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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday July 20, 2011

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

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Guest Host: Al Sharpton
Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry, Rep. Tom Reed, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rick Lazio, Barney Frank, Dean Hara, Richard Wolffe

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Have Republicans in the House become a cult, don‘t blame me for saying it. A Democratic senator beat me to it.
Tonight, still no deal, and no word on whether John Boehner‘s members even want one.
Plus, just one year Barney Frank‘s bank bill became law, he is still under assault from Republicans and big banks. Congressman Frank is here live.
And emotional testimony in the Senate and calls to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Welcome to the show. I‘m Al Sharpton.

Tonight‘s lead:
As Washington plays “let‘s make a deal,” the Tea Party is still saying “my way or the highway.” President Obama is meeting at the White House with John Boehner and Eric Cantor, but House Republicans still refuse to budge on any deal to raise the debt limit. They‘re saying no to the president. They‘re saying no to the “gang of six” senators. They are even saying no to Mitch McConnell‘s plan B.
Today, one Democratic senator had a new word for the Tea Party‘s extremism, “the cult fringe.”
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: The debate and fight is not between the Democrats and Republicans. It‘s between some Republicans and they are sort of cult fringe as I refer to them out there. They are dead beat debtors is what they are.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congressman Tom Reed, a first term Republican from New York state.
Congressman, you guys a cult?
REP. TOM REED ®, NEW YORK: Oh, well first of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to be on here tonight with you, Mr. Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
REED: What I would say is, no. We are serious as the freshman class member of the House of Representatives. We are serious about getting our fiscal house in order so that we can get this American economy going and bring certainty and confidence back to America and to the private sector.
SHARPTON: But as you bring certainty back, you talk about in the balanced budget amendments that went through the house today, cutting $111 billion, is that right, in some of the expenditures that you want cut for immediate spending cuts. You want to protect tax breaks for the rich and corporations, cuts up to 20 percent and Social Security and Medicaid by 2021.
I mean, how do you expect to restore balance with shared sacrifice when it seems the rich and corporations are giving up nothing. In fact, they are getting something. And you‘re cutting Social Security. You cut Medicare. You‘re cutting Medicaid.
REED: I understand your concern but all can I tell is you that that‘s just not accurate. We put a proposal out of the House, “cut, cap and balance” that we now sent to the Senate, and ask for us to have this debate open and honestly with the American people. We have $14.4 trillion deficit problem. It‘s time to get serious about it and make sure that this America is here for generations to come.
SHARPTON: Now, that‘s good talking point. But let‘s get to my question—you are saying that the $111 billion of spending cuts is not in the bill?
REED: Well, what I say, Reverend Sharpton, is that everyone agrees. The “gang of six,” the president himself has said, in order to get this national debt crisis under control, we have to cut spending. Spending is out of control.
SHARPTON: No, but we‘re talking about your bill. We know what everybody is saying we‘ve got to cut spending.
Your bill—does the bill say we want to cut a specific $111 billion? You have a specific bill with a specific number. I‘m asking you about the number and where you have those cuts in that bill.
REED: Oh, absolutely we have cuts. We have cuts of a hundred plus billions dollars. “Gang of six” has a hundred billion worth of cuts. The president is talking about $4 trillion deal supposedly, that I haven‘t seen in writing and we‘d like to see it in writing. And those have cuts of $3 trillion.
So, the bottom line is, allegedly, according to the president, the bottom line is to get Washington under control, we have to cut the spending because once we demonstrate to the American world markets that we are serious about getting our fiscal house in order, the private sector will invest.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a survey, that survey of businesses. Uncertainty is the number one reason why many businesses are not bringing people back to work. And that‘s what we got to bring back to America.
SHARPTON: But the shared sacrifice clearly is not in your bill when you finally admit it here, that your bill has $111 billion in cuts but all of the cuts are Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, not on the other side.
Let me give you an example. Talk about shared sacrifice. Look at this gentleman here who made $4.9 billion last year. John Paulson, a hedge fund manager, $4.9 billion. Because of tax loopholes, he was able to pay on his taxes, not on his earned income, but on capital tax. This man is equivalent to 184,000 Americans per capita.
I mean, how can you look at that and not say there‘s something imbalanced and just wrong about that, Congressman?
REED: Well, and that‘s why from day one, since the freshman class came to Washington, D.C., we talked about comprehensive tax reform, closing the loopholes, making sure that everyone pays their fair share. We wholeheartedly endorsed that set of proposal. I look forward to doing that.
SHARPTON: Why is that in the bill?
REED: That is part of “cut, cap and balance,” and getting into an amendment is going to force us to get a competitive tax code here implemented so that we can make the American competitive again.
SHARPTON: Your bill does not have that as part of it. Let me ask you this, will you—are you part of those that are saying that you will not vote to lift the debt ceiling unless in fact there is an agreement on these cuts that your are talking about in terms of the spending cuts?
REED: Where I‘m at is we need to cut spending. We are being honest with the American people because the debt crisis is a national security crisis. And we need to just be honest with the American people.
And what I‘m hoping for, we sent a package out of House to hope the Senate has a debate. Where you disagree with “cut, cap and balance,” send it back to us. Let‘s have the debate. Let‘s get the president put in writing so we get that debate going forward.
SHARPTON: Congressman Reid, will you vote—will you vote to raise the debt ceiling without those cuts that you propose being met?
REED: If we don‘t deal with the underlying debt by addressing the spending side of the equation, we are going to get downgraded on the world market.
SHARPTON: Third time, will you—will you, Tom Reed, vote to raise the debt ceiling if they do not agree to the spending cuts that you have put in that bill?
REED: With all due respect, Reverend, we have two problems. We have a debt ceiling crisis and debt crisis. We have to take both taken care of. This is the opportunity. We need to seize the moment.
SHARPTON: With all due respect, you didn‘t answer. Let me ask you another question. You got a letter today, and it was a copy of a letter that a president sent in 1983. Let me show that you letter in case you didn‘t have time to read your mail. It called on a—raising of the debt ceiling.
It is impossible, the letter said, to predict and awesome to contemplate. What would happen, assistance and passing and extension debt ceiling. Sincerely, Ronald Reagan.
Does the fact that Ronald Reagan, someone that I would think you respect and regard, appealed to the Congress to deal with the debt ceiling in his time and raise the debt ceiling many times, does that give you at least a cause to pause and think about what you‘re doing?
REED: We—I absolutely recognize the ramifications of the debt ceiling and default of America‘s status on its credit. And I recognize what the president was talking about—President Reagan was talking about.
But the bottom line is, it‘s time to lead ands deal with the problem that‘s causing the debt ceiling crisis and that‘s the underlying debt. And that‘s why we‘re putting proposals out there in writing. The president hasn‘t but a proposal out there in writing and the Senate hasn‘t done anything.
So, we are hoping they‘ll take up this debate. Let‘s be honest with the American people. Get the debt under control so we can bring certainty and confidence to America again, so people can invest and put people back it work.
SHARPTON: Well, Congressman Tom Reed, I thank you for your time tonight. And thank you again.
REED: Thank you.
SHARPTON: As the debate dragged on, Democrats have found their voice.
Listen to this blistering critique from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: There is something very, very wrong and un-American with a Republican proposal that makes it far easier to cut Medicare than to cut subsidies for oil and gas companies, easier to cut Social Security than ask for one penny more from millionaires and billionaires. Of course, we need to address our economic challenges. But not by holding our country hostage and threatening to not pay our bills with catastrophic consequences that will hurt every American in order to push an extreme agenda.
SHARPTON: Congressman Schakowsky joins me now. Congresswoman, thank you for being here.
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: You are very passionate on the floor and let me ask you directly—I had one of your colleagues on the other side of the aisle on and he has a problem with answering direct questions.
SCHAKOWSKY: Right, I was listening.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you directly. The House dealt with this whole bill today, a balanced budge amendment bill. It‘s not likely to pass the Senate.
But how do you look at the facts that they are talking about $111 billion in cuts, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, cuts up to 20 percent in Social Security and Medicare by 2021, yet it protects tax breaks for the rich and corporations.
I mean, is this not an ugly imbalance that they are calling shared sacrifice?
SCHAKOWSKY: You know, they talk about, well, we have to go after those sacred cows. But, clearly, some cows are a lot more sacred than others. They do absolutely nothing to ask for even a hair on the head after billionaire to be cut. And yet they cut, cap and balance—cut Medicare, cap Medicaid and balance the budget on the back of senior citizens, people with disabilities and the middle class in our country.
I think—you know, we have talked about this before, Al, that the thing that causes our economic stagnation the most is the income in equality, the disappearing middle class and jobs deficit that we have in our country. None of which are dealt with in their legislation. In fact, they make the problem worse.
SHARPTON: Well, many of us thought the Ryan plan was bad. Some Democrats are saying that today is the Ryan plan on steroids.
SCHAKOWSKY: That‘s exactly right. This cuts—this offers even more cuts, much more like the far right wing Republican Study Committee budget that didn‘t even pass a House with the Republicans voting for it. And so, this is a—we‘re in a very dangerous time because people are irrational about the pending crisis.
If we don‘t raise the debt ceiling, we‘ll have this default crisis that will actually jeopardizes checks that go out to our Social Security recipients, veterans and even our military and their families.
We only have 12 days to deal with this and they are going in exactly the wrong direction.
SHARPTON: Well, as you say that, with these 12 days that we are facing, you now have the “gang of six” that have come to proposal. What do you think about that? First of all, do we have time to deal with proposals? We talk about $3.7 trillion in deficit reduction, $1 trillion in revenue, Social Security and Medicare reform.
Do we have time to deal with that? If not, do we do something temporary until we can get the time? Where are you on this, Congresswoman?
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, it seems that the president has said that he is willing to give a little more time as long as the debt ceiling is raised.
But I have a lost trouble with the “gang of six.” They want $500 billion immediately in cuts. One-fifth of that would come from Social Security, because they want to change the COLA and actually reduce it for current beneficiaries.
Yes, with you mentioned $1 trillion in tax increases, but that would come from cutting key benefits for tax for health insurance, credits for charitable contributions—things that are going to come right out of the middle class. And so, I‘m thinking that this proposal still doesn‘t get it.
And, in fact, it lowers the top tax rate from 35 percent down to maybe even lower than 29 percent, and is revenue neutral when it comes to corporate taxes. We know corporations that aren‘t paying any taxes like G.E. and getting billions in rebates.
So, I don‘t—I don‘t think that this proposal is the kind of balance and fair proposal that we really need. And so, I‘m very skeptical about it. Do we want to reduce our debt? Yes. But do we want to do it on the back of the most vulnerable people and the middle class?
SHARPTON: That‘s the real question and I think we‘re going to have people that will really answer and not play games with it because they are talking about real life and real life consequences.
SCHAKOWSKY: Yes. And, in the meantime --
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, I‘ve got to go. Thank you. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thanks so much for your time.
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Al.
SHARPTON: Ahead, Republicans threatening default are playing roulette with people‘s lives. We‘ll show you how heartless it is.
Plus, the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act goes to the Senate. We are all created equal. Now is the time to change.
And get this—Rush Limbaugh thinks the debt deadline is magic.
We‘ll put an end to his conspiracy theory. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Why are the same people holding the debt limit hostage? The ones you once voted for? I call this grand old hypocrisy. That‘s next.
SHARPTON: Seven years ago when President Bush was in office, congressional Republicans voted to raise the debt limit by $800 billion. There was no talk then of tying spending cuts to the debt ceiling. They just did it.
Today, 130 of those same Republicans are still in Congress. And now, they‘re demanding a Democratic president slash spending before they‘ll even talk about raising the debt ceiling.
So, why are they holding the economy hostage new and threatening the income of millions of Americans?
Well, joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, a columnist for “The Nation” and an MSNBC contributor; and Rick Lazio, former Republican congressman ands founder of
Thank both of you for being with me tonight.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks. It‘s a bit of a reunion for me, Rick.
FMR. REP. RICK LAZIO ®, NEW YORK: That‘s right, Melissa. Good to see you, virtually.
SHARPTON: Some call it a reunion, others call it a rematch.
SHARPTON: Melissa, rematch, you know, let me—let me try to say this. You are a very well-respected scholar.
But there‘s a personal side to this. It is not just policy. I think sometimes we miss the human side of this.
I happen to know that your mother is on Social Security and you‘ve been watching her through this crisis. Do you mind sharing that with our audience?
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I‘m happy to share it because, I‘ll tell you, this is the thing that made it personal. Look, you know, I‘m a young worker. I‘ve got, you know, 40 more years probably of employment in front of me.
And so, as bad as this is, I‘ve been feeling like, you know, things are probably going to work out OK.
But, you know, today, my mother sat at my kitchen table and came to tears because she is absolutely terrified about the idea that her Social Security might either be cut, you know, in the short term, or no cost of living in the long-term.
And, you know, my mom is a young vibrant 68. But she is living on Social Security, trying to look forward to the next two decades and really asking the question about whether or not the promises that this government made to her when she worked for all these years as a single parent, paying into this system, doing what she could, that the government made a promise to her and she‘s really feeling like they‘re going to default on it. And that for me is very painful to watch—you know, my mom feeling that sense of vulnerability.
And I can just imagine that that is happening at kitchen tables all over the country right now.
SHARPTON: Rick, how do you look at someone like Melissa‘s mother—forget the party, forget our debates—and say you paid into this, you did the right thing. But we‘re sorry. But, we‘re not going to do anything to the guy flying around in corporate jets. We‘re not going to close the loopholes. We‘re not going to deal with those corporations who are not paying their taxes at all.
I mean, how do you judge what way we make this—how do we justify this? How do we call this shared sacrifice?
LAZIO: Well, first of all, my mom also depends on Social Security. She is a widow. I won‘t tell you how old she is, or I‘d get a good beating when I went home.
But I think the answer is, is that for people who are at the lower income levels who truly depend on Social Security as their primary means of support, that we ought to make sure we have a progressive system in terms of cost of living increases. That‘s what we‘re talking about. We‘re not talking about cutting. We are talking about the increases every year and how those are adjusted.
And in my view, there can be two levels of adjustment. One for people at the lower end and one for people who really don‘t—although they have paid into Social Security—don‘t rely on it to support themselves.
The fact is, though, Reverend, that this program, Social Security, which is a fabulous program and has supported many, many seniors, is spending more. Starting this year, earlier than we thought, spending more, more money flowing out than coming in.
So, it got to get this thing right. It gets adjusted every so often.
The parties come together. There‘s no reason to demagogue it.
You can fix this thing in a responsible way and you can make sure that the ramp or period of time in which it phases in is so long that people will hardly notice it.
SHARPTON: But the way can you do that is by increasing the debt ceiling, because you are doing better than the first Republican I had tonight. You answered half of my questions. You didn‘t answer the other half.
LAZIO: All right. Let me have it.
SHARPTON: What about telling the guy with the private corporate jet and private corporations that are not doing anything, what about their obligations? I mean, you are talking about two tiers of working people and poor people. But it‘s like the rich don‘t even come into mind with you guys.
LAZIO: Yes. But that‘s not really true. Now, top 5 percent pays about 65 percent of the personal income taxes. They are actually paying more as a percentage of the federal taxes coming into the government than they have several years ago before the so-called Bush tax cuts.
The problem is here, not so much on the revenue side. It‘s on the spending side. The entitlements programs are growing twice as fast as the economy.
SHARPTON: Melissa—
HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, no.
SHARPTON: I mean, come on --
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I got to say, with all due respect when you say the problem is, that‘s a falsehood. Let‘s talk about one of the revenue side. So, let‘s just take the notion that taxes are frozen, that Republicans are not going to move on this and we cannot raise more revenue by asking for more people to pay their fair sure.
There‘s another way that we raise entitlement taxes and that is putting people to work. When we address the unemployment crisis, when people are working, young people are working, they are paying into the system. Nobody is getting out the Social Security they put in. It‘s young people working, paying into the Social Security, that help support today‘s retirees.
Now, what we have in the debt crisis is of course that there is no debt crisis. I mean, part of the problem here is the language of debt ceiling makes us think that we are talking about the same thing. The debt ceiling is not a crisis. It‘s a decision. We are standing in a burning house. And the people who have the key to the front door to let us out, instead of simply letting us out of the house as it burns are turning around and trying to make a deal about the terms we will be allowed to walk out of this burning house.
That is ridiculous. We must raise the ceiling in order to protect --
SHARPTON: Isn‘t that true, that we are not in a crisis, that the crisis being made by the extremists in your party that are trying to hold the country hostage. Other than that, there wouldn‘t be a crisis?
LAZIO: You know, you can pay me now or you can pay me later? You can be Portugal or Greece, where you run out of options and you have violence in the streets because there‘s no jobs, you have capital outflow which is exactly the path that some would have us on. Ignoring the reality that our debt is increasing—I mean, this year alone --
HARRIS-PERRY: The failure to raise the debt ceiling --
LAZIO: -- Barack Obama‘s budget would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion. If we would do with Barack Obama wanted with his first budget submission, we have by the end of President Obama‘s first term, we will have accumulated more publicly held debt than all of the former presidents combined from George Washington through George Bush.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this notion that federal debt, in the context of the kind of economic crisis we are in right now, this is a distraction. This deficit hawkishness is a decision on the part of the GOP to shift us away from the responsibility we all have to one another collectively for the creation of jobs.
Look, the fact is that when the private sector let us down and they fundamentally did in the 2008 crisis, when the private sector crashed behind their own greed, the only responsible party left to begin to create jobs were local, state and federal government. Instead of doing so, these GOPs in the states have been shedding federal workers—I mean, excuse me, shedding state workers, and the federal government has had its hands tied for creating the new sorts of work we need.
If people are at work, then they pay into the entitlement. Even the unfair entitlement system we currently have. Making jobs is the issue.
LAZIO: I totally agree with you.
SHARPTON: We‘re not talking about jobs.
LAZIO: You can‘t send people to create more jobs by raising taxes on them.
SHARPTON: No, we‘re not talking about raising. We are talking about restoring --
SHARPTON: There is now way you can talk about restoring.
LAZIO: Can I give you a specific idea I think we ought to be thinking about? We have between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. Trillion—huge amount of money parked overseas by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies. They don‘t pay taxes on any of that money until they bring it back into the U.S.
So, what are we telling them to do? Build factories and hire people overseas. Why don‘t we allow them to bring the money back and give them a tax credit for every dime they spend hiring somebody who‘s currently unemployed? Let‘s do things that make sense right now. And when you get a win-win and both sides can leave saying, OK --
SHARPTON: Rick, why don‘t we restore taxes to where they were, don‘t raise them, restore them the way they were? We were told in 2001, if we did tax cuts, it was going to create jobs. Then again in 2003, we‘re at 2011, 10 years later, it hasn‘t happened. It t doesn‘t work, Rick.
LAZIO: Jobs, we had—after those tax cuts went in, Reverend, we had half of the unemployment rate that we have right now, half.
SHARPTON: Half because of the surplus economy that your president put us in three wars and we went from surplus under Bush—under Clinton and Bush brought us into a deficit.
LAZIO: We had jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: The other piece --
LAZIO: We had jobs --
HARRIS-PERRY: The other piece is I think we‘re having an imaginary conversation about what a job is. And we keep demonizing people who are workers.
So, let‘s take for example, one of the first behavioral patterns on the part of new Republican governors after the 2010 midterms when they really ran on this kind of populist sentiment was to come in and start going after government workers—as though government workers are the scary people.
Do you know who government workers are? They are teachers. Do you know what teachers do? They help to educate the workforce for the next generation.
And so, instead of doing things like helping teachers, firemen, police officers, we actually made it more difficult. And I say we because I‘m just taking responsibility for all Americans who made the choices I made in 2010.
LAZIO: Look at Texas --
SHARPTON: I‘m going to cut you off.
LAZIO: I know, but the states are the growing fastest and creating the most jobs and they have the states with the least taxes. We‘re going to need a lesson from that.
SHARPTON: I think we need to have all of the states to go back to taxes when we had a surplus in this country and created jobs.
Thank you, Rick Lazio.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Melissa.
LAZIO: Thank you, Melissa.
SHARPTON: We will be taking a break. Thank both of you.
And as we come back, the latest right wing conspiracy theory.
President Obama made the debt ceiling deadline for a birthday bash.
Coming up: one year ago tomorrow, the Dodd-Frank bill to rein in reckless banks was signed into law. Ever since then, Republicans have been on the attack.
Congressman Barney Frank, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, responds to that, next.
SHARPTON: The Dodd-Frank bill was passed to crack down on practices that brought this country to the verge of financial collapse. One year later, Republicans are doing all they can to gut the law. The GOP is threatening to block President Obama‘s nominee to head up the consumer financial protection bureau an agency that protects investors of being starved of funding. One republican house panel voted to cut more than $222 million from the SEC budget. But even with those ads, we‘re in good shape. Thanks to our next guest.
Joining me now is the driving force behind that legislation and the top democrat on the House financial services committee, Representative Barney Frank. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time tonight.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: Thank you, Al. Thanks for the chance to keep the fight up.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you, how hard are the Republicans when their back is still working to attach your law?
FRANK: In many ways, they do understand that the public is tired of the banks doing what they‘ve done. So, they are not doing it head on. They are not trying a straight out appeal but, by every other mean, they‘re trying to affect the—as you know, people who think that we can continue to spend tens and tens of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over a hundred billion dollars a year, pouring money into corruption that doesn‘t help. They can‘t find 150 or 200 million to regulate derivative. Today, this afternoon, a few hours ago, they voted in committee and I think people going to be astonished by this. To reduce the legal liability we try to put on the rating agencies. The rating agents are a big part of this problem. They were paid by the people who are issuing the security and they gave me the outlandish favorable ratings that turn out not to be accurate. So, we said, if you put a rating into a perspective, if I said to you, Sharpton, can you buy this and here is what Moody‘s or Standard & Poor‘s said about it, and it turns out, they reported that they were wrong, that they misstatement, we say, we should be able to sue them.
FRANK: The Republicans said today, no we want to repeal that.
SHARPTON: They just voted to repeal that, so that you can‘t vote for having misinformation on that?
FRANK: It would be much harder. You will have to show, Al, that they were knowingly reckless. I mean, the fact that they were dead wrong, sloppy, careless and you put your money in and bought something that was worthless, that won‘t let you do it. You have to go through all kinds of directions. You know, tomorrow, one of the things we did was to say, look, the bank regulators tend to be pro bank. That happens when you are working with an industry. We want consumers to have an independent agency and they have done such a great job putting it together. So, if you have a problem with a bank or if you have a problem with financial institution, you could go to them. This agency will ban the bad mortgages that got us into so much trouble. That hurt individuals and the economy. Tomorrow, they will be voting on the floor of the House to put the bank regulators back in charge of this. They have a proposal that says that if the bank regulators don‘t like what the consumer bureau did, they can overrule it.
SHARPTON: So the anniversary of this bill, tomorrow, they are going to go on the floor of the House to say, put the regulators back in charge?
FRANK: Exactly. And since the bill was to go into effect one year from today because we wanted to make sure we were prepared, they want to strangle this particular infant before it ever gets out of the crib. And the reason is this. They understand how populous will be. And you know this rhetoric that they have. All the government is the source of all evil. We have to cut the government. Well, here is the case. Consumer protection with regard it credit cards and overdrafts and mortgages. We are asking an agency to protect consumers against bad practices by some in the private sector. Not all bad people but there were some bad practices. What the right wing is afraid of is that people are going to see that there were cases when the public sector, the government can be their protector against bad practices in the private sector. They hate that idea and they are trying to kill it before it can happen.
SHARPTON: Well, one of the reasons I think tomorrow‘s anniversary of you getting this through is so significant, is I mean, almost insurmountable ads you went to get it through. And then these right-wing have been so relentless even after you got it through. I mean, there is a report they spent I think like $2.4 billion, the top six banks on lobbyists just last year alone trying to water this down. And one of the investor leaders that J.P. Morgan said that they had made a 75 percent profit going around these things. To decline in wages and benefits accounts for 75 percent increase in profit margins. I mean, this is absolutely unthinkable.
FRANK: Well, what is happening is that they are trying to, you know, sometimes demagogues are looking for mass hysteria here. They are hoping for mass attention deficit disorder. You know, last year, we were able to get this through look, Elizabeth Warren who was a great leader. She‘s the one who came up with the idea of independent consumer bill. And I‘m very proud to been able to work with her to get it done. And the day the committee I care to passed that particular part of it, she said, you know, they told me not even to try because the banks always win. But they didn‘t win today.
The crisis was so obvious that for once we had the ability to overcome some of these very rich, very powerful special interests. What the Republicans are counting on is that the people will have forgotten about the crisis, forgotten where we were. And by the way, George Bush‘s people came and said, the economy is about to collapse. This is something Barack Obama invented to criticize the private sector. And they‘re hoping people forgotten. But we don‘t think they have, we think that people here about trying to make it harder to sue an agency when they have been wrong or putting the bank regulators back in charge of the consumer bureau or as they are trying to do now, denying money to the two agencies that are supposed to stop speculation in oil which drives up the price that the public is not going to forget, they‘ll going to remember.
SHARPTON: Well, thank you Mr. Chairman for your time. Keep up the fight, and I know you will. Thank you.
FRANK: I do, Al, thank you.
SHARPTON: All right. Ahead, the latest right wing conspiracy theory. President Obama made up the debt ceiling deadline for a birthday bash. I have something to say on that one, next.
SHARPTON: The recession has been tough for everyone and state governments have been forced to make hard choices. In Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley has cut education funds and decimated budgets for parks and historic sites. But he hasn‘t touched the confederate memorial park in mountain creek. It‘s in tip top shape with a $400,000 budget funded entirely by something called the confederate tax. The Associated Press reports the tax originally funded a pension plan and nursing home for confederate veterans. But Alabama‘s last confederate veteran passed away more than 75 years ago. So, today that tax makes sure this Alabama Park covered in confederate flags is the best kept in the state. Cut education, cut historic sites, keep the confederate park in top shape. A budget reflects priorities.
Ahead, the fight for equal rights to Senate state. Today, the fight is on to end the defense of marriage act. How can we do that? Coming up.
SHARPTON: At 12:01 a.m. this Sunday, New York legalizes gay marriage, making it the sixth state in the nation to do so. There now more than 50,000 legally married same-sex couples in the country but the federal government still doesn‘t recognize a single one of those unions, why? Because of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. This law denies legally married same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by other married couples. President Obama is now supporting a repeal of this law. And today, a Senate panel heard witnesses described almost terrible effects.
RON WALLEN, CHALLENGING DOMA: Four months ago, Tom Corolla, and my husband and partner of 58 years died of leukemia. Beyond the emptiness cause by the lost of the man I spent entire adult life with. My life has been thrown into financial turmoil because of DOMA. As you know, for married couple in this country, Social Security allows a widow or widower to either claim their own benefit or the benefit amount of their deceased spouse, whichever is highest. Yet I cannot depend on this benefit after 58 years with my spouse simply because of DOMA. This is unfair. This is unjust.
SHARPTON: So, are we at turning point in this debate. Will the federal government finally recognized the validity of same-sex marriages?
Joining me now is Dean Hara, he‘s one of those advocating, he‘s a partner of the first openly gay Congressman Gerry Studs who unexpectedly passed away and now says he has been discriminated against because of DOMA. He is one of 17 plaintiffs in Massachusetts suing to challenge constitutionality of DOMA. And also joining us is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.
Let me start with you, Dean. Tell us what you have gone through and why you are plaintiff in this lawsuit.
DEAN HARA, CHALLENGING DOMA: Thank you for having me tonight. I think the testimony on “The Hill” today and the Senate shows how the defensive marriage act hurts families. Fifteen years ago when I sat in the visitor‘s gallery at the House of Representatives and watched the man who is to become my husband speak out against it, it was very theoretical. I don‘t think Gerry or I ever expected at that point, that we would ever be able to be legally married anywhere within the United States. It did happen eight years later and we got married a week after marriage was legalized in the common wealth of Massachusetts.
It was a decision that the courts made but obviously the people have also now agreed with it. I am being denied the benefits that any other person who has served this government for 24 years as a federal employee, in Gerry‘s instance, a member of Congress, spousal benefits and health insurance. The same people are talking about the same issues 15 years ago except now there are real families and real people like myself being hurt.
SHARPTON: You brought a face on it, as you do, and as the witness today that we saw. Richard, a lot of attitudes have changed. Let‘s look at the polls and how it has gone in 1996, 27 percent of those polls favored people of same-sex marriage. And today, 53 percent, it‘s been a real shift over 50 percent of those polled are now saying, people have the right to make their own choice in marriage.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Reverend Al, a lot of that switch over, actually, just happened in the last couple of years. What‘s ironic is that, what we have seen as the scare tactics from the republican side have not come to pass and in fact has been more reassuring for general voters and Americans across the country to say more same-sex marriage. So, it has become less threatening. I remember back in 2004, there was all that talk about how the anti-same-sex marriage initiatives on balance around the state.
For start, from people like Karl Rove, the idea was this will boost turn out. People look back in 2004, they found no increase in turn out. And instead of pictures shocking voters, into reacting against same-sex marriage, we have seen actually the reverse. They have become more reassured. There any one group of voters that go overwhelmingly reject same-sex marriage and that is Republicans. Democrats, independents are around that 55 percent market support.
SHARPTON: Dean, let me go back to you. This is not an issue about whether someone agrees or disagrees of moral position or religious position. This is where you legally in a state, married, build things together, share things together but has denied you like any other married couple because of this federal law. And you are in fact financially and otherwise impacted by this law on something you legally did and built together.
HARA: I think that if we look at the definition of family, first of all, I think we need to—unfortunately they don‘t even want to accept that two people who want to spend their life together, be it 15 years in my instance or 50 years, that there is any validity. But as families, yes, we look at many decisions from the financial aspect of it. And because of the defensive marriage act and because the impact of federal law, on many aspect of finance, you‘re kind of starting at a disadvantage as it becomes very evident that the government sees you as a second class citizen and that you know firsthand what discrimination is like. Because somebody else, but for the fact that you are of the same sex, would have a much different situation.
SHARPTON: Dean Hara and Richard Wolffe, thank both of you for your time this evening.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
HARA: Thank you.
SHARPTON: The right wing has a new way to blame the blame on the president. Attack him for his birthday party. That‘s next.
SHARPTON: Forget about financial collapse. According to some right-wingers, the real reason President Obama keeps sounding the alarm about the debt ceiling crisis is because he‘s worried about missing his birthday party. That‘s our con job of the day. The president says, the country is missing Social Security payments. If Congress doesn‘t raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd. But Texas republican Louie Gohmert, thinks there‘s a secret motive behind the deadline.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT ®, TEXAS: We found out the president has a big birthday bash scheduled for August the 3rd. Celebrities flying in from all over. And low and behold, August 2nd is the deadline for getting something done so that he can have this massive, maybe the biggest fund-raising, dinner in history for a birthday celebration.
SHARPTON: America, rest easy. Congressman Louie Gohmert is on the case and he is not the only one. Here is FOX and Friend Steve Doocy.
STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST, “FOX AND FRIENDS”: In an August 2nd deadline, the president keeps referring to as Armageddon while the commander in chief has a birthday blow out plan for the very next day.
SHARPTON: But even only Rush Limbaugh could even make it even more offensive territory.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So, Obama is out there pushing this magic August 2nd deadline to get this thing done. That‘s because Ramadan starts August 1st.
SHARPTON: Now these guys won‘t trust Treasurer Secretary Tim Geithner‘s warning about the deadline because he works for Obama. Same with Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. He is probably just angling (ph) for an invite to the birthday bash. Would think they trust a certain republican deep thinker from Wisconsin.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: August 2nd is not a drop dead date by any means, is it?
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: It‘s a date, well, it‘s right around that day or so. We keep running the numbers, we think there may be a few more days.
SHARPTON: Oh, no, Paul Ryan is in on it too. He must be invited to the birthday party. The right using any excuse to criticize the president. That‘s our con job of the day.
Thanks for watching. I‘m Al Sharpton, “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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