Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Thursday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Jim McDermott, Judson Phillips, Ernest Istook, Joan Walsh, Dennis
Kucinich, P.J. Crowley
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Today, we saw compelling new proof that the Tea Party is driving the Republican Party and potentially John Boehner right off a cliff. In a vote that ultimately passed a budgeted deal to avert a government shutdown, 59 Republicans broke with their leadership to vote no, despite please from Speaker Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Does it cut enough? No. Do I wish it cut more? Absolutely.
Is it perfect? No. I would be the first one to admit that it‘s flawed, and I would urge all of you to join me in supporting this bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: How was that for a sales pitch? Wow. That bill sounded great.
Now, just a few minutes ago, that same bill passed the Senate 81-19. Of course, the issue for many Republicans in the House was that the bill wasn‘t extreme enough for the right wing and their party.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson said, “If House Republicans vote for the bipartisan compromise, they should be driven into the street by the Tea Party move and horsewhipped metaphorically speaking. In reality, they should be primaried.”
And the editors of the conservative “National Review” called the deal “a sudden disappointment.” Who says “sudden?” I guess they‘re English. All right. Oversold and dependent on classic Washington budget trickery, the episode is strike one against the speakership of John Boehner.”
I guess that‘s the best I can do for an English accent.
Anyway, they were angry about a new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing that of the $38.5 billion in cuts, about $8.6 billion were in rescission cuts. Now, that‘s money that was appropriated but never spent. So there is a chance that some of that money will eventually not get spent.
Oh, my God. Sound the sirens! They only cut $30 billion now and an extra $8 billion that might have been spent! Ahh!
Of course, not nearly enough for the right wing. The CBO also said that only $352 million of the cuts would go into effect this year. Now, the rest of it was scheduled to get spent soon, like next year.
Ahh! We need to spend now! We wanted a trillion—no, a bazillion dollars in cuts. And we wanted them cut from next year‘s budget. No, this year‘s budget. No, from the budget of 1928.
Why didn‘t you travel in time and get more cuts for us?
The guy‘s a little unreasonable, right? All right, kids. I got it.
I got it. Enough with the temper tantrum. Settle down.
But were the cuts really no big deal? Are you kidding me?
We‘re still looking at $30 billion in cuts, including $1.6 billion for the EPA. That‘s 15 percent of their budget hacked off.
Congratulations, Republicans. You don‘t get to pollute that much more.
Six hundred million dollars was also cut from community health centers. But I guess the Tea Party wanted to hurt the community just a little bit more than they already did. Who needs health? I want my stinking tax cut.
And $500 million was also cut to pay for food and baby formula for low-income families. Why don‘t the babies solve their own formulas?
Now, look, those are huge cuts, but apparently there‘s still not enough for some. Well, let‘s talk about it now. We‘re going to get two different sets of opinion here.
First, Congressman Jim McDermott. He‘s a Democrat from Washington, a member of the Progressive Caucus who voted no on the budget deal today.
Congressman McDermott, I suspect that you voted no for a different reason than the Tea Party. What was that reason?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: I voted simply no because there were cuts in things that did not need to be cut. And secondly, what you were seeing out here was the Republican Party demolishing itself in front of the everybody, and God and country saw them, unable to come up with 218 votes.
John Boehner is basically on his knees, on the floor, begging the
Democrats to keep the country rolling because he can‘t do it. It is simply
I haven‘t seen anything like that in the 23 years I‘ve been in Congress, where the Speaker came out and couldn‘t get the votes for something as simple as a continuing resolution.
It was really a miserable display, but it showed the fact that these people that are on his team are determined to tear this government apart. Now, either they learn something from this experience, or we are in for a terrible ride during the next few weeks, as we go in, first of all, into raising the debt limit, and then we go into a budget for 2012.
They simply don‘t understand what government is about. They think you can do it like, I don‘t know, they‘re running a seventh-grader‘s bank balance, the way they run it. And it‘s terrible, what you saw today, but the Democrats pulled it out and kept the country running.
UYGUR: All right. Now, Congressman McDermott, I know what you‘re alluding to, which is this big fight of course over the trillions of dollars. Now, it looks like they‘re not going to bend at all. In fact, of course, they‘ve said the tax cuts are unacceptable, off the table. But the president drew the line the other day and said, you know what? I refuse to extend the Bush tax cuts.
So how in the world do you resolve that?
MCDERMOTT: Well, it‘s going to be a difficult session. You now have a Speaker who is 39 votes short of a majority. That‘s a minority government in the House of Representatives.
And how he‘s going to deal—he‘s going to have to come to the Democrats and say, hey, look, guys, what do I need to get your votes? And at that point, we should be taking those tax cuts and removing them, and bringing this country‘s budget into balance. It will be very simple if Boehner will just admit that he can‘t do it himself and he‘s got to have the Democrats to help him.
UYGUR: So how does Boehner get out of this? Because they say this is strike one, right? And my guess is strike two is coming soon, because they‘re never going to be satisfied. And if he goes and works with the Democrats, oh, my God, they‘re going to lose their minds.
So, is Boehner in an unwinnable spot here?
MCDERMOTT: He‘s in a very—I sometimes almost feel sorry for him, because he has got a guy standing behind him, Eric Cantor, who is encouraging the 39 votes that didn‘t vote for the bill. So he is looking to take over the speakership, and John Boehner‘s got this guy standing right behind him.
It‘s going to be a very difficult period for him. I don‘t know how he pulls it out, frankly.
UYGUR: And today they also wasted your time on defunding Planned Parenthood, and also defunding the health care law, of course neither of which is going to pass the Senate.
Can you just—I must have missed it—how many bills did they vote on creating jobs?
MCDERMOTT: I missed them too. I must have blinked some place.
The fact is that they put those bills out there for the right-wingers, for the Tea Party people, and said, we‘ll give you a vote on these things so we can pass them over to the Senate. And even offering them that kind of CYA bill, they simply couldn‘t get the votes.
This was a day—really was a parade of the clowns, because there was no jobs in any of this. They cut jobs in health centers, they cut jobs at the NIH, they cut jobs at EPA, all things that the American people want and need, and yet they play these games. I do not understand when they‘re going to start talking about jobs in this economy.
UYGUR: All right. Congressman McDermott, one more question for you, and it‘s that critical one.
Now, Boehner is in that tough spot. There‘s no way he‘s going to get those Tea Party guys to agree to any compromise. Right? So that means, as you were pointing out earlier, Democrats have leverage now because he‘s got to come to the Democrats?
Now, how do the Democrats plan to use that leverage, if at all?
MCDERMOTT: Well, first of all, we have to be asked to the table. So far, we‘ve been denied a seat at the table. And as soon as Mr. Boehner wants to come and talk to Leader Pelosi, we will have a conversation.
There are a lot of ways in which we could use it that would be in the benefit of the American people. I can think of 20 ways I would do it if I were sitting there. But he has to first make the overture, and we‘ll see if he can do it in the face of what he‘s got behind him.
UYGUR: All right. It‘s going to be an interesting thing to watch, there‘s no question about that.
Congressman Jim McDermott from Washington.
Thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
MCDERMOTT: You‘re welcome.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, for more on the reaction of the other side, let‘s bring in Judson Phillips, leader of the Tea Party Nation, who has vowed to primary Boehner next year.
Judson, you heard us say that Erick Erickson says that he should be horsewhipped, metaphorically. What would you like to do to John Boehner?
JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY NATION: Oh, I don‘t want anything violent or extreme. I just want to see a better candidate to replace him.
UYGUR: All right. And what would that better candidate do, just keep telling the Democrats and President Obama, no, no, no, no, no, and we‘d never have any deals?
PHILLIPS: No deal is better than a bad deal. Look, the country is broke. We‘ve got a $1.65 trillion deficit.
Boehner came in, it was going to be cut by $100 billion, then $61 billion, then $31 billion. And now, according to the CBO today, the deficit, with what they voted on today, is going to be cut by a whopping $352 million. That‘s, what, like owing $16,000 on your car and paying 33 cents? I mean, come on!
UYGUR: But Judson, no. Hold on.
Look, on the $8 billion that was appropriated but not spent, I think you actually have a decent case. And when you look at it and you say that money might have been spent and it might not have, right? But when you look at the heart of the $30 billion, that is a real cut.
I mean, you‘re unhappy that it‘s not immediate, but it‘s coming next year. Is it not enough? I always come back to the same thing with you. When is it ever enough? So you wanted $100 billion and you wanted it yesterday, right?
PHILLIPS: No, I would have settled for it for today, but here‘s the problem.
UYGUR: Are you not merciful?
PHILLIPS: But here‘s the problem. We have a huge budget deficit.
Spending is out of control.
When are we going to stop spending, when we‘re $20 billion in debt, $30 billion in debt, $40 billion in debt? There is no country in the world that has ever borrowed its way into prosperity. It‘s not going to happen with the United States of America. It‘s not happened with any other country. You end up with a debt crisis.
UYGUR: Right. You know, I know. Of course.
PHILLIPS: I‘ve said this on your show before, how do you get a debt crisis? You end up with a lot of debt.
UYGUR: That‘s right. And, you know, one way to solve that would be revenue, but I know you guys don‘t want to discuss that. You only want to discuss one side of it.
But listen, I want to get into more of what you want, because I‘m curious about it. So, for example, obviously in 2012 we have an enormous primary for the Republican side for presidential candidate. Now, I know you love primaries, so who‘s your guy? Who‘s extreme enough for you?
PHILLIPS: Well, let‘s talk about revenue for just a second. Let me go back to that real quick. Every time you cut taxes, surprisingly enough, revenue to the treasury goes up.
UYGUR: Not true remotely. Not even close.
PHILLIPS: Yes it is. It is! It is! Look at the history of it!
PHILLIPS: It happened in the ‘80s when Reagan did it. That happened last decade when Bush did it.
UYGUR: Look, here‘s what we did with Bush—we cut, cut, cut taxes.
And what happened? The economy created.
UYGUR: We created one million jobs in eight years—
PHILLIPS: Did you go through the same 2000s that I went through?
UYGUR: -- and you know what? He left—hold on Judson. He left a $1.3 trillion deficit.
It‘s your Republicans who screwed up. Why don‘t you admit that on national TV right now? Republicans never balanced the budget, and they always screwed up.
Go ahead and admit it.
PHILLIPS: What was the deficit in 2007? Answer: $137 billion.
Obama, Pelosi and Reid blew more than that in February of last year.
UYGUR: That was awesome. That was awesome. Hold on. You just said 2007.
When Bush left office, it was over $1 trillion, wasn‘t it? It‘s convenient that you left that part out.
PHILLIPS: No, I picked 2007 because, guess what? That was the last year a Republican Congress and a Republican president passed a budget.
UYGUR: Oh, of course. Of course. When Clinton balanced the budget, that was because of the Republican Congress, right? And then when Bush blows a huge trillion-dollar hole in the deficit, oh, Democratic Congress.
Which one is it? Is it the president or the Congress that takes all the credit?
PHILLIPS: Hey, they get a little bit of both. But in 2007, the deficit was heading in the right direction. And when Pelosi took over, when Reid took over—
UYGUR: He had a huge surplus! You know how much—here. You know what? We got into the topic. Let‘s finish it up.
The two wars, OK, Medicare prescription Part D caused—and I‘m sorry, and the tax cuts, caused a $3.2 trillion addition to the deficit. Why don‘t you just hold your hand up and say I am guilty, I am sorry, nation? We crew screwed up and I‘m now trying to get the Democrats to fix it.
PHILLIPS: Hey, how many Democrats voted for the Medicare drug prescription benefit? I‘ll agree with you on that. That was a bad idea. It blew a lot of money.
UYGUR: A bad Republican idea, yes.
PHILLIPS: It was a bad idea, period.
UYGUR: OK. Was Iraq a genius idea?
PHILLIPS: Iraq was a necessity. Afghanistan was a necessity.
UYGUR: A necessity? A necessity?
UYGUR: Now you want to cut Medicare, Medicaid. You want to cut food stamps. And Iraq was a necessity?
PHILLIPS: Yes, Iraq was a necessity.
UYGUR: Interesting values.
PHILLIPS: When you have the leader of a country who tries to kill a former president of the United States, he‘s got to pay the price for it. And I don‘t care if that former president is Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter.
UYGUR: How many years ago was that? You‘re going back to that?
OK. And so then, by the way, you agree since the horrible terrorism that Gadhafi has done, you agree with President Obama that we should have gone into Libya, right?
PHILLIPS: No, I don‘t agree with that.
UYGUR: Really? Huh? That‘s weird.
PHILLIPS: No, it‘s really simple.
PHILLIPS: We‘re stuck in two wars. How are we going to get this third one done?
Obama is cutting the defense budget. We‘re stretched too thin. Yes, I would love to see Gadhafi dangle from the end of a rope. But guess what? We‘re not the ones who are going to be able to do it.
UYGUR: All right, Judson. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before you could answer who you want in the GOP primaries, because I know none of them are enough.
You want to bring back Reagan, right? But Reagan raised taxes 11 times. You‘d probably primary him if he was around.
PHILLIPS: No, not really. Invite me back again and I‘ll—
UYGUR: Not really?
PHILLIPS: Invite me back again and we‘ll talk about the primary. OK?
UYGUR: All right. Fair enough.
Judson Phillips, head of the Tea Party Nation.
We appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: Hey, thank you.
UYGUR: Always a fun conversation. All right.
Now, next, we are learning tonight of growing concern in the Republican Party about Paul Ryan‘s plan. Are Republicans getting worried about voting for it?
What happened now, tough guys?
And Ryan cries about being attacked by President Obama.
What happened, did he hurt your feelings?
We‘ll discuss that.
Plus, here‘s a question for you. Why does Chris Christie want to “take a bat” to a 76-year-old woman? Yes, he actually said that.
And Donald Trump said today President Obama‘s huge support amongst African-Americans was “frightening.” And what he said next might have been even worse.
UYGUR: Republicans across the board have come out hard again President Obama‘s debt plan. And it‘s no surprise.
In his speech yesterday, Obama put the GOP in a tough position. By offering up his own solution, Obama connected Republicans to their party‘s plan, which he correctly framed as one which offers tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor.
And no one‘s more upset about this than the GOP budget mastermind Paul Ryan, who was forced to sit front and center while the president tore his proposal to shreds. Apparently, he wasn‘t expecting that Obama might actually go on the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: I was expecting it from, actually, speaking with some Democrats, that it was going to be an olive branch speech. When the commander in chief sort of brings himself down to the level of the partisan mosh pit that we‘ve been in, that we are in, it makes it more difficult to bring that kind of leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oh. So were your feelings hurt?
Some people have cried about how President Obama shouldn‘t have invited him to the speech if he was going to disagree with him. I love that. These guys are actually shocked and chagrinned to find out that the president is in fact a Democrat.
Look, I‘m a little surprised, too. But I love the audacity of their expectations. At least I voted for the guy, right?
These guys think, like, how dare he disagree with us? And if he does, he should be far more polite about it.
Now, this comes from the same guys who viciously attack the president day in and day out. In fact, the Republicans lit into the president right after the speech, saying this isn‘t a serious proposal, this shows no leadership, and he just wants to play political games.
So what? Only Republicans are allowed to make their case? And if the president actually states his opinion, they are grossly offended.
How dare you be a Democrat! We told you to agree with us. Terrible.
No manners at all.
So, when the president actually went on the offense and said the GOP vision on Medicare “says America can‘t afford to keep the promise, we made to care for our seniors,” the Republicans actually went into a panic. And here‘s the fun part.
Now, there are reports all over Washington that Republicans with districts that have huge senior populations in them are a little noncommittal on whether they will vote for the Ryan plan. Oops. Sometimes when you play with fire, you get burned.
So, Ryan just released an op-ed in “The Washington Post” in a panic. He says the words “retirement” and “retiree” six times. “Seniors,” six times. “Medicaid” and “Medicare,” eight times.
Why? Because, he says, did I say I was going to cut Medicare? Did I say that? Me? No. I‘m going to protect seniors and retires.
Yes. Yes, that‘s the ticket.
Oh, I love the smell of Republican panic in the morning.
All right. Now joining me is editor-at-large of Salon, Joan Walsh, Ernest Istook, former congressman, now is visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Ernie, let me start with you.
ERNEST ISTOOK, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Sure.
UYGUR: Did these Republican guys get caught with their hand in the cookie jar on Medicare?
ISTOOK: No, not at all. The worst thing you can do to somebody is make a promise that you cannot keep.
When you‘re spending—when 40 percent of the money that the federal government spends is borrowed, when you have got a $1.6 trillion annual deficit, and you keep making promises that are unsustainable, you‘re leading people down a primrose path, rather than telling them, look, we‘ve got to straighten things up. And that‘s what Paul Ryan is trying to do, tell people that. He‘s being honest.
UYGUR: Right. Ernie, so—right, he‘s just being honest, we‘re going to cut your Medicare. So that‘s OK, Ernie. Just tell the American people you‘re being honest with them when you think there‘s not enough money—
UYGUR: Hold on.
ISTOOK: Didn‘t you all make a promise you can‘t keep?
UYGUR: No, no. I know. I want to get you on the record.
ISTOOK: That‘s a problem. That‘s—
UYGUR: There‘s not enough money to pay the rich. They need a tax cut, because they got a tax cut on Ryan‘s plan, 35 to 25 percent.
ISTOOK: I‘ve got news for you on that.
UYGUR: Since there‘s not enough money for the rich, you have to cut their Medicare, right?
ISTOOK: No, Cenk. You ought to look at—“The Wall Street Journal” today published the fact that if you take everybody in the country that makes more than $100,000 a year, and tax 100 percent of their taxable income, you still won‘t cover the deficit. That‘s taxing everybody over $100,000 -- that makes over $100,000 a year, taking all their revenue—
UYGUR: No, but we‘re not only say look at revenue. We‘re saying look at revenue and spending.
ISTOOK: -- and it still is not enough money to do what Obama wants.
UYGUR: You guys are the ones that are saying only look at spending.
You‘re saying don‘t look at revenue at all.
But you didn‘t answer the question.
ISTOOK: You didn‘t answer it.
UYGUR: Now, hold on. Ryan‘s plan wants to lower taxes for the rich from 35 to 25 percent. So you‘re saying there‘s just not enough money to pay for the rich, so we have to cut your Medicare.
Correct or incorrect?
ISTOOK: Now, right now, do you know who pays their fair share? The top one percent of income earners in the country pay 40 percent of the federal income tax.
UYGUR: No, no, but you‘re not answering the question. You want to give them another tax cut. Right?
ISTOOK: You‘re evading it.
UYGUR: You want to give them another tax cut. Yes or no?
ISTOOK: I‘m saying—actually, Ryan is saying bring the corporate rates down so companies quit sending jobs overseas.
UYGUR: And the individual brackets. So, yes. The answer is yes, you want to lower taxes for the rich, and you‘re saying—
ISTOOK: I want to lower taxes for people who create jobs so that we can bring jobs back to America.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Where are the jobs, Ernie?
WALSH: If they‘re creating jobs, then where are the jobs? And everybody—
ISTOOK: They‘re going overseas because our taxes are the highest in the world.
WALSH: We gave you guys a big tax cut. You got a ginormous tax cut with the Bush tax cuts.
ISTOOK: You haven‘t fixed (ph) the corporate tax Joan.
WALSH: Why in God‘s name were jobs not created during the Bush administration if tax cuts for the rich create jobs? It‘s pathetic, Ernie, to keep trotting this out.
ISTOOK: Even Obama says the corporate tax rate has got to be reduced to bring jobs back to America. Did you listen to him on that point?
WALSH: That‘s fine. That‘s what Obama says, but we‘re talking about the personal tax rate, which Paul Ryan does reduce that top bracket to 25 percent, which is abominable.
ISTOOK: OK. You‘re taking the jobs—
WALSH: You know, you‘re the people who were, last year, screaming about Medicare, and you‘re going to hurt Medicare.
ISTOOK: Joan, you‘re not going to cover the deficit taxing the rich.
You won‘t cover it. You won‘t come close.
WALSH: You know what, Ernie? Would you let me talk? I didn‘t interrupt you.
ISTOOK: Go right ahead.
WALSH: Thank you. That‘s lovely.
The Paul Ryan plan cuts Medicare for seniors. It breaks the promise, and it says that we can‘t be America anymore. That‘s what the Paul Ryan plan says.
ISTOOK: That‘s not what it does.
WALSH: We can‘t keep—the reason we have Medicare, Ernie, is that there is no private market for seniors, for people who are sick and elderly and getting sicker. He‘s going to give them vouchers and say fend for yourself. And that‘s what Medicare said we‘re not going to do to our seniors anymore.
UYGUR: Ernie, I want to ask you another question.
ISTOOK: Joan, actually, it‘s supposed to be a shared responsibility.
UYGUR: Ernie, hold on. Hold on. Hold on, Ernie. Let me ask you another question.
ISTOOK: Let me answer her, Yenk (ph).
UYGUR: It‘s Cenk.
ISTOOK: She‘s saying things—read Ryan‘s plan.
WALSH: I have read it.
ISTOOK: He does not change Medicare for people who are already in it, for anybody that‘s over 55.
WALSH: I understand, but we would all like to get there.
ISTOOK: He wants to change the future so it will be sustainable and won‘t go bankrupt and leave everybody with no coverage at all.
WALSH: It doesn‘t have to go bankrupt. If the Republicans didn‘t yell about death panels last year when President Obama was actually proposing—and thank God—
ISTOOK: You keep changing the subject.
UYGUR: All right. Hold on, guys. I‘m going to change the subject.
WALSH: Keep the costs down—
UYGUR: No, no. Guy, listen. Hold on. Everybody bring it down.
Now, Ernie, listen, first of all, you‘re saying for people under 55 we have got to hurry up and cut Medicare, otherwise we‘d have to cut Medicare. That‘s a brilliant plan.
ISTOOK: We‘ve got to change it if we want to make it something that will endure.
UYGUR: OK. But hold on. I want to ask you about the politics.
Look, you can spin it any way you like, but the bottom line is, when these Republicans vote to cut Medicare, they‘re in a world of trouble. Down in Florida, in Pennsylvania, some of the districts are heavily senior citizens. And you can spin it and spin it, and good luck to you.
ISTOOK: It‘s a political challenge. You‘re right.
UYGUR: Are they really going to vote that way, or is there some chance that Ryan‘s plan is actually going to get voted down because the Republicans go, I don‘t know, I‘m not going to touch that?
ISTOOK: What would you rather have, Yenk (sic), somebody that promises you a million dollars—
UYGUR: It‘s Cenk.
ISTOOK: -- and can‘t deliver, or somebody that promises you less and you know what‘s going to happen?
UYGUR: No, no, no. But I‘m asking you, are the Republicans going to vote for the Ryan plan or are they not? That‘s my question.
ISTOOK: Well, we‘re going to find out within the next 24 hours when it comes up for a vote. I think you‘ll see that it passes the House. Will it be unanimous among all the Republicans? No. It probably won‘t be unanimous among all the Democrats either.
UYGUR: All right.
Joan, last question to you.
I just read that the Republicans are accusing President Obama of cutting Medicare in his proposal. Now, that is rich.
UYGUR: Go ahead.
WALSH: Yes. I mean, look, if we really were ready to have a serious conversation, and we were not playing partisan politics, we really can all agree that costs are going up too quickly and that they are unsustainable.
And there were progressive—not just progressive in the sense of partisan progressive, but there were smart things done in the Affordable Care Act to try to bring costs down, to try to keep doctors from simply provides services, to do preventative things rather than treat people after they get sick. There are innovative ways to talk about this.
It was all described as death panels. And last year, it was really convenient for Republicans to scare seniors for the 2010 election by saying that Obama was going to hurt Medicare. We need to collaborate on a way to keep costs down, but this is not the way.
UYGUR: All right, guys. It‘s been a lively conversation.
ISTOOK: Government over-regulation is what‘s driving this cost.
UYGUR: We‘ve got to leave it right there.
ISTOOK: Let‘s talk about that another time.
UYGUR: Exactly. We‘ve got to leave it right there.
Editor-at-large for Salon, Joan Walsh, thank you.
Former congressman Ernie Istook, thank you for joining me.
UYGUR: Really appreciate it.
And look, I‘ll say my last part here to the audience.
I‘ll tell you, if the Republicans are proud of it, and they want to vote for cutting Medicare, have it, Hoss. I‘m enjoying watching that. I‘ll grab some popcorn to see how it turns out.
So—all right, now, next, Chris Christie tells the media to “take the bat” to a 76-year-old woman, but his statement is not just indecent, it‘s also the con job of the day. And I‘ll explain why.
UYGUR: Donald Trump‘s organization said today that he may announce the time and place of his possible presidential announcement during the season finale of “The Apprentice” on May 22nd. Then Sarah Palin will announce her possible candidacy on her TLC show. Then Hulk Hogan will announce his candidacy on “Monday Night Raw.” Do they still do that? I don‘t think he‘s still in wrestling. Then Homer Simpson, who‘ll announce on special guest appearance of “the family guy.”
And when Homer says, he thinks Obama was not born in Indonesia or Kenya, but in Uganda and Nigeria at the same time, they were twins, separated at birth, the good twin stayed in Uganda and the bad twin came here and became president, well then he will surge to the top of the republican polls. Look, if they believe the birther stuff, they can believe anything, right? And they got Trump at the top of—samples do. Who knows, Homer could be next, you wait and see. Now, birtherism isn‘t the only questionable thing that Trump has done in regards of the race issue. This morning during a radio interview, Donald was asked about a poll that found President Obama had a 95 percent approval rating among African-American voters in New York.
He responded by touting his great relationship with the blacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: I have a great relationship with the blacks. I‘ve always had a great relationship with the blacks, but unfortunately, it seems that, you know, the numbers that you cite are very, very frightening numbers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: OK, frightening. Put that aside. The blacks? Who says the blacks? A 98-year-old grandmother in Boca? But, you know, she doesn‘t mean any harm from it, or maybe like a 78-year-old guy from Alabama who does mean harm from it. Or maybe like a 78-year-old guy from Alabama who does mean harm from it. Not that there aren‘t lovely people in Alabama, there‘s a lot of 78-year-old who don‘t think that at all. Just, you know, not theirs or there is something wrong with it. But there are a lot of lovely people, all right? Now, the other kind of guy who might say that is a stereo typical rich businessman in New York, who‘s lived a life of privilege and says things like, I like the blacks, I am very kind to them. Ugh, can‘t way to hear what the Donald thinks of the gays.
All right. Now, today was the day that Governor Scott Walker was supposed to be grilled on Capitol Hill about state debt. So, why was he met with a bunch of softball questions? We‘ll solve that, mystery for you. But at least Congressman Denis Kucinich attacked and actually got a confession from Walker. He‘ll tell us about that dramatic confrontation.
And the man who quit his top-level job in the government after calling private—management treatment ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid. He joins me for an exclusive interview tonight.
UYGUR: In Washington today, the moment we‘ve all been waiting for, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker going before the House Oversight Committee. Time for answers. You want answers? I want the truth. That was my best “few good men” impression. Pretty sad. Anyway, Scott Walker, the man who crushed the public unions in the state, stripped collective bargaining rights from hundreds of thousands of workers, so brace yourself, Mr. Walker. Chairman Darrell Issa, let‘s hear it, set the tough tone for the hearing. Tell the audience what to expect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA ®, CALIFORNIA: If you agree with them, smile. If you disagree with them, smile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Instructing the witness to smile. That‘s your opening message? All right. Anyway, maybe some other Republicans on the committee will get down to business and really call out Walker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PATRICK MCHENRY ®, NORTH CAROLINA: Governor Walker has boldly set out to push through similar initiatives in Wisconsin. Even in the face of extremely heated political attacks, Governor Walker has shown that he understands and has a genuine commitment to reform.
REP. DENNIS ROSS ®, FLORIDA: One of the issues that we saw in Wisconsin was that there were senators on the democrat side who left the state and failed to come to the table.
REP. TIM WALBERG ®, MICHIGAN: Governor Walker, I also appreciate the fact that what you build in Milwaukee and enjoy riding my road king, I understand you ride as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Whoa, whoa there, take it easy on him. You‘re killing him out there. By the way, remember, this is the Government Oversight Committee. Where is the oversight? Oh, I love riding motorbikes, you do, too. You‘re awesome, dude. All right. Now, why on earth would these four congressmen treat Governor Scott Walker with such—what could have been? What could have been? Could have been that they all just happened to have received money from the Koch Brothers and their political action committee. That same political action committee that just happened to give $43,000 to Governor Walker‘s campaign? You remember the Koch brothers? Charles and David Koch. The billionaires who own Koch industries?
And give millions of dollars to the extreme right-wring groups and the Republican Party that just happen to push policies that benefit Koch industries? What a coincidence. In fact, 14 members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform got campaign money from the Kochs in the recent election cycle. Thirteen of them, of course, are Republicans. All told, those members took in more than $100,000 from Koch Industries pac. Nicely done, guys, way to cash in. Now, fortunately, there were some Democrats on the committee who came to fight, unloading on Governor Walker for attacking public workers‘ right to collective bargaining.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I was so strongly object to efforts by politicians who try to use current economic downturn to strip American workers of their rights. We should be helping these workers, not attacking them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Another democrat is calling for an investigation of hiring practices by the Walker administration. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: Are you ready to apologize to the people of Wisconsin for hiring the 27-year-old son of one of your major campaign donors who‘s a lobbyist, and that individual had no college education, very little managerial experience and had two drunk driving convictions and was hired for an $81,000 a year job?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Shockingly enough Walker didn‘t apologize. He said that his staff removed the worker once he learned about the cronyism that he had done. I mean, after he learned about the hiring. What an interesting coincidence there as well. But without a doubt, the moment of the day came courtesy of Dennis Kucinich. Congressman Kucinich challenged Walker over a provision that would require union members to vote every year to continue their membership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: It‘s the same reason we gave workers the right to choose which is a fundamental American right, the right to choose whether or not they want to be a part of the union and whether or not they want up to $1,000.
KUCINICH: How much money does it save government, just answer.
WALKER: It doesn‘t save any.
KUCINICH: OK. That‘s right. That‘s the point.
WALKER: If you read the federal budget—I‘ll answer your question.
KUCINICH: It obviously had no effect whatsoever on the state budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And with me now is the man himself, democratic congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich. Wait a minute, Congressman, I thought he had to do all these cuts et cetera and do the collective bargaining, all this stuff was to save money from the budget. If it doesn‘t save money from the budget, golly gee willikers, because I wonder why he did it.
KUCINICH: Well, that‘s exactly right, Cenk. And, you know, this hearing was important but not for the reason that it was—that was important because finally, we put Governor Walker on the spot and got him to admit that his attack on collective bargaining didn‘t save the state any money. He just used the state budget crisis as an opportunity to go after public workers, and to try to knock out their collective bargaining rights in the process.
UYGUR: So, what I‘m confused by is why did the Republicans call this, right? I mean, it‘s supposed to be oversight, but they come in and they play patty cakes with them and tell them to smile, and, you know, talk about all the fun things they‘re going to do together. What was the point of this here?
KUCINICH: Well, I‘m glad they called it. I mean, it turned out, it worked out pretty well to be able to demonstrate that there was no fiscal reason behind Governor Walker‘s attack on collective bargaining. And it‘s not just an issue in Wisconsin. In Ohio, in Michigan and other states, there are similar administrations that are attacking workers‘ rights. And this is, you know, they try to make it a fiscal issue when in facts it‘s a fundamental issue of whether or not we have a democratic society, so the right to click the bargaining center of that.
And I think the reason why they called the hearing was to try this, promote this propaganda that somehow the rights of workers are the problems facing states. That‘s hard wash. I mean, the fact of the matter is, that if states have budget problems like Wisconsin, they could have addressed their budget problem, Cenk, by, you know, returning to their state tax that they let expire, it would have covered their short term deficit like that. And if they went after the wealthiest, the billionaires in Wisconsin, they could have covered their whole deficit problem by just reinstating their state tax.
UYGUR: Well, there are some billionaires named the Koch brothers as we were just explaining. And they have given money to the Republicans on that committee. They‘ve given money to Governor Walker, and they don‘t seem to love workers‘ rights. They seem to love their tax cuts. Could that have been—is that just a coincidence or could that have something to do with these hearings and how they treated Governor Walker?
KUCINICH: Well, you know, I think that, you know, I don‘t want to impugn the position of any member of the committee, but I will say this, we understand that our republican friends continue to push for tax cuts as, you know, even they use the deficit as a cover to keep pushing for tax cuts. I mean, that‘s what my friend Paul Ryan is doing, but the attack on collective bargaining rights is a whole different phase in our democratic tradition. Because people have spent the last 70 years and more trying to have the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, the right to decent wages and benefits. The right to a safe workplace.
And that‘s all under attack right now. And it‘s totally ideological, and they‘re trying to crush workers in the middle class. And this was one moment, just one moment, Cenk. And when I was sitting there in that committee meeting, I was thinking about the thousands of people that I saw in Wisconsin, the thousands of people I stood with in Ohio, and the people, workers who are gathering all over America waiting for an opportunity to get an answer to the question, why did you go after collective bargaining? And today we proved it wasn‘t a fiscal issue at all.
UYGUR: All right. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, that was an important moment today, thank you so much for joining us and talking to us about it.
KUCINICH: I really appreciate being on your show. Thank you.
UYGUR: Thank you. Now, Private Bradley Manning has not been convicted for allegedly leaking classified government documents to Wikileaks. So, why is he locked up 23 hours a day, and stripped naked each night? P.J. Crowley quit his job at the state department after calling that as treatment ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid. He joins us in an exclusive interview, next.
UYGUR: We‘re going to talk about two things coming up. One is the con job of the day. Why did Chris Christie talk about taking a bat to a 76-year-old grandmother? That is not smart politics.
And also, very important case of Bradley Manning. Some people are calling it torture. We‘ve got a top state department official who‘s going to talk to us next about why he quit over it.
UYGUR: Public outcry is intensifying against the U.S. government treatment of Private Bradley Manning, he‘s the American soldier who has been held for nine months without trial at the Maximum Security Marine Brig in Quantico, charged with leaking classified government documents to Wikileaks. Now, almost 300 lawyers, law professors and authors have signed a letter protesting Manning‘s treatment calling it illegal and immoral. One of the signers is renown constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, who taught President Obama at Harvard and was an adviser in the Obama Justice Department until just a few months ago, but the U.S. government is showing no signs of relenting.
Bradley Manning was arrested last May, in July, he was charged with violations of federal criminal and military law. Since then, he has been detained in Quantico, and confined to his cell for 23 hours a day. For the one hour a day, he‘s allowed out of his cell, he‘s shackled and taken to a recreation room where he‘s allowed to walk around, but only alone. He‘s been repeatedly stripped and forced to sleep naked or in a smock. Military officials say that the measures are necessary, because Manning is on prevention of injury watch. But his lawyers say he‘s not suicidal and Brig psychiatrists have said there‘s no longer a medical reason for him to remain under that watch.
Throughout all of this, Manning hasn‘t been convicted of anything. His trial date hasn‘t even been set, but he‘s still being detained like one of our most dangerous convicted criminals. Just last month, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said, quote, “what is happening to Manny is ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid, and I don‘t know why the DOD is doing it.” Now, Look, I couldn‘t have set it better myself.
Crowley resigned after that, and he now joins me live from Washington. Thank you so much for joining us. And first, let‘s talk about your resignation. After you made those comments, I suspect that there was a little bit of an uproar. Is it definitely connected to your resignation?
P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, sure. I said what I said, I stand by what I said. I think that it‘s not smart. I‘m a believer in this prosecution, it‘s very important in this digital age to send a clear message to those who are entrusted with our vital secrets to protect them. And I think the government will have a strong case to make that Bradley Manning violated the trust that, you know, it was placed upon him. You know, that said, the credibility of this prosecution is being challenged because of his treatment at Quantico.
UYGUR: So let‘s talk about that. I mean, put it into context for people. Because a lot of people might think, oh, I don‘t know, leak, isn‘t that what you do. You put a guy, you know, in isolation for 23 hours, and then one hour he‘s allowed out. He also is not allowed to talk to anybody? I mean, is this really abnormal or is it perfectly normal as the government claims?
CROWLEY: Well, that‘s a good question. I mean, I certainly think that there are violent criminals for which you should have those kinds of cautions and precautions, but there‘s no evidence to me that, as you said in your opening, Cenk that Bradley Manning poses a risk to himself or anybody else. This is largely a white-collar crime, obviously with very profound, you know, consequences. A release of these two 51,000 cables touch on every relationship that the United States has around the world. It‘s of a scope and magnitude that is, you know, that is unprecedented. And we‘ve had leaks before, as a government, and we survived them as a government, but it‘s the scope of this that is astounding. The prosecution is necessary, we should do everything that we can to protect our secrets in the future, but we do have within or society a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
UYGUR: You know, you did something really dramatic. I mean, you were the state department‘s spokesperson. That‘s a huge job. And you called out the Department of Defense in a very, you know, strong manner. What was it about this case that drove you to say that?
CROWLEY: Well, I think it‘s recognizing that we operate today in a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, global media environment. Everything we do as the United States is subject to international scrutiny. We have to understand this environment, you have to learn to operate with this environment, and as we do thing, we have to understand the broader consequences of what we do. I recognize that in my position standing at a State Department podium every day that, as I enunciate U.S. policy, as I call out other countries, you know, to have transparent legal systems, to treat their prisoners, you know, with dignity and respect, we have to understand that we are—our actions will be under scrutiny at the same time. And it was this—the international reaction to what was happening to Bradley Manning that I understood and communicated that to the Pentagon.
UYGUR: Look, are we in trouble there? Because, you know, for so long the United States has been a beacon to the rest of the world. We have pushed for human rights. We‘re the once that created the United Nations. Now we‘re not allowing United Nation representatives to come meet him alone, which are sometimes authoritarian governments do. Why are we doing that? And why is the Obama administration doing this? I thought this was some of the stuff that he ran against.
CROWLEY: Well, I think we do in fact have to practice what we preach. If we want to have other countries cooperate with the United Nations on human rights, we have to be seen as doing the same thing. So, I think that the total the same category of a counterproductive action that you can explain perhaps in the short term, but has long-term negative consequences for the United States and our foreign policy around the world.
UYGUR: And P.J., talk to me about this. You know, when Ellsberg did the leaks, a lot of the country was seen as a hero, because he let us know what was going on, and, you know, it was important to figuring out in our democracy which way we should go. And he didn‘t have any of this. Now we‘ve got a leak and my God, the reaction is like he‘s the Unabomber. What‘s changed in this country for such a stark difference in that period of time?
CROWLEY: Well, let me be clear, I believe in this prosecution, I think it‘s important that we, you know, protect our secrets and I believe the leak of these documents to Wikileaks has in fact caused damage to the United States and our interests around the world. But at the same time, we have to be smart about how we exercise power, and I think that the actions at the Quantico Brig undercut the credibility and legitimacy and international perception of the prosecution that I think is actually quite necessary.
UYGUR: All right. P.J. Crowley, former State Department spokesperson, thank you so much for your time tonight.
CROWLEY: Pleasure, Cenk.
UYGUR: Now, up next. We‘ve got our con job of the day, Chris Christie, a New Jersey governor tells the media to quote, “take a bat” to a 76-year-old woman. We‘ll tell you why that is disastrous.
UYGUR: And now for our “con job of the day,” we turned to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the governor wants to end a practice that lets state politicians simultaneously collect a salary for one government job and a pension for another, except Christie doesn‘t criticize his political allies for the so-called double-dipping. In fact, when it was pointed out that a member of his cabinet both collects a salary and a pension, he said, quote, “the people of New Jersey have gotten an incredible bargain by Lou Goetting willing to leave the private sector and come back to the public sector eight years after he left it.” But he has a very different tone for his political opponents. Christie blasted a double-dipping democratic state senator, 76-year-old Loretta Weinberg for saying Christie attacks people like her but let‘s his pulse off easy. And he used some very colorful language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: I mean, can you guys please take the bat out on her for once? I mean, here‘s a woman who knows she did it. Yet she comes to you and is pining about, oh, my goodness, how awful this is, what a double standard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: This guy thinks he‘s a rock star on YouTube. So, he‘s like, oh, I‘m going to say something more outrageous. Well, look, to the substance. When a Christie ally collects a pension and a salary, the people of New Jersey are getting a great deal, but when a political opponent says the governor is hypocritical, Christie tells the media to take a bat to her. Come on, she‘s a 76-year-old grandmother. I don‘t know what‘s more egregious. Christie‘s unbelievable double standard or is complete lack of tact. For example, I really disagree with Margaret Thatcher. I wouldn‘t tell you to take a bat to her, that‘s crazy talk, but it‘s Christie‘s hypocrisy that wins out con job of the day. Congratulations Mr. Governor.
All right. Now, I want to thank you for watching and I want to also tell you that you can follow me online at TheYoungTurks.com on YouTube at The Young Turks, on Facebook at TYT/Nation, and on Twitter at The Young Turks. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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