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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday July 13, 2011

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

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Guest Host: Rev. Al Sharpton

Guests: Michael Steele, Dana Milbank, Bob Shrum, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Joe

Madison, Alex Wagner, Josh Trevino, Christian Lopez

           

REV. AL SHARPTON, GUEST MSNBC ANCHOR:  Can‘t stand the heat. 

President Obama‘s tough stand is causing the Republican Party to implode.  Tonight, the Tea Party squares goes after the establishment, over the debt limit.  It ain‘t pretty, but it is fun to watch. 

And Mitch McConnell plays Republican roulette with the economy.  He says he refuses to help President Obama.  Whatever happened to country first? 

Plus, don‘t believe the hype.  President Obama is money.  A record haul shows the base still believes. 

And the guy who caught Derek Jeter‘s famous hit is here tonight.  He gave back a ball worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Would you have done the same? 

Welcome to the show.  I‘m Al Sharpton. 

           

Tonight‘s lead, as President Obama stands firm, Republicans are melting down over the debt.  Tea Party Republicans are in full boil over Senator Mitch McConnell‘s plan to give President Obama the power to raise the debt limit.  Late this afternoon, John McCain backed his buddy, McConnell, but Tea Party politicians are furious.  They don‘t care about the debt limit.  Here is Tea Party queen, Michele Bachmann. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELE BACHMANN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m no, on raising the debt ceiling right now.  Because I‘ve been here long enough that I‘ve seen a lot of smoke and mirrors in the time I‘ve been here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  The reaction to McConnell‘s plan for the right wing base has even been worse.  One conservative blogger called it, Pontius Pilate Pass The Buck Act of 2010.  Another said McConnell is wimping out.  Another said he gave Obama, quote, “a blank check”.  While Republicans fight each other the clock is ticking toward the August 2nd deadline.  When the funds used to pay everything from Social Security to veteran‘s benefits will start running out. 

Joining me now, is Michael Steele, former head of the Republican Party.  And now an MSNBC contributor and Dana Milbank, national political reporter for “The Washington Post.” 

Well, let me start with you, former Chairman Steele.  It seems that your party is in an implosion.  If I‘m not smiling too broadly, it‘s because I‘m afraid that this deadline will hurt a lot of people that don‘t need to be hurt.  But other than that, I can‘t say that it‘s not enjoyable watching this. 

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY:  I bet you are loving it quietly, right?  Look, Reverend, the reality of it is that there is a little bit of stepping on message going on within the GOP right now.  There are a couple of Hail Mary passes being thrown, and a few other things that right now I think are distracting to the central argument that the House leadership, in particular, Mr. Cantor, put forth in terms of what it will take for the Republicans to come to the table to talk about anything else other than spending. 

SHARPTON:  That‘s good, talking points. 

STEELE:  It‘s not a talking point.  It is just the reality. 

SHARPTON:  OK, but Mr. Steele, I want you to talk, but I want us to stay on what we are talking about.  The problem here is not what Cantor is giving the White House.  The problem is McConnell and the establishment Republicans are getting openly questioned by the Tea Party. 

Dana, is that not the real issue of the implosion?  I mean, I know that a good Republican leader, like my friend, Michael Steele, would rather jump over that and make it back to the White House.  But we are talking about the fact these people are openly calling each other traitors. 

DANA MILBANK, NAT‘L. POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, right.  I think what‘s happened here is the Republicans were looking at an implosion then Mitch McConnell stepped in to try to provide a life raft here.  He said as much.  He was talking on the radio with Laura Ingraham today.  He said, you know, he wanted to try to do something that was good for the country.  That didn‘t work out.  Now he is trying to save his party. 

This may save his party in an electoral sense, that they won‘t go down the road of being blamed as McConnell points out, for basically shutting down the government, throwing us back into an economic catastrophe.  But it sort of defeats the whole purpose.  Because this means nothing is going to be done on the debt for the next year and a half, which only inflames the Tea Party caucus, as we saw in the eruptions from the likes of Jim DeMint and Michele Bachmann.  It is a very tricky thing for them to get out of. 

SHARPTON:  Now, Mr. Steele, last year your party, while you were chairman, picked up 61 seats. 

STEELE:  Yeah. 

SHARPTON:  Promising to deal with the debt, deal with the deficit, deal with these issues.  President Obama says, fine, let‘s deal with them.  Let‘s put it all on the table.  Including things that are painful to my base.  And your party blinked.  And said, oh, no, we can‘t talk about tax cuts.  We meant to talk about everything but the things that many people are concerned about.  How are they going to go back to the general public and explain how they didn‘t deal with the deficit?  How did they deal with things they promised Americans in the mid term election? 

STEELE:  Well, in fact they have, Reverend.  That‘s been the whole point of this.  And so, the devil‘s always in the details in Washington, as Dana can tell you.  He‘s covered this before.  This is a Kabuki theater dance going on for a long time here.  So you have, for the first time, leadership that emerged out of the 2010 elections that put a framework on the table.  They were very clear from the beginning. 

I don‘t know where all there revisionist history is coming from in terms of where Republicans have been and are on the issue.  They made it clear.  Taxes were not a part of this discussion.  This is not a tax problem.  This is a spending problem and they wanted to deal first with spending.  They had done the dance before where they acquiesced going back it George Bush No. 1 in ‘92, with tax hikes on the promise that spending cuts would come.  They didn‘t come then.  There is no indication it‘ll come now. 

The president hasn‘t defined—while he said everything is on the table, he hasn‘t told us where he is particularly interested in cutting in entitlements, specifically Medicaid, Medicare. 

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  But, Mr. Steele.

STEELE:  One last point and then I‘ll be quiet. 

SHARPTON:  OK.

STEELE:  Half billion was cut out of Medicare program last year by Democrats to pay for Obama care.  So the reality of it is, these guys are all over the map on this thing, so the House Republicans are at least looking for some effort to say that they are serious about really cutting spending. 

SHARPTON:  Mr. Steele, I mean, you said the devil is in the details.  But sometimes the details is not in the devil.  Is not calling you guys the devil, but you used the statement.  The fact is that how can you sit there and look at the American people and say, they didn‘t tell us what they were going to cut.  When he said, let‘s put it all on the table and talk about everything including taxes.  Your side said, no, we don‘t want to talk about that.  How can you find out what he was going to cut if you refuse to talk? 

Payments at risk—Social Security, Medicare, military pay, veteran‘s benefits, unemployment checks, IRS refunds.  So what you are saying, what you are saying now is we are willing to talk about cutting all of that.  But we are not willing to talk about corporate jets, corporate loop holes, tax loopholes.  So you are saying we are willing to talk about grandma, we are willing to talk about veterans, talk about the sick, but we‘ve got to protect our billionaires. 

STEELE:  OK, so now you are doing the talking points. 

SHARPTON:  I‘m asking a question. 

STEELE:  The fact of the matter, Reverend, going back to the plan that was originally put on the table by Paul Ryan, it was very clear where the Republicans were going to go when it came to the spending requirements of this country.  That‘s been no secret.  We campaigned on it in 2010.  They came in the door and laid out a plan with that.  There have not been specific cuts.  And when it talks about the debt, you know as we learned from the past, when we have come up to this water shed that government will continue to cash the—right checks and put out the checks that need to go out for Medicare recipients and veteran‘s benefits.  Those things are not going to go by the wayside here. 

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  Let me-

STEELE:  -would be at risk on August 2.  I don‘t think the American people have a problem with that. 

SHARPTON:  Well, I think, Dana, we are being told bit president of the United States, Mr. Bernanke, and any number of people, that those things are at risk August 2nd.  That we are in a-in fact, looking at the government spending maybe $118 billion a month over what it has.  And they will not be able to borrow.  And some things will not be paid.  Now, it may be veterans one week.  It may be Social Security the next.  But who wants to be in the Russian roulette wheel of, you are not going to get your government pay? 

MILBANK:  Right.  That‘s why you see people like Bachmann today saying, all right, we should pay the creditors first.  Pay the active duty soldiers first.  Then worry about the other stuff.  But at some point, yes, if you‘re not going to stop the Social Security checks, you‘ve got worry about veterans, you have to worry about unemployment.  It can‘t all be done. 

That‘s ultimately why the Republicans have gotten themselves into a difficult spot here.  Because you get to this point and ultimately we aren‘t going to pull the trigger and shoot the hostage here because the hostage is the American public.  So this may not have been the best place to pick the battle.  They don‘t really have a whole lot of leverage here.  They have two goals coming in here.  One was to improve the national debt situation.  And the other one was to cut spending.  Now those are a little bit at odds here because you have the president saying, look, we are taking care of this debt issue but you have to give me a little bit on taxes. 

SHARPTON:  I am going to have to cut you off.  We‘ve got to go.  Thank you so Michael Steele and Dana Milbank.  Thanks both of you for your time. 

STEELE:  Thanks, Rev.

MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON:  Ahead, President Obama raises more money for 2012 than all the Republicans combined.  I wonder how confident Republicans are feeling about defeating Obama now. 

Plus, did Rupert Murdoch‘s company break any laws in the United States?  It‘s a shocking claim.  New Jersey, Senator Frank Lautenberg is leading the charge to investigate.  And he will be here live. 

And the fan that caught Derek Jeter‘s ball, and gave it back.  It cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Did he do the right thing?  Yankee fan is here tonight. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Republicans talk a big game.  They say the president is losing support.  They say he lost his touch.  They say he is done in 2012.  Really?  I don‘t think so.  He is showing them the money, in a big way. 

That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Congressional Republicans are getting hammered in the debt talks.  But there is always 2012, right?  Wrong.  They are getting trounced there, too.  Today the Obama campaign announced it raised more than $47 million this quarter.  That‘s in addition to $38 million the president raised for the Democratic Party.  It is also more than the entire Republican field combined.  And all that talk that is grassroots base is disintegrating.  Wrong.  The campaign‘s average contribution this quarter was $69, with donations from more than 552,000 people. 

And if that weren‘t enough, Mr. Unelectable is surging in the polls.  Michele Bachmann jumped 8 points, nationally, in the past month and in Iowa, she has built a 4-point lead over Romney. 

Joining me now is Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, and with me again, Michael Steele, former head of the Republican Party and now MSNBC contributor. 

Michael, President Obama is trouncing the Republicans in fundraisers.  He is also battering them at the polls.  In a head to head match up, look at this, he leads Romney by 6 points and everyone else by double digits.  Are y‘all just whistling through a political cemetery saying he is unelectable? 

STEELE:  No, I don‘t think so.  The numbers are great it see a year out.  You raise this kind of money and certainly, you know, with a very large number of folks in the primary on the Republican side, donors who are still assessing and trying to figure out who they want to gravitate towards in that primary, the president has advantages right now.  And it is built in because he is the president.

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  Bob Shrum, Bob, Bob, Bob-

(CROSS TALK)

Look at the comparison between now and where the money was four years ago.  I mean, come on, that sounds good until you look back and say, everybody was raising a lot more than this four years ago. 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Yeah, Romney has raised a lot less than he raised before.  I think the president has a huge financial advantage.  The way it helps him in the general election is, you remember this, Al, in 2004 Kerry had to just pull out of Colorado.

SHARPTON:  Right.

SHRUM:  Because he was in the federal financing system.  Gore had to pull out of Ohio in 2000 because if you were in the federal financing system and there were limits.  What Obama did the last time and what he‘ll do this time is expand the playing field.  He‘ll defend Virginia, he‘ll defend North Carolina, may go into Georgia, will defend Colorado.  Where Democrats won last year, in one of the most difficult years could you imagine.  So I think this money does matter.  And I think it will make a big difference as we head for the general.  Right now, the president is, if you look historically for example, at Ronald Reagan, he is in pretty good shape at this point in the electoral cycle.  Reagan was not in good shape at this point, and he went on to win a landslide victory. 

SHARPTON:  Yes, but even more important to me, and clearly money is very important in an election.  But more important to me, Mr. Steele, is how do you have a mandate from the people without the people?  How do you have a grassroots movement without the grassroots?  Where is the people?  The polls are saying they are not with you.  They are not sending you any money.  Y‘all are fighting on Capitol Hill. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE:  Reverend, please. 

SHARPTON:  Please. 

STEELE:  Cut us, I come on, cut us-I mean, I love the drama of your description there, but it is not as bad as you think it is. 

SHARPTON:  You have one poll that shows anything different? 

STEELE:  There‘s a lot of—we‘ve had polls showing Romney beating Obama at one point in this process.  And this is the point.  You‘re talking a year and a few months out from when voters actually will be concerned about who they are going to elect for president.  There is a whole lot more that will happen.  There are job announcements to be made.  There are other events in the economy that will happen there.  They will shape the way the voters view this race.  I appreciate the bravo now but it really doesn‘t mean anything. 

SHARPTON:  When you have the polls saying that Mr. Romney had two or three points up, you were doing the bravo and the dance. 

STEELE:  No, I was not. 

SHARPTON:  Yes, you and all of the Republicans were happy. 

STEELE:  No. 

SHARPTON:  What I‘m saying to you is the proof is in the pudding.  Now the polls are going different.  More important you send small contributors-in this economy, small contributors, giving money, average donation, $69.  I mean, between you and I and Bob, just between us, doesn‘t that worry you? 

I mean -

(CROSS TALK)

STEELE:  No, it doesn‘t.  No, it doesn‘t.  It doesn‘t worry me. 

Because you‘ve got small contributors giving to the Republican Party and to Republican candidates.  You‘ve got donors who are coming to the table now.  As I said, with a primary field of seven, eight, nine people or one or two others who may still get into the primary, you‘ve got a lot of major dollar donors and small-dollar donors on the Republican side, who are waiting to see how this thing takes shape as we get closer to the—you know, the event in August, and the launch of the primary process in the fall. 

SHARPTON:  I know, it is hard to get it out, Michael.  But I understand.  I‘ve been there before. 

STEELE:  No. 

SHARPTON:  Let me just say this, if that‘s not bad enough, then you‘ve got Michele Bachmann.  Now, if you think you had a headache, now this is a migraine headache.  If we didn‘t have Michele Bachmann, we would have to make her up.  Here is a woman who is now leading in Iowa, who is probably going to be very, very effective in South Carolina, if not win it. 

STEELE:  Yeah? 

SHARPTON:  And she is to the far, far right, that will scare a lot of middle Americans and independent voters.  I mean, will you at least admit Michele Bachmann is the worst nightmare for Republicans trying to win the middle? 

STEELE:  Absolutely not.  Again, I love your drama. 

SHRUM:  Al, he‘s not going to admit that. 

STEELE:  No, I‘m not going to admit it, because it isn‘t true.  We are going to try to deal with the facts here and the facts are that Michele Bachmann has a lot more to say, obviously, as she unfolds her campaign and gets into this thing.  I think that people—

SHARPTON:  Oh she does?  Bob, what else can she say?  She says that homosexuality is part of Satan.  She says that she rejects welfare programs supporting single parents.  She said that black kids are doing—are worse today than they did during slavery.  She‘s got more to say, Bob?  I can‘t wait. 

SHRUM:  Look, in a sane Republican Party, she would be a caricature, not a candidate.  The White House would obviously love to run against her.  I think there is a real chance that they‘ll get that chance.  If Rick Perry doesn‘t enter this thing, she is three points ahead in Iowa in one poll, and another poll that just came out this afternoon, from Magellan Strategies, has her 13 points ahead of Romney.  Let‘s say he then won New Hampshire.  They go to South Carolina.  That becomes the rubber match.  She could win this thing. 

I have to add one other thing, Al, by the way.  When Michael says that things are not as bad as you say they are, then I think you probably had the better of the argument today. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you, Bob.  I‘ll give you the last word.  Thank you, Bob.  Thank you very much. 

Ahead, Mitch McConnell‘s master plan revealed.  Beating Obama is more important than helping the country. 

And the right wingers blasted Michelle Obama obesity campaign.  So why are they freaking out over her having a hamburger and shake?  That‘s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  With Republicans arguing with each other over the debt talks, some Tea Party lawmakers have been reduced to attacking the president.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE WALSH, ® ILLINOIS:  President Obama, quit lying.  You know darn well that if August 2nd comes and goes, there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all of our Social Security obligations.  Come on, President Obama.  Quit scaring the American people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Joining me now is Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp, from Kansas, one of the Tea Party freshman congressman. 

Congressman, do you also think the president is lying about the consequences of not raising the debt limit? 

REP. TIM HUELSKAMP, (R-KS) BUDGET COMMITTEE:  Well, for the president to suggest and worry seniors and alarm them by threatening to withhold their Social Security checks, I think that‘s wrong.  And certainly the Department of Treasury has enough cash on hand to pay those benefits.  And, so yes, I believe it is wrong for the president to threaten seniors and use them in a wedge in a political argument in Washington, D.C. 

SHARPTON:  I don‘t know if you could call it a threat when he was asked whether or not these checks could be paid and he said that we would run out of money.  That‘s not exactly a threat to give the actual facts.  The fact is that the country spent $118 billion a month more than it has, and it can‘t borrow the money, they are going to have to pick and choose who they pay, is that not a fact, Congressman? 

HUELSKAMP:  Oh, it‘s a fact on August 2nd the Department of Treasury will have enough funds to pay those benefits.  And for the president to suggest that, that‘s wrong.  We heard that today from the Social Security Administration that only reason those wouldn‘t be paid is it is a political decision by the Department of Treasury and this administration.  That doesn‘t help solve the problem. 

SHARPTON:  Look at what Mr. Bernanke said.  If you think the president is lying, let‘s see if you think Mr. Bernanke is telling the truth or lying. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE:  Just as matter of arithmetic, fairly soon after the date, there would have to be significant cuts in Social Security, Medicare, military pay, or some combination of those in order to avoid borrowing more money. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  I mean, doesn‘t that concern you?  And let me say this, I looked at your background.  You and I, obviously, disagree.  But you seem to be a sensitive man, adopted two kids from Haiti.  You‘re not just a guy with no sensitivity.  When you hear the head of the Federal Reserve say this, doesn‘t this at least concern you? 

HUELSKAMP Oh, I am very concerned.  The spending and borrowing practices of not just the last two years but last couple decades created major problems.  It has one up a $14.3 trillion credit card bill, and the idea that boy if we could just get past August 2nd and borrow a couple trillion more dollars, that won‘t solve the problem.  We have a spending problem in Washington, D.C., a spending and a borrowing problem. 

So, I know the folks across the street are all worried, gosh, can they get to the next election?  If they can just borrow enough money.  You know the debate is about this.  It is about the next generation.  We are spending too much and this idea of more job killing tax increases and more regulation somehow puts will put some of these $14.1 million unemployed Americans back to work.  That is what I am concerned about.  So where are the jobs?  Where is the economic growth? 

SHARPTON:  If that‘s the point then when the president said, let‘s deal with that for the next generation, let‘s talk about a big bargain.  Let‘s put it all on the table.  Then why did your leadership say no?  And now, when you say don‘t just put $2 or $3 trillion here and keep going, did your leadership, Senator McConnell and them, sell you out? 

HUELSKAMP:  No.

SHARPTON:  If that‘s what you want?  That‘s what they are offering the president. 

HUELSKAMP:  No, here is the problem, Al.  Here is the problem, is the president talks, it is like the CBO said, you can‘t score speeches.  There are no details.  It is press conferences, we have not received a single piece of paper with any ideas from the president.  It is just talking to the press. 

(CROSS TALK)

HUELSKAMP:  Meanwhile—

SHARPTON:  But don‘t you meet in order to find out what he‘s offering?  Don‘t you have to sit at the table to negotiate?  I mean, who compromised more than Ronald Reagan?  Ronald Reagan was a great compromiser, was he not?  Did you think Ronald Reagan was something negative?  I‘m sure you admired Mr. Reagan.  He raised taxes 11 times.  Did you know that?

HUELSKAMP:  I certainly admire Ronald Reagan and still do.  But when you have 806 days since the U.S. Senate hasn‘t passed the budget, and you have the president that put a budget forward in January, said in April he didn‘t want any more but we haven‘t received a detail yet, it is hard to negotiate, we need to solve this problem.  And the problem is this, it‘s created by two-and-a-half years of spending more than we are taking in.  This is the president‘s problem.  And I think in Mr. Bernanke‘s problem and I think they are starting to get desperate that the American people are saying, no to raising the debt ceiling.  

SHARPTON:  Congressman, you‘re the leader, you‘re speaker.  Met with the president, he came back into a meeting, the president talked about, get your big bargain.  Everything on table, and then they backed out.  Now McConnell, with the support of John McCain, is saying, let them go ahead and do whatever they need to do to go forward.  I mean, do you feel like those that are leading you have betrayed you because you are saying things that are not in line with what they are doing now?

HUELSKAMP:  No, what the president actually proposed. 

SHARPTON:  No, I‘m not talking about the president.  I‘m talking about Mr. Boehner.  I‘m talking about Mr. McConnell.  I‘m talking about Mr.  McCain or what they put on the table today as leaders of your party.  

HUELSKAMP:  Well, I don‘t support Mr. McConnell‘s plan.  But what I do support is finding a way to reduce spending.  We have a $2.4 trillion request to raise the debt ceiling.  And the president hasn‘t outlined a single specific cut for this year.  Actually, the talk is his idea for cutting is to cut $2 billion. 

SHARPTON:  He said let‘s put it out on the table, including tax cuts.  So, you‘re saying that the only thing that has to be put on the table is the cuts on one side? 

HUELSKAMP:  He refuses to put anything in writing.  He has press conferences.  Why doesn‘t he invite some folks in the freshmen class up to the White House?  I encourage him to do that.  But the point being, this debt was created by too much spending.  By two-and-a-half years by this administration, and a Congress for four years that spent $4 trillion more than they took it, $4 trillion of debt.  

SHARPTON:  I want to make sure I got this right.  

HUELSKAMP:  Yes, sir. 

SHARPTON:  So, he is meeting with leadership every day.  But you just said, he ought to be meeting with the freshman congressman.  So, maybe the president should just side step the leadership, meet with the freshman congressman, have you all add a coupe that I didn‘t hear about?  I know I‘ve been busy the last half hour.  I mean, so now he should meet with the leadership, he should meet with the freshman.  

HUELSKAMP:  Well, he needs to put his details in writing.  And the idea on one hand, he will tell one group a proposal and again I‘m just hearing this second or third-hand like you are.  But the crux of the matter is put your details in writing Mr. President.  Tell us how you‘re going to solve your problem.  Because it was your spending, the Democrats ran up $2.5 trillion that they need to close the gap up.  

SHARPTON:  How does the Tea Party member like you, a guy that comes out of working and small business background, defend tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and corporate jet guys?  I mean, how can you do that and leverage that against cuts for grand mamas on Social Security, how do you do that?

HUELSKAMP:  Well, there is nobody on the republican side that‘s proposing Social Security cut.  It is the president who announced last night that he might withhold checks to millions of seniors when there‘s cash at the Department of Treasury.  That is wrong. 

SHARPTON:  How do you defend tax cuts for billionaires, millionaires and corporate jets?  That was the question.  How do you. 

HUELSKAMP:  Job killing tax increases don‘t put Americans back to work.  We have 14.1. 

SHARPTON:  No, we‘re not talking about increases.  I‘m asking you to answer the question.  I‘m not trying to cut you off but I really want an answer to the question.  How do you defend that?  If you let the. 

HUELSKAMP:  Tax increases.  

SHARPTON:  That is not tax increases.  That‘s expiring the tax cut. 

HUELSKAMP:  In December, these are the tax cuts that Mr. Obama signed in December.  The idea. 

SHARPTON:  The Bush tax cuts extended.  That‘s correct.  If they will run out, that is not raising the taxes, that‘s letting them run out.  

HUELSKAMP:  They are the Bush-Obama tax cuts that were extended in December.  But the point is we have 14.1 million Americans out of work and the idea that we can raise taxes and somehow solve this deficit problem, $1.65 trillion.  You would only solve five percent of the problem.  

SHARPTON:  We are not raising taxes.  We‘re talking about letting the taxes run out and we have seen what all of these Bush tax cuts fall since 2001, we are out of jobs.  I mean, what are we talking about?  How long do we wait on the jobs?

HUELSKAMP:  Well, two-and-half years is too long to wait on this president to create jobs.  His stimulus package promised millions of new jobs.  We have lost millions of new jobs.  

SHARPTON:  We have gotten two million jobs, ten years of tax cuts haven‘t gotten us anything but a bubble that burst in our face.  Thank you, Congressman.  And thank you for coming to the show tonight.  

HUELSKAMP:  Thank you.  I Appreciate it.  Thank you so much.  

Ahead, Mitch McConnell lets the cat out of the bag.  What‘s the real reason he refuses to agree with President Obama?                                                                       

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to the show.  Now to discuss some of today‘s biggest political stories, we bring on our Power Panel.  Joining me now is Sirius XM radio host Joe Madison.  Welcome back from Sudan, Joe. 

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Thank you very much, Al.

SHARPTON:  Reporter from the Huffington post and MSNBC analyst, Alex Wagner.  And Josh Trevino of Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

Our first question, are Mitch McConnell‘s priorities totally poisonous?  Defending his back-up debt plan, this morning, Senator McConnell went on the offensive exposing, the real reason, he is not willing to agree to do a debt deal that comes from President Obama. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, KENTUCKY:  I refuse to help get Barack Obama

re-elected.  By marching Republicans into a position where we have co-

ownership of a bad economy.  I bet there won‘t be a single republican vote to raise the debt ceiling at the end of the day.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Josh, does McConnell even care about the debt deal, as he is just out to get President Obama?

JOSH TREVINO, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION:  Yes.  I think McConnell cares about both, actually.  And look, when you look at the set of polls that Gallup released both yesterday and today, it is pretty clear that the American people are at least a plurality of them are on McConnell‘s side and on the House GOP side as well.  Yesterday, we saw Gallup released a poll that have 42 percent of Americans, a plurality oppose to raising the debt ceiling.  And today, we have a Gallup poll that showed 50 percent versus 11 on the other side.  Thinking that the debt and the deficit should be dealt with by mostly spending cuts.  So, the Republicans are on the side of the American people here.  I think that‘s pretty clear from the data we‘ve seen. 

SHARPTON:  But Alex, before I to go to you, Joe, I want to ask you, he says that the American people are on McConnell‘s side, I just had a republican congressman that‘s not on McConnell‘s side that said Obama ought to be meeting with them. 

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

TREVINO:  He is not on the same side tactically.  

ALEX WAGNER, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  You know what, there is a civil war happening inside the Republican Party. 

TREVINO:  That‘s right.

WAGNER:  I think it is very much evidenced by the behavior in the last three days.  The leadership, established leadership, like McConnell and like John Boehner, to a certain degree, are scary.  And the example that McConnell use was, we know what happened in 1995 when the Republicans let the government shut down.  We do not want to see that happen again.  The American voters will blame the Republicans and it will give Obama on the White House lift going into 2012.  And that‘s why they are coming out with this stuff.  

SHARPTON:  But Joe, I mean, the Tea Party freshmen is saying, we want to let it go.  Let‘s go.  I mean, they want to meet with the president.  They want to jump over the leaders of their party.  He just said it right here on television. 

MADISON:  You got it.  You‘re exactly right.  And let‘s go back to what was said initially.  The minority leader in the Senate has said this is not the first time and here‘s the keyword.  That his priority is to defeat President Obama.  His priority.  Not to create jobs.  Not to get this economy, but to make sure that he doesn‘t have a second term.  Now this is the second time that that kind of comment has been made public.  And so, he‘s very clear what he is attempting to do.  And you really showed what these freshmen Tea Party folks are doing.  They are.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

I sat very patiently.  They are upset with their leadership.  Their leadership voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling under President Bush.  The same people now, who are meeting with President Bush voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling.  

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

SHARPTON:  Josh, they really think—seven times under President Bush. 

MADISON:  Boehner was there, please.  

SHARPTON:  Boehner was there.  Come on, Josh, why didn‘t we see them say to the president, their president, their party president, let‘s not raise the debt, let‘s correct everything now and let‘s get rid of all of the problems that they are now saying that we should have gotten rid of a long time ago when they were the ones raising the debt and had the White House. 

TREVINO:  Yes.  You know, I think it is a bit of dissonance here.  Because on the one hand, we‘ve had several of you all talk about how the house freshman, which I agree, are the font of conservative sentiment here.  The ones who are opposing this.  They went around under George W. Bush.  I mean, this is a new class of people.  It‘s a new type of party that‘s come in, in the 2010 elections, representing the will of the American people.  And, you know, to reach back and assign blame to them for administrations in Congress that they weren‘t even part of this ludicrous.  I mean, look, again, the numbers speak for themselves.  The American people are on the side of the Republicans.  The Republicans are on the side of the American people on the step fight.  And speaking to your point about the priorities, where the property is un-employing Barack Obama or reemploying Americans.  What you and I. 

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

SHARPTON:  Alex—we are looking at the polls. 

WAGNER:  Right.  

SHARPTON:  Josh, I will let you talk.  It is Alex‘s turn. 

TREVINO:  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

WAGNER:  Everybody gets a turn.

SHARPTON:  I mean, come on.  What American people. 

WAGNER:  And then. 

SHARPTON:  I already missed the cool.  Am I missing the American people too?

WAGNER:  We are really—let‘s talk about the Tea Party here.  Because we are going to talk about who the Tea Party is, this is a party that is largely composed of live wires.  We do not know what their policy prescriptions are other than cut and end government.  End government programs.  There is no policy platform here.  They seem very intent on letting the—letting the U.S. default and we now have Wall Street.  We have big business.  We have Moodys.  We have standard and poor cautioning the U.S. government that our credit rating will be downgrade if we default.  I mean, I think there is a reality here that Tea Party is choosing to ignore.  And I think other people and maybe people who‘d be office longer understand repercussions there. 

SHARPTON:  Joe, they‘re calling the man.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER) 

MADISON:  Hey, hey, hey, I think he is talking to me.  

SHARPTON: -- And saying he gave the president a blank check, I mean, come on, I know about denial, but we are gee, we are seeing a real implosion here and Josh is saying, we‘re winning.  We‘re winning.  I mean, you‘re in the dressing room.  I‘m trying to wake you up and say you are losing on points, Josh. 

TREVINO:  Well, the data speaks for itself.  I mean, you can say what you can say, we are losing all you want but you‘ve two Gallup polls in the past 48 hours to be exact.

MADISON:  You know, I do polling myself, too.  And Josh, you ought to come on my show and listen to the people who are not very happy and they know what this game is.  This about the positioning President Obama, don‘t raise the debt ceiling, and then I guarantee you when Wall Street screams, Moody‘s screams, the global economy screams, you‘re going to point your finger and say, it was all Obama‘s fault.  

SHARPTON:  Right.  

MADISON:  The reality is, everything is on the table and you guys want to maintain tax credits for the very wealthy.  There is no equal sacrifice.  That‘s the problem.  You cannot sit here and talk about spending cuts and balance this economy back into shape. 

SHARPTON:  I have to cut it off there.  Great panel.  Thank you so much, Joe, Alex, and Josh, for a great panel. 

TREVINO:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Thank you.

TREVINO:  Coming up, could Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp face legal troubles here in the United States over possible bribery?  There are growing calls for an investigation.  

Senator Lautenberg wants action.  That‘s next.     

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  The Murdoch scandal has jumped the Atlantic.  He could be investigated here.  We will talk to a prominent U.S. senator about that next.             

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  The British phone hacking scandal has erupted into a legal, financial and political nightmare for Rupert Murdoch‘s empire.  And it looks like it is getting worse.  Facing intents political pressure across the pond.  Today News Corp dropped its $12 billion bid to makeover, a major satellite broadcasting. 

Now, politicians on this side of the Atlantic are demanding answers.  Several lawmakers are calling for an investigation into allegations that hacking had happened even to American 9/11 victims.  And that parent company of FOX News, may have violated U.S. law. 

Joining me now, one of the lawmakers calling for an investigation, Senator Frank Lautenberg, thank you senator for joining us tonight.  Senator, can you tell me first of all, what information led you to call on the Justice Department to investigate? 

REP. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, when you look at a company, as important as News Corp is, we‘re getting information out to the public, is doing bribery, which is a felonious action, because they are an American corporation and we have laws against using bribery for anything. 

It is outrageous that they should be accused and we expect that it will

follow through and be proven, that they have been bribed law enforcement

people to get information.  And as you mentioned in your opening, that they

it‘s suggested that maybe even hacking of 9/11 families, has been done. 

We won‘t tolerate it and we‘re insisting that the Justice Department get after this promptly.  

SHARPTON:  Now senator, when you say, bribery, there‘s been the allegation that you just said here, that you believe will be proven that they actually bribe law enforcement in England, which is a violation of law  here, for the American corporation, engage in this kind of felonious activity.  This isn‘t bribing law enforcement and even getting information on the queen, the former prime minister‘s son.  I mean, this is amazing allegations, don‘t you think?

LAUTENBERG:  Well, it‘s outrageous that it could even be considered.  But we do have to wait until the conclusions are drawn.  And until the investigation is thoroughly done by the Justice Department.  But there‘s all kinds of evidence that points to the fact that they‘ve done it, and it‘s impossible to understand how a  corporation of that size, that magnitude, that power, would resort to that kind of a tactic to get information.  But they are paying a price for it and we want to make sure that they pay the price that they should for violating the law as an American corporation. 

SHARPTON:  There is something that go above party lines and brings everyone together and certainly 9/11 was one of them.  You and I live on opposite sides of the Hudson River.  But both of us were stunned ten years ago.  And to think that we are now being told that there‘s a possibility that some of these families were hacked, what to get a story?  I mean this is unbelievable. 

LAUTENBERG:  Yes.  Well, they are running foot loose and fancy free if we start off with the first thing, that is bribery, an offense that is—that is against the law.  And then continuing their reckless involvement with other things.  We will wait and see what the Justice Department said.  But we want them to get on it.  Get on it quickly, get on it thoroughly.  And leave no stone unturned to make either make the charge stick or relieve them of accusation.  We don‘t think that‘s possible. 

SHARPTON:  Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, thanks for your time this evening.  

LAUTENBERG:  Reverend Al, good to see you. 

SHARPTON:  Good to see you, always.  

He caught Derek Jeter‘s famous home run ball but now the lucky fan might have to pay thousands for doing the right thing.            

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  The whole country watched Derek Jeter make baseball history with his 3,000 hit.  And one lucky Yankee fan became part of history when he caught the ball.  Some say he could have sold it for as much as a half million dollars.  But he didn‘t.  He gave it back to Jeter and in return, got a photo, some tickets and some autographs.  Yankee memorabilia.  So, did he do the right thing?  Should he have gone for the money?  What would you have done?

Joining me now, is the man himself, Christian Lopez.  Christian, how are you?

CHRISTIAN LOPEZ, CAUGHT JETER‘S 3000TH CAREER HIT:  Good, how are you doing?

SHARPTON:  Thank you for joining me.  Let me ask you something.  I understand that your ticket that night to the game, that afternoon, was a birthday gift from your girlfriend.  

LOPEZ:  Yes, it was.  

SHARPTON:  And you ended up making history.  

LOPEZ:  Yes, it‘s kind of crazy.  

SHARPTON:  What were you thinking about when you saw the ball coming?

LOPEZ:  I was first thinking that ball—I was hoping it had enough air.  I mean, Jeter doesn‘t really go deep that much anymore.  Or this year he hasn‘t.  This is his third home run of the season.  And I saw the ball in the air.  I thought to myself, oh, I hope this has enough air.  It just got bigger and bigger and bigger.  And all of a sudden my dad somehow jumped across five people and the ball just landed in my lap.  Kind of hit him in the hand and just like rolled in front of me.  

SHARPTON:  Just landed it.  Now, when did you start thinking about what to do with the ball?  I mean, once you got over the shock, that it landed there, you had the ball, when did you have to start calculating, now what?

LOPEZ:  I really didn‘t start thinking about doing something with the ball.  I was more worried about getting out of there for my safety because the whole crowd was electric. 

SHARPTON:  Right.

LOPEZ:  And I mean, the atmosphere was insane.  It was nothing I‘ve—

I‘ve never been part of something  like that before. 

SHARPTON:  Yes.  

LOPEZ:  And as soon as I finally calmed down, I was able to sit down with some of the Yankee people.  They were like, so, what do you want to do with the ball?  And I looked at my dad and my dad looks at me and he goes you‘re a grown man.  Decide on what you want to do with the ball.  You got it.  The next thing I know, I just kind of look over at the security guy and like, I just really want to give this ball back to Derek Jeter.  

SHARPTON:  Well, a good guy.  But these are troubled times.  I‘m going to keep on going until we can make those guys in Washington care as much about working people having their babies milk, as they care about the first lady having an occasional milk shake. 

Thanks for watching.  I‘m Al Sharpton.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.   

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

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