Skip navigation

Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday, April 18th, 2011

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

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Ed Rendell, Ezra Klein, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Steve Kornacki, Dave

Weigel, Sally Kohn

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Cenk Uygur. 

Today, the Democrats have taken the fight to the Republicans.   Hey, will you look at that?  That‘s awesome.  They‘re battling them on the GOP plan to destroy Medicare.

President Obama blasted Paul Ryan‘s budget this weekend. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It‘s a vision that says in order to reduce the deficit, we have to end Medicare as we know it and make cuts to Medicaid that would leave millions of seniors, poor children, and Americans with disabilities without the care they need. 


UYGUR:  The president will be taking that exact message around the country this week in a hope to educate voters. 

Today he‘s giving local television interviews to stations in Denver;

Raleigh, North Carolina; Dallas and Indianapolis.  Tomorrow, he takes his message to a Republican state he won in 2008 with a town hall in Virginia.  And on Wednesday, he‘ll hold an interactive town hall at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.  And on Thursday, he heads to Reno, Nevada. 

He‘s going everywhere.  He‘s not playing anymore. 

Democratic lawmakers are also pushing the message that Ryan plan is a Medicare killer. 

All right.  Apparently they are, but we don‘t have that video.  Trust me that they definitely are. 

All right.  Now, it‘s about time that Obama and the fellow Democrats counterattack.  Of course, the GOP is complaining that the Democrats aren‘t being nice to them. 

But wait a minute, those were the same guys who had this quote on the opening page of Ryan‘s budget plan: “Where the president has failed, House Republicans will lead.”

What, you can accuse him of failing, but if he fights back, you cry over it?  Well, there‘s another reason why the counterattack is so important. 

Now, look, take a look at how people perceive Ryan‘s budget before and after they are told what‘s in it.  Pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found 48 percent supported Ryan‘s plan when just told that it trimmed spending and 33 percent opposed it.  Now, those are really good numbers for the Republicans. 

But when told what Ryan‘s plan really does, which is to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and repeal part of health care reform, and make major cuts to Medicare, support plummeted.  Then, only 36 percent backed the plan and 56 percent opposed it. 

Now, look what happens when people find out what the plan actually does.  That‘s a 23-point swing against the Ryan budget.  In the end, when they knew all of the details of the plan, 66 percent—that‘s two-thirds of the country—have “serious doubts” about the plan. 

Now, that‘s why President Obama and the Democrats have to hit the road and tell the country what this fight is actually about.  This isn‘t just about politics, this is the only way they can actually save Medicare and Medicaid. 

Joining me now, NBC News political analyst and form Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.  Also with me, reporter for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor, Ezra Klein. 

Great to have you guys here. 


UYGUR:  All right.  Great.

Well, my guess is, Governor Rendell, you‘re in favor of taking the fight to them. 

RENDELL:  Absolutely.  It‘s long overdue. 

I mean, you know, the Republicans always raise the specter of class warfare.  This isn‘t class warfare, this is about sharing the pain, it‘s about fundamental fairness.  And there is no fairness in the Ryan budget, none whatsoever.  And there‘s no fairness in our current tax structure. 

UYGUR:  Ezra, let‘s talk about Medicare and what the Ryan plan would do. 

It looks like the CBO, which is nonpartisan, says by 2030, that people would have to put in 68 percent of the costs of their Medicare, as opposed to if we left it alone, it would be 25 percent.  So that‘s gigantic difference.  I mean, can people even afford to put 68 percent of their health care costs in these things? 

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  It‘s actually a bit worse than that.  What CBO found is not just that you‘d have to pay about 70 percent of your Medicare under the Ryan plan, while under normal Medicaid, you pay between 25 to 30 percent, it‘s that the insurance offered by the Ryan plan, because it moves over to the private market where there are more middlemen, higher administrative costs, the insurance would actually be pricier.  So you would be paying more for less insurance under the Ryan plan than you would under traditional Medicare. 

And that‘s very important.  And what the Ryan plan does is it shifts costs over to seniors.  It doesn‘t control costs in the health care sector, which is ultimately the only thing that would be a sustainable solution to our deficit problem. 

UYGUR:  You know, one more quick follow-up on that, Ezra.  I‘m also reading that insurance companies have no interest in it.  They don‘t want to insure older people who are more likely to get sick.  So, is there some chance that even if you got the voucher that Ryan is talking about, as little as it is, that they might not insure you anyway?

KLEIN:  You can always pay an insurance company enough to insure somebody.  In Medicare, we do it now.  It‘s a program called Medicare Advantage, and private HMOs get to participate. 

The idea of Medicare Advantage is it would be cheaper, and so it would cost the same as Medicare but give people vastly more benefits.  That failed. 

Medicare Advantage costs about 120 percent, as much as traditional Medicare.  And one of the ways that we paid for health care reform and one of the health care reform savings that Ryan keeps in his budget is that it ratchets those savings back. 

So the big experiment we did, trying to create a private market in Medicare, and seeing if that was cheaper, it failed.  It turned out to be much more expensive.

UYGUR:  Right.  And I thought the free market would solve everything. 

It turns out it doesn‘t.  Wow.  Shocking. 

All right.  Now, Governor Rendell, let‘s talk about the politics of this a little bit, because the Republicans are running for the hills here, at least some of the 2012 candidates.  Let me show you a video of Tim Pawlenty when he‘s asked about this and I‘ll have you react. 


TIM PAWLENTY ®, FMR. MINNESOTA GOVERNOR:  I like Paul Ryan‘s plan directionally.  I don‘t think it‘s fully filled out in terms of the fact that we still have to address Social Security.  And when we issue our plan later in this process, it will have some differences. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s put the Medicare cuts in his plan that he keeps from Obamacare? 

PAWLENTY:  Anybody else have a question besides this guy? 


UYGUR:  Apparently they don‘t like Think Progress‘ questions, but it was a very important and fair question. 

So, are the Republican candidates in some trouble here, stuck between Ryan‘s plan and what the American people actually want? 

RENDELL:  Yes, I think they‘re in big trouble.  And I think a lot of congressmen who voted for the Ryan plan last Friday have got a lot of explaining to do in 2012. 

And I think swing districts in Bucks County, in Delaware County, in suburban Philadelphia, and even Montgomery County, those congressmen are going to have a lot of explaining to do to senior citizens.  I think they may have voted themselves out of office. 

And, you know, it made no sense.  It made no sense. 

Now, you‘ll start seeing retreats, and “I didn‘t know the details,” and, “No, I‘m for the concept, but not really for all the details of the plan.”  It‘s baloney. 

The plan doesn‘t work because it changes what is a fundamental entitlement that makes this country different than all other countries in the globe, number one.  And number two, it fails because it‘s unfair.  It gives significant tax benefits to the rich and to wealthy corporations. 

Do you know, Cenk, that right now, right now, 58 percent of corporations that are foreign-owned pay no income taxes in the U.S. when they do business here?  And 34 percent of U.S. corporations pay no income tax doing business, of course, in the United States. 

That‘s shocking.  Shocking. 

UYGUR:  Yes.  They always talk about shared sacrifice, but when it comes to shared sacrifice for the rich or for the corporations, all of a sudden, they‘re not interested in that.  It‘s really strange. 

But, Ezra, on the politics of Medicare, the Republicans might be even in more trouble than they suspect because in 2010, their base was actually senior citizens, right?  I mean, they came out to really vote for them.  If they jeopardize that, how much trouble are they in? 

KLEIN:  Right.  So the Republican Party is more reliant on the senior vote than they have been in many, many decades. 

It‘s actually interesting, I think.  2008 was the first election in decades where the average Republican was older than the average Democrat.  And that‘s simply accelerating. 

The Republicans got 58 percent of the senior vote in 2010.  In 2008, seniors were the only age group that went for John McCain.  So that has created a little bit of asymmetry of interest here. 

The Republicans now have the senior vote, but they don‘t like entitlements.  Previously, Democrats had the senior vote and they did like entitlements.  That made life a little bit simpler for them.

So Republicans are going to have a lot of explaining to do to seniors, who they attracted in 2010 by attacking the Medicare cuts in the health care bill.  They even have what they call the Seniors Health Care Bill of Rights protecting them from these Medicare cuts, but now they have brought all of those Medicare cuts into the Ryan plan and stacked on top of them more Medicare cuts and privatization, and that‘s going to create an interesting set of conversations around the country I think in 2012. 

UYGUR:  And finally, Governor Rendell, you know, as Ezra explained a little earlier, Medicare Advantage didn‘t work, it‘s inefficient.  You want to get rid of that, get some savings, that makes perfect sense.  But, otherwise, cutting Medicare, or agreeing to cut Medicare, as the Republicans want, would seem to let the Republicans off the hook here, right? 

The Democrats aren‘t going to do that, are they? 

RENDELL:  No, but I think we need to reform some aspects of Medicare.  One thing I‘d like the president to pursue, and he‘s starting to give signals that he will, is to use the federal government‘s leverage buying power, tremendous leverage buying power to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals for Medicare and for every aspect of our health care system. 

UYGUR:  I would love that.  Oh, I would love that.  But I thought that that was—

RENDELL:  We can ratchet down costs in Medicare by just doing that one thing. 

UYGUR:  No, no, absolutely.  And I‘m 100 percent on board for that.  But I thought that part of the deal that they struck in health care reform was that they could not negotiate with those drug companies. 

RENDELL:  Go ahead, Ezra.   You want to take a shot at that? 

KLEIN:  If I could jump in, in the budget plan the president announced last week, there‘s actually a couple of things horning in on that deal.  The big one, I think, is he announced in the plan that he would like to reduce the amount of time that biologic drugs can be exclusive, from 12 years to 7.  This was part of one of these pharmaceutical deals, but it would save a ton of money if you get generics and this expensive new costs of drugs on to the market more quickly.  And it‘s something that until now, we‘ve not seen any willingness from the White House to do.  But in the face of more deficit concerns, they have become much more interested in it all of a sudden. 

UYGUR:  Right.

RENDELL:  And Cenk, I think it‘s important that we realize, we Democrats realize, that, yes, we‘ve got to wring some savings out of Medicare and Medicaid without destroying the fundamental entitlement of those programs, and we can do it. 

UYGUR:  No, and I agree with you.  Look, when it comes to Medicare Advantage, as Ezra pointed out, when it comes to negotiating for lower drug prices that you pointed out, Governor, absolutely.  That makes all the sense in the world.  I just don‘t want fundamental cuts to Medicare. 

So, great to have this conversation with both of you.  Thank you so much for joining us. 

RENDELL:  Thanks, Cenk. 

KLEIN:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  All right.

That was of course Governor Rendell and Ezra Klein from “The Washington Post.”

Now, ahead, outrage growing over this racist picture.  A GOP party official in California sent it in an e-mail.  Of course, people are calling for an immediate resignation.  What‘s her response?  Well, it only adds to the outrage. 

And forget about this man being Obama‘s worst nightmare.  He‘s fast becoming the GOP‘s worst nightmare.  Donald Trump is getting into fights with Karl Rove, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney.  But that other candidate still craves the spotlight. 


SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR:  Win the future?  WTF is about right. 


UYGUR:  Oh, that‘s great.  I can‘t wait to tell you all about this circus in just a minute. 



REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  We are taxed enough already. 

We are taxed enough already.  You‘re exactly right.  Don‘t stop saying it. 


UYGUR:  Nonsense.  Now, today‘s Tax Day, and Republicans have been telling you for 30 years that Americans pay too much taxes.  What‘s their favorite quote?  Say it with me: “We don‘t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”

I‘ve heard it a million times.  But I‘m going to show you why that makes no sense right now. 

Look, first, let‘s start with Joe Walsh.  He‘s a representative, and he hit the same exact notes this week on ABC‘s “This Week.”


REP. JOE WALSH ®, ILLINOIS:  In the ‘80s, government revenues went up.  We didn‘t cut spending.  Revenues went up in the ‘80s.  Every time we‘ve cut taxes, revenues have gone up.  The economy—


UYGUR:  Not remotely true.  I‘m going to show you in a second, but I want to show you that it‘s all the Republicans. 

Now, here is Mitch McConnell—of course, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate.  He says, “There is no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue.  They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy.” 

Wrong again.  Let me show you the real results of those tax cuts. 

First, let me give you somebody that was in the Bush administration.  This is Alan Viard.  He‘s a senior economist for—he was a senior economist for President George W. Bush. 

He says, “Federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts.  There‘s really no dispute among economists about that.”

OK.  So there‘s a Bush economist saying no dispute, they‘re lower than they would have been. 

Now, for example, what happened in the Bush years after the giant tax cuts in 2001 and 2003?  Well, let‘s take a look. 

As you see—and by the way, this is from Bruce Bartlett, who was a Reagan economist.  What happens?  Revenue goes down.  It goes from $2.3 trillion, to $2.2 trillion, $2.0 trillion, $1.9 trillion, et cetera. 

And as a percentage of GDP, it plummets from 20.6, all the way down to

16.1.     So what happens?  Revenue goes down.  How clear does it have to be? 

But, look, these tax cuts, they didn‘t help everybody.  They had a very specific purpose—to help the very rich. 

As Leona Helmsley once said—here, we‘ll give you the quote—she said, “We don‘t pay taxes.  Only the little people pay taxes.” 

Well, unfortunately, a lot of times that is true, because look at the top 400 earners in the country.  Their average income went up 392 percent.  That was since 1992 to 2007.  But their tax rate went down 37 percent. 

We don‘t pay taxes.  That‘s only for the little people.  All right. 

Now, how much savings did they get from the Bush tax cuts just in the last year, the very rich?  Well, let‘s take a look. 

They got $146,000 in annual savings for the wealthiest 0.1 percent. 

Did it help everybody?  No.  Did it help the very rich?  Absolutely. 

Did it decrease revenues?  Absolutely. 

Are other people concerned?  Absolutely. 

You know who else is one of those guys concerned?  Alan Greenspan. 

Let‘s listen. 


ALAN GREENSPAN, FMR. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN:  I think this crisis is so imminent and so difficult, that I think we have to allow the so-called Bush tax cuts all to expire. 

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  So you say let them expire for everybody --  

GREENSPAN:  Everybody. 

GREGORY:  -- go back to Clinton-era rates? 



UYGUR:  Even Alan Greenspan is saying we‘ve got a revenue problem, you‘ve got to let the Bush tax cuts expire. 

Will they listen to that?  Of course not. 

So let me try one last thing—their hero, Ronald Reagan.  Now, he wouldn‘t talk about raising taxes on corporations, would he?  He wouldn‘t talk about them paying their fair share, would he? 

Well, let‘s watch. 


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Flatter rates will be more reward for that extra effort and vanishing loopholes, and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share. 


UYGUR:  Reagan is saying even corporations should pay their fair share.  Is that enough for you?  Probably not.  You‘ll still get people like Michele Bachmann and Joe Walsh and Mitch McConnell going out there saying, under no circumstances can you tax our best friends, corporate America and the richest 0.1 percent.  They‘re making so much money, and they bring some of that to the Republican Party. 

Oh, did I say that out loud?  That‘s what the real plan is on Tax Day. 

All right.  Joining me now is Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of “The Nation.”


UYGUR:  Katrina, how are we going to turn this around?  For 30 years they have been pounding this message, you know, it‘s not—we don‘t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem, taxes are too high.  Historically, they‘re at near-record lows. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Near-record lows. 

UYGUR:  So how do we win?  How do we get that message across? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, first of all, I think it‘s important that this Tax Day, 2011, that a lot of media and people‘s attention not fixed on the Tea Party story, but fixed on corporate tax evaders and millionaires and billionaires who aren‘t paying their fair share.  That‘s the beginning.

Then we need a strong social movement to change this debate on taxes and budgets.  And there are movements around the country. 

US Uncut, which is talking about getting corporate tax evaders to pay their fair share so that the budgets in this country are not balanced on the backs of the working poor and the working people.  There are groups like Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength and Responsible Wealth.  These are people with means who are saying, what are you talking about? 

President Eisenhower—get some history—President Eisenhower had a marginal tax rate of 90 percent on the wealthiest.  In 1976, it was 70 percent.  We may not be there, but let‘s have some rationality, because we do have a revenue problem in this country. 

UYGUR:  Well, Eisenhower, of course, Katrina—

VANDEN HEUVEL:  He would be driven out of town, right?  Subversive. 

UYGUR:  The minute he‘d say military industrial complex, they‘d say this guy is Dennis Kucinich.  But, you know, he‘s the last Republican president that balanced the budget.  So it‘s funny that you mentioned that.

But you know what?  I want to show you a graph here, because I think it‘s very telling. 


UYGUR:  It‘s the difference between corporate taxes and individual taxes, because as you‘ll see in this graph, corporate taxes take a nosedive. 


UYGUR:  OK?  You see the corporate taxes are the ones in red, and they go way down, down, down as a percentage of the taxes paid by the whole country. 

Now, what goes up?  What‘s that big yellow line going up?  That‘s your payroll tax, because you pay that.  As a percentage of taxes paid, payroll tax goes through the roof.  That hurts the middle class the most. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  All right.  So here‘s the thing. 

In 1949, corporations were paying 49 percent on their profits, and the middle class was growing strong.  Today, we have a society in which all the risks have been passed on to working people, and the kind of private benefits are with the rich. 

Corporate tax evasion is a result of an armada of lawyers and accountants working to take back from the people of this country the revenues they are owed.  This needs to change, as do Bush tax cuts must be ended for the very rich -- $700 billion in revenues lost over a decade, Cenk, if we don‘t change that. 

Finally, investment income must be taxed like ordinary income.  Why should capital gains and dividends be taxed at 15 percent? 

UYGUR:  It‘s a crime.  It‘s a crime.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Why should hedge funders be taxed for so-called carried interest at 15 percent? 

And let me give you my favorite—GRATs, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts.  Don‘t let the rich have those for less than 10 years, because they are getting away with murder. 

UYGUR:  Look, let me give the audience some perspective here.  OK?

The richest guys in the world, as Katrina is talking about, the hedge fund guys, that‘s their income.  It‘s not an investment, it‘s their income.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Income.  It‘s paper (ph).

UYGUR:  And they‘re being taxed at 15 percent lower than you.  Why? 

That doesn‘t make any sense. 

And let me give you a sense of the problem here. 

You know how we just went through all this pain cutting the $38.5 billion out of the budget?  Do you know that if we just did not renew the Bush tax cuts for one year for the top two percent, just that portion—there were so many other tax cuts, but just that portion—it would have saved $42 billion. 

Look at that.  Then we wouldn‘t have needed any of the cuts if we just didn‘t give the top two percent yet another tax cut for yet another year. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  All right.  But, Cenk, here‘s the problem.  There are such good policies.  We know what works, but it‘s the politics. 

These policies don‘t arise out of immaculate conception.  You‘ve got money, lobbyist money, private interest, wealthy money sloshing around our political system, buying the system for the wealthy. 

We are now in a Gilded Age on steroids, unprecedented in equality.  We have a jobless crisis, not a deficit crisis. 

And all of this is happening at a moment when the debate inside Washington is suffocatingly narrow.  And we need the movements to break through on this issue, taxes and others. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, last thing for you, Katrina, that‘s the problem, right?  Because we don‘t have anybody representing the progressive point of view. 


UYGUR:  No.  Look, wait a minute now.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  We have Progressive Caucus People‘s Budget.  Go read it. 

UYGUR:  No, no, I love that budget.  We‘ve talked about that on the show.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But it doesn‘t have the power.

UYGUR:  Right. 

So, what I‘m saying—look, the progressive caucus budget, she‘s right.   We‘ve talked about it on the show before.  You should definitely read it.  It‘s fantastic.  A lot of things that Katrina was talking about here. 

But look, you‘ve got the Republicans who are corporate robots to the nth degree.  Of course this is their whole plan, right?  But then when you go to the Democrats, they agreed to the terms of the debate.  So what do you do with those Democrats? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, you know what I don‘t get?  You have a moment here where the Democrats could come and stand on the side of the people, and they‘re standing somewhere in between, and we need a vision. 

We need not to fight on the Republicans‘ terrain, but we need to reset the terms of the debate.  A lot of that is the money in the system.  There are other factors.  But until we get that money out of the system, you‘re going to have a politics that is not of the people, for the people, by the people, but of the one percent, for the one percent, by the one percent, as Joseph Stiglitz wrote. 

UYGUR:  A hundred percent right.  We need clean elections.  There‘s no other way.  It‘s the most important issue.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  It‘s one of the most important, yes. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of “The Nation.”

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  Thank you so much for joining us. 

Now, coming up, our “Con Job of the Day.”  Governor Scott Walker pledged not to raise taxes on people in Wisconsin.  Well, it turns out he will raise taxes.  But don‘t worry.   He only wants to target poor people. 

You‘ll be shocked who his tax cuts actually benefit.  No, you won‘t. 


UYGUR:  And now for our con job of the day.  We turn to our favorite union boxing governor, Wisconsin Scott Walker.  Last year when Walker was running for governor, he signed a pledge to oppose all tax hikes when he went into office.  He also promised to do the same exact thing in his campaign ads. 


GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  Do you want less government and lower taxes?  I‘m Scott walker and I know how to get the job done. 


UYGUR:  But it turns out, Walker will in fact raise taxes.  Of course it won‘t be on the rich, but it turns out he has no problem raising taxes on the average guy.  According to the state legislative fiscal bureau, Walker‘s budget will cut an income tax credit for poor families and roll back a rebate for low income homeowners.  Those changes will add up to raising taxes for low and middle income residents by $49.4 million over two years.  But the budget will provide $83.3 million in tax cuts, that‘s mostly for businesses and investors. 

So, of course, big business gets a tax break, but the poor will see their taxes go up.  He doesn‘t mind raising taxes, as long as it‘s not on the rich.  Walker claims his budget doesn‘t technically raise taxes because he‘s ending tax credits, not imposing new taxes.  And the tax credits he happens to be ending, just happen to be for poor people and the middle class.  What could he do, it‘s just a funny coincidence.  Walker‘s promise to lower taxes for everybody, which turned out to be lowering taxes only for the rich, is our con job of the day. 

Now, civil war breaks out within the Republican Party.  It‘s the Donald versus everyone else.  He‘s picking fights with Romney, Eric Cantor and Karl Rove.  But guess who else joins the fight?  Sarah Palin off the top row and onto the head of the GOP establishment.  Man, this is fun.  All of their angry quotes when we come back. 

Plus,‘s David Weigel and Steve Kornacki on the Republicans ripping each other apart.  That‘s next.                    


UYGUR:  It‘s official, we‘ve got a war within the Republican Party.  That must mean that the 2012 race has started in earnest.  Ladies and gentleman, start your engines.  This time the fight is between Donald Trump and the GOP establishment, and it‘s ugly.  When Trump first jumped into the 2012 discussion, it looked like he was just trying to get attention.  But now that he‘s at or near the top of just about every poll out there, the GOP is getting scared and they have started a full-scale war against Trump.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took the first shot last week painting Trump as a joke. 


REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  I don‘t think he is really serious when we see a campaign launch on the birther issue. 


UYGUR:  What do you think Trump is going to do about that?  Do you think he‘s going to just sit back and take that?  No way, of course he‘s going to fire back.  So over the weekend, he told Talking Points Memo just what he thought of Eric Cantor. 


DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR:  And I think it‘s a very bad thing for Cantor to have done because I will tell you, people love this issue, especially in the Republican Party.  And there‘s something to what we‘re saying. 


UYGUR:  This is like the WWE now.  Then Trump takes a chair out of nowhere and swings it at Romney. 


TRUMP:  Mitt Romney is a basically small business guy.  If you really think about it.  He was a Hedge Fund, he was a fund guy, he walked away with some money from a very good company that he didn‘t create.  He would buy companies, he‘d close companies and get rid of the jobs.  I have thousands and thousands of jobs that I‘ve created over the years.  My net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney. 


UYGUR:  Yes, yes, yes, I got it, you‘re rich.  I think he‘s totally full of it, by the way, on how much money he has.  But even if it‘s true, is that like a real selling point in an election?  Ha ha, I‘m richer than you, so vote for me?  I don‘t get that strategy.  But maybe the Republicans are actually scared of his money and his poll numbers, because The Weekly Standard Stephen Hayes then randomly jumped in the ring and hit the Donald over the head.  


STEPHEN HAYES, COLUMNIST, THE WEEKLY STANDARD:  The problem I think he has is that he‘s sort of a clownish figure.  He doesn‘t really have any ideas.  He was supporting Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama two years ago.  He‘s been on every side of every issue in every conceivable political position over the past decade.  


UYGUR:  Now, remember The Weekly Standard is the bastion of neo-cons, so apparently they‘re not on the Trump bandwagon.  But then out of nowhere, here comes the big guy, the reigning king of the GOP establishment.  Off the top rope. 


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR:  His full embrace of the birther issue means that he‘s off there in the nutty right and is now an inconsequential candidate.  I‘m shocked.  The guy is smarter than this.  And, you know, the idea that President Obama was not born in Hawaii, you know, making that the centerpiece of his campaign means that he‘s, you know, now, you know, just a joke candidate. 


UYGUR:  Remember, like Snooker would do the full body slam but a lot of guys go from the top rope in wrestling, and they do elbow from the sky.  That‘s what Rove just did and the Donald is reeling.  But just like in wrestling when you sometimes can‘t tell who‘s hitting who and sometimes they hit the wrong guy, Rove even accidentally helped the president while swinging away at Trump.  


ROVE:  Now in his weird conspiracy theories, same thing that people, you know, none of his family knows what hospital he was born in at Hawaii.  Wait a minute, you know, yes, his family knows what hospital he was born at.  Nobody knows him in college.  One of my White House deputies was a classmate of Barack Obama at Harvard and they get him elected the law review editor.  


UYGUR:  So that‘s it, right?  I mean, the Donald must be knocked out by now.  Oh, no, here he comes again, watch out, Rove!


TRUMP:  I heard Karl Rove today on television.  It was terrible.  He was so against me, because I am questioning.  All I want to do is see this guy‘s birth certificate.  Republicans have to be very careful of that.  Because obviously Karl Rove didn‘t do very well the last couple of years in the Bush administration because, hey, whether you like him or not, George Bush gave us Obama, and I‘m not happy about it. 


UYGUR:  So we‘ve got ourselves a full-scale civil war within the GOP.  There‘s nothing more fun than when Republicans attack one another.  Because Democrats wouldn‘t be half as vicious to them as they are to each other.  But someone is feeling left out of this parade.  So here comes Sarah.  She wouldn‘t want to get left out of all the fun, so she hit the GOP establishment guys from the other side.  So this weekend at a tax day Tea Party rally in Madison, Wisconsin, she showed that like Trump, she‘s not afraid to take on the Republican Party. 


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  And yes, I‘ll take on the GOP establishment.  What more can they say about us, you know?  We didn‘t elect you just to rearrange the deck chairs on a sinking titanic.  We didn‘t elect you just to stand back and watch Obama redistribute those deck chairs.  What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight. 


UYGUR:  I love this, it‘s just like wrestling.  You know, like when they zoom to the, you know, who‘s coming out of the locker room and you hear the music and then it‘s like, uh-oh, there‘s Sarah and she‘s helping Trump.  Oh, my gosh, he hit Rove.  It‘s so much fun.  But the other way to look at this, is basically it‘s Sarah Palin saying, hey, wait a minute, I‘m the real fake candidate in this race.  If you‘re going to attack anyone with a reality TV show, it should be me.  All right, Sarah, we got you, we got you. 

All right.  Now, joining me is MSNBC contributor and Slate Political reporter Dave Weigel, author of recent piece called “Enter the Donald, Take Two.”  And also with me is political columnist for, Steve Kornacki who also just wrote an article on Trump called “Is the right finally turning on trump.”  So, Steve, let‘s start right there.  Man, they seem pretty mad at Trump.  That was fascinating.  Why are they so mad at Trump?

STEVE KORNACKI, COLUMNIST, SALON.COM:  Well, I mean, I think it‘s amazing what a couple of polls will do when they show a guy like Donald Trump suddenly, you know, taking the lead and even starting to put some distance between himself and the rest of the pack.  I mean, I think everybody‘s instinct in politics, republican, democrat, media, for the last few months is, OK.  You know, it‘s just another Donald Trump publicity stunt.  But he‘s carried this to a length I think so far the people weren‘t quite expecting.  He‘s done it with this very, you know, controversial rhetoric over birtherism.  And then when he starts taking off in the polls like that, there‘s the immediate concern of what is this doing to the Republican Party brand right now.  And then it starts to enter their minds a little bit.  If this guy ever got close to the nomination, if this guy ever got for being won the nomination, this is an absolute catastrophe for us in the fall.  And, you know, I think they went through this a few months ago, Sarah Palin, a lot of those things. 

UYGUR:  Why?  Can I just stay on their.

KORNACKI:  Same reason.  They woke up after the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans did, and they did very well but they left seats on the table because in some of these key high profile Senate races, it‘s like in Delaware with Christine O‘Donnell, Nevada with Sharron Angle, they nominated fundamentally unelectable candidates.  They looked at Sarah Palin and they saw the same ingredients in place, and so they rose up against her, sort of subtly in many cases, and they delivered the message to the conservatives, they don‘t what to go near her in 2012.  I think they‘re doing it now with Trump.  

UYGUR:  So there is a real fight between that base and the GOP establishment.  It‘s not fake, that‘s real.  And Dave, let me turn to you here.  Are they right about Trump?  Because, you know, Trump has said many curious things in the past, given what he‘s saying now.  You know, he said that Barack Obama could be a great president.  He said, before he said Obama was the worst president, he said Bush was the worst president, et cetera, et cetera.  Are they right about Trump?  Does he, you know, does he not know what he‘s talking about?

DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, you know, more importantly, in 2000 when he thought about running for president under the reform party ticket, if you remember that, he was for universal health care, he was for a one-time enormous surtax on people make, not making more, worth than $10 million.  So, when you hear somebody like Steve Hayes say, he‘s been on every side of every issue, that‘s what he‘s referring to.  If you, saw with the club for growth said today, the very influential, I mean, when we talk about Tea Party candidates, we used to talk about the club for growth.  These guys who bundle money for conservative candidates. 

They came out against Trump this morning saying, look, he‘s on the record for an enormous, I think 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods.  He says, we can drive the price of oil down to 40 or $50.  I guess that means going back in time and killing more ferns so they become oil.  We just can‘t have this guy take over so much of our debate, because we Republicans are having a pretty good political debate we thought before this guy barreled into it.  

UYGUR:  Yes, you know, the thing is he‘s also clownish in so many different ways.  And I guess, he‘s saying, if we go into Libya, we‘ll just take their oil. 

WEIGEL:  Yes.  Honest. 

UYGUR:  Yes.  I guess it‘s honest in a way.  He says that if he went in the room with OPEC, he could just rough talk them and they‘d give him better prices.  That‘s not how the real world works.  It reminds me of Bush when he said, I wish I had a magic wand that said low gas, right?  There is no magic wand, Donald.  So, but, look, turning back to the other candidates, he‘s sucking all the oxygen out of the room.  And Pawlenty is trying to compete with goofy jokes.  Let me show you another once, I‘m obsessed with Pawlenty.  Let‘s show you a joke here and then come back and talk about it. 


TIM PAWLENTY ®, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR:  I know Donald trump is getting a lot of attention.  The one thing that I think we could embrace from his other TV show, “The Apprentice,” then we should tell President Obama in 2012, you‘re fired.  I‘m not one to question the authenticity of Barack Obama‘s birth certificate, but when you look at his policies, I do question what planet he‘s from.  You‘ve got to give him credit for at least this.  He‘s proven that somebody deserves a Nobel Prize less than Al Gore. 


UYGUR:  Steve, now he‘s reminds me of Bush.  We should tell him, you‘re fired.  

KORNACKI:  You just need Ed McMahon off camera with the Hi ho (ph). 

UYGUR:  Hi ho.

KORNACKI:  He‘s hired like every Republicans—and they need to hire at least one more speechwriter, I think. 

UYGUR:  Right.  No, but Dave, that‘s the thing.  I want to ask both you guys. 


UYGUR:  I mean, are guys like Pawlenty in a lot of trouble, because they can‘t get any attention and they have got to get desperate and make these terrible, cheesy jokes?  Or maybe that‘s just the way Pawlenty is.  But isn‘t a kind of embarrassing for a so-called legitimate candidate to be getting his house cleaned by Trump?

WEIGEL:  Well, I want to hear what Steve thinks too.  Because I think he and I both wasted a number of hours in 2007 covering Rudy Giuliani, who basically existed to take a lot of flak, get a lot of coverage and then implode before the primaries happened, so that people, you know, other candidates didn‘t get as much attention.  They got some.  They got some scrutiny, but remember, Mike Huckabee basically dodging all real scrutiny until he won the Iowa caucuses.  So there is an advantage in a kind of weird backwards way to having a couple of guys out there taking all the flak for months, you know... 


UYGUR:  Real quick, Steve, let me actually go on because that‘s real interesting.  I think that‘s what Huckabee is doing here.  I think he‘s letting then punch each other out and then he‘s going to come in at the end.  

KORNACKI:  Well, I think, if you‘re Mitt Romney or you‘re Tim Pawlenty, you‘re feeling good about what‘s happening right now because not only is the conservative establishment is mobilizing to try to marginalize Donald Trump like they did with Sarah Palin, it‘s a signal that they‘re going to do that to other candidates who emerge in the next few months and pose the same threat.  And at the end, maybe that means that Romney or Pawlenty, maybe that‘s how they survive.  They get that.  

UYGUR:  That‘s exactly right.  Romney has got the real money behind him.  That‘s what‘s going on.  Dave Weigel from Slate, Steve Kornacki from, thank you both for joining us.  Great discussion.  

All right.  Now, next, are liberals more tolerant than conservatives?  And if they are, is that a huge disadvantage?  We‘re going to have a real interesting conversation about that.        


UYGUR:  Are liberals too tolerant?  And is it not the fault of their leaders, but in fact the voters on the democratic side for that tolerance which leads to bad negotiation.  That‘s a really interesting conversation and that‘s what we‘re going to talk about when we come back. 


UYGUR:  Now, a lot of people are under the impression that the Democrats get their ass handed to them during almost every negotiation lately with the Republicans.  Honestly, I‘m among those people.  If you watch this show, you know.  So why does that happen?  Could it be because liberals are too tolerant?  That‘s an interesting theory.  And it‘s one that was put forward by our next guest.

Sally Kohn is the founder and chief education officer of the Movement Vision Lab and she recently wrote about this phenomenon in “The Washington Post.”  Sally, welcome.  

SALLY KOHN, MOVEMENT VISION LAB:  Thanks for having me.  

UYGUR:  It‘s great to have you.  I actually want to start with one of your quotes from the article because I thought it was really interesting and then have you respond.  As quote number two here on tolerance versus intolerance.  You say in any given fight, tolerance is benevolent while intolerance gets in good punches.  Tolerance plays by the rules while intolerance fights dirty.  The result is round after round of knockouts against liberals who think they‘re high and mighty for being open-minded but who politically and ideologically are simply suckers.  Now, a lot of people will find that to be tough language.  Do you really think that.  

KOHN:  I‘ve got e-mails from most of them, yes, I know.  

UYGUR:  Do you think that they‘re being suckers here?  And is it because they‘re being too tolerant?

KOHN:  Yes.  I mean, let‘s be clear.  So, research going back to the 1930s shows that liberals, people who have liberal political opinions are in ridiculously more likely to be tolerant, open-minded, interested in seeking out new experiences than their conservative counterparts.  Now, let‘s be clear because I know the first thing I‘ll get an e-mail on, when I‘ll get on this, I don‘t mean all liberals are tolerant.  Not all of them.  And I don‘t mean all conservatives.

UYGUR:  No, probably intolerant.

KOHN:  But this is—and I thank you for bucking the trend.  But, you know, look, tolerance is a really great quality when it comes to being social at a cocktail party.  But when you‘re in a political fight, particularly with a Republican Party that is increasingly extremist and intolerant, it‘s not helpful, in fact, it really does just makes you a sucker.  

UYGUR:  Well, I hear you on that but I feel like there‘s a difference, right?  Because I fancy myself tolerant, putting the kidding aside.  You know, I‘m open-minded and I‘m open to change.  You know, conservatives like things as they are, they‘re not as open to change.  That makes sense, I get that, right?  But at the same time, I know when to draw the line.  But these guys never seem to draw the line.  But we were always this way, I mean, progressives were winning in the ‘70s, certainly we‘re winning in the ‘30s.  And I would say ‘30s through ‘70s.  What happened?  What changed?

KOHN:  I mean, I think that the very nature of our political opposition among other things has changed.  So, you know, we‘re not having the conversation, you know, the irony is that the Democrats somehow think that they‘re at a polite Tea Party.  We‘re not talking to a Republican Party that‘s interested in reasonable negotiation.  You‘re literally talking to a party that wants to get rid of everything that not only the Democrats but our country has ever stood for him.  And they‘re talking about getting rid of Medicare, they‘re talking about fundamental things that have lifted up the poor and the working class in our country and made opportunity available to all.  This is not an opportunity we negotiate.  If you even have the conversation, you‘ve already lost.  

UYGUR:  You know, in a sense, what it certainly tells you is that the president‘s plan of preemptive concessions is like, is done to make him seem more reasonable, but who cares, the other side doesn‘t care with you, reasonable or not.  

KOHN:  Well, but let‘s also be clear, part of my point in the piece that this isn‘t just Obama‘s problem, this is partly him being responsive to his base.  There‘s a poll that came out a few days before. 

UYGUR:  That‘s right.

KOHN:  The budget concession, that said in effect that Republicans wanted their partisan elected to hold their ground, even if it meant shutting down government by overwhelming majorities, whereas Democrats wanted their partisans to concede.  You know, if we can‘t stand firm on our principles, how can we expect our elected officials to?  We have to know where the line is.  

KOHN:  All right.  Sally Kohn, founder of the Movement Vision Lab.  Great points.  Interesting.  So, in the end, viewers, it‘s your fault.  No, but it is a good point about the polls.  

All right.  Now, a California Republican Party official refuses to resign after sending this e-mail.  It shows President Obama‘s face on a chimpanzee.  Come on.  And you won‘t believe her response to all the outrage.  That‘s next.     


UYGUR:  Today, we have a controversy about yet another republican who has sent yet another racist e-mail about President Obama.  And then is flummoxed that anyone would be offended.  So what did Orange County Republican Committee member and Tea Party activist Marilyn Davenport accepted in an e-mail?  This image of the president along with the tag line, “now you know why no birth certificate.”  Gee, I wonder why people found it offensive.  Davenport absolutely refuses to resign.  She just can‘t seem to understand why this is a problem and has put out this lukewarm kind of apology.  Quote, “I‘m sorry if my e-mail offended anyone.  I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth.  In no way did I even consider the fact that he‘s half black when I sent out the e-mail.”

Well, there are two huge problems with this.  First, is my co-host on “The Young Turks”—who says, these apologies where people say I‘m sorry if I offended you, I guess if you‘re so fragile and you get offended by stuff like that, actually blames the victim and doesn‘t take responsibility, is not a real apology, OK.  Secondly and much more importantly, people have to understand the context of these monkey jokes in relations to African-Americans in this country.  It‘s not like any other joke.  Look, it has a terrible history that I‘m about to tell you about.  But look, for example, when I was a kid, people would make Turkey jokes because I‘m from Turkey, get it?  Like turkey sandwich or like, hey, what are you eating on thanksgiving?  Ha ha ha. 

But who cares because there‘s no history of attacking Turks in this country over Turkey sandwich jokes.  That doesn‘t matter.  But in the case of African-Americans, especially after this war, there is an enormous history of tying blacks to the monkeys, apes, et cetera, to justify brutal treatment and oppression.  The idea was they‘re not human, so it‘s OK to do anything you want to them.  In the early 1900s, a book published by Charles Carroll was among the things that popularized this idea.  It was called “The Negro A Beast.” has a great article about this, you should check it out.  These jokes are not harmless.  They are within the context of a society that lynched black people after dehumanizing them like this.  We‘ve seen this throughout history in a lot of different countries, but in this case in regards to African-Americans, it happened here. 

Now, I‘m not saying that Davenport was doing this.  What I‘m saying is that she has to be mindful of it.  There‘s an excellent reason why people are offended.  Can you for one second put yourself in their situation?  So please, the next time someone sends you an e-mail like this because it will happen again.  Remember that context and understand why it isn‘t even remotely funny.  Thank you for watching.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                            


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2011 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

Transcription Copyright 2011 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is

granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not

reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or

internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall

user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may

infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or

interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of


Sponsored links

Resource guide