Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday April 25, 2011
Read the transcript from the Monday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Bill Press, Pat Buchanan, Ben Wizner, Steve Israel, Justin Ruben,
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Now, we‘ve been telling you for a long time that the oil companies have rigged the game in D.C. for their own benefit. And today we have the perfect example of it. As your gas prices continue to go up, the oil companies are laughing all the way to the bank.
The average price for a gallon of gas is now at $3.86 a gallon. That‘s up almost 30 cents from a month ago, and a jump of more than a full dollar from this time last year.
So it‘s no surprise that oil companies are expected to report significant first quarter profits later this week. Analysts say that these companies are firing on all cylinders. Their first quarter earnings are going to be much, much better than a year ago. They must be so proud.
But exactly how much better? Exxon Mobil‘s profits should rise 56 percent from a year earlier. Occidental Petroleum is expected to be up 35 percent year over year. Chevron‘s profits, up 29 percent, according to expectations.
Now, given these profits, President Obama and the Democrats are pushing for an end to the $4 billion that this country spends in oil subsidies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That‘s $4 billion of your money going to these companies when they‘re making record profits and you‘re paying near-record prices at the pump. It has to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That‘s exactly what we we‘ve been pushing for right here on this is program. That‘s why we‘ve been doing this rigged game segment to point out the absurdity of those subsidies, while companies are raking it in, as we just showed you.
So, I love that the presidents and the Democrats are going in that direction. It makes a lot of sense.
Now, you‘re going to be shocked, though, to find out that the GOP doesn‘t like that plan. Their solution? Drill, baby, drill.
Of course. House Republicans are planning bill introductions, hearings, markups, and floor votes on legislation aimed at expanding domestic oil production in the first week back from recess. Now, the problem? As usual, their plan is totally disconnected from the facts.
A study by the government‘s Energy Information Administration found that even if we were to open up the waters currently close to drilling, gas prices would only drop by three cents a gallon. So if we give the Republicans everything they want, as much drilling as their mind can imagine, the oil companies would get a lot richer and your gas prices at best would drop three cents.
And do the Republicans wants to end those oil subsidies we talked about? Of course not. The oil companies are the ones that get the Republicans elected in the first place.
So, now when they cry their crocodile tears over high gas prices, you have to understand what a gigantic joke that is.
All right. Now let‘s bring in some other voices that might disagree with me a little bit. Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show” on Sirius Radio.
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Hello, Cenk.
UYGUR: Great to have both of you back. All right.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be back, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Pat, let‘s start with you. Come on, now let me show you a poll first.
Seventy-four percent of Americans find it acceptable to end these oil subsidies, only 22 percent find it unacceptable. Are the Republicans running into a headwind here?
BUCHANAN: No. You‘re talking about peanuts if you‘re talking $4 billion. But let‘s take a look at Exxon Mobil last year, Cenk.
They made $383 billion in revenue and $30 billion in profits. That‘s about eight percent on the dollar, which isn‘t—it‘s high, but it‘s not extraordinarily high for American corporations.
Secondly, I know you say the price of gasoline has gone up. And I went to the pump and it is $4.30 for regular on Easter Sunday. But let me tell you something, in terms of gold and silver, the price of gasoline isn‘t going up, it‘s going down.
The problem, Cenk, is the American dollar is sinking like a stone, it‘s almost at an all-time level. It keeps going down to the point where Standard & Poor‘s thinks we‘re going to have to default. This is the responsibility of Barack Obama and no one else. It‘s terms of dollars that the gasoline prices are soaring.
UYGUR: Pat, if you‘re going to make the case to the American people that gas prices are going down relatively, and that we should be giving the oil companies more subsidies, I‘m going to wish you a lot of luck.
BUCHANAN: What I‘m saying is—well, maybe you can‘t make the case, but you‘ve got to—Cenk, you‘ve got to learn a little bit about supply and demand, as Barack Obama never did when he was out there in that Saul Alinsky outfit in Chicago.
UYGUR: Bill, peanuts? That‘s what Pat says.
PRESS: First of all, hey, I‘ve got a gas station here in Washington, D.C., where it‘s $4.99 for regular. I want Pat Buchanan to go down there. It‘s the end of Virginia Avenue and right alongside the Kennedy Center.
And tell everybody who pulls up, feel good about this, gas is going down.
Yes, Pat, lots of luck with that.
Look, I‘m not surprised Pat Buchanan, of course, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, they want to blame everything on Barack Obama. The target here, Cenk, as you started out, is these oil companies.
Look, sure, they ought to make a profit, but the problem with this equation is they think that if they make 60 percent higher in profits, they can charge 60 percent higher at the pump. It ought to be just the opposite.
So they‘re gouging consumers while they‘re riding off—as you say, laughing all the way to the bank. And what the president says, $4 billion is a lot of money. And, number two, it would get rid of this subsidy that goes to people who don‘t need it, the oil companies, and put it into—
PRESS: Pat, just be patient—and put it into the kind of energy investment that we need to get away from fossil fuels.
UYGUR: All right. Go ahead, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Sure, let‘s put it into solar. That will help our cars a lot.
PRESS: Yes, Pat, it will.
BUCHANAN: There‘s a problem, no doubt, of supply. OPEC has not increased its supply. The Middle East and the Gulf are in utter turmoil. Obama has shut down all these areas in the United States.
Demand is rising. It is supply and demand all the way.
Let me ask you—if we need more oil—and we do—who do you think is best equipped to go out and find it and drill for it and bring it to the United States, the oil companies, or Obama, Pelosi and Reid?
PRESS: No, here is the answer, Pat. Of course it‘s the oil companies, but they don‘t need us to subsidize them. They don‘t need a handout, Pat. They‘re fat and happy.
And I want to put a fact on the table. You say Obama is not allowing any drilling. As a matter of fact, since a year ago, the largest oil spoil in American history, this administration has put out 50 new permits in shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico alone, and 10 new deepwater permits even though, frankly, I don‘t think that they fixed the BP thing yet.
BUCHANAN: Good for him.
UYGUR: All right. Pat—
PRESS: But they‘re putting it out there, Pat.
UYGUR: Hold on. Hold on.
Hold on, Pat. Hold on, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Cenk, let‘s look at the larger issue. Sure.
UYGUR: Hold on, Pat. Look, you‘re talking about supply and demand, but we just showed you the numbers.
Even if you got all that drilling, even if you drilled off the coast of Florida, which we don‘t do, you would only move it three cents. And you said that the oil subsidies of $4 billion a year is peanuts.
Well, how about this? When they do the drilling, for—in some of the drills in the Gulf of Mexico, we don‘t even get royalty rights. You know how much that costs us? Fifty-three billion dollars they‘re taking from the American people.
Why do you want them to keep taking this money from us, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Well, I want to talk about here is we have an energy crisis. We all agree with that.
However, if you look at the United States, we invented nuclear power. We built Grand Coulee, Wilson, Hoover Dam in the 1930s. We have more natural gas than anybody else.
We have a 1,000-year supply of coal. We‘ve got an immense amount of oil. And we‘ve got a hellacious problem with energy. That tells us it‘s not our energy companies, it‘s the fourth-rate political party in Washington, D.C., that is the problem.
PRESS: Well, wait a minute, Pat. If you are blaming everything that hasn‘t happened in the last 100 years on Barack Obama, that is ludicrous.
BUCHANAN: Well, no. I blame it on both parties.
PRESS: That is ludicrous.
But let me tell you something, Pat. Actually, this guy, Barack Obama, has done more in terms of from getting us away from fossil fuels than anybody else. I‘m not here as a spokesperson for the administration, but I have been long supportive of alternative energy -- $245 billion in the surplus to look at non-fossil fuel investments.
Look at the industry now producing more efficient cars, Pat. Look at the electric battery companies that are popping up all over this country.
BUCHANAN: What you‘re talking about—
PRESS: We‘re moving in that direction, Pat. It takes a long time.
BUCHANAN: Bill—but you are talking about government subsidy. And this is Barack Obama‘s problem.
He has never been in a institution that is not tax-exempt, tax-subsidized or tax-supported. He knows nothing about the private enterprise system.
UYGUR: Well, wait a minute. No, no, no, no, no. Hold on. I‘m not going to let that slide.
PRESS: Yes. Come on, Pat.
UYGUR: I‘m not going to let that slide.
BUCHANAN: Where did he learn it?
UYGUR: Hold on. Hold on.
There‘s no way you‘re going to talk about the free market system here and say Obama doesn‘t understand it when your party has given away $4 billion a year of tax subsidies. What happened? What happened to the free market?
BUCHANAN: Cenk, let me answer your question. Let me answer your question, Cenk.
I will agree that, let‘s take away the subsidy to the oil industry, if you‘ll take away the silly subsidies for electric cars and for solar panel and for biomass and all this stuff, because --
PRESS: Why are they silly, Pat? Why are they silly? Why are they silly?
BUCHANAN: Because people are—because you have hypnotized yourself with concern over a bugaboo called global warming.
PRESS: Pat, come on. That‘s nonsense.
UYGUR: Hold on. Hold on.
PRESS: Hey, Cenk, I just want to point out—can I just put one fact out on the table?
UYGUR: OK. Go ahead.
PRESS: I live in a solar house in California, totally off the grid.
I‘ve lived in that house since 1980.
Solar is for real. And to continue to denounce it the way Pat does is just not to live in the regard world. Let‘s get serious about alliterative energy.
BUCHANAN: Your little house in California should not be subsidized by me.
PRESS: You didn‘t, Pat. You did not subsidize it.
UYGUR: No, no, no, no. Hold on, guys. Guys—
PRESS: But you want to subsidize the oil companies.
UYGUR: OK. Look, Pat, to give you a quick answer on this, the oil subsidies began in 1960 when it was a burgeoning industry and it needed help, right?
UYGUR: It doesn‘t need the help anymore. It‘s the most profitable industry in the history of the world.
Now, the reason you give the solar industry, et cetera, a little bit of help is so it can get to be one day big oil and rip us off like they do. And then you can come out and your party will get all those dollars from the solar panel companies, and you‘ll love them and you‘ll—
BUCHANAN: Are you going to run your little Prius on solar energy?
UYGUR: Stop giving away our money. That‘s what the problem is.
All right. We‘re out of time.
BUCHANAN: You want subsidies for your own industry.
UYGUR: All right. Guys, we‘re out of time.
PRESS: All right, Cenk.
UYGUR: MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Bill Press, lively, as always.
Thank you, guys.
PRESS: Go for it.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, Senator McCain went to Libya and boasted how they Libyan rebels are his heroes. Now, this was a complete dog-and-pony show, and it‘s also our “Con Job of the Day.”
And Donald Trump is heading to New Hampshire, but before he does, he hand-writes a letter to a critical reporter. And that reporter is going to join us live.
UYGUR: As usual, today WikiLeaks has brought us yet another amazing story that our press was not able to attain before. They released more than 700 classified documents about Guantanamo that show, as perhaps never before, the truly oppressive nature of America‘s detention system.
The most stunning revelations is the sheer number of innocent men who were in prison. Of the 779 men who have been detained, at least 150 were determined to be innocent, sometimes, oftentimes after being locked up for years.
Foreign papers like “The Daily Telegraph” in the U.K. led with that story because it‘s obviously startling. Right?
We were told that Guantanamo had the most dangerous al Qaeda and Taliban detainees and terrorists. And it turns out 150 people that we imprisoned this for years were innocent?
Look, that‘s why we have trials. That‘s why we‘re not supposed to do lawless outposts like Guantanamo. We‘re supposed to be better than this.
By the way, how did our domestic press handle this outrageous revelation? “The New York Times” had an oblique reference in the 19th paragraph of the story to 158 detainees who did not receive formal hearings. And they mention, oh, by the way, these people had “no ties or significant knowledge about al Qaeda or the Taliban.”
Now, how about “The Washington Post”? They mentioned 150 innocent detainees in a bullet point, but don‘t even write about them in the text of the article.
Thank you for your piercing reporting, “Pravda.”
And then there‘s the case of the innocent journalist we also locked up. Sami al-Hajj (ph) was held as an enemy combatant for more than six years and never charged with an act of terrorism. Well, the newly-released document showed a key reason for his detention. It was his work as an Al-Jazeera cameraman.
Analysts thought that he could provide information about “the Al-Jazeera‘s News Network‘s training program, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan.” So they knew he wasn‘t with al Qaeda all along.
Who cares? Keep him locked up anyway, because he might give us information about an Arab news station.
Are you kidding me? What happened to this country?
And, of course, just this month, the Obama administration reversed course on holding a civilian trial for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and has decided to try him in Guantanamo instead. Impeccable timing, as always.
With me now is Ben Wizner. He‘s the litigation director for the American Civil Liberties Union. He‘s been a human rights observer at military commission proceedings held at Guantanamo Bay.
All right. Look, let me start with the broad question because, Ben, I want to know what happened to this country. I mean, you‘ve been working at the ACLU. This wasn‘t America before, right? We didn‘t keep 150 innocent people in a hole in Guantanamo Bay.
BEN WIZNER, ACLU: Well, let‘s not treat this as some accident. This is a result of very specific policy decisions by senior Bush administration officials.
Typically, when our military captures people, they hold a hearing at or near the time or place of capture to determine whether the person is a civilian or a combatant. For Guantanamo, instead we used a dragnet.
Cheney and Rumsfeld said we‘ll figure out who they are later. Put them in planes, bring them to Guantanamo. We‘ll call them the most vicious, best-trained killers on the face of the earth, the worst of the worst, and we‘ll sort it out later.
Now it‘s 2011. We still don‘t know who everyone is who is being held at Guantanamo.
One of these documents refers to someone and says, “We don‘t know his identity yet.” This is after eight years of detention at Guantanamo.
UYGUR: Come on.
WIZNER: So this is what happens when you abandon the rule of law and instead literally open an island outside the law where people can be held without charge or trial.
UYGUR: Look, I‘m asking the American people, whether you‘re a Democrat or you‘re a Republican, what are we doing? You think we should keep people for eight years when we don‘t even know their name? I mean, that‘s the whole point of the American justice system.
And to your point, Ben, we‘ve got a great video of Dick Cheney telling us how dangerous all of these people were. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And they did not fight in uniform, which is one of the requirements for complying with the laws of war. They attacked civilian populations. That‘s their only target. They don‘t represent any state or any sovereign state that was a party to the Geneva Convention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Yes, all those people that were attacking us like the Al-Jazeera cameraman, right, that they kept there for six years?
WIZNER: But we should make another point about this, Cenk, which is there are people at Guantanamo who easily could have been tried and convicted in legitimate federal courts many years ago.
In your lead-in you referred to the 9/11 case. It should be a national scandal that we‘re coming up on the 10-year anniversary attacks, and we haven‘t even had a trial to bring the perpetrators to justice. The reason for that is that, instead of following our values, following our traditions, following the rule of law, we instead create this island prison, dump people in, create secret black-site prisons, subject people to torture, and now it becomes that much more difficult to restore the rule of law.
UYGUR: See, Ben, that‘s what I say all the time. We‘ve got to bring these people to justice.
I mean, 9/11 happened right here, nearly 3,000 people killed, and yet we haven‘t brought them to justice. The (INAUDIBLE) is like, oh, why should we try them in New York? Because the crime happened in New York.
So that‘s my question to you. The people who say we should do this in Guantanamo, we should ignore our normal rule of law in America, we should do this in this lawless outpost that we‘ve set up, do they hate the American justice system? Are they un-American?
WIZNER: Well, I think you need to call them what they are. I think they‘re cowards.
I think people who think that we ought to change our entire justice system because of the perceived threat of a handful of people, whoever they are, should be called cowards. The point of having a rule of law is that if we don‘t have evidence to support holding someone, we let that person go.
If we used Guantanamo justice in our regular criminal justice system, why would we have trials? The prosecution thinks people are guilty. But the point is, acquitting people, letting them walk out, even if they are guilty, makes us stronger, makes us safer, upholds our values, gives us respect throughout the world, and is the fundamental legitimacy of a legal system.
UYGUR: Ben Wizner, from the ACLU.
Thank you for joining us today.
And I just want to tell the audience one more thing.
Look, if you think that you believe in this Guantanamo nonsense, and you don‘t believe in our American justice system, you‘re letting the terrorists win. You‘re saying, OK, you win, al Qaeda, you win Zawahiri, you win bin Laden. We‘re not going to do it our way anymore.
We‘re going to trash the American justice system and we‘re to do it your way. And Ben is right. That‘s being a coward, that‘s being scared of the terrorists.
These colors don‘t run. We‘ve got to be better than that.
All right. Now, we‘ve obviously said our peace.
So, now, John McCain calls for an end to Gadhafi‘s reign in Libya, and we call that a massive McCain con job.
And Speaker Boehner‘s fight to uphold the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act just got a little harder. We‘ll tell you why.
UYGUR: In our “Con Job of the Day,” we have Senator McCain‘s massive flip-flop on Moammar Gadhafi.
Last week, on a trip to Libya, McCain called the Libyan rebels his “heroes.” In the weeks since the civil war erupted there, he‘s repeatedly called for an end to Gadhafi‘s regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I believe that Gadhafi should go.
We should be much more involved and engaged in the air campaign than we have been.
He has the blood of Americans on his hands because he was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Interesting. McCain apparently didn‘t notice the blood on Gadhafi‘s hand when he shook his hand in 2009. That‘s when McCain led a delegation of senators to meet with Gadhafi. McCain sat down with him, talked with him. He even talked about giving Gadhafi American military aid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defense equipment to the government of Libya.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: After their meeting, McCain tweeted: “Late evening with Colonel Gadhafi at his ranch in Libya. Interesting meeting with an interesting man.”
Two years ago McCain thought Gadhafi was an interesting man. Perhaps the most interesting man in the world. Oh, the lovely time that they spent together at his ranch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Ties between the United States and Libya have taken a remarkable and positive turn in recent years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So, John McCain was for Gadhafi before he was against him, kind of like Don Rumsfeld was for Saddam Hussein before he was against him. I guess the lesson is, beware of Republicans offering handshakes.
John McCain‘s hypocrisy on Libya is our “Con Job of the Day.”
Now, Republicans who voted for Paul Ryan‘s extremist budget are now trying to run from that vote, but this time the Democrats are hitting them hard. And we‘ll show you how.
And Democratic Congressman Steve Israel and Moveon.org‘s Justin Ruben tell us how they‘re planning to call the Republicans out.
Plus, Donald Trump picks a fight with one of Hollywood‘s biggest stars.
UYGUR: The memo is out. It‘s so out, even the Democrats got it. The Ryan plan to cut Medicare and lower taxes for the rich is a disaster for the Republicans. GOP law makers in their home districts have been getting an earful from voters who don‘t want them to privatize Medicare. And now, the Democrats are mobilizing that anger, and new democratic web video highlights republican freshmen who flip flopped on Medicare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAN BENISHEK ®, MICHIGAN: Social Security and Medicare are a promise we have made to our seniors. And I will keep that promise.
REP. SCOTT TIPTON ®, COLORADO: I‘ll never put or (INAUDIBLE) with no privatization, and no scaring our seniors.
REP. STEVE SOUTHERLAND ®, FLORIDA: We have been to fulfill our commitment to our seniors. The promises that we have made.
REP. RENEE ELLMERS ®, NORTH CAROLINA: Cutting Medicare, $500 million to pay for Obama care. That‘s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Look at that tough ad from the Democrats. They just accused the Republicans of lying. When is the last time you saw that? And the progressive group, Americans United for Change is launching a campaign against lawmakers who backed the Ryan plan, starting with this TV ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Paul Ryan looks like a nice young man, but on April 15th, he thought to end Medicare, and its guaranteed health care benefits. He‘s ending Medicare, so millionaires can get another tax break? Really? Call Congressman Ryan and ask, what were you thinking?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And now it looks like the Democrats and Congress are not about to let the Republicans off the hook either. Majority Leader Harry Reid will reportedly will schedule a vote on Ryan‘s plan in the Senate, forcing Republicans there to go on the record for ending Medicare or into voting against their own party‘s plan. That‘s what the idea that I love. Now, once so called moderate. Susan Collins of Maine just announced, she would not support the Ryan plan. So, here we go. The dissension begins. And tomorrow, House republican leaders are holding a conference call with nervous law makers. A GOP source tells National Journal, the calls to help law makers who quote, have been getting the crap kicked out of them in town hall‘s back home.
Music to my ears. I just checked out how agitated Congressman Sean Duffy got when a voter challenged him on Medicare at a town hall last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SEAN DUFFY ®, WISCONSIN: Let me tell you what, when you have your town hall, you can stand up and give your presentation. I call a name and we—if you just, I guess I owe everyone here a level of respect. You can ask me whatever questions, they‘re not always easy. I‘m doing the best job I can answer your questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Well, they don‘t like being challenged, when Democrats are being challenge, they love that, right? Now, many of the Republicans are so afraid they‘ve abort a schedule in town halls all together. Why? Because they‘ll know what they‘ll here. Every major poll taken on the last few weeks had shown overwhelming opposition to slashing Medicare. When‘s the last time you saw Republicans running for the hills like this? Look, when are they ever going to learn? Americans love their Social Security and Medicare, so stop trying to kill it.
Joining me now is Congressman Steve Israel, democrat, and from New York I had to say. And chairman of the Democratic National Congressional Campaign Committee. Congressman Israel, great to have you with us tonight.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Great to be with you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, those ads and videos that Democrats and progressive groups put together are pretty tough. How much are you guys going press, is this going to be the main issue, going into 2012 saying, they voted to cut Medicare?
ISRAEL: Yes. The vote to terminate Medicare was the defining vote of this Congress, and we intent to hold Republicans accountable every day and in every way for that vote. They are right now trying to defend the indefensible. And the indefensible is, terminating the guaranteed Medicare benefit costing seniors an additional 12,000 in order to fund tax cuts for people making over a million dollars. It is indefensible vote, we‘ll going to hold them accountable. And were going to hold them accountable very aggressively.
UYGUR: And, you know, they said that the Democrats want to cut Medicare because of getting rid Medicare advantage. That‘s what they run on in 2010. That‘s what the DCCC ad shows, but Ryan‘s plan in a double or triple hypocrisy also gets rid of Medicare advantage, so how do they justify that?
ISRAEL: You know, every time I think that they have reach the hypocrisy limit, they prove me wrong. They proved to me that there are no boundaries for hypocrisy in the republican caucus. They spent an entire campaign falsely advertising to seniors that we were going to reduce Medicare. In fact, we increase the solvency of Medicare, we strengthen Medicare. And they say that their plan now to improve Medicare is to end Medicare. Well, guess what? There‘s a reason that every major poll in the country is showing us that seniors, and independents, Democrats and Republicans are absolutely rejecting the republican plan. They are not falling for this nonsense that ending Medicare is improving Medicare.
UYGUR: All right. Well, let me show you some poll numbers here citing this very important to the two parties obviously. In 2008, the Republicans got 53 percent of the senior vote, that 65 years and older. And then in 2010, they got 59 percent, so they had a significant jump up. Have they put that back in play for you, guys? For you to be able to go get that senior votes in 2012?
ISRAEL: They have put back into play two critical groups of the electorate, seniors and Independents. Look, the bottom line is that we lost seniors in 2010 and we lost about 9 million Independents in 2010. Now, we lost them because Republicans were effectively able to lie about us on Medicare. All we have to do to get them back is tell the truth about Republicans wanted to end Medicare. That‘s precisely what we‘re doing now. And what we‘re going to continue to do every day. And this isn‘t about politics by the way. This is about what defines Democrats and Republicans. This is about Democrats who were willing to stand up and continue Medicare but don‘t believe that we should Medicare to fund tax cuts for people making it over million dollars versus Republicans who are willing to cost seniors in additional $12,000 in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires. Under the Republican plan, if you‘re making over million dollars, you win the lotto. If you‘re a senior on Medicare, you lose your Medicare.
ISRAEL: That‘s what this is about. And we‘re going to keep this message going.
UYGUR: Now, Republicans say, wait a minute, our plan does not affect anybody over the age of 55. We‘re only planning to end Medicare for people under 55. Now, is that also partly an admission though on their part, that well, if they applied it to people over 55, they would be livid, right? So, let‘s just try to kill Medicare for people who might not notice.
ISRAEL: It‘s an absolute admission. You know, what they‘re saying is we know this is a bad idea. So we‘re going to wait for ten years for the bad idea to kick in. Well, you know, I‘ll be honest, I‘m 52-years-old. I paid into Medicare all my working life for decades and decades. And when it‘s time for me to receive Medicare, how is it fair that the government says, well, the Ryan plan denies you Medicare, we turn it over to the insurance companies and we‘re only going to cover you for some of the cost. That is not fair to people who have been paying into Medicare. There are better ways to balance budgets. We balance budgets by tightening our belts, by reducing spending. They balance budgets by eliminating Medicare for seniors and giving tax cuts for millionaires.
UYGUR: All right. Representative Steve Israel, thank you for joining us tonight.
ISRAEL: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, one progressive group that‘s mobilizing direct action against these lawmakers who voted to end Medicare is MoveOn.Org. Urging people to attend these town halls and call the politicians to account. Now, let me bring in Justin Ruben. Here‘s the executive director of MoveOn.Org. All right. Justin, what are you guys planning to do to mobilize those MoveOn activists at these town hall events.
JUSTIN RUBEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: Well, you know, I think what we found is that when people know about this budget, as soon as people understand exactly what‘s going on, it actually is going to end Medicare to give a tax base to millionaires, people are outraged. And so, the first thing we‘ve been doing is giving people the information, and then, you know, we have members in basically every congressional district. MoveOn about 500 million people around the country, so they‘ve been scouring the newspaper looking for these town halls. And as soon as anybody finds out about them letting the other members MoveOn know through the network and sharing up this town halls to give people a piece of their mind.
UYGUR: Right. And we were just showing video there of the juxtaposition between what happened in 2009 to the Democrats and some Republicans. And to what‘s happening today. That‘s Ryan getting booed there. Now, other than having people in all the states, you also have a huge age group. Are you seeing seniors more mad at this plan even though when they apply to people over 55 or you‘re seeing people under 55 who get in there motivated?
RUBEN: You know, we‘ve been, basically, my experience has been everybody you talk to about this, when people know about it, they just get so angry. You know, I think it just doesn‘t match—it‘s not just that people are worried about, they might be worried about their parents, they‘re worried about what‘s going to happen to them, if they‘re 55. But, you know, and then you have senior citizens saying, you know, what about my grandkids? What about my children? And if they come after Medicare for them, who‘s to say they‘re not going to come after Medicare for me, too. So, I think that you know, the key thing, is that more people hear about this, the angrier they get to Republicans.
UYGUR: Now, Justin, some people will say, hey, look, those Koch brothers organized some of those plans, you know, where the Arlen Specter doing the famous thing we just say, wait a minute, wait a minute, right? And you guys are organizing bringing people the town hall events, so what‘s the difference?
RUBEN: Right. You know, there are two big differences, right? One is MoveOn is funded entirely by small donations. Millions of people around the country who donate whatever they can to make this happen. And this is, you know, it‘s pure grass roots democracy. People letting their neighbors and know about this town halls, and teaming up together to go and actually, and give Republicans a piece of their mind. I think the other thing is just, this is so far out of rack with America‘s priority. I mean, literally, we‘re going to take health caraway from old people in order to give tax breaks to corporations and rich people. You know, that‘s not where American voters are. That may be where the Koch brothers and other corporate backers Republican Party are at, but that is definitely not where the American people at. And this, you know, I think MoveOn members are squarely within the majority of the American people or saying, this is what we stand for.
UYGUR: Right. And my understanding is you personally are not going to gain from this plan, right? Because the Koch Brothers are like hey, we get rid at some of those stuff. They stand the game. And MoveOn obviously is fighting for your ideology. Right other wrong, people agree or disagree, but that‘s what‘s happening.
RUBEN: Yes. Absolutely.
UYGUR: All right. Justin, thank you so much for joining us.
RUBEN: Thank you very much.
UYGUR: Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org.
All right. Now, Donald Trump responding to a critical reporter with a handwritten letter. He was mad. Justin Elliott reveals the details about letter because he was that reporter.
UYGUR: Last week, we brought you the news as Speaker Boehner hired Paul Clement, a high priced lawyer from King and Spalding. That is a law firm in D.C. and they are going to argue in favor of their defense of marriage act in court, because Obama administration says, they were no longer defend the discriminatory law.
Well, on Friday, we did a segment here arguing that gay activists are incredibly effective at fighting back on issues like this. We told you that they had engage to this fight, and were far more likely to win than other progressive groups in different area, and today victory. Man, that was quick. King & Spalding has dropped the case. Now, Clement resigned from the firm over that decision and he‘s going to continue to work on it. About when Boehner found out about the firm backing out, his press secretary released a statement that said, quote, “the speaker is disappointed in the firm decision and is careless disregard for its responsibilities for the house and this constitutional matter.”
King & Spalding of course has no constitutional obligation to defend Boehner‘s discriminatory law, they‘re a private firm and can do whatever they like. Something that Boehner normally loves to point out, except of course when it‘s inconvenient. But as we told you on Friday, the progressive community has a lot to learn from the LGBT movement. They don‘t play around. When they come for you, you‘re in trouble. Look at how they have Boehner now back pedaling and losing ground. That‘s how you fight.
UYGUR: Breaking news from the Trump campaign, Meat Loaf has signed on. This singer says, not only will he‘ll vote for Donald Trump, but he will also campaign for them. No word on whether Meat Loaf will accompany Trump this Wednesday when he visits New Hampshire and keep primary state. But while Trump has the Meat Loaf vote locked up, he lost the raging bull. Robert De Niro is steaming mad at Trump and he‘s calling him out. Here‘s what De Niro told Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: Come out, come out wherever you have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. He didn‘t say that. But here‘s what he actually said about Trump‘s birther obsession at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend, quote, “it‘s like a big hustle, it‘s like being a car salesman. Don‘t go out there and say things unless you can back them up. How dare you? That‘s awful to do.” Of course, Trump couldn‘t let that one go, and he lobbed this cheap shot at De Niro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: Well, he‘s not the brightest bulb in the planet. I mean, I‘ve been watching him over the years. And I like his acting, but, you know, in terms of when I watch him doing interviews and various other things, we‘re not dealing with Albert Einstein.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He can‘t help himself. He‘s got a comment on every day. Now, let‘s look at this celebrity tally for against the Donald. Gary Busey joins Meat Loaf on team Trump. That‘s a powerful combo. And Jerry Seinfeld is with De Niro and the Trump is nuts column. Charlie Sheen makes both lists. He came out as a birther last week, but later told an audience not to vote for Trump, because he claims Trump get this, once gave him a pair of diamond and platinum cuff links that turned out to be fake. I‘m so not surprised by that story. Anyway, Trump isn‘t just around up Hollywood, he has also whipped up the Republican Party into a frenzy as well. His shameless devotion to the birther conspiracy theory as Tea Party—and bolted them to the top of the polls. Then on Sunday, Reverend Franklin came out and support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, EVANGELIST: When I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well this is going to be a joke, but the more you listen to him. The more you say to yourself, you know, maybe the guy is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And that‘s of course Franklin Graham, and that‘s of course him coming out of the closet and saying, he‘s a birther now that Trump has given cover. Meanwhile, Karl Rove sent a strong message when he called Trump a joke, so he‘s in the anti-Trump category. So, is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senator John McCain, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They all seem to wish that Trump would go and take his birth certificate with them. But Donald Trump has proven that he‘s pre-much to honor republican people are talking about.
Man, everybody is talking about him. He sucked the oxygen right out of the race. It‘s already proven to be too much for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who announced today, he‘s not running for president. Saying, he lacked the necessary fire in the bailey. Given that I‘ll live in a glass house, I will not make any bailey jokes. Let the battle for one percent of voters who supported Barbour begin by the way. Pawlenty get ready. There‘s that one percent for Grahams. As for Trump, he shows no signs of backing out yet. Of course, in fact, just when you think the story is dying down, the Trump hike machines starts all over again, and even Al Pacino has gotten sucked into this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.
UYGUR: All right. He didn‘t say that, either. All right.
Let me bring in Justin Elliott, reporter for Salon. com. Just in recently wrote a piece of “How Trump Could Run and Still Hide His Net Worth.” And received a handwritten response from Donald Trump referring to the person of financial disclosure form that presidential candidates have to fund. Trump wrote, quote, “Justin, I have no problem, I would in fact file early. You will be very surprised, the Donald.”
All right. Justin, you are here. He‘s unbelievable, man. He can‘t help himself. So, were you surprised when you got the letter?
JUSTIN ELLIOTT, REPORTER, SALON. COM: Well, I mean, my first reaction was, this is probably the latest events, that he‘s not running. They‘re taking the time to print out my articles right—and have—back to me. But I think the other key thing that shows that Trump is profoundly insecure about his net worth, you know, a lot of people think that he have been lying about how much—how rich he is. Over the years, he‘s throwing around, numbers like three, four, five billion. Independent estimates put a lot lower. So, clearly that‘s what I was writing about. If he declares his official candidacy at a certain point, you have to release information about how much he worth. So, that‘s the reason why people think he‘s not really going to run.
UYGUR: That‘s what I think. But can he hide his net worth or no?
ELLIOTT: Well, it turns out under the law, he can drag it on for real long time.
UYGUR: Oh, boy!
ELLIOTT: As long as he officially doesn‘t say, he‘s a candidate, and he says, I‘m out there testing the waters as long as he doesn‘t run ads, do a few other things, he doesn‘t trigger the 30-day deadline to file this personal disclosure. So, you know, the first primaries can be win, January, he may have eight months.
UYGUR: Oh, boy! That means we have a lot of Trump unfortunately going forward. You know, but when you ask him about his financial, when you ask him about bankruptcies for example, here‘s what he said. He said, look, quote, “we‘re using the law to our advantage. That shouldn‘t be embarrassing. That should be smart. When I explain it to people, they get it. But a lot of people don‘t know. They say, Trump filed for bankruptcy, it‘s not personal, it‘s just business.” Now, if the average homeowner come and says, look, it‘s not personal, it‘s just business, I‘m underwater, I‘m not paying the mortgage. They say, oh deadbeat, how can you do that? You had a contract et cetera. So, for rich people, contracts are irrelevant, they could just declare bankruptcy whatever they want and get out.
ELLIOTT: Well, I think, actually his first bankruptcy, and we should say I believe he‘s had more bankruptcy than he has had wives, and he‘s had three wives. But his first bankruptcy I believe is early ‘90s involving a failed casino. He owed the bank so much money that they couldn‘t—they bailed him out, because they needed him essentially. So, yes. The certain point if you‘re rich enough, you owed a bank enough money, the need you.
UYGUR: That‘s absurd. All right. So now, the other issues just come out is apparently he has not voted as much as he had said that he had voted. He had missed the 2002 general elections, he skipped 21 years of primaries starting in 1989. So, how does he‘s going to explain that? Well, we got a video of that. So, let‘s watch.
ELLIOTT: Sometimes, you‘ll have a primary where republican is even mentioned, and where there is no Republicans, or where he‘s expected to get four percent of the vote and I‘ll be in a foreign state or I‘ll be in foreign country doing business. And am I supposed to drive back when the Republican is, you know, considered to get three percent of the vote, or there is no republican even running. So, a little bit of that. But in terms of the general election, my record is very good. I mean, general speaking, I like the vote. I‘m a believer in voting, I will tell you.
UYGUR: All right. First of all, I thought it was Gretchen Carlson in there, but they just did a fill in the blank. But anyway, onto Trump, is that going to be convincing to primary voters when he says, come out and vote for me. And he just told everybody, no, primaries, that was busy.
ELLIOTT: No. I don‘t think Trump is even particularly political, I mean, I don‘t know that he could pass a high school civics class. This is the guy, we shouldn‘t take at face value that he‘s a republican. I mean, he ran or he talked a lot about running on a reform party ticket in 2000. A colleague of mine at Salon.com today reported he gave $30,000 to Ed Rendell, democrat in Pennsylvania, six months ago, $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel. I don‘t even think he‘s a republican.
UYGUR: Really? Wow! Fifty thousand to Rahm Emanuel. But on other hand. It‘s not the most liberal guy in the world. Anyway, but Ed Rendell, a strong progressive, is on the show all the time. All right. So, you know, we can‘t figure out where the Donald is going or leaving. But he loves the attention. So, my guess, you write another article, he‘ll write you another handwritten note.
ELLIOTT: Yes. And this is all by, I mean, he lives off his brand. A lot of buildings that bare his name, he doesn‘t own those buildings. He‘s licensing his name, so it‘s all.
UYGUR: You‘re getting another letter, OK. Watch yourself, Justin. All right. Justin Elliott, of course, from Salon.com. Thanks for joining us.
ELLIOTT: Thanks a lot.
UYGUR: All right. Now, when we come back, the Obama administration is apparently planning a disastrous policy. I‘m going to try to talk them out of it, OK, when we come back.
UYGUR: Remember when the president gave a progressive speech 12 days ago and everybody lauded him for making a strong case, for getting rid of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy including us. But do you also remember that I gave a note of caution? Because I picked up a line and that speech that not many people have mentioned. The one where he indicated that he may actually lower taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Promote economic growth and build on the fiscal commission‘s model of reducing tax expenditures, so that there‘s enough savings to both lower rates and lower the deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So, what‘s that about? After giving this huge speech on the need to raise taxes on the rich, so they can pay their fair share, why did he include that line about lowering taxes? Because that was the plan all along. To lower the top corporate and possibly personal income tax. Then, how did I know that? It‘s like when my wife asked me how I knew who the killer was half way through a movie. She asks, how did you know? Because I was paying attention. They gave you clues throughout the movie. And it‘s almost always not what you originally suspected. Kind of like the Obama administration.
I read the fiscal commission findings or at least what Simpson-Balls published, after they couldn‘t get everybody else to sign on. And instead that they won—the top corporate and income rates, after getting rid of deductions and loop holes. And now, today, the other shoe is beginning to drop. John Harold (ph) reporting for the New York Times says, the Obama administration is preparing a plan to lower corporate tax rates. They really must be crazy. They say it would get rid a little loopholes and has bet revenue, et cetera. But let me tell you what‘s going to happen. They‘ll going to get rid of the loopholes for now, but at the first possible opportunity, their corporations will reinsert those loopholes, but now at a lower rate.
The rate could be lowered from 35 to 26 percent. Whose brilliant idea was this? Of course, Tim Geithner. There is a corporate executive this guy has wanted to hug. I think the policy is disastrous, but what‘s worst is the politics. In the middle of brewing middle class rage about lack of jobs, high gas prices, where the rich are getting richer and paying less taxes. You‘re going to propose lowering corporate taxes, are you crazy? How tone deaf are these guys? What‘s your slogan for 2012? I know you‘re in a lot of trouble, but don‘t worry? I just gave the corporations another break. Look, I‘m trying to be a friend, turn around, you‘re going the wrong way. Stop listening to Geithner, stop listening to Washington media, the country is in a rage over the economy. They don‘t think this is the answer. Please turn around. That‘s our show for tonight. Thank you for watching. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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