Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday June 3rd, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Jared Bernstein, Stephen Moore, Dana Milbank, Christina Bellantoni,
Josh Trevino, Ben Mankiewicz, David Sirota, Richard Hasen, Ana Kasparian
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening, everybody. It turns out I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Now, look, we‘ve got bad news for you off the top. The economy is down, and the Republicans are pushing to make it even worse, unfortunately. And that‘s our lead story tonight.
Today, we learned just 54,00 jobs were added last month, bumping the unemployment rate up to 9.1 percent. Nearly 14 million people are unemployed. That is a very bad number, obviously. But the Republicans who now control half of Congress are accepting none of the blame and instead are pointing the finger at the president. Of course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: One look at the jobs report should be enough to show the White House it‘s time to get serious.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: This president continues to give speeches as if he is there for the middle class and the small businesses, but somehow the rhetoric falls short.
REP. JEB HENSARLING ®, TEXAS: Another month and another data point on the failure of Obamanomics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: But if the House Republicans care so much about unemployment, why haven‘t they brought a single jobs bill to the floor this year?
Now, after running on jobs, after blaming Obama for lack of jobs, they have not introduced one jobs bill. Not one. You know, there‘s a number for that. It‘s called zero.
In fact, it seems like whenever there‘s a plan to take action to boost the economy, Republicans immediately oppose it. They oppose the stimulus, which the CBO says increased the number of full-time jobs by at least 1.6 million. And Republicans opposed President Obama‘s bailout to save the American car industry.
Remember talk like this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a bridge loan no nowhere. This is a down payment on many billions to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I join my colleagues in opposing this bailout plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to let the market fix this. This is not a political problem. It‘s a business problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: The president was able to push through the auto bailout anyway, and it wound up saving hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
Today, at a Chrysler plant in Ohio, he talked about the choices that he made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we let Chrysler and GM fail, plants like this would have shut down, then dealers and suppliers across the country would have shriveled up. Then Ford and other automakers could have failed, too.
So, in the middle of a deep recession, that would have been a brutal and irreversible shock to the entire economy and to the future of millions of American. So we refused to let that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Look, you know I keep it real with you. So I don‘t think the president has done everything right when it comes to the economy. Actually, not by a long shot. But the Republicans have taken positions that would have been absolutely disastrous.
Can you imagine if they‘d shut down GM and Chrysler and we lost all of those jobs on top of the terrible economy that we have now? My God, what would Michigan and Ohio have looked like today?
Come on. Those are terrible ideas.
And now all they want to do is cut spending, which no sane economist in their right mind believes will create more jobs. In fact, economists all say it will cost many, many jobs going forward. Why would you do that when we need jobs?
Look, is it possible that someone can earnestly believe these things as right policies in these times? Or do the Republicans have another agenda?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER: Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right.
Now, let‘s talk about their agenda and the economy overall. So, joining me to do that is Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for the vice president, and now senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And Stephen Moore, senior economics writer with The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board. So this should be interesting.
All right, guys. Welcome. Great to have you here on the program.
Jared, let me start with you. What do you think about the president‘s economic plan? Are you disappointed with these numbers? And what can we do going forward?
JARED BERNSTEIN, FMR. CHIEF ECONOMIST FOR VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I
think the president‘s economic plan, much as you said, but more importantly, just based on independent folks who actually have money in the game, these kind of private sector analysts, have looked at the impact of the president‘s plan, including the stimulus, as well as some of the actions of the Federal Reserve, and unquestionably, this president and his actions, including the restructuring of the auto firms, took an economy that was cataclysmically falling off a cliff.
I mean, remember, when the president got here, you had 54,000 jobs a month. That‘s not a enough, no question about it. That‘s a tough month.
The first three months of his term, over 700,000 jobs lost per month. GDP cratering at over six percent. Over two million jobs lost in the first quarter.
So, before we get too wound up on this one monthly number—and we should talk about it, because I think more does need to be done going forward—let‘s not forget about where we were.
UYGUR: All right.
So, Stephen, I want to try to get your perspective on this, right? Because opposing the auto bailouts looks like it was just flat-out wrong now. And when you look at the idea of cutting spending, how in the world is that going to create more jobs? That doesn‘t seem to make any sense.
So what are the Republicans offering? I don‘t get it.
STEPHEN MOORE, “WALL STREET JOURNAL”: First of all, Cenk, we didn‘t bail out the auto companies, we bailed out the unions. If we had not given them all this money, they would have restructured, and you‘d probably—I think you‘d actually have a more healthy auto industry than you do now.
UYGUR: Wait, wait, wait. Stephen, I don‘t get that at all. What do you mean?
We didn‘t give the money to the unions. We gave them to the car—they were bankrupt. So, otherwise, they would have gone under like you guys said they should.
MOORE: Wait a minute, Cenk. If they had gone through bankruptcy, which any normal company that doesn‘t have inroads to the White House would have done—
BERNSTEIN: They did go through bankruptcy.
MOORE: But the people—as you know, Jared, the people who got screwed were the creditors. And the money that was, you know, dually owed to the creditors went to the labor unions. But that‘s not the point here.
UYGUR: But that‘s a perfect thing. Stephen, hold on right there, because, look, you‘re saying, oh my God, the creditors got screwed here, but they‘re the ones who invested in the company that went bankrupt. And you‘re saying, oh, it‘s a shame that we helped to keep the workers in their jobs.
But wait a minute. Yes, the money should go to the workers who are creating the cars, who are now profitable.
MOORE: No, wait a minute. In any—this is 200 years of common law, that when you have a company that goes bankrupt, the people are first in line. And this has been the case in legal law for hundreds of years. The people who are first in line are the creditors. And what the Obama administration said is no, the creditors don‘t get the money, we‘re going to give it to the unions.
UYGUR: So Stephen, you‘re saying that the workers should have been last in line.
MOORE: No, Cenk. By the way—
BERNSTEIN: We can relitigate this all we want, but the facts are wrong. Everyone in line took a haircut on that one.
MOORE: The unions still exist, Jared. I mean, the fact is that the unions (ph) didn‘t give nearly the concessions that are needed. And you‘re going to have a situation the next time we have a recession, which hopefully isn‘t now, where Chrysler and GM are going to come back for more money.
BERNSTEIN: OK. A, you‘re wrong. And B, it‘s irrelevant because you‘ve saved about a million jobs. And that‘s precisely what we have to be talking about right now.
MOORE: Hold on, Jared.
BERNSTEIN: When you count the supply chains.
MOORE: All right. Well, Jared, wait a minute.
You shouldn‘t be talking about how many jobs were created. You were the one—it was your numbers that said the stimulus plan was going to create three million jobs. Here we are two-and-a-half years later, we have got maybe two million jobs, not as a result of the stimulus.
You said we‘d have an unemployment rate less than 8 percent. We‘re at
I don‘t know how anybody, Cenk, could basically say that the stimulus plan was anything but one of the biggest and most expensive policy failures in American history.
BERNSTEIN: OK. Good points. Let me take them.
Now, if you look at the Congressional Budget Office, if you look at Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder, former Fed vice chair, and you look at their analysis, at the peak of the stimulus it created or saved 3.5 million jobs. Not my numbers, their numbers, happened to come out precisely as we said it.
And you‘re absolutely right. We did not at the time—in late 2008, we didn‘t see how high unemployment was going to go. You‘re correct about that.
But those same folks find that the stimulus plan took about two percentage points off the unemployment rate. All of that is old news. What we need to talk about now, Stephen, and I‘d love to get into this—
MOORE: Wait a minute. Wait, hold on. Jared, hold o. You‘re saying the people like you who got it wrong are now saying—
UYGUR: Let me jump in here.
MOORE: All we can go on is what really happened. We don‘t know what would have happened.
UYGUR: No, Stephen.
MOORE: We do know what did happen. And we got a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, which is a catastrophe for our country.
UYGUR: Stephen, listen, listen, listen. Over here, listen. OK?
First of all, he just said, that, yes, according to some analysts, over three million jobs were created. And you say, ha -ha, you got it wrong. No, he‘s saying he got it right.
Now, I understand you guys disagree about that. I get it.
MOORE: Where are the jobs then?
UYGUR: Hold on. Hold on.
MOORE: What jobs are you talking about?
UYGUR: What I want to talk about is going forward—and look, I‘ve got my own problems with the administration. I don‘t think they were anywhere near progressive enough. I don‘t think they took nearly enough action.
MOORE: You want more stimulus. You want more debt.
UYGUR: Absolutely! OK?
Now, you‘re saying—OK, I assume you‘re saying you‘ve got a plan for jobs. I haven‘t heard it yet. We have got a massive unemployment problem. Is your answer to cut spending and we lose more jobs?
MOORE: No. Government spending reductions create jobs. We learn that. And government spending increases—
UYGUR: How? How? How? How?
MOORE: Because when you cut government spending, you reduce government debt and you free up resources for the private sector. We tried it the other way.
UYGUR: We already have resources freed up. Do you acknowledge, Stephen, that there‘s $1.6 trillion sitting in corporations in America right now and they‘re not spending it?
MOORE: Cenk, why? Because of regulation? Because of taxation?
MOORE: Because companies are scared to death of this administration.
MOORE: Regulation, all the things that are causing businesses to go into a cocoon. Who wants to invest in this kind of environment?
UYGUR: All right, Jared. Go ahead.
BERNSTEIN: Stephen, I know you were going to make this uncertainty point. We can have arguments about deregulation. But let‘s see if we can agree on something.
There is a great deal of economic uncertainty right now. It has nothing to do with regulation. It has to do with the debt limit.
MOORE: A lot of it does.
BERNSTEIN: I think you would agree with me there.
Why not tell your Republican friends who are so concerned about certainty in this economy to allow that debt limit to increase not tomorrow, but this evening, so we can get that out of the way and get this economy back on track?
MOORE: All right. OK, Jared—
BERNSTEIN: Let me hear your response. Just focus on that one point.
MOORE: First of all, Jared, why don‘t you get the 85 Democrats in the House, members of your own party who voted against the president, on that? Maybe once you can get all the Democrats on board that agenda, maybe the Republicans will come along. But you know what? I think the worst possible—
BERNSTEIN: So you support a clean debt limit?
UYGUR: All right.
MOORE: No, I don‘t. I think, actually, the worst possible thing we could do for the economy right now is pass a clean debt bill that basically says we‘re going to punt on getting this budget deficit down and doing something about the $14 trillion debt. That would be a disaster. I think it would cause a financial meltdown if we did that.
UYGUR: I got you. All right.
So the idea is we don‘t even pay our debts and then we cut spending?
And I don‘t know how in the world you think that‘s going to get jobs.
MOORE: Well, we should also cut taxes, Cenk. We have to do a tax cut.
UYGUR: Well, of course! Give the rich and the corporations even more money. And the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board will be ecstatic, and you‘ll have all the money and we‘ll have none of the jobs, and you‘ll be like, yes, the rich win again!
And you guys will have a huge party on a yacht, and everybody will be happy. I got it.
MOORE: Well, except, Cenk, we‘ve got two—
UYGUR: Jared Bernstein and Stephen Moore, thank you for your time tonight.
UYGUR: We appreciate it. We really do. Thank you for the comments.
BERNSTEIN: OK. Great to be with you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, Sarah Palin heads home after ripping Mitt Romney and sucking up all the attention. And Michele Bachmann throws some of her own verbal grenades. How much damage can this tag team duo do?
I‘m looking forward to finding out.
And John Edwards has been indicted on campaign finance charges. He gets booked and fingerprinted, but says he did not break the law.
Now, get this—there‘s some chance he might be right on that issue.
We‘ll talk about that as well.
UYGUR: There appears to be a fun new dynamic in the GOP presidential race—tag teams. Kind of like Road Warriors versus Wild Samoans in the old WWF days.
And here‘s an interesting one. It‘s the women versus the men.
Now, we told you yesterday about Sarah Palin crashing Romney‘s big day in New Hampshire as she rolled over him in her bus. She then specifically bashed him on Romneycare.
But now her Tea Party “Mini-Me,” Michele Bachmann, is going after Mitt Romney‘s mainstream Republican “Mini-Me,” Tim Pawlenty, for the exact same thing.
Bachmann ripped into her fellow Minnesotan on “The Laura Ingraham Show” for his praise of Romneycare back in 2006.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: A lot of people get behind programs, and then they put a program into place and they say, well, gee, it didn‘t turn out the way I thought. We need to have people who have enough foresight and common sense to know these programs aren‘t going to work. I‘m that kind of person.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: That‘s really interesting. It almost seems like a coordinated political assault: the mama grizzlies versus the plastic men.
God, this is getting fun. But it gets better.
Now Palin is copying Bachmann in totally and utterly flubbing American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He who warned the British that they weren‘t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he‘s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oh, God. That was about Paul Revere.
Sarah, Paul Revere warned the Americans that the British were coming. Remember One if by land, two if by sea”? And there were no bells or gunshots during his ride. But, you know what? Hey, feel free to make it whatever you like.
Golly, I remember when Paul Revere came in on a submarine and warned the Russians that I could see them from my house. You betcha.
You remember, of course, that Bachmann didn‘t do much better either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Here in New Hampshire, what you have done is nothing short of remarkable, and the shout that was heard around the world at—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Of course, the first shots of the war rang out in Massachusetts, not in New Hampshire.
Well, I guess they do have a lot in common, this tag team. They are a fascinating bunch. All right. Now let‘s talk about all this.
Joining me is Dana Milbank, of course a columnist at “The Washington Post,” and Christina Bellantoni, associate politics editor at “CQ Roll Call.”
All right. Great to have you both here.
First, Dana, let‘s start with you.
It was kind of curious to me, and that‘s part of why we did that intro, that Palin and Bachmann seem to be attacking Romney and Pawlenty on the same exact thing.
Is there anything to that?
DANA MILBANK, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: You mean are they actually in cahoots? No. I suspect that they don‘t spend much time coordinating, because ultimately they‘re rivals for that same sort of Tea Party slot. But I think what you have going on here is you have these two candidates who really can‘t get elected going after the two guys, who, like their politics or not, they‘re probably the only ones who could get elected, and that‘s Romney and Pawlenty.
You had Haley Barbour, who‘s another serious guy who‘s not running, pleading today to stop these purity tests, because it‘s going to make the Republicans ultimately unelectable. I don‘t suspect that either Bachmann or Palin has a real interest in listening to Haley Barbour on this thing.
UYGUR: I hear you. But, you know, one of the things that we‘re seeing, of course, is the attack on people who ever switched positions, right? So that‘s why you bring Romney and Pawlenty into it.
And so, Christina, what do you think? Are Romney and Pawlenty—as irrelevant as Pawlenty is, the “Mini-Me” that he is of Romney—are they in a lot of trouble here if these women keep attacking them day in and day out on their flip-flops?
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, “CQ ROLL CALL”: No, not at all. In fact, I would really beg to differ with you.
I think, first off, any time Sarah Palin makes a gaffe like this, the media really focuses on it, and this allows candidates that are a bit more serious—she‘s not actually even a candidate at this point—to go out and make their case to voters. This is a very long election cycle. They have a lot of time to make their case. And if people are focused on her flubbing Paul Revere‘s history, well, that‘s all the more time Romney can go talk to some voters.
Now, there‘s a very different dynamic going on with Bachmann and Pawlenty. They‘re both from Minnesota.
A new poll came out today showing that Minnesota voters overwhelming would favor Pawlenty over Bachmann for president. So, she needs to needle him for a different reason.
If she wants to be able to do really well in Iowa, at those caucuses, that‘s Pawlenty‘s strategy, too, is to be able to do really well in Iowa. So she‘s trying to take him down.
And as far as coordination, I mean, Palin and Bachmann, we‘ve coined the term in the newsroom, they‘re sort of “frenemies,” really. They‘re similar, they have similar constituencies, but they are definitely eyeing each other pretty warily.
UYGUR: And I don‘t want anybody to get me wrong. I don‘t think that they‘re secretly communicating and saying, OK, I‘ll tag in and then you hit Pawlenty from behind, and I‘ll come in and deliver an elbow to Romney. No.
But it seems like they are taking cues from each other. I mean, they see Sarah Palin attack on Romneycare, then you see Bachmann attack on Romneycare against Pawlenty. So that‘s what I found to be interesting.
But, you know, Dana, can they do serious damage, even if they‘re not going to win? Let‘s say Christina‘s right and, you know, Bachmann ultimately doesn‘t have that much support, even in her home state, when you compare her to Pawlenty, et cetera? But can they do damage to these leading candidates while in their race, especially if Sarah Palin gets into the race?
MILBANK: Well, they can do serious damage to them by stealing all the oxygen out of the room and not allowing people to realize what a wonderful guy Mitt Romney is. But I think more dangerously is they‘re doing serious damage to American history here.
And it all is actually fitting together fairly seamlessly. You have Paul Revere warning the British, who retreat to New Hampshire. And then, you know, fire the shot heard around the world up there. And then you have Herman Cain down in Georgia telling people to read the Constitution and then quoting the Declaration of Independence.
So I think, you know, the question here is, as George W. Bush once said, “Is our children learning?” And I think our children is not learning.
BELLANTONI: It‘s important to look at—
UYGUR: Christina, I wanted to ask about that though.
Look, why don‘t Republican voters look at that and go, oh my gosh, she doesn‘t know anything? She doesn‘t know anything.
Like, why doesn‘t that bother them? Like, if there was a Democratic candidate who was, like, I don‘t know, you know, I think George Washington, when he beat the Egyptians, I‘d be like, whoa, what, wait? I don‘t want to vote for that guy.
You see what I‘m saying?
BELLANTONI: Well, look, I mean, Joe Biden got a lot of grief for some of the gaffes he made. I think that you‘ve seen a lot of Republican voters go after him for that.
In this case, I think the important thing to look at is the local reaction, particularly in Palin‘s case. She made a very calculated decision to be in New Hampshire the same day Romney announced for president. Not that that was a big surprise. We all knew he was going to run.
But the Democrats had a lot of fun with this today, sending around images of where Romney‘s announcement placed in these local papers. In many, many cases it was on the inside of those newspapers while Sarah Palin and her, you know, freedom-loving, motorcycle-riding bus tour was actually what was getting the front-page coverage. And that‘s a media decision.
You know, she sells more newspapers than Mitt Romney. People like looking at her more than they like looking at Mitt Romney.
So I think that that‘s going to continue to be a dynamic not just with him, but with all of the candidates. She will suck up that oxygen, as Dana says.
UYGUR: No question.
So, let‘s go to the final analysis here, Dana, because as Christina pointed out, “The Union-Leader,” On Mitt Romney‘s big day, puts him on page three, has headlines about Sarah Palin.
But does that necessarily mean she won the week? Like, when you look at this, as far as candidates are concerned, who are you happiest—if you‘re in the Republican race, who do you think is the happiest among that lot after the end of this week?
MILBANK: There‘s nothing—if it‘s just this week, there‘s nothing necessarily wrong with having a lot of people who seem kind of nutty out there launching attacks. And Mitt Romney, or even your friend, Pawlenty, if he can rise above it, can be seen as setting apart from the rest of the field, above the fray.
The problem is, if these guys—I mean, let‘s face it, Palin and Bachmann have a real constituency in the Republican electorate there. And if they succeed in getting voters into the frame of mind of you have to have these litmus tests, and if somebody has changed their position and they‘re just not acceptable, if that becomes the way the election is framed, well, obviously, that‘s very damaging to both Pawlenty and Romney.
UYGUR: Yes. You know, I can‘t wait for Sarah Palin to run, if she runs, because it‘s partly just a morbid curiosity.
Are the Republican voters actually going to vote for her? I don‘t know the answer. But I almost can‘t wait to find out.
So, Christina, final analysis from you. At the end of the week, I know there were a lot of losers, but did anybody win this week?
BELLANTONI: I think Pawlenty did pretty well. I mean, Romney had a decent rollout as well.
But the very important point to note is everyone wants to run against Sarah Palin. Don‘t think for a second that Romney and Pawlenty don‘t love being compared to her, because voters, when they make that choice, they prefer them even though she has got better name recognition.
And the Democrats would love to run against her, too. So that‘s why everyone is trying to goad her into it. And the media plays right along because we all know it will sell newspapers and get people to watch our programs.
UYGUR: All right.
Dana Milbank and Christina Bellantoni, thank you both for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
MILBANK: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, Paul Ryan lies while defending his health care plan. Yes. You heard me right. I said he lies. We‘ll show you that in our “Con Job of the Day.”
And are Republicans actually hurting themselves by going to the extremes at the Faith and Freedom Conference? One Republican leader thinks they are, and that‘s really interesting. And we‘ll have that for you in a little bit.
UYGUR: And now for our “Con Job of the Day,” we have Paul Ryan‘s deceitful and amusingly hypocritical defense of his Medicare plan. And this one‘s a doozy.
Since Ryan introduced his plan in April, Democrats pointed out that it would turn Medicare into a voucher program because that‘s exactly what it does. Not wanting to admit that, Ryan says the left is just scaring people. But listen to him do the same thing in the middle of his sentence here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: Millions of dollars of negative ads are being run to try and scare seniors and to try and confuse seniors. You know, the irony of this bill is with all this “Mediscare” that the Democrats are running, it‘s Obamacare, itself, that ends Medicare as we know it.
Obamacare takes a half a trillion dollars from Medicare. In fact, we restore their benefits by repealing the Obamacare raid on the Medicare fund.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: You know what‘s ironic? Accusing the president of scaring seniors on Medicare, as you do exactly that half way through your own sentence. But it gets worse. Ryan accused President Obama of raiding the Medicare fund, thereby cutting the—I‘m sorry. By raiding the Medicare fund which then cuts wasteful spending on Medicare advantage, right? But he neglected to mention that Ryan‘s plan makes the same exact cuts. Not hey, similar cuts, the same cuts. Now, usually he doesn‘t know that his own plan has identical proposal on that same issue. Of course he knows. He comes on television and blatantly lies about it anyway. But what bothers me is this guy gets such reverence in Washington when he‘s the same old political hack in a new young face. Like, oh, he‘s so serious. He‘s seriously full of it. And get a load of this final piece of irony from Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: The point I was making to the president is demagogue these issues that your own peril.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Good point. Maybe you should have taken your own advice before you said, oh, yes, Obama‘s plan ends Medicare, yes, yes, yes, that‘s the ticket. Paul Ryan‘s pathetic attempt to pretend the president is the one cutting Medicare and then blatantly lying about his own plan is our con job of the day.
UYGUR: Welcome back to the show, everybody. Time now for our power, power, Power Panel. I like saying it that way. Of course, they‘re here to discuss the biggest news stories of the day. With me now, is the versatile Ben Mankiewicz who‘s both one of the cost of The Young Turks and a host on Turner Classic Movies. Also, with me, David Sirota, radio host and syndicated columnist and all around progressive ass kicker. And finally, Josh Trevino, vice president of communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation think tank. Josh is a conservative. Nonetheless, we tolerate it.
JOSH TREVINO, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: Hello, Cenk.
UYGUR: Hey, Josh. All right. First question for the panel. Will the purity test crush Republicans in 2012? Today Governor Haley Barbour warned conservatives at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit that purity is a loser for the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI: In politics, purity is the enemy of victory. OK? We can‘t start out with the ideas the Faith and Freedom Coalition that our candidates have to agree with me on every single thing. We cannot expect our candidate to be pure. Winning is about unity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Josh, that took some courage on the part of Haley Barbour to say that as that convention. On the other hand, he‘s dropped out, so he gets a little bit more courageous. But to you think he‘s right?
TREVINO: Well, you know, Haley Barbour, of course, one of the grand men of the modern Republican Party, he is right. There‘s always a tension between the ideals and the pragmatism of politics and politics being the art of compromise and the art of the possible. Our nominee and our eventual president in January 2013 won‘t be the pure candidate, but he or she will be the winning candidate. And it was ever thus. Same with Barack Obama. I know you‘ve had your differences with him, Cenk.
UYGUR: No question about that. But how about the flip-flopping? You mind, hey, I was kind for cap-and-trade, and now I‘m kind of against it. Is that OK?
TREVINO: Well, it depends on the issue and the circumstance. Changing your mind is one thing. Flip-flopping for transparent electoral advantage is another. And the voters are smart enough to discern which is which.
UYGUR: All right, Ben, you know, this is run by Ralph Reed, this little faith and freedom stuff, right? But how has it helped the Republicans to get associated with Ralph Reed? I mean, he‘s the guy who was associated with Jack Abramoff and took all his money? Like, can they ever learn a lesson here or they‘re just going to double down for the rest of their lives?
BEN MANKIEWICZ, CO-HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: I think it‘s very wise for Haley Barbour to go to an event sort of run by Ralph Reed and say, I don‘t think we should concern ourselves with purity. I think that‘s state thinking all the part of Haley Barbour. Yes, I mean, Ralph Reed is a corrupt guy, Ralph Reed is a bad dude. And I guess these guys just don‘t care. Ralph Reed took money from Indian gaming tribes and then under the - - he funneled money through the Christian coalition to pretend to argue against them while Jack Abramoff was playing one tribe off against the other in order to take Indian gaming money while Ralph Reed sits here as part of the Christian coalition and pretends to be against it all. But these guys, they don‘t care.
TREVINO: What was he indicted for? Just, can you refresh our memories on that?
UYUGR: OK. Now, Josh, let me ask you about that. He was not indicted. That‘s a good point.
UYGUR: Go ahead, Ben. Go ahead.
MANKIEWICZ: No. I just think it‘s great. No, no, you go ahead and defend Ralph Reed. That will go well for your guys.
UYGUR: Josh, look, he even lost in the republican primary. I mean, come on! Are you saying that Ralph Reed didn‘t take gambling money from Abramoff and then pretend he didn‘t? Are you saying that?
TREVINO: Well, Cenk. There are entire island population in the pacific. There‘s such—a Jack Abramoff. It‘s one thing to be associated with Jack Abramoff. It‘s another thing to have done something actually wrong. And one assumes given the paid attention to—by Jack Abramoff by the authorities over the past several years, it‘s reasonable to assume that if Ralph Reed had done something illegal, it would have come out by now.
UYGUR: All right. Now, David, look, there might be a reason why they‘re going to this conference. First, it‘s faith and freedom. So, of course, they love that, right? But the other reason is as always with the Republicans, the money, La Bousky (ph), right? So Reed apparently, this group is going to put in $15 to $18 million over the next year or so. Do you think that‘s why they‘re all attending?
DAVID SIROTA, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Absolutely. I think it‘s a convergence of all this, that each candidate wants as much grassroots support as possible. You asked the original question, will purity hurt the Republican Party? Will demands for purity hurt the Republican Party? I think what hurts the republican candidates, and frankly this is an adage for democratic candidates, too, is not if they disagree with their party. But if you suggested if they‘re flip-flopping and it looks like their disagreements aren‘t about principle. And when I hear Haley Barbour is going to a conservative audience saying that we should accept candidates who disagree with us, I think that is very smart. But I think that the question will be is whether that part of the grassroots of the Republican Party can appreciate a principle disagreement as opposed to simply political expedience based on flip-flopping.
UYGUR: I hear you. All right. Now, we have to move on to the next question for the panel. And that is, believe it or not, can Democrats trust the White House during budget negotiations? Yesterday‘s meeting, the Democrats led by Representative Harry Waxman called for stronger action from the president in fighting back against the Republicans. Someone at the meeting said that President Obama responded by saying “There‘s a difference between me and a member of Congress. When I say something, markets and countries and people react in a way where it could cause us more problems than we have now.” David, I found that quote really telling. It said to me that the president‘s like, oh my God, I have to worry about the markets, I can‘t be doing progressive things because of the markets. Am I over reading that?
SIROTA: No, I think you‘re exactly right. I mean, I think the president—the comment seems to exude that he‘s thinking not about necessarily the agenda. He‘s thinking about other factors. I‘m not saying he should only think about what he wants. There‘s many, many parts moving here. But I think you‘re exactly right, that the question should be, what has he promised? What does he want to do? And will he do it? And that requires marshalling the entire platform of the White House almost regardless of those other external factors. Frankly, the president can‘t control the market. We‘ve learned that from George Bush to Barack Obama. He should be thinking about how to get his agenda through the Congress.
UYGUR: All right. Ben, I want to talk about taxes. Because Obama said, he was going to stay strong on that. But I‘m going to read you the quote and get your reaction. He said, “Whatever we agree on, we‘re still going to have a plan to argue about in 2012.” Referring to Republicans. “I‘ve said I‘m not going to renew the tax cuts for the top two percent. We might agree on tax reform or simplification. But on the upper income tax cuts, we‘re just going to have to agree to disagree.” You know what I got out of that, Ben? That he‘s going to save that tax cut issue for 2012, that he‘s not really going to tell the Republicans, oh, yes, you know what, I want to raise taxes now as part of the deal.
MANKIEWICZ: Yes. So in a sense what Obama I think then is saying is, you can count on this. You can count on me, you can count on not counting on me. So finally, we won‘t be able to complain about anything because at least with both of those quotes, he‘s prefacing it. He‘s letting you know, hey, man, enough with saying you can‘t count on me, we all know it‘s true. So, I‘m going to give you a little hint here. You can‘t count on me. And I think that‘s fairly clear. At least we won‘t be as disappointed.
UYGUR: But Josh, I mean, when you see these quotes, you got to be excited. Because he‘s saying, no, I‘m not going to fight back against the Republicans because the markets will get jittery. And on the tax increases, et cetera, we‘ll save that for a campaign issue for 2012. Well, that means that it looks like you‘re going to have two wins.
MANKIEWICZ: I love, I love that President Obama is contemplating running for re-election next year on a platform of high unemployment and a tax hike on the segment of the population. That‘s brilliant. Couldn‘t have scripted it better. So, hope and change. Welcome to it.
UYGUR: Josh, wait a minute, now. Look, look, when you talk about tax increases for millionaires, that‘s an 81 percent popularity rating. You really think that that‘s unpopular? How could you possibly think that?
TREVINO: I think, well, let‘s look at it not from, of course, I have my principle disagreement with you on this, Cenk. But let‘s look at it at a pragmatic point of view, do you, do you, Democrats all, except for me here in this little soiree, do you trust the White House and the re-election messaging apparatus to get that trough? Or do you think it‘s just going to be a message of tax hikes?
SIROTA: Well, I actually do trust the White House to do this on that particular issue.
TREVINO: Well, Godspeed.
SIROTA: Because the White House can look back to the Clinton era and say, listen, did you like the economy under Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton‘s tax rates? Or did you like the economy under George W. Bush‘s tax rates? That‘s the easiest, safest way to put it.
TREVINO: Nobody‘s going to identify the Obama economy with the Clinton economy.
SIROTA: The Obama economy with the Clinton tax rates. All you have to say is that did you like the economy under Bill Clinton‘s tax rates or do you like the economy under George W. Bush‘s tax rates?
MANKIEWICZ: That might be Hillary Clinton‘s primary challenge.
That‘s not Obama.
UYGUR: All right. OK. All right. We got to leave it right there.
And, you know, if you think that the Bush tax cuts, Josh, worked out, OK. If you think you can convince the American people with that, OK. But look, what I‘m worried about is this deal that‘s coming up. I‘m afraid that President Obama gave some clues not in the right direction. But that‘s my opinion. Ben Mankiewicz, David Sirota, Josh Trevino, you guys all rock. Thank you for the great discussion tonight.
MANKIEWICZ: Thank you.
TREVINO: All right.
UYGUR: All right. When we come back, John Edwards indicted on six counts but insists he did nothing illegal. But we found someone who thinks he might actually be right. Will Edwards get away with it?
UYGUR: What do Ellen DeGeneres, al Qaeda bomb making instructions and cupcakes have to do with each other? Believe it or not, we have that answer for you and it actually makes sense, when we come back.
UYGUR: We‘ve got a new development in the horrible fall from grace of John Edwards. Edwards today pled not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged cover-up of an affair and love child he had with a campaign staffer. Always amused by the word love child. At the heart of the case is money given to Edwards to cover up the affair. Prosecutors are focusing on almost $1 million they say the Edwards campaign got from two donors. A wealthy widow named Bunny Mellon, and a Dallas lawyer named Fred Baron. Sound like characters out of a (INAUDIBLE) oh, do bring in Bunny and Baron. Anyway, according to the indictment, the money went to Edwards‘ mistress and campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, it help to pay for her living, traveling and medical expenses. But the defense dispute the basic idea that the funds were campaign donations, says that they were personal gifts. Edwards today insisted he did nothing illegal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There‘s no question that I‘ve done wrong and I take full responsibility for having done wrong. And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I‘ve caused to others. But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law. Thank you all very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And get this. He might actually be right. Let‘s talk about that now. With me now is Richard Hasen, law professor at Loyola University and expert on election law. His article today in “Slate” is called “A Cover-Up, Not a Crime: Why the Case Against John Edwards May be Hard to Prove.”
All right. Well, first of all, everybody can agree that John Edwards is the skeeziest man in the country, right? But why do you think what he did might not be illegal?
RICHARD HASEN, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: There‘s no question that as you said, something like $925,000 to benefit John Edwards, went from these donors to pay for private jets, to pay for going to these hotels. The question is whether they were campaign contributions. And that is going to be a lot harder to prove. If they‘re campaign contributions, they clearly exceed to the $2,300 that each of these donors could give. But if they were personal gifts to save John Edwards‘ marriage, then he‘s not guilty of any crime and the case will fail.
UYGUR: You know, it‘s interesting that they‘ve bring this case. Because, you know, I hear from the Obama administration all the time that they want to look forward, they don‘t want to look backward. That‘s why they never prosecute any of the Bush guys for torture, wiretapping, et cetera, et cetera. How come they look backward here?
HASEN: Well, I‘m not sure how much the Obama administration really had to do with the decision on this prosecution. The—unit that went after Ted Stevens, that went after—that considered going after John Ensign and may come back to it again and going after Edwards now, I think they‘re probably making a decision based on whether they think they can make the case. I think it‘s a gusty call here. I think this case like the Stevens case might implode, might not work. But I don‘t think.
UYGUR: Well, you know, that‘s what I‘m trying to understand, right? Because what I read from you, what I read from some of the other experts is this is an incredibly hard case. Why not bring a bunch of easy cases, for example, against Goldman Sachs. Forget the Bush people. How about the people who ripped us off on Wall Street? You leave them alone and they go after a guy we all dislike. It‘s very popular to go after John Edwards. I don‘t like him. Nobody likes him, right? But you go after, what your time is a really hard case. Now, so tell me about that. How hard is it? Is it really that hard to get him on this?
HASEN: Well, you know, if this were before the Federal Election Commission which deals on a civil level where you just have to prove it‘s more likely than not, then Edwards probably would be in some serious trouble. There are different preferences over at FEC, that could go either way. But the government—because of the criminal case. Has to prove that he willfully violated the law beyond a reasonable doubt. That‘s tough standard in any case. And it‘s going to be hard because it can depend upon the mental state, the mind of John Edwards at the time. And that‘s just going to be very tough without kind of a smoking gun that shows that he knew he was breaking the law at the time. The evidence just might not be enough to convince the jury.
UYGUR: And, you know, just for my point of view. Look, the money he got from those guys and did whatever with, he did with it, OK? But the money he paid to Rielle Hunter about $100,000 that he took from other campaign donors, somebody gives him 25 bucks, gives him five bucks, whatever it is that they can afford, and then he spends it on his mistress, that‘s the part that pisses me off. But he was not charge on that.
HASEN: Well, you know, that was not part of the indictment.
HASEN: You know, if the claim was she was overpaid, that‘s a really tough claim if it‘s a criminal case to prove. And that allegation has been around for a long time.
HASEN: But the government did not include that in the indictment.
UYGUR: I hear you. All right. Professor Richard Hasen of Loyola University. Thank you for your time tonight. We really do appreciate it.
HASEN: My pleasure.
UYGUR: All right. When we come back, Ellen DeGeneres‘ cupcake recipes wind up with al Qaeda. Bankers get met by a room full of snakes and it‘s not even their co-workers. And Jon Stewart, as a big dilemma. All those fun stories with Ana Kasparian, my Young Turks co-host when we come back.
UYGUR: Now, it‘s time for some political and current event stories that are little bit on the lighter side, although it does involve al Qaeda. Let me bring in my Young Turks co-host Ana Kasparian who‘s right here.
Ana, what‘s going on today?
ANA KASPARIAN, CO-HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: Who knew that you would find an al Qaeda story that‘s light and fun?
UYGUR: No, I don‘t.
KASPARIAN: So, British intelligence actually just hacked into an online magazine for al Qaeda and they replaced an article on how to make a homemade bomb with cupcake recipes. OK, the cupcakes include recipes for mojito cupcakes and rocky road cupcakes which sound delicious.
UYGUR: Well, they do something delicious. The mojito one is particularly dangerous because, you know, Muslims don‘t drink.
UYGUR: So, that‘s clever on their part. Are they Ellen DeGeneres.
KASPARIAN: They‘re Ellen DeGeneres.
KASPARIAN: .cupcake recipes. Yes.
UYGUR: OK. So, here‘s something that drives me crazy. Like MI-6 (ph) is like, we got them, we got them. But I‘m like, hey listen, they got a Web site, why don‘t you track them and find them instead? I heard al Qaeda has a twitter account.
KASPARIAN: I know.
UYGUR: Why aren‘t we catching everybody following al Qaeda?
KASPARIAN: It‘s amazing. I mean, what they were able to do here was funny, and it‘s entertaining. But you have to keep in mind that they did absolutely nothing to stop al Qaeda. In fact, when it came to this online magazine, all it did is hindered its release by two weeks.
UYGUR: And they can actually get past that?
KASPARIAN: Yes. Absolutely.
UYGUR: OK. Yes. I still can‘t imagine that al Qaeda has a Web site.
Anyway, look, thank God, we caught Osama bin Laden. So, all this is fun.
UYGUR: All right. What‘s next?
KASPARIAN: JP Morgan Chase foreclosed on something known as the notorious snake house. And this snake house literally has thousands of garter snakes slithering around it. And the first family that lived in that house had a hard time making their mortgage payments. And, you know, JP Morgan Chase was thinking, ah, they‘re just making up the snake story so we feel bad for them. But then another family moves in and the snakes are there. How creepy is that?
UYGUR: OK, so now they‘re having trouble selling the house because it‘s filled with snakes. Like, when the bankers walked in and saw the snakes, they must have been like, hey, we‘re back at work.
KASPARIAN: They were right at home.
UYGUR: Right. All right. Look, it‘s good to see they get their comeuppance a little bit, at least on one foreclosure story.
UYGUR: All right. And then finally, we have yet another Anthony Weiner story. But this one is on the lighter side, again, because this is old friend Jon Stewart. What happened?
KASPARIAN: All right. So, Jon Stewart is very conflicted on whether or not he should continue talking about the Anthony Weiner story. So he got advice from an angel named Tom Brokaw. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It‘s me, your friend, Tom Brokaw. Don‘t be distracted by juvenile gossip. Stick to the Romney story.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You‘re right, news angel Tom Brokaw.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hey, snoopy, don‘t listen to that knuckle head.
You‘re a comic. It‘s a story about a guy named Weiner‘s wiener.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: As you—Jon Stewart does in humor with, you know, we‘ve been talking this with all week. You cover the story, do you not cover the story, do you cover the serious stories instead? I mean, what do you think? I mean, look, the guy got hacked and then we spent the whole week talking about it.
KASPARIAN: You have to cover the story. Because if it weren‘t for the media covering the reality of the story, we would depend on people like Breitbart to report it. And Breitbart would obviously make it seem like Anthony Weiner did tweet that picture.
KASPARIAN: So, it‘s important to clear the rumors up and make sure you report the truth, but then you move on.
UYGUR: Right. I agree. You know, Lawrence did a good job with that on this program. Because Bill O‘Reilly was going nuts about it. He‘s like, oh, can you believe it? Et cetera. And O‘Donnell was like, oh, yes, well, wouldn‘t want to bring up your past on that. All right. So anyway, in the end, it shows that even al Qaeda and Weiner can get hacked.
UYGUR: That‘s what we learned from this week‘s news. All right.
Ana, thank you so much for joining us.
KASPARIAN: Thank you.
UYGUR: And everybody can catch Ana of course on The Young Turks, that‘s at the Youngturks.com, obviously at youtube.com/theyoungturks. We actually do a lot on our Facebook page, TYTNation. We do fun contest there. And we take some suggestions from you guys as the way we should cover, as well. And on twitter, it‘s @theyoungturks.
All right. Thank you so much for watching this show. “HARDBALL” is next.
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