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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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

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Guests: Bill Press, Pat Buchanan, Charles Babington, Jonathan Capehart, Greg Mitchell, Robert Reich

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

Today, signs that the so-called birther movement is spinning out of control for the Republicans ahead of the 2012 presidential race.  They love insinuating that the president was not born in the country without really owning that kooky conspiracy theory. 

But now that Trump is using the issue overtly to ride to the top of the polls, leading conservatives are in a panic that the whole party is going to be seen as illegitimate, so they have now begun denouncing that kind of rhetoric.  Drama! 

And speaking of which, NBC News investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff sat down with Trump and grilled him about the birther issue. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR:  And I hope that someday he can produce it, because I think he is toying with the American public.  And I will tell you what—people don‘t like it. 

I made a speech in front of thousands of people in Boca Raton, Florida, on Saturday, and they are very upset with the fact that if he actually has a birth certificate, he doesn‘t give it.  And I hope he does have one. 

You know, people say, oh, jeez, supposing he shows it.  If it‘s a sealed record—and I had—my birth certificate was sealed, but when I told them it‘s OK to release it, I released it all over the world.  It‘s my birth certificate, I don‘t care.  Jamaica Hospital, Queens, New York.

Just so you understand, if he has a birth certificate, he should release it.  But don‘t tell me about some long-form certificate of live birth because it‘s a much lower standard. 

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT:  But do you believe Hawaiian officials are lying about this?  Do you have any evidence they are lying? 

TRUMP:  Well, the governor of Hawaii said he was there when he was born.  Now, do you really believe that the governor of Hawaii was there when he was born?  I don‘t. 

ISIKOFF:  I‘m saying the state health director—

TRUMP:  So I don‘t know what to tell you.  The governor—excuse me. 

ISIKOFF:  -- who personally inspected the files says—

TRUMP:  I don‘t care.  Then tell Obama to release it.

Look, they are private documents, just like mine is.  Nobody can get my birth certificate. 

ISIKOFF:  Right. 

TRUMP:  But if I release it they get it.  OK?  I said release it. 

Anybody can have it.  Release it.  Obama should do the same thing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Oh, come on.  When is he going to let this go?  There were ads in the local papers at the time announcing his birth. 

They really hatched that up over 40 years ago because they were sure that biracial kid was going to be president one day?  I mean cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. 

And if you saw giant holes in Trump‘s answers, you‘re not alone.  It turns to out more and more Republican leaders agree with you. 

The latest development, a surprise veto from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on a birther bill requiring presidential candidates to prove that they are American citizens.  As Brewer vetoed it, she even called the measure “a bridge too far.”  And Brewer‘s far from the only right-winger now pushing back against the birther movement, some of whom say Trump is ridiculous for embracing it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR:  The idea that President Obama was not born in Hawaii, being—making that the centerpiece of his campaign, means that he is just, you know, now a joke candidate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think President Obama was born in the United States. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Would you support a Donald Trump candidacy, especially with all of this birther talk? 

REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, MAJORITY LEADER:  No, I don‘t think he is really serious when we launch—see a campaign launched on the birther issue. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR. MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR:  I think the citizenship test has been passed.  I believe the president was born in the United States. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Look, these guys have figured out that the birther issue is a surefire loser in a general election.  They know that Independents who swing national elections don‘t want to hear any kind of nonsense like this.

But here is their dilemma.  Many on the far right do want to hear it, which is why they like Trump. 

In the last year, 13 state legislatures have considered a variety of different birther measures, and a new poll finds that almost half of Iowa Republicans don‘t believe Barack Obama was born in the United States. 

Back in February, 51 percent of Republican primary voters nationwide said they didn‘t believe Obama was born in the country. 

So, when the Donald uses the birther issue as his trump card, he wins with the Republican voters and loses with the party leaders.  And that‘s what‘s ripping apart the GOP right now. 

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press show” on Sirius Radio. 

It‘s good to have you guys back together. 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Here we are. 

Hi, Pat. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  How are? 

PRESS:  All right. 

UYGUR:  All right.  We got the crew back together.  All right.  So—

PRESS:  The boys. 

UYGUR:  That‘s right. 

Pat, let start with you. 

BUCHANAN:  Sure. 

UYGUR:  Is this the Republican Party‘s leadership going, oh, no, no, no, get away, run away as quickly as possible from this birther issue? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think the Republican Party is a monolith at all.  I tend to agree with what Mitt Romney said when he said, I believe Barack Obama was born in Honolulu.  I believe the newspapers are probably dead-accurate on that. 

But at the same time, I do agree with Donald Trump when he said, “Why is Barack Obama toying with the American people?”  Why doesn‘t he just produce this and end this controversy? 

I think it shows a real arrogance of power.  And secondly, I will say this—why does not the White House press corps really push the press secretary and say, look, end this controversy, produce it, and get it over with? 

PRESS:  Well, I am a member of the White House press corps, Pat, and I‘ve got to tell you why we don‘t raise it at the press corps, because there are more important issues, like what‘s happening with the debt, what‘s happening with the deficit, what‘s happening in Libya, what‘s happening in Iraq, what‘s happening with jobs. 

This is a total non-issue.  And Pat, in 2007, the president produced his birth certificate.  The state of Hawaii, too.  They did.  They put it up online. 

That‘s what they do in Hawaii.  End of story. 

But Cenk is right, too.  Do you really think, Pat, back in 1961, that some woman in Kenya who gave birth to a baby said, now, we have to plant a story somewhere—somewhere.  Let‘s pick Honolulu and two newspapers, and put two notices in the newspaper because someday, this little kid who is an hour old is going to run for president of the United States and has to have some evidence that he was born in this country? 

Come on!

UYGUR:  That‘s a good question, Pat.  Do you believe it? 

BUCHANAN:  No, I said I think the guy was born in Honolulu, but I want to know why the press corps doesn‘t take one question to the press secretary and—

PRESS:  We have, Pat.  We have. 

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS:  We are not going to play your game.

BUCHANAN:  Tell me, Bill, when you say to Jay Carney, “Jay, why doesn‘t the president just release the birth certificate, get this over it with?”  It is an enormous distraction for the country.  MSNBC is transfixed with it.  They ought to focus on the issues you talked about—Libya and Iraq. 

So, please, Jay, ask the president to release his birth certificate for us. 

PRESS:  Well, I want to do you one better, Pat.  If you actually Google, right, “Obama, birther,” and you look at it, then you will find that the person who asked the question in the press briefing room was me, Bill Press, about a year and a half ago, of Robert Gibbs.  I didn‘t wait for Jay Carney.  And Robert Gibbs laid it all out, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  What did Gibbs say? 

PRESS:  And nobody else is going to go there because we‘re more serious than that. 

UYGUR:  Pat, but it seems to he me—Pat, you are falling into the same trap.  I mean, you are talking about is it birth certificate, or a certificate of birth, when you know he was born in Honolulu.  Everybody sane knows he was born in Honolulu. 

So why are you wasting your time on it and possibly costing yourself a general election? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, first, I‘m not running in the general election.  Second, I‘m wasting my time because you invited me on here to talk about the birther issue. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  That‘s what I‘m asking you, Pat, is it a terrible idea for the Republicans to go down this road? 

BUCHANAN:  Hold it.  Well, for heaven‘s sakes, Republicans taken care of themselves. 

Look, but here is what I‘m saying, is he did he issue the certificate of live birth.  And behind that, clearly, the governor of Hawaii, or health officials, say, I‘ve seen the birth certificate, it‘s right there.  And the president will not release it. 

All I‘m asking is why.  I think you were born in Hawaii.  Everybody does, Mr. President.  Why don‘t you let us see it?  It‘s a collector‘s item. 

PRESS:  He has released it.  And this is the issue, Cenk.  The issue is that there are too many Republicans like Pat who know it‘s not an issue, but who won‘t just dump on it and just—like Karl Rove has done.  Karl Rove said this is a distraction, don‘t talk about it.  There are too many who want to have it both ways. 

UYGUR:  But look, Bill—hold on for one second, Pat.  Let me press on that. 

Is this a Frankenstein that they created and they were very happy with it?  Like, insinuating, I don‘t know, this guy is kind of another (ph), et cetera?  But now that it‘s real, they‘re like, oh my God, we‘re going to lose the general election, backpedal, backpedal, backpedal. 

So it‘s their fault, right?

PRESS:  Well, the Supreme Court ahs refused three times to hear it.  I think they created this, and now it‘s backfiring on them. 

And the problem is that Donald Trump won‘t shut up.  You just saw that interview with Isikoff.  He‘s not going to drop it, because look what it has done for him.  He went from being a clown to being number one or number two in the polls. 

BUCHANAN:  But look, you know, let me just say, look, Cenk, the issue of the birthers, before the election I got e-mails on the stuff.  And you get them—thanks—you read them and drop them off.  I‘ve never raised it, I have never written a column on it, but I have been invited here hundreds of times to talk about the issue. 

Now, look, first, you‘ve got the birthers who love the issue.  Then you‘ve got MSNBC loves the issue.  And “The Donald” loves the issue.  And everybody seems to be having a nice time.

UYGUR:  No, no, because—I‘ll tell you why, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  (INAUDIBLE) close to it by asking the president, please, Mr. President—

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Pat, it‘s online already.  They already saw it.  All those crazy theories have been debunked.  Oh, it didn‘t have the number.  It does have the number.  It‘s already online, Pat.  So—

BUCHANAN:  Send a copy to me. 

UYGUR:  Well, I can show you the Web address. 

But look, one thing.  Hold on. 

Because Pat, here is the thing.  The reason why it‘s an important issue is obviously, it is ripping your party apart, right?  And it looks like there was basically a memo sent to all the Republicans saying, OK, run away from this.

I mean, you‘ve got Rove, you‘ve got Pawlenty, you‘ve got Romney, you‘ve got Cantor.  They‘re all saying it at the same time and they‘re throwing Trump under the bus.  And that‘s what I‘m asking you about.  Do you think the Republican leadership has said, OK, we‘ve got to run away from this thing?

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Now you‘re talking serious politics.  OK?

Now, I understand why Romney is saying what he is saying, and Pawlenty and the others.  But let me tell you, you‘ve 74 percent if you add the people—half of the Iowa Republicans who say he wasn‘t born in the United States and the 26 percent say they don‘t know, that is three-fourths of the Iowa Republican voters.  And if Donald Trump is appealing to them politically, then that is not necessarily foolish politics in the narrow short term for him to out there. 

And those guys—each of these candidates out there—I mean, Romney is taking a position for the general election, quite clearly.  But I‘m telling you, you get 76 percent of the voters out there, or 74 percent, I‘d go out there. 

And you know what I‘d say?  I believe he was born in Hawaii, but I agree with you folks, we ought to see the birth certificate.  And then I would move on to my issues. 

PRESS:  See, that—

BUCHANAN:  And I think I‘d do very well, as I did last time. 

(LAUGHTER)

PRESS:  Pat, you know what your guy once said famously, “There you go again,” Pat. 

But you know, Cenk, here is the problem, right?  At some point, the party has got to decide, are they going to appeal to the fringe—

BUCHANAN:  Party?

PRESS:  -- which—wait, Pat.  Wait.  I listened to you—in these Tea Party caucuses in Iowa, or do they want to win an election in 2012? 

They are not going to win on this issue, and they‘ve got to get away from it.  And now it has gotten so ridiculous that the statesman person in the party is Jan Brewer, who rose to the occasion last night and vetoed this bill.  But in Arizona, they said, well, if you don‘t have a birth certificate, you can give us your certificate of circumcision. 

I have read the Constitution.  I don‘t see where in the Constitution -

-

UYGUR:  All right.

Pat, last word.  Last word.

BUCHANAN:  Let me just make one more point here. 

Look, Bill talks about the Republican Party as though it‘s a monolith or an elite.  The Republican Party is going to put down the directive that nobody can talk about this or that. 

PRESS:  They better. 

BUCHANAN:  We don‘t want that.  We want a robust debate.

Frankly, I‘d love Ron Paul in there with his views on foreign policy.  I‘d love to see Sarah Palin with her views on right to life and social conservative.  I‘ve got no problem with Donald Trump, if he wants to raise that issue or any issue.

Let the voters decide, for heaven‘s sake, instead of the party, here‘s what you must do.  And Karl Rove telling us the positions we must take, I don‘t care what it is.

UYGUR:  Well, all right.  Pat‘s very clear on the record. 

You coming back in, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  I‘m thinking of it. 

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  All right.  OK. 

PRESS:  I want to see your birth certificate.  Right now. 

BUCHANAN:  I‘ve got it, Providence Hospital, Bill. 

UYGUR:  All right.

MSNBC political analyst and possible future candidate, Pat Buchanan. 

PRESS:  Heard it here first. 

UYGUR:  That‘s right.

And Bill Press. 

Thank you both, guys. 

BUCHANAN:  Thank you. 

PRESS:  Thanks, Cenk.

UYGUR:  All right. 

Now, President Obama goes on the offense.  He hits the road to sell his debt plan.  But how is he doing in the polls?  We‘ll tell you. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I really liked and knew a little bit Reagan.  And I really—

I always sort of have to laugh to myself when people try to criticize that level of intelligence. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, that was Donald Trump on Fox last week, praising Ronald Reagan.  Funny.  He had a different take on the president in his 1987 book “Art of the Deal.”  There, he called Reagan an example of someone who could con people but couldn‘t deliver the goods. 

He wrote back then, “Reagan is so smooth and effective a performer, that he completely won over the American people.  Only now, nearly seven years later, are people beginning to question whether there‘s anything beneath that smile.”

Now, that‘s not going to sit well the conservative base.  In fact, when you look at Trump‘s record, not very much of it will sit well the base at all.  What he was saying at different times in his life depended completely on what suited his political needs at that time. 

In 1999, Trump actually left the Republican Party when he knew that George W. Bush was a lock for the GOP nomination.  And at that point, he became a downright liberal.

In 1999, he told “Fox News Sunday,” “I‘m totally pro-choice.  I‘m pro-choice because I think we have no choice.”

In his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” he pushes for huge taxes on the wealthy, saying, “By imposing a one-time 14.25 percent net worth tax on the richest individuals and trusts, we can put America on a sound financial footing for the next century.”

I‘m not even that liberal.  That is a giant tax increase that he advocated for back then. 

In the same book, he makes a case for a Canadian-style health care system.  “We must have universal health care.  The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans.  We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan.”

OK.  So, that was him in 2000. 

But now that he can appeal to the anger over President Obama‘s universal health care plan, which, by the way, isn‘t even nearly universal enough, in my opinion, all of a sudden, Donald Trump, not so liberal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I want great medical care for people, but I want—also want it to be affordable.  Obamacare is a disaster.  Number one, it‘s bad medical care, but almost as important --  

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it hasn‘t gone into effect yet. 

TRUMP:  Excuse me.  It‘s a bad concept.  But also, and very importantly, this country can‘t afford it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, but your plan was 10 times as liberal.  What happened? 

And how does he feel about raising taxes now that he is a born-again Republican? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUTHRIE:  Would you raise taxes to attack the deficit? 

TRUMP:  I don‘t think you have to—and let me just tell you, if we get this economy going again—and we can do it by getting jobs, by bringing our jobs back, bringing them back—let the other countries worry about themselves. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  And how about abortion?  Well, now he is pro-life.  Of course he is.  Not that he knows what that even means. 

Now, watch this cringe-worthy moment in that same Savannah Guthrie interview. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUTHRIE:  Is there a right to privacy in the Constitution? 

TRUMP:  I guess there is.  I guess there is. 

GUTHRIE:  So, how—

TRUMP:  And why—just out of curiosity, why do you ask that question? 

GUTHRIE:  Well, I‘m just wondering how that squares with your pro-life views. 

TRUMP:  Well, that‘s a pretty strange way of getting to pro-life.  I mean, it‘s a very unique way of asking about pro-life. 

Why are you—what does that have to do with privacy?  How are you equating pro-life with privacy? 

GUTHRIE:  Well, you know about the Roe v. Wade decision? 

TRUMP:  Yes.  Right, sure.  I‘m for pro—I am pro-life. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Oh.  Oh, that was painful to watch. 

Here‘s some help, Donald.  The United States Supreme Court had earlier established the right to privacy and then applied that to the issue of abortion in Roe v. Wade.  It is a central tenet that led to legalizing abortion.  That‘s why they are connected. 

The fact that Trump doesn‘t know that is, as usual, embarrassing.  And it‘s only matched by how embarrassing his overall opportunism is. 

How obvious is this guy?  He has no principles or political beliefs at all.  He is just trying to appeal to whichever crowd is in front of him.  He is a classic carnival barker. 

All right.  Joining me now is political reporter for The Associated Press, Charles Babington.  His new article is titled “GOP Voters in Early States Embrace Trump Bid.”

But Charles, it looks like, as you‘re reporting, the voters—or at least the Republican voters—are eating it up.  What‘s going on at the state level, for example, in South Carolina, et cetera, in terms of reaction that Trump is getting? 

CHARLES BABINGTON, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  You know, I was calling Republican activists in South Carolina and Iowa and New Hampshire, the early voting states, and what I found was there is a tremendous hunger on their part for somebody, almost anybody, who will go out there, go on television, and really be forceful in attacking President Obama on health care and spending and the debt and all those things.  And what I found is that there‘s a void right now.  There seems to be a vacuum, and to many of them, Donald Trump is filling that vacuum, and they were happy to have him. 

UYGUR:  And is it about the birther issue, or is it something else that‘s driving them to Donald Trump? 

BABINGTON:  You know, for quite a few of these activists, I found that they didn‘t much care about the birther issue, that wasn‘t very important to them.  For some it was.  But for the others, it was more the fact that Trump would get out there and really forcefully take whacks at Obama and the congressional Democrats.  That seemed to be the most important thing to them. 

UYGUR:  But Charles, you know, that‘s interesting, because, you know, all these Republicans, all they ever do is take really forceful whacks at the president.  I don‘t see any of them really taking it easy on the president. 

So, I‘m wondering, what is it?  Is it just—is there an extra level with Trump, that he‘s just irrationally attacking the president at a whole new level?  I can‘t figure it out.  It seems like they all don‘t like him.

BABINGTON:  Yes, that‘s a good question.  I think Trump, you know, he is flamboyant, he really gets attention on television.  So he has a celebrity. 

He is very well known.  And so, for example, even if a congressman like Paul Ryan who, as you know and your listeners know, is a very important member of Congress, the average American probably has not heard of him.  So I think a lot of it is the celebrity factor.  So, Donald Trump, with the big name recognition, goes on television and says these—and really takes these hits at the president, and that seems to be firing up these Republican activists who, again, are very hungry for that type of comment. 

UYGUR:  Charles, though based on your reporting of local leaders and the voters, et cetera, when the Republican leadership overall attacks them, as they have over the last couple of days, are they risking alienating their own voters? 

BABINGTON:  That‘s quite possible.  I think these—this information about Trump‘s past that you have been going on—over very heavily in your show here is something that‘s really come to the surface, at least at this level, quite recently. 

So, when I was talking with these activists just a few days ago, they did not talk about these things.  And I‘m not even sure they were aware of them. 

So, now, you know, I think a lot of this is reaction.  A lot of people thought, well, we don‘t really need to take Trump seriously.  You know, Karl Rove called him a joke.  And if you do think  he‘s joke, you don‘t take him seriously. 

But now he‘s done well in some polls, he is getting this attention.  And I think that‘s why you are starting to see this pushback, this backlash. 

UYGUR:  All right.

The Associated Press‘ Charles Babington. 

Thank you for your time tonight. 

BABINGTON:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, coming up, Ohio Governor John Kasich rips money away from schools and nursing homes, but when it comes to his travel budget, wait until you see how much taxpayer money that he is using.  And what did he say about the Democratic governor when he was using the same kind of planes that Kasich is now using? 

Well, that‘s the  “Con Job of the Day,” and that‘s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  In our “Con Job of the Day,” we turn to Ohio Governor John Kasich and his fondness for flying the friendly skies. 

Since Kasich took office in January, he has proposed slashing funds for school, libraries and nursing homes.  At the same time, he splurged more than $31,000 in taxpayer money for trips on state-owned airplanes. 

Kasich justifies the flights by saying, “I understand that the plane is always going to be a sensitive subject, but I only use it when we have to use it, when I think the schedule demands it, and we have got to be in multiple places at the same time.”

All right.  But why fly?  Most of Kasich‘s flights were in state, to places like Cincinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron, Canton and Portsmouth.  All these cities  are a three-hour drive or less from Columbus, the state capital. 

All right.  Now, that seems questionable, right?  But it‘s not quite enough for a con job.

But Kasich wouldn‘t have criticized others for using that same plane, would he?  So here comes the kicker. 

Kasich has spent about the same amount on plane travel in his first three months on the job as his predecessor, Ted Strickland, spent during his entire first year in office.  During Kasich‘s campaign, his press secretary criticized the Democratic governor for having state planes make multiple stops, saying, “Frankly, there needs to be a closer review of whether the plane‘s cost can even still be justified at all.”

But now that Kasich is the one flying around on the taxpayers‘ dime, his spokesman isn‘t quite as sure if a review is needed. 

I‘ve got to hand it to these guys, man.  They really have some nerve. 

I wonder if they even had a conversation about it. 

Hey, didn‘t we just criticize the other guy for doing a quarter of what we were doing now?  Yes.  Who cares?  Let‘s get on the plane and party. 

Unbelievable.  Kasich‘s claim that he cares about taxpayers‘ money being spent on that plane for the governor when, in fact, he couldn‘t care less about it is our “Con Job of the Day.” 

Ahead, President Obama is taking his budget plan on the road.  We‘ll explain why the GOP is actually helping the president make his case. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Today, President Obama hit the road to sell his fight to save Medicare and force the rich to pay their fair share.  The president held a town hall at Northern Virginia Community College, the first of three events to sell his vision for addressing to our debt.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We have also got to end tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  

(APPLAUSE)

We can‘t just tell the wealthiest among us, you don‘t have to do a thing, you just sit there and relax and everybody else, we are going to solve this problem. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  A strong majority, 64 percent of the American people, agree with the president.  A new McClatchy poll shows that 83 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents want to raise taxes on those earning over a quarter million dollars.  Even 43 percent of Republicans think that that‘s good idea.  Now, later in that town hall, the president turned the republican assault on Medicare, Paul Ryan‘s voucher plan wouldn‘t raise costs for people who are seniors now.  It would raise costs for people who will be seniors in the future.  In other words, that gym full of college kids that the president was addressing.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Your health care costs keep going up and up and up.  The voucher doesn‘t.  Each year, more and more costs coming out of pocket.  Now, I think that is the wrong way to go that would fundamentally change Medicare as we know it and I‘m not going to sign up for that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now that issues even more of a home run for the president than taxes.  Eighty percent of Americans don‘t want to cut Medicare and Medicaid in order to trim the deficit.  Eighty percent.  That includes 92 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 73 percent of Republicans.   And are we ready for this?  Seventy percent of Tea Party supporters also want to keep Medicare and Medicaid and not trim it.  Those are overwhelming numbers.  You know why?  Because the country is progressive. 

Now, Democrats are hoping the GOP fight to end Medicare, will be their key to regaining control of the House.  They are launching radio ads today against 25 Republicans who voted for the Ryan plan.  The Democrats also posted a satirical new web video showing what seniors might have to do if they are forced to carry more of the burden for their own health care. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(LAWN MOTHER RUNNING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  You missed a spot.  

(SCREAMING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Did someone call the Fire Department, because it‘s about to get hot in here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

As we have told you and showed you repeatedly on this show, the American people are decidedly progressive.  The numbers are overwhelming.  So it is imperative that the president and the Democrats press this advantage as they are doing now and not let the Republicans off the hook. 

Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for the “Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor.  Jonathan, welcome. 

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Hey, Cenk.  Thanks. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Fist, Jonathan.  Here‘s the disconnect, right?  We showed you those numbers and we‘ve shown—I don‘t know, on this show, maybe seven different polls, that all show the same thing, don‘t touch Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, raise tax on the rich, et cetera.  But when you look at Obama‘s overall approval numbers, they are not that good.  “Washington Post” poll out today shows we‘ve got 50 percent disapproving—I‘m sorry, 57 percent—no, that‘s on the economy.  Fifty seven percent disapproving on the economy, 42 percent approving and then when you look at the overall approval numbers, if 50 percent  disapproving and 47 percent approving.  So, those are not great numbers.  So, what is the disconnect here?

CAPEHART:  Well, I think that they are looking at his performance as a leader in term it is of the economy.  Everyone‘s upset, everyone‘s a little scared and actually, they are more scared now than they were in January after lame duck session.  And then you‘ve take that apart from the actual policies and what they support and what they don‘t support.  And you know, I‘m glad you put those numbers up about the amount of support for Medicare, among Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and Tea Party people.  Remember, during a health care fight two years ago, it was the Republicans who rode in as the champions for saving Medicare, whipping Democrats across the country scaring seniors that the Democrats were going to take away their Medicare.  

And now, the Democrats are looking at that and saying, hey, look, Paul Ryan‘s plan wants to decimate Medicare as we know it.  And so I think at some point, you are going to have a situation where you know, the president, Paul Ryan, the Democrats, Republicans, are going to have to sit in a room, get together and figure this out.  And then once there is a compromise plan, that‘s when we will see whether Democrats, Independents, Republicans, Tea Party folks are happy with what they have come up with, because I think everyone agrees, the way that things are going now can‘t continue. 

UYGUR:  But Jonathan, you know, I have a revolutionary theory.  The president is not progressive enough.  The numbers indicate a very progressive country and the president keeps going toward the Republicans.  Look here, you know, to make your point on a compromise, the president said the same thing, let‘s just go to a quick video of him talking about that.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I‘m optimistic.  I‘m hopeful.  Both sides have come together before.  I believe we can do it again. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, why talk about compromise?  Why not hit them over the head and say I‘m not cutting Medicare at all.  And I‘m going to raise taxes on the rich and that‘s it?

CAPEHART:  You know, Cenk it would be great if the president had the rest of the country sitting across from him.  If he had those, you know, the 70 percent of the -- 73 percent of the GOP and the 70 percent of the Tea Party sitting across from him to come up with this deal but he doesn‘t.  He has sitting in front of him, republican leaders who have different views, different ideas.  Paul Ryan, his plan, as you point out, does not reflect the progressive nature of the people and as expressed in those polls, that‘s why the president is saying, you know, balanced approach, we must come together, we have to talk.  Because that‘s what he has to deal with. 

UYGUR:  Jonathan, that‘s what politics are for, that‘s what our democracy is for.  You say, look, the people are on my side, vote against him at your leisure, OK?  Go ahead and do it.  And I‘m going to come back and, you know, beat the hell out of you in election.  Good luck to you, son.  You know, that‘s what I would say, if I was the president to the Republicans but the president never does that.  

CAPEHART:  Well, I wouldn‘t say he never does that.  But look. 

UYGUR:  He won‘t do it this time, right?

CAPEHART:  Looking at—we are looking at one poll.  And you know, hey, Cenk, time will tell.  Time will tell to see how hard the president will be in these negotiations.  

UYGUR:  Time will tell. 

CAPEHART:  Well, we got a glimpse of it when the president thought reporters weren‘t listening and he talked about the behind-the-scenes discussions he had with Speaker Boehner over the shutdown discussions. 

UYGUR:  Right.

CAPEHART:  I mean, it was a pretty—if I may say so bad-ass.

UYGUR:  It was the donors? 

CAPEHART:  With what?

UYGUR:  Wasn‘t that the donors when he was on about Paul Ryan?

CAPEHART:  Yes, yes, the donors.  Yes. 

UYGUR:  OK.  I mean, sorry. 

CAPEHART:  Yes.

UYGUR:  All right.  Look, we are going to find out, we going to find out, and by the way, as always, I hope you‘re right and I‘m wrong.  I hope he really sticks it to them.  All right.  Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for the “Washington Post.”  Thank you so much. 

CAPEHART:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  Joining me now is Robert Reich, he is former Clinton labor secretary, of course, and now professor at UC Berkeley and the author of “Aftershock” which is just out on paper back.  That‘s lovely.  You know, normally I go with Secretary Reich.  Today, I‘m going to go with Professor Reich.  How are you?

ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR, UC BERKELEY:  How are you, Cenk?

UYGUR:  OK.  Great.  Now, we have been discussion the president and his approval numbers.  Well, in handling the economy, he is at 57 percent disapproval.  Now, that‘s interesting.  Why do you think that that‘s the case there?  What‘s going wrong?

REICH:  Well, it‘s mainly the continued high unemployment, unemployment is going down but people still worried about unemployment, and gas prices are going up.  When you have that combination, people get very nervous, whether it‘s the president‘s fault or not, there is a tendency president to be less popular.  

UYGUR:  Well, that makes all the sense in the world but seems like what are we playing all these Washington games for?  You know, oh, are you going to cut spending this way, are you Medicare, da da da, when in reality, gas prices are high, unemployment is high, and so that determines the whole election.

REICH:  Yes, Cenk.  The problem is the Republicans have been telling a big lie and many Americans are starting to believe it.  That is if you get the deficit under control, you get jobs back.  The fact of the matter is that right now, if you cut spending and raise taxes, you‘re going to create fewer jobs.  Unless you raise taxes on people who actually like the very rich.  In fact, if you try to raise tax on the very rich, they are not going to spend less because they already have much of what they want and the rich actually spend a much smaller proportion of their income than anybody else.  So, it makes sense to raise the taxes on the rich but it doesn‘t make sense now to cut spending or raise taxes on anybody else. 

UYGUR:  So, is the president playing the wrong game here?  Should he scrap this whole entire thing and say, look, deficit reduction and all spending cuts, no, no, no, I‘m going the other way and I‘m going to actually stimulate the economy and we are going to create jobs?

REICH:  Well, I think what the president ought to be doing is saying, number one, now the Republicans have revealed who they are.  They are—they want to get rid of Medicare, they want to turn it into basically a voucher program that channels money to the for-profit insurance companies and they also want to reduce taxes on the very rich.  I mean, who are—whose side are they on?  They are not on your side, obviously, but then I think the president needs to also say, but look, all of this issue about the deficit is important but the most important thing right now, right now, is to get jobs back, to reduce unemployment, to get the economy rolling and the Republicans have no ideas at all and what I‘m going to do is, and then he can offer a variety of solutions.  For example, exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security taxes this year and next year, make up the difference by subjecting income over $250,000 to Social Security taxes.  

UYGUR:  Can he realistically to do that?  I mean, he has got a game plan, he is executing his game plan.  He is not going to turn around, is he?  And if he doesn‘t and the jobs don‘t turn around, is that really the only thing that decides the election?

REICH:  Cenk, jobs are very important.  Again, things are moving slowly in the right direction.  Gas prices, well, who know what is gas prices are going to do?  But I think the president has got to, in addition to cornering the Republicans on Medicare and on tax breaks for the wealthy, which is what he is doing.  And that is all very good, and very important, he has also got to provide a positive platform of getting jobs back and getting the economy growing again.  And I think there he hasn‘t done enough. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, McDonald‘s is announcing that they are hiring 50,000 new jobs, should we be excited or are we now in a McEconomy?

REICH:  Well, look, this is a very important point.  Because it‘s not just getting jobs back.   I mean, if the jobs are lousy jobs, if they pay $9 an hour and most of the new jobs that have been created over the past couple of years are pretty lousy jobs.  They are low paying, they don‘t have much benefit, if any benefit attached to them, well, those are not the kind of jobs we want.  So, the president has got to come forward with a strategy for not only getting jobs back but also getting good jobs back.  

UYGUR:  I hear you on that.  I think if you just went on the route of, look, jobs, jobs, jobs, I‘m trying to create jobs, these guys are trying to kill jobs.  In my opinion, would you be ten times better off.  Professor Reich. 

REICH:  Well, I think Cenk, the point is, he has already cornered the Republicans on Medicare and on tax favor for the rich, now it‘s time to come forward with a jobs strategy. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Let‘s see if he does that.  Professor Reich, as always, thank you.  Really appreciate it. 

REICH:  Thanks, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  Now, we have got developing news on Bradley Manning.  There‘s evidence that the pressure on the government has worked.  He is finally being transferred.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  News this evening that Bradley Manning is being moved.  This looks like a big win for fair treatment, is the government conceding that they have treated them wrong?  We will discuss that when we come back.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEH JOHNSON, GENERAL COUNSEL OF DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:  The army is transferring Private Manning from the pretrial confinement facility at Quantico to the new joint regional correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Big news in the case of Wikileaks suspect, Private Bradley Manning.  As you just heard, the Pentagon announced late today, it will be moving Manning from maximum security marine brig in Quantico, Virginia to the medium-security army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  That move could come as early as tomorrow.  This is a tacit admission that the military made a huge mistake in how it treated Manning.  He was held for nine months without trial, confined to his cell for 23 hours a day and forced to strip naked at night.  His treatment sparked international outrage, including a U.N. reprimand and a letter of protest from the German parliament. 

Pentagon and military official deny Manning was tortured but NBC reports that many of them agree, quote, “The marines blew it in their treatment of Manning.”  He will now be allowed some freedom of movement in an open day room and allowed to interact with other prisoners.  In other words, he will finally be treated like a human being. 

Joining me now is Greg Mitchell of “The Nation,” Greg is author of “Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences.”  Greg, what‘s the update here?  What are the new conditions in Kansas once he moves? 

GREG MITCHELL, “THE NATION”:  Well, it‘s quite different from the situation he has been in, as you mentioned.  He‘s been, for nine months, he‘s been confined for 23 hours a day with one hour of exercise at most and very limited at that.  He has been, as you mentioned, for a period he was stripped naked at night.  And it seems like a lot of the visitors who have tried see him have been denied, including Congressman Kucinich, a prober for the United Nations and if they were promised the visit, it was going to be closely monitored.  So, and what we always have to bring up in the case of Manning, is he has not been convicted of anything.  He has been accused of the crimes of leaking this classified material to Wikileaks but he‘s never been convicted and he has now gone almost a year since his arrest and still no firm plans for trial, court martial or anything else. 

UYGUR:  Right.  And there was a huge period of time where he wasn‘t even charged and they were doing this to him. 

MITCHELL:  Right. 

UYGUR:  But apparently, the new conditions, not only will he be have

access to other prisoners.  So, he can have conversations, et cetera, not -

it‘s basically not kept in isolation anymore but also, he‘ll have access to books and TV.  Wow, things are really looking up for him. 

MITCHELL:  Right. 

UYGUR:  So, Greg, do you think this was a result of all this pressure, and is the government basically conceding here, saying, we screwed up?

MITCHELL:  Well, I think so you know, the very little was, there was very little known about his conditions or protests until last December.  Then there were really two or three moments of a lot of activism, protests from professional groups, amnesty international and so forth.  But it seems like things really got moving last month when finally the State Department‘s spokesman PJ Crowley spoke up or spoke out against his conditions.  He was later fired or quit and then suddenly, we had major news newspapers, “the New York Times” and the “Los Angeles Times” and so forth, for the very first time in editorials spoke out against the conditions.  So, unfortunately, it seemed like the PJ Crowley episode, you know, was the straw that broke the camel‘s back but there is been citizen protests going on for months and months.  

UYGUR:  You know, PJ Crowley was on this show talking about that, and you have to give him award, a credit, because what he did was brave and it turned out ultimately effective in standing up for our values, which is the most important thing and that‘s what they are supposed to be doing at the State Department. 

MITCHELL:  Right.  That‘s why in my book, I trace going back to the early—from his arrest at the end of last May.  And how Manning actually has been very little known by Americans until just the past few months. 

UYGUR:  Right.

MITCHELL:  So, even though he is accused of the Wikileaks which have gained all this publicity, not much really been known about Manning until recently.  So, in my book, I try to trace all that and really right up to the present day. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Greg Mitchell, thank you so much for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate it. 

MITCHELL:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  OK.  Now, coming up, it could be the greatest robbery of all time and they might be plotting it in the halls of Congress right now, we will explain that, next.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  I get questions all the time about Social Security.  In fact, I got e-mails from two of you today on this issue.  That was Rudy and Dave.  Thank you for writing in, guys.  And they both asked roughly the same thing.  How can Social Security have a $2.5 trillion surplus and yet, everyone says, this is just a bunch of IOUs.

Well, that is a great question, so here is the answer.  Of course, you pay into Social Security in your whole or throughout your whole life, through the payroll tax.  And for a long time, we have collected more payroll tax than we had to pay out in benefits.  So, we built up a Social Security surplus and that‘s what we have now, $2.5 trillion surplus.  But here‘s the part they never tell you about.  They took that money out of Social Security and spent it on the rest of the budget, so that surplus was spent on wars, tax cuts, et cetera. 

Now, they still owe you that money, like they owe China the money we borrowed from them to run our government in the short run.  But when they go to pay your benefits in any given year, they have more trouble because they already spent the money.  Now they would never suggest that we shouldn‘t pay back China or anyone else we borrowed money from, because that would put into question our full faith in credit of the United States.  The financial markets would flip out over that.  So, they never refer to that money as just a bunch of IOUs, but when it comes to the money they borrowed from your Social Security surplus that you paid into your whole life, well, then that‘s just a bunch of IOUs.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SENATOR ALAN SIMPSON, DEFICIT COMMISSION:  There is no surplus in there.  It‘s a bunch of IOUs.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  OK.  That‘s what I wanted to actually get at.  

SIMPSON:  Listen, 2.5 trillion bucks of IOUs.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, since they don‘t want to pay you back what they owe you, politicians in Washington are talking about how Social Security is in dire straits.   It‘s totally not true.  They are just in a panic over how to pay back that surplus that they already spent on other priorities.  Now, here come Democrats and Republicans with their fake emergencies.  Here‘s democratic Senator Dick Durbin. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS:  As we know it Social Security falls of a cliff.  A 22 percent reduction in payments, which is really not something we can tolerate.  If we deal with it today, it‘s an easier solution.  I think we ought to deal with it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, Social Security pays 100 percent of your benefits for another 26 years.  And if you don‘t quote, “fix it,” they still pays 78 percent of benefits 26 years from now, how is that falling off a cliff?  But notice that was Dick Durbin, a so-called liberal democrat playing the same exact rhetorical tricks as the Republicans.  He is part of the gang of six senators who claim that they are going to come up with a proposal for deficit reduction, somewhere between Congressman Ryan‘s republican plan and President Obama‘s plan, which means, it is already massively on conservative ground.  And as part of that plan, they will reform Social Security.  

Now, look if a reform mean they raise the cap on who pays the payroll tax and some of the upper brackets have to continue paying to Social Security at a higher levels of income, great, no problem that makes sense, everybody chips in.  If on other hand, they mean raising the retirement age, that means they are coming to rob you.  They don‘t want to pay you your full benefits.  They will make you work longer and not pay you the benefits you have gotten—would have gotten if you had retired in the time that we have it now.   That‘s when you should be in open revolt.  

Don‘t let the Republicans do that to you, but don‘t let the Democrats do that to you either.  Don‘t let anyone try to pull the wool over your eyes on that.  The Social Security surplus is real.  That‘s money you paid into.  That‘s money you‘re owed.  And under no circumstances should you let these Washington politicians take that from you.  

All right.  Now, thank you for watching.  You can always follow me online at TheYoungturks.com, on YouTube/TheYoungTurks.  Facebook has set TYT Nation and TYT and Twitter, you can follow us on The Young Turks.  “HARDBALL” starts right now. 

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