural problem with our economy?
Now, let‘s try to find out. Joining me now is former Clinton labor Secretary, Robert Reich. He‘s now a professor at U.C. Berkeley. Secretary Reigh, let‘s first dispense with the obvious. The republicans say, oh, my God, if we just cut spending, that will magically create jobs. Does that make any economic sense, in the short run?
ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: Cenk, it makes no economic sense at all in the short run. I mean, in the long term, yes, we want to balance the budget. We want to get rid of the deficit, but right now, when you got 13.5 million Americans unemployed, the last thing you want to do is unemployed even more Americans, fire more Americans, get rid of more American jobs by cutting the deficit.
That means there are fewer people who have money in their pockets to turn around and buy things from other people who need to sell them in order to keep their jobs.
UYGUR: And I want the audience to understand, it‘s not that we‘re focusing on the short term. It‘s that, in different times, you need different remedies. If you got massive unemployment, you need to stimulate the economy. It‘s not just like oh, we‘re just going for a short-term gain here. That‘s why it‘s so important. But Secretary Reich, you‘re still not quite encouraged by these numbers. I know based on reading your articles. Why are you so concerned?
REICH: Well, because at 216,000 new jobs, Cenk, that‘s good. You know, that‘s—we‘re moving in the right direction, but at 200,000 jobs a month, even if we could keep it up, that would mean we would not get back to unemployment levels like we saw three years ago before the great recession until the year 2018. I mean, we can‘t wait that long. We‘ve got five people who are looking for a job for every job that is available right now.
Another thing, the average length of the work week, and one thing you really want to look at, and it‘s not featured, but it is very important, the average work week is still stuck at 34.3 hours. That means that most people in most jobs are not getting basically their full paycheck. Most people who are hourly workers, most Americans are hourly workers are still getting low pay checks. I mean, pay is going down, it‘s not going up.
UYGUR: Is the problem the people in New York and Washington, they don‘t see the struggles that you‘re talking about, whether it‘s the consumer confidence, whether it‘s the amount of hours that people are working, et cetera? I mean, if you look at CEO pay and you look at the stock market. The stock market is in great shape. CEO pay. Oh, my. Look at these numbers. Twenty-seven percent median pay increase this year.
The median CEO pay this year is $9 million. Their bonus is $2.2 million, up 47 percent, three-quarters of CEOs got raises in 2010. So, I mean, these are some great numbers for them. In the other part of that question is why isn‘t it translating to us, the rest of the economy?
REICH: Well, there‘s no trickle down. I mean, the whole trickle down theory, Cenk is bogus. You know, most CEOs, big companies now, most people on Wall Street who are in the big banks, they are doing as well as they did before the great recession, before we, taxpayers, bailed them out. But most homeowners never got a bailout. Most people who are underwater in terms of owing more on their homes than their homes are worth, they never got a bailout.
Most people who are losing their jobs, you know, they got some additional unemployment insurance, but that‘s only 50 percent of the people who are jobless are eligible for unemployment insurance across this country. So, you know, a lot of people who are really hurting right now, and New York and Washington, unfortunately, seems to be oblivious to all of this.
UYGUR: Now, Secretary Reich, I want to get to the heart of this, right? Because, look, it seems that this is coming back way, way too slow as your numbers point out. Is the problem that the CEOs and these companies are making great profits because they‘re actually going abroad, and hence, our middle class here in America is going to really struggle to come back? Is that the heart of the problem?
REICH: Well, that‘s part of the problem, Cenk. You know, I heard your discussion before. I mean, anybody who‘s talking about cutting taxes for corporations now, when corporations are sitting on $1.6 trillion of cash. I mean, they don‘t even know what to do with the money they have right now. They‘re buying other companies, acquisitions, mergers. They‘re buying up their own shares of stock. They‘re paying their CEOs unbelievable amounts of money.
I mean, anybody who says that corporations need tax cuts now doesn‘t know what‘s going on or is maybe not being completely honest with the public. The problem in a nutshell is that we, really right now, don‘t have enough aggregate demand. There are not people out there in the United States with enough money in their pockets to turn around and buy all of the things that are Americans can produce if full employment.
And until we get our wage structure back up to what it should be, instead of fighting unions and fighting employees and cutting their wages and getting job concessions, I mean, that goes in the wrong direction. They‘re not going to be customers out there for all the things we can produce, unless, people actually have jobs and have money in their pockets.
UYGUR: All right. I want to press on one last thing, Secretary Reich. I mean, if we had a strong, progressive president who focused like a laser beam on the middle class, and said, look, it‘s not just for justice sake they were fighting for the middle class, but it‘s for the whole economy, as you point out here. Wouldn‘t we be in a lot better shape?
REICH: Yes. I really do think that the president and Democrats in Congress ought to stop playing footsie with Republicans. You know, cutting the budget deficit right now, which is crazy, but also, it‘s very important that the president get out in front and tell the American public, what is going on? Why this recovery is so anemic? Why we‘re not really getting very many jobs back? And we‘re certainly not getting wages back.
Why we need to go back to the basic bargain? We had in this country, in the first three decades after the Second World War, which is people had paid enough so they could turn around and buy all the things that they produced. I mean, we had labor unions. Even where we didn‘t have labor unions, companies actually understood they had a responsibility to their employees. And that was good for the companies. It was good for the economy. And right now, that basic bargain has completely been obliterated.
UYGUR: We‘ve got to go back and fight for that. I couldn‘t agree more with that. And I also agree with not playing footsie with the Republicans. All right. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, really appreciate your time tonight.
REICH: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, an update on what‘s been going on in Libya, including the defection of Moammar Gadhafi‘s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, but come on, he has an awesome name, but he‘s actually got an even more amazing nickname. We‘ll tell you what that is, next.
And it‘s a nationwide fight as union supporters punch back against conservative lawmakers who‘ve been trying to crush them. We‘ll have the very encouraging details of that fight when we come back.
UYGUR: There‘s some important stories coming out of Libya, like Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying, he will not put in ground troops under his watch no matter what. I agree with it and I‘m glad he said. And a couple of Gadhafi‘s top aides have defected including the guy one with a catchy name, Moussa Koussa. But do you think his name is get a load of his nickname, the envoy of death. Very catchy, indeed. Ironically, he was in charge of executing former defectors, which is exactly what he is now. But here‘s a story that really caught my eye and I found interesting. Rebels have agreed to a cease-fire, but only if Moammar Gadhafi pulls his military forces out of cities and allows peaceful protests.
They also want Gadhafi to quit which an over like, overly likely at this point. Gadhafi issued a statement saying, he‘s not the one who should quit. It‘s the leaders of the countries attacking his forces who should quit saying, quote, “the solution for this problem is that they resign immediately and their peoples find alternatives to them.” I love that he thinks that‘s possible like Obama, he says, oh my God, maybe I should resign, Sarkozy is like, oh no. What is it with the Middle Eastern dictators and their absurd bride a no show?
Remember Saddam and his foreign information minister? They were strutting around like oh, man, yes, we‘re going to get them. Until of course, that‘s not exactly how it turned out. Maybe Gadhafi actually just pulling a Tea Party maneuver and going in the most extreme negotiating stance in the hopes that President Obama buckles. So, but it doesn‘t work. All right. One down, seven to go. Wisconsin Democrats say they have officially begun to recall the first republican senator after Governor Scott Walker‘s union-busting bill passed. They‘re not messing around. We‘ll show you why that state senator is actually in a world of trouble and tell you if there are more recalls on the way. The battle has been joined. And some hypocrisy you won‘t believe. Or maybe you will after we tell you it involves Florida Governor Rick Scott. And this one has a particularly cruel twist.
UYGUR: Republicans be aware. Today, the backlash inspired by the conservative crackdowns on unions enters a whole new chapter. See those eight people? They‘re the eight republican state senators in Wisconsin whom Democrats have bowed to recall because of their anti-union votes. Well, not that recall effort has officially begun. Democrats say, they‘ve collected the signatures required to recall the first of those state senators, Dan Kapanke. And they‘re filing the petition today. The filing begins a 31-day review period of the signatures. An election could be held this summer. Votes have consequences. Those consequences are on the way for Mr. Kapanke.
By the way, the situation for him is seriously dire. A political scientist at the University of Wisconsin Madison says, Kapanke is the quote, “only one of those Republicans who looks like they‘re situated in a democratic-leaning district.” In a pole last month showed that 57 percent of those in Kapanke‘s own district would vote for a generic someone else. By the way, you should know the move on commissioned that poll but it was done by a professional polling organization. But given all this, hanky panke Kapanke looks like he‘s in a lot of trouble. Yes, I know, I just gave him that nickname. It‘s a vice I share with George Bush. It doesn‘t speak well of me.
All right. Meanwhile, it‘s new ball game in Ohio as well. Governor John Kasich signed an anti-union bill into law yesterday, that‘s even harsher than the one in Wisconsin stripping collective bargaining rights from roughly 350,000 public workers. But if Democrats can collect just over 250,000 signatures in the next 90 days, that bill does not go into effect. Instead it goes to a referendum. And Ohio voters get to vote on it. And guess what? Polls show that Ohio voters definitely do not like the measure. Fifty four percent in favor, 35 percent against. That‘s according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. But the really bad news for Republicans is that the backlash isn‘t just in Wisconsin and Ohio. It‘s everywhere. We‘ve told you about plummeting poll numbers for republican governors who backed anti-union measures including Walker, Kasich and Chris Christie. They‘re all dropping.
Now, a new Gallup poll shows that 48 percent of the Americans side with state employee labor unions in these disputes and only 39 percent agree with the governors. And check this out. As Politico pointed out in November, a Hart Research poll showed 47 percent of the building trade union members describing themselves as Democrats. Twenty five percent as Republicans. In January, 63 percent called themselves Democrats and only 18 percent went to Republicans. Now, that‘s a significant shift. And that was even before the Wisconsin and Ohio bills passed. But the news just keeps getting worse and worse for Republicans.
It now appears that even police and firefighter unions are jumping from the republican ship. Cops and firefighters, remember, those are the two unions, they were actually exempted from the Wisconsin bill. The president of the Ohio Association of professional firefighters says, some republican members have actually apologized for supporting John Kasich. Quote, “they are never voting that way again.” And today, the backlash is spreading the Pennsylvania, a state where anti-union measures are even on the table yet. Almost, 3,000 of union coal mine workers from several states staged a rally today in Pennsylvania, an early warning signal to any and all conservatives bent on taking the fight elsewhere. Look, they get it. This republican attack is against them, the workers in this country, the middle class. And they have decided they‘re going to fight back.
All right. Joining me now is Tim Burga, he‘s president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, and Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Chuck, let me start with you. The cops were exempted in the Wisconsin bill, why are you joining this fight and why are you so animated by it?
CHUCK CANTERBURY, FRATERNAL ORDER POLICE: We‘re joining the fight because Wisconsin was just the first. Ohio‘s bill SP5 that‘s passed this week, it‘s a terrible official legislation that rolls back, the police labor movement 30 years in Ohio. And we‘re not going to stand for it. We‘re going to stand up and let the American public know that we‘re not the evil doers, we‘re the police officers, the firefighters and the teachers that live in their communities. So, we‘re going to continue to stand up, get the numbers up from the people as you‘ve said earlier in your intro, the American public supports us. We‘ve just got to get our message out.
UYGUR: You know, of course, a lot of people supported the Republicans before, Chuck, I want to stay with you for a second, what made you change your mind here? What woke you up, if you will?
CANTERBURY: Well, this isn‘t about bipartisan issue or a republican or democrat issue. This is an issue of the police officers in this country standing up for those that stand up for us. Right now, the republican governors around the country have decided to point an X on us as a target. And we‘re going to have to use our voices on our votes to answer back.
That‘s going to cause us to lean towards people that support our causes.
UYGUR: All right. Tim, talk to me about how much these republican governors might have ironically helped the AFL-CIO by showing people, how against the workers they really are.
TIM BURGA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: All right. Good evening, Cenk. And
President Canterbury is right. There is a tremendous outpouring of
opposition against Senate bill 5, because it‘s being seen as a politically
motivated attempt to scapegoat police officers, nurses, firefighters and
teachers for the economic challenges of the day. And what Senate bill 5
will do, and Ohioans are seeing this, is going to punish all working
families, and to take away worker rights. And not only is a galvanized
union men and women, but it also has all working families, and the general
public up and arms, and we‘re very confident that we‘re going to get this
issue on a ballot, and there will be a citizens veto of Senate bill 5 in
UYGUR: But I want to ask you about that. First, I just kind of say, well, it really drives me crazy. And I think I‘m hearing it from both of you guys, that they seem to be blaming you guys for the budget problems. You didn‘t cause the budget problems. And then they could turn around and say, oh, no, no, it‘s not the taxes, it‘s not anything else, it‘s not our give-aways, you guys and we‘ve got to cut your pay. But Tim, I want to focus on what you guys are you‘re going to do about it in Ohio. What is the plan of action and how it will work?
BURGA: Well, the process is Ohioans from every corner and all walks of life, will be circulating petitions to get the necessary signatures, to get the citizens veto on the ballot in November. So, the end of April, all of May and all of June, we‘ll be gathering signatures and that will be campaigning the issue in November. And I can tell you that there‘s been an outpouring of opposition against Senate bill 5 because it‘s being seen as a stream, politically motivated overreach and an attack on workers‘ rights. And Ohioans are up in arms and they want to do something about it. And fortunate for us here in Ohio, we have the ability to go to the ballot for a citizens veto and I believe we‘ll be successful.
UYGUR: You know, Chuck, you know, in Wisconsin, at some point, Governor Walker gave an order to clear out the protesters from the state house and the cops there said, we‘re not going to do it. We‘re going to do the right thing. And some of the cops even shouted out, we‘re going to join you guys, right? It was an amazing moment, a really interesting moment. But, you know, a lot of politicians after 9/11 has said, oh, we‘re with the cops, we‘re with the cops. I mean, there‘s a lot of empty talk. When it came to action, what are you seeing on the ground lately? In all these states, I mean, it seems like, particularly in the Midwest, but it seems like they‘re coming after you. Do you feel particularly betrayed by that?
CANTERBURY: We feel extremely betrayed because these are the people that have brought our country into this economic problem. They‘re the ones that underfunded pensions. They‘re the ones that negotiated contracts, they don‘t want to keep, it wasn‘t the police officers, the firefighters, the teachers, it was them. And now, we‘ve become their scapegoat, so we‘re extremely annoyed by it. And the over one million police officers in this country are going to stand up.
UYGUR: You know, last thing for the viewers at home, look, the banks, whenever they run into trouble they say oh, the bankers contract, we can‘t violate those. No, no, no, those are contracts. But when it comes to Chuck‘s contractors, guys have the four as well, those contracts well, they‘re not quite good enough. We can cut your pay. When it comes to working guys that Tim is representing, well, we can cut that pay, we didn‘t mean that contract, we meant rich people‘s contracts. I think that what drives people crazy. But look, Tim Burger and Chuck Canterbury, we really appreciate you guys coming out here and talking about it tonight. Thank you both so much.
BURGA: Thank you.
CANTERBURY: Thanks for having us.
UYGUR: All right. Now, still ahead, you won‘t believe the story of why a man in Montana might be getting life in prison for smoking pot.
All right. And the lovely Ana Kasparian will be joining us with stories that cross over from politics to pop culture, including a local republican defending drunk driving. You will absolutely love his reason why. Anna, I‘m looking forward to it.
UYGUR: Tonight, Florida Governor Rick Scott goes under the spotlight and this one isn‘t pretty. Florida‘s agency for persons with disabilities is facing a $170 million budget gap. So, Governor Scott has used emergency powers to order the agency to cut payments to group homes and social workers by 15 percent. The agency provides services about 35,000 people in Florida with Down‘s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities. Amy Van Bergen who directs the Down‘s Syndrome Association of Central Florida says, quote, “potentially this cuts have life and death implications of these people.” Now, of course, Scott didn‘t have enough room of the budget for the disabled people, but he did have enough room to propose $1.5 billion corporate tax cut over the next two years. So, this story is already pretty bad, but it‘s about to get worse. After Scott ordered those cuts yesterday, he then participated in a run for the Special Olympics and he had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT ®, FLORIDA: Special Olympics is extremely important. We‘ve got to make sure we take care of those who have struggled, having disadvantaged. So, this is a great event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UGYUR: Right. So, Governor Scott carries deeply about the developmentally disabled when there‘s an opportunity for a good photo op. But when it comes to actual services, the 35,000 people need, well, that‘s a little inconvenient. His corporate buddies need a tax break. What‘s a standup guy to do? We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: All right. Sometimes on the show, you see at the end of the show, I tell you about my online program, “The Young Turks.” On that, we do one hour of politics, and then we do a second hour of that crossover from pop culture to politics. And I do that with my co-host, Ana Kasparian, and she‘s joining us tonight for exactly those kinds of stories and I love this. She‘s out in Los Angeles. Ana, tell us what‘s going on today.
ANA KASPARIAN, CO-HOST, “THE YOUNG TURKS”: Well, Cenk, we actually have a few wild stories, straight out of Montana. And let‘s start with 27-year-old Matthew Otto. He‘s from Montana and he‘s facing up to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. But get this, his dangerous drug was three grams of medical marijuana. And the distribution was him sharing his pot with two of his friends. Montana law defines any distribution as a felony that carries a possible life sentence. The man hasn‘t been sentenced yet and his public defender is calling this case, quote, “a puff of smoke.”
UYGUR: Now, look, they passed it inside of cars, that‘s stupid, right? And they were driving the car. He wasn‘t driving the guy who got charged, right? But there‘s also a $50,000 fine and he has a medical permit to actually have the marijuana. Life imprison and $50,000, doesn‘t that seem crazy?
KASPARIAN: It does seem crazy, and when you really look at the big picture, in Montana, if you are found guilty of sexual assault and it‘s your first offense, you pay a $500 fine.
UYGUR: Oh, come on!
KASPARIAN: And you face a whopping six months in prison.
UYGUR: I mean, how does that make any sense. And I know that story.
It turns out if you have three sexual assaults, you might get up to five
years. But you can get life for smoking a little bit of pot. Look, I
don‘t smoke pot but this is insanity. This is madness. And that is even
re for madness. All right.
KASPARIAN: It shows you—it shows you what our priorities are. I mean, really, you think that someone who‘s found guilty of sexual assault doesn‘t deserve a stricter sentence? But someone who‘s caught with three grams, three grams that such a tiny amount, that person deserves life in prison, potentially life in prison?
UYGUR: I don‘t even know how small that is because I don‘t smoke pot. But I mean, come on, this is crazy. All right. But we‘ve got another crazy story out of Montana. What‘s that one?
KASPARIAN: A Montana state representative actually stood on the floor of the capital and defended drunk driving. How crazy is that? So, this republican representative, his name is Alan Hale, thinks that the state DUI laws are destroying small businesses and the way of life in Montana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALAN HALE ®, MONTANA: I have raised an opposition to this, along of the other DUI laws. These DUI laws aren‘t doing our small businesses in our state any good. They‘re all, they‘re destroying them. They‘re destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years. These taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together. They‘re the center of the communities. And I‘ll guarantee you, there‘s only two ways to get there. Either you hitchhike or you drive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KASPARIAN: All right, Cenk. First of all, I love his Colonel Sanders necktie, you‘ve got to love it. And also, here‘s the most unsurprising part of the story. Hale owns a bar.
UYGUR: Of course. I love these guys. They‘re so brazen. Like Issa with a road that leads to his business properties. Rick Scott that wants to do all the drug testing, because he owns a drug testing company. This guy has a nerve to come out in a Colonel Sanders time, be like drunk driving is our way of life, man. I mean, I own a bar, oh, that is just a coincidence.
KASPARIAN: All right. He‘s so depressingly ignorant. I mean, I love how he‘s thinking about businesses but he‘s not thinking about the number of people that die from drunk drivers. I can‘t believe he went up there and talked about that.
UYGUR: It‘s our way of life, drunk driving. These guys are supposed to be law and order Republicans. It‘s crazy. All right. Tell me about my home state here, what‘s going on there?
KASPARIAN: All right. Rutgers University paid Jersey Shore star Snookie $32,000 to speak on campus this week. More than 1,000 people showed up to the event and some students were actually outraged which makes me very happy, that their tuition money ended up in Snookie‘s pocket. Student Hina Rehman told a reporter, quote, “The fact that our school spent $32,000 to bring her is ridiculous. It‘s fine the money used here is meant for entertainment purpose, but I think we can get better entertainment than that.” What‘s crazy about this, is that Rutgers is paying author Toni Morrison $30,000 to speak at a graduation ceremony on May 15th. That‘s $2,000 less.
UYGUR: She won a Nobel Prize. Snookie‘s big prize if she hooks up with, in her world, a gorilla or a juice head from the beach. How upset are you of this, Ana?
KASPARIAN: No, it really upsets me because it just shows our society‘s obsession with these losers, OK? And I know that‘s a harsh way to define her. But she‘s a loser. You don‘t get anything out of talking to this girl. Or you don‘t get anything out of listening to her speak.
KASPARIAN: I don‘t know the academic value of it.
UYGUR: All right. We‘ve got to go. Thanks, Ana. We‘ll be right back.
KASPARIAN: Republicans are always claiming that they don‘t like big government. Of course, that‘s not even remotely true. That‘s just an excuse to cut taxes for the rich. Because in reality, they want government to be so big that it intrudes on your personal life. For example, can you smoke pot or not? What do they care? No, but big government has to get involved? Who can you have sex with? Who can you marry? Can you imagine how much more intrusive government can be? That‘s gigantic government. Well, conservatives want government to be even bigger than that. They want it all the way in your womb. I always have trouble with that word, womb. They want to tell you what you can do and what you can‘t do with your body.
They want to get between you and your uterus. That‘s gigantic.
Now, you‘re uterus government. But today, Governor Jan Brewer has found a new way for conservatives to grow government and intrude in your life. She wants to start charging how fat you are. Her new proposal would charge people on Medicaid and extra $50 if you smoke or if you‘re too fat. Then, if she decides, you‘re too overweight, you have to follow doctor‘s regimen. And if you don‘t, you get penalized. I thought they didn‘t want to get between me and my doctor.
So, if they lived in Arizona and were on Medicaid, here‘s some guys who should be in trouble under Governor Brewer‘s plan. Yes, that‘s me on the right. Look, this one is personal for me. Yes, I know I eat all the wrong stuff. You ever have a nutty bar, peanut butter and chocolate, perfect combination. But that‘s my choice. I‘ve got enough people judging me. I don‘t need the government to start snooping in on my eating habits. That‘s ridiculous. Look, you ever have those annoying girlfriends, that are like, oh, you know, you eat too much, you drink too much, you hang out with your friends too much. Well, now, that‘s the government and that annoying girlfriend can look like this.
God, that seems even worse. Jesus. I don‘t want that kind of government in my life. I thought conservatives agreed with me, but apparently they don‘t when it‘s convenient for them. Now, thank you for watching, “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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