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PoliticsNation, Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Guests: Luke Russert, Jared Bernstein, Chaka Fattah, Ed Rendell, Jonathan Capehart, Bob Franken, Jack Gillum

AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICSNATION": Welcome to POLITICSNATION. I`m
Al Sharpton. We begin with breaking news. House Republicans cave in.
Minutes ago House Speaker John Boehner has agreed to a deal on the Senate
payroll tax bill. Boehner made the announcement within the last hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Senator Reid and I have reached
an agreement on the payroll tax relief on behalf of the American people.

You know, sometimes it`s hard to do the right thing, and sometimes
it`s politically difficult to do the right thing. We were here fighting
for the right things. It may not have politically the smartest thing in
the world, but I`m going to tell you what -- I think our members waged a
good fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: His reversal came just hours after meeting the press this
morning where he said he was determined to fight the payroll tax cut that
passed the Senate with 39 Republican votes. The pressure was coming from
all sides all day long. Late this afternoon two Tea Party freshmen
congressmen, Rick Crawford and Sean Duffy, broke ranks and told Boehner
bring this sucker to a vote.

And a shocking moment -- Mitch McConnell also telling Boehner to get
in line. And John McCain warned Boehner he`s damaging his own party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: There`s no doubt this hurts the
Republican Party, and that bothers me a great deal as a Republican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All that came today from the right, and President Obama
threw another left hook today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an issue
where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree. Has this
place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we
can`t do it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Make no mistake about it, it`s a cave-in and it`s a
defining moment for this House and this speaker.

We`re all over it tonight. Luke Russert is NBC News Capitol Hill
correspondent. Congressman Shaka Fattah is a Democrat from Pennsylvania.
And Jack Bernstein is MSNBC contributor and former chief economist for Vice
President Biden. Luke, what a day.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: What a day,
indeed, Reverend Al. It`s really quite the change of events. We woke up
this morning with the House GOP having a press conference at 10:00 a.m.
announcing they were still going to fight. They would fight this to the
bitter end because they thought a one-year extension was the way to go.
But surely that`s not the case.

SHARPTON: Tell me, why did Boehner cave in? From 10:00 to the white
flag going up tonight, what happened?

RUSSERT: What really induced Boehner saying that he was going to go
along with Harry Reid`s idea was the fact that Mitch McConnell, the Senate
minority leader gave the House GOP no cover. He basically said they should
pass the two-months extension and Harry Reid should appoint conferees so
the House and Senate can work out a long-term solution only after we pass
the two-month deal.

Why did he say? He was one of the chief negotiators of the Senate
deal that got 90 percent of the votes in the Senate, 89 senators, 39
Republicans. He wanted to see that thing move forward.

And really, honestly, Reverend Al, John Boehner had nowhere else to
go. When you had the "Wall Street Journal," when you had Mitch McConnell,
when you had John McCain and Karl Rove all saying that Boehner was going in
the wrong direction, hurting the party in the long term, hurting the
party`s 2012 opportunities -- and remember, Mitch McConnell said a year ago
he was in Congress to try to maim Barack Obama a one-term president. Well,
the actions of the House this past week definitely made it so Barack Obama
has a better chance of being a two-term president because, for lack of
better words, this may be the worst week in John Boehner`s speakership. He
saw an insurrection by members of his own House. He got no cover from his
friends on the Republican side, and President Obama heading into the
Christmas holiday, was able to look like a defender of the middle class and
stayed through D.C. before going to vacation, so they couldn`t even make a
snide Hawaii remark at him.

SHARPTON: And Congressman Fattah, he didn`t blink, the president
didn`t blink. What happens now? What`s the mood in the House?

REP. CHAKA FATTAH, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: The president didn`t blink
because he understands what this is all about. The Republicans opposed
this payroll tax caught when the president put it in place a few years ago,
and because they really want tax cuts at the wealthier end. And what the
president`s policy was to make work pay. That is if you`re going to work
every day, and you -- that that`s the group of people we need to be
helping. So 160 million people who pay the payroll tax.

Republicans have been trying to tell you that 50 percent of the people
who earn an income in our country don`t pay any taxes. The truth is they
pay a lot of taxes. They pay through the payroll tax, not necessarily all
of them through the income tax. So when Obama puts in place the payroll
tax, they wanted to get rid of it. They wanted to get rid of it. That`s
why they`ve been fighting so hard.

And what the president insisted upon, and he didn`t blink at all was
that we`re going to extend this because it`s helping our economy. We`ve
got 43 states that unemployment has dropped the most in eight year. We`ve
got car sales up to 13 million. Homes are selling again. A major increase
in home sales. Apartment buildings are being built. You know, so the
economy is moving forward.

SHARPTON: Slowly, but moving in the right direction. Luke, let me
ask you a Capitol Hill political question. Could this be the end for
Speaker Boehner?

RUSSERT: Well, it seems like he still has control of his conference,
Reverend Al. In the conference call he didn`t allow his members to speak.
He essentially said authoritatively this is how it`s going to go.

Remember the reason why he`s in this position is that he wanted that
deal that McConnell made. He wanted it to be done earlier in the week.
But there`s a lot of apprehension amongst his rank and file members to
accept a two-month deal. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader was very
vocal behind closed doors, I was told, in opposing the two-month deal
because he thought that would not be able to be sold to the rank-and-file
members.

So is he in a precarious position within his own party? As of right
now, probably not, because, if anything, this could strengthen him behind
closed doors, because it appears he had the right idea, he wanted to accept
this deal, but by trying to fight the Senate, by trying to fight the
president, it ended up being a terrible week PR-wise for House Republicans.
So perhaps now the 63 freshmen, about 40 who have never held elected office
before, will listen to the more experienced veteran that is Speaker
Boehner. That`s what you would think would happen after this, but this
conference has been extremely unpredictable this entire year, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Jared. We all understand some of the
politics, but the economics of it. I`m sitting at home trying to
understand what this means to me now, and what could it have meant had not
Boehner and Republicans in the House caved in?

JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER BIDEN CHIEF ECONOMIST: What this could have
meant was the expiration of a payroll tax cut that contributes two percent
to 160 million workers` paychecks out there. For the average person making
$50,000, you`re talking about another $1,000. That`s real money.
Aggregate it all up, attached the unemployment insurance benefits, so
important in an economy with four job seekers per every job, you`re talking
about $150 billion, about a percent of GDP. I mean, there were numerous
economy forecasters who argued if this didn`t happen, we could have easily
slipped back into recession.

But one very important thing, this is a town with a lot of amnesia,
you know that. Let`s not forget it was back in September that President
Obama proposed a year-long extension. So any of this nonsense about him
not being behind a year-long program --

SHARPTON: He proposed the year first.

BERNSTEIN: Exactly. Obviously that`s phony. But the other thing we
should know --

SHARPTON: Congressman --

BERNSTEIN: One other thing quickly, reverend, on the economics, we
shouldn`t let this go. For the last week or two, we have heard
Republicans, including John Boehner deeply endorsing Keynesian stimulus.
They would never call it that, but that`s what they`ve been doing.

SHARPTON: Congressman Fattah, what happens now? When does the
Speaker call Congress back? How does he get his members back and beat this
deadline?

FATTAH: What will be done is that the Bill is going to be voice
voted. Members will not have to come back to Washington. Once you have
unanimous consent among the leaders it will just be wrapped up and done.
That`s why the House is still open for business, the Senate is open for
business. This will be done before Christmas, and the president and the
entire country will be able to celebrate the holidays.

We have a lot more work to do, but let`s be clear. This economy is
moving in the right direction, and it would be moving even more quickly if
the GOP would help rather than hinder.

But we are moving in the right direction. We have to keep going. And
we`re going to come through this holiday and work to create more jobs. We
have to work to make sure that when people are working, that their work
puts them in a position to pay their bills. That`s why this -- that`s why
this concept of a tax cut is so important, because you`re providing relief
to 160 million rather than to the 400,000 millionaires in the country.
That`s the difference.

SHARPTON: Luke, let me ask you something. When we look at a poll
that`s come out on who deserves the most blame for not fixing problems, the
Republican Congress, 56 percent, President Obama only 36 percent. This is
an NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll.

Now, let me ask you -- how does the Republicans even spin to their
constituents that they held up -- had us all at the brink of these payroll
tax cuts not extended, and for what reason? How do they even spin this,
Luke?

RUSSERT: What`s hard about this, Reverend Al, is, number one, usually
when Republicans go to battle like this, they`re completely unified. And
they`re able to go to their constituents and say, look, we put up a heck of
a fight, this is the best we could do, but we`re changing the culture in
Washington.

The problem with using that argument on this issue is that half the
Republicans said this was really stupid. This issue should have been
figured out on Saturday and done away with, the free market economy guys,
the Karl Rove and such. And the more Tea Party element wanted to fight
this, because they didn`t like the idea of the payroll tax cut in general.
They wanted to stop uncertainty.

How is it sold? It`s difficult to see how this can be sold as a
victory. John Boehner is saying, look, it`s not always easy to do the
right thing. We didn`t want uncertainty. We wanted to have a whole year.
But when everyone else, including Mitch McConnell said no, we should have
done the two-month deal and then had this argument, this is one thing I
think they`re going to try to sweep under the rug and make believe like it
never happened, because it`s a difficult thing to defend when half the
party was not on board with it.

SHARPTON: Jared, the president walks away, at least now, with a
victory. The American people, more importantly, walks away with a victory.
This is the first of many fights going into this election. And if it`s a
two-month extension, the next fight will be right in the middle of the
Republican primaries.

BERNSTEIN: That`s an important point, reverend. The president, I
think, ever since that speech in Kansas has really positioned himself well.
And you`re absolutely right, the victor are the American people.

But, you know, these guys come back in a couple weeks and start
arguing about the full-year extension. That comes right down to the pay
force. There`s no reason why that difficult argument somehow becomes easy
a couple weeks later. I think what you`ll hear a lot of jockeying how we
pay for this. And if it`s all spending cuts, which where these guys have
typically been going, we`re going to have to have another big fat.

SHARPTON: Thank you for joining me tonight.

FATTAH: Merry Christmas, Al Sharpton, and to all of your viewers.

BERNSTEIN: Merry Christmas.

RUSSERT: Take care.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the House GOP caves. What does it mean for the
Obama reelection effort? We`ll talk about it.

Plus, there`s some serious skeletons about to fly out of the Willard`s
multimillion dollar past.

And shocking developments from the Ron Paul camp. New video surfaces
of Paul talking about his racist newsletters.

You`re watching POLITICSNATION on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our breaking news. Speaker Boehner and the
House Republicans caving and agreeing to a deal on the payroll tax bill.
Boehner`s fold comes after a nonstop assault from President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: On Tuesday we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to
lose $40 out of your paycheck every week. Richard from Rhode Island wrote
to tell us that having an extra $40 in his check buys enough heating oil to
keep his family warm for three nights. For others, $40 means dinner out
with a child who`s home for Christmas, a new pair of shoes, a tank of gas,
a charitable donation. These are the things that are at stake for millions
of Americans. The people standing with me today can`t afford any more
games. They can`t afford to lose $1,000 because of the some ridiculous
Washington standoff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So what`s the political fallout? Joining me now NBC news
political analyst Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman and Pennsylvania
governor. Governor, thanks for joining me tonight.

ED RENDELL, (D) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: My pleasure, Al.

SHARPTON: How big a moment is this for President Obama and for
Speaker Boehner?

RENDELL: This was truly a TKO, and the ref stopped the fight in the
first round because it wasn`t close. It was lopsided. The Republicans dug
their own hole, but the president did a good job driving home the point.

But remember, in politics, Al, you know very well, victories are
short-lived. We`ll play this out again in two months when the issue is
we`re going to extend the payroll tax cut for a year, but how are we going
to pay for it? That`s where the president will have to continue to show
leadership for working Americans.

And that`s where the House Republicans are faced with an incredibly
difficult choice. If they try to do this on the cheap, if they try to do
it by laying off federal workers or by shortening the time that unemployed
people can get benefits, they`ll dig an even deeper grave for themselves.
So I think this is not only helping the president, Al, I think it`s helping
the Democrats recapture Congress.

SHARPTON: This will come back in the middle of the Republican
primaries. If the Republicans and it is House are obstinate, they are
really at a time that voters are beginning to really pay attention, and
they`re really playing with their own reelections. That could make them
being more extreme and desperate, or they could have a breakout of some
commonsense epidemic in a Republican caucus. What do you think?

RENDELL: Well, again, it depends on how the speaker and the
leadership deal with recalcitrant members in their caucus. There are
people out there who don`t care. They don`t even care about their own
party. They don`t care about staying in power. They just want to blow up
the American government and they don`t care about what happens to the
American people.

The big burner today wasn`t Barack Obama. The big burner today was
160 million Americans. But these folks in the extreme part of the
Republican caucus, they don`t care about anything other than destroying
government. And as they destroy government, they`re hurting average
Americans.

So it`s a test for them to control their caucus. It will be a test
for the Republican presidential candidates to send a message. The "Wall
Street Journal" has to continue to send a message. They`ve got to do the
right thing, and the right thing means getting this done, compromising, and
keeping Americans on unemployment insurance because if anybody thinks it`s
easy to find a job out there, let them resign from Congress and try to find
one.

SHARPTON: Now, governor, you were the chairman of the DNC, and you
know there are some in the Democratic Party, the president`s own party and
base, that`s been warning him to fight, not appear to compromise. This has
to be a big psychological boost to those of us that wanted him to show his
tougher side by him not blinking. Even though it may be a short-lived
victory, it`s got to be a psychological boost to those that wanted him to
just bring them all the way to the brink and see who blinked first.

RENDELL: Absolutely, a great victory for the president. I think it`s
something that will restore a lot of enthusiasm in the base. But again,
two months from now, he`s got to do it all over again.

SHARPTON: When you look at the polls, president`s polls approval
numbers are up five points since last month even before today, and more
Americans trust him on taxes, up seven points since October. And he has a
huge margin on Republicans when it comes to protecting the middle class, 50
percent to 35 percent. These number clearly probably only grew tonight.

RENDELL: No question about it. And I`ll bet you if you took a
national poll tonight and tomorrow night, the president`s favorability
would be back over 50 percent.

SHARPTON: Now the question is, what do you think the Republican
strategy and the opponents of the president -- or the potential opponents,
because one of them will be, what would their strategy be to try to regain?
And did we see any of them step out and take a leadership position in this,
because I heard "Wall Street Journal," I even heard car rove. I didn`t
hear one Republican candidate for president step into this and take a
stand.

RENDELL: And again it`s because they`re all frightened to death of
the Tea Party. It`s really pathetic to see. They`re a bunch of wusses.
And they can`t even when they know it`s right, when they know it benefits
160 million Americans, they can`t even speak out because they`re afraid of
alienating that 25 right-wing base that`s important in Iowa.

Hey, guys, there are some things worth losing for. By the way, the
American people are looking for leaders. And the best argument the
Republicans have is that the president hasn`t effectively lid. But you
have to show leadership qualities yourself and none of them did. They`ll
have a chance two months from now to show leadership ability and urge
everyone to get together and pass this and put pressure on the House
caucus. But they`ve got to act.

SHARPTON: Governor Ed Rendell, thanks.

RENDELL: It`s a good night.

SHARPTON: Have a wonderful Christmas.

RENDELL: You too.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Ron Paul says he had nothing to do with some racist
newsletters in the past. So why was he promoting them on TV in 1995?

And just in time for the holidays, Wisconsin`s scrooge governor Scott
Walker now wants everyone to get along. Nice try, governor. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: 2011 was a year filled with radical Republican governors.
It started with Wisconsin`s governor Scott Walker attacking workers. And
it spurred other governors to follow with assaults on the middle class.
But that led to a progressive revolution, started by the people of
Wisconsin who marched and protested against Walker. And now he`s on the
verge of being recalled. So he and his wife have released this holiday
greeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONETTE WALKER, WISCONSIN FIRST LADY: The holidays are a time for us
to give thanks and to reach out to those who are struggling. It`s a tough
time for many families, but in Wisconsin we have a long tradition of
helping our neighbors. We`re grateful for the opportunity to serve the
people of Wisconsin. In this season of peace, our hope is that we can put
or differences aside and move forward together.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, (R) WISCONSIN: From our family to yours, blessings
of the season.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: "Blessings of the season." Where were those blessings
months ago? All of a sudden you want to reach out to those who are
struggling. It is a tough time. Maybe you should have thought that before
attacking middle-class workers. You`re fighting for your political life,
so all of a sudden you care? Sorry, Governor Walker, but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICSNATION. Ron Paul has a lot of
explaining to do. This week newsletters surfaced saying that Ron Paul was
the publisher in the 1980s and 1990s. And after they were unearthed, we
found they were filled with racist and bigoted rhetoric. In one article,
the unnamed author writes "I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of
black males in Washington are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." And
another unnamed author questioned whether the 1993 World Trade Center
bombing was set up by the Israeli Mossad.

But that`s just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of
newsletters with the name Ron Paul on it filled with racist anti-Semitic,
and homophobic rhetoric. Ron Paul is denying that he ever wrote or read
them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON PAUL, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody knows I didn`t write
them, and it`s not my sentiment, so it`s sort of politics as usual.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But who are the writers? And why were you on TV bragging
about your newsletters in 1995?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: I also put out a political type of business investment
newsletter, and it sort of covered all these areas. And it covered a lot
about what was going on in Washington and financial events.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Your newsletters were about business and investments?
Doesn`t pass the smell test to me.

Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington
Post" and an MSNBC contributor, and Bob Franken, a King featured syndicated
columnist. Thank you both for being with me tonight.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, do you believe Paul`s take on these newsletters?

CAPEHART: No, I don`t. The interview he gave yesterday where he
pulled off his mike and said I didn`t write them. Somebody else wrote
them. I disavow them. I`ve answered these questions, now let`s move on.
Sorry, that`s not good enough. It might be good enough when you`re
Congressman Ron Paul or when you`re Dr. Ron Paul. But when you are a
candidate for the nomination of a major political party in the United
States and could theoretically technically speaking be president of the
United States --

SHARPTON: Or you`re a frontrunner in Iowa.

CAPEHART: Yes, he is a frontrunner in Iowa. And if you`re going to
be that person, then you have to withstand the scrutiny that comes with it.
And when you have to answer for the things that are under his name, he has
to do more than just say, well, I disavow it, and let`s just move on. It`s
not good enough.

SHARPTON: I think -- I was on "Morning Joe" this morning, Bob, and we
talked about it, many of us have said things that we either felt was
distorted or that we had to say we were wrong. But he`s not saying it.
He`s saying I didn`t know anything about it after he did know about it.
And these were printed under his name on his newsletter where he made money
from them. So you`re not even dealing with whether the statements are
bigoted and clearly they are. He`s acting like he had nothing to do with
them.

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, first of all, if he didn`t
know about something that was being put out in his name of such an
inflammatory nature, chances are one would question his qualifications to
be a chief executive or the executive of a janitor service, for that
matter. That`s number one.

Number two, if he didn`t write this, he had an association with people
who are calling themselves paleo-libertarians -- that`s even hard so say.
Another way to define that would be knuckle dragging paleo whatever.

The point is that they were expressing views that were at the dredges
of the libertarian movement. They are disavowed by libertarians in the
mainstream, if there is such a thing. And the fact that Ron Paul would be
associated with these people then and now raises questions about whether he
is socially up to this time in history.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, two points here. Let me show what was on these
newsletters, because it`s not just one or two slips of the tongue in 30
years. This is like some of the most ugly things you could think of.

He wrote "Order was only restored in L.A.," this is after the riots,
"when it came time for blacks to pick up their welfare checks." "Martin
Luther King was a world class philanderer who beat up his paramours."
"Israel is an aggressive national socialist state." AIDS patients should
not be allowed to eat in restaurants, because AIDS can be transmitted by
saliva." "If you`ve ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how
unbelievably fleet of foot they can be." I mean, on and on and on.

And he says he doesn`t know anything about them, he didn`t read them.
He`s not identified. Then who wrote them if he didn`t? I mean, and let me
show you the poll, because people might say why are you talking about this,
Reverend Al? Because he`s the front-runner in Iowa. And according to this
poll, "Iowa State University Gazette"-KCRG poll, Ron Paul is at 28, Newt
Gingrich at 25, Mitt Romney at 18. He`s a front-runner in a caucus two
weeks ago, and he can`t identify who wrote them, it`s under his name on his
newsletter, and he was making money.

CAPEHART: All those sentiments that you just read used to be the
fringe. It used to be the ideas and thoughts and ugliness of people who
stood on the periphery, on the edge of political acceptance. And now here
we have them embodied in a man who is the front-runner in Iowa, who could
upend this entire race if he does win Iowa. People are talking about now
if he wins the Iowa caucuses, what does that mean for the relevance of the
Iowa caucuses going forward? And what does that mean for a Republican
party that is increasingly marginalizing itself from the mainstream of
American political thought when they`re going after gays and lesbians,
going after immigrants, going after African-Americans in all sorts of --
however you want to look in terms of policies and stances, how will they
remain a relevant major party in this country if they keep nominating or
keep hoisting, putting at tops of polls candidates who are on the outside
of the mainstream of American political thinking?

SHARPTON: Bob, if Ron Paul goes down, because he`s getting hit from
all sides, not only on his newsletters but other issues, who does it
benefit? Does it benefit Newt, who is behind him now in Iowa, or does it
benefit Romney if Ron Paul pulls it out in Iowa and sets up Romney with a
vote in New Hampshire because people will come out saying, no, we can`t
have this man as leader of the ticket.

FRANKEN: In the latter case, if Ron Paul does well in Iowa and gets
some momentum, it probably bodes well for Romney in the Republican primary.
But I think people of goodwill in the United States will say what kind of
cuckoo birds are these people putting out there as representatives of the
Republican Party?

We`re talking now about racism, flat-out racism. Right now these days
Ron Paul gussies up his points of view saying he`s against any involvement
by the federal government. And I`m getting into Al Sharpton territory
here, that was the argument that the states` righters made when they were
trying to maintain segregation in the 1950s in the South, and it was the
argument the slave-owners made when they were fighting the Civil War
against the north. They called it an argument about states` rights. It
was an argument about maintaining slavery. Unfortunately some Americans
haven`t come much further than that.

SHARPTON: Bob, you said it well. Thank you for joining us tonight.
Jonathan, stay with me.

Ahead, Willard is refusing to release his tax forms. I wonder what
he`s afraid of. We`ll find out.

Christian carolers visit POLITICSNATION, but it`s not what you expect.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: You can say a lot of things about Willard Mitt Romney, and
I sure have. He`s a flip-flopper. He`s awkward. He can`t connect with
people. But I`ve got to give Willard credit. There`s one thing he`s got
at doing, and that`s making money. The problem for him is it`s coming back
to haunt him.

Here`s the now infamous picture of Willard during his time at private
equity firm Bain Capital. This week we`re learning he`s still making
millions from Bain. Under his retirement deal Willard got up to $13
million from Bain in the last year alone. But Willard does not want us to
know much. Today he repeated his refusal to release his tax returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can tell you we follow the
tax laws, and if there`s an opportunity to save taxes, we, like anybody
else in this country, will follow the opportunity. But we don`t have any
current plans to release tax returns. But never say never.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Meanwhile, the Associated Press has uncovered more details
about some of the jobs Bain cut in the `90s. Under Bain`s control, a photo
album company opened and closed a South Carolina factory where 150 people
were laid off. But Bain made $22 million from the company. A great deal
for Willard, not so great for the 150 people who lost their jobs.

Joining me now is Associated Press investigative reporter Jack Gillum
who broke that story. Thanks for joining us. And back with me, Jonathan
Capehart of "The Washington Post." Jack, how does this story match up with
Willard Mitt Romney saying he`s a job creator?

JACK GILLUM, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think that is an important
question. One thing we really wanted to take a look at in investigating
his record and other presidential candidates. The big thing with Bain,
when we looked at a prospectus that showed all of the companies that he
invested in, is one of the early companies called Holson Burns. And when
we actually got our hands dirty, mine maybe with a little too much dust in
some old basements, started to piece together a story that showed he
invested -- rather his firm Bain Capital under his leadership invested $10
billion and got about $22 million, about a 20 percent, and in the process
he had laid off about 150 people, that is Holson Burns did at a plant in
South Carolina, furloughed some workers in New Hampshire at about the same
time that it was sending some jobs overseas.

SHARPTON: Let me show you this out of your article that I think is
very important. "The economic fallout" -- I`m quoting directly from your
article, "The economic fallout from Bain`s decision struck hardest in South
Carolina and New Hampshire, early primary states, that will shape the
Republican race and Romney`s White House prospects." So how does he go to
New Hampshire and South Carolina where he headed a company that directly
led to layoffs and job losses and sell himself as a candidate that can
bring jobs back to the country?

GILLUM: Well, I think those are some questions that people are
asking, particularly when I was down in Gaffney, South Carolina, about I`d
say about an hour`s drive from Charlotte. At the time when the jobs had
come in, eventually wrapped up to about 150, people were pretty excited
about this. One guy I talked to said it was a pretty big deal in town, the
state of the art photo album factory. New Hampshire, they were excited to
get some of the jobs, too.

As we said in the story it`s fairly coincidental that this happened in
South Carolina and New Hampshire, but this is certainly something that`s
been on folks` minds. Others have said, just as former Governor Romney has
said, you know, part of the job creation process includes losing some jobs
and overall he`s made a net of tens of thousands.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, there was a report this week about he still makes
money from Bain, maybe as much as $13 million in the last year. He`s still
refusing to disclose things. All candidates, major candidates other than
maybe seven that we could find releases their taxes, no matter what it is.
I fought with tax people, just resolved a lot this year. I had to disclose
things when I ran. Why would he not want to release his taxes?

CAPEHART: Remember, though, if my understanding is correct, there`s
no legal obligation for him to release his tax returns.

SHARPTON: No, there`s not.

CAPEHART: But there`s a moral obligation.

SHARPTON: What do you think is the reason he would even let it become
an issue by not doing it?

CAPEHART: That gets to the point I was going to make, which is when
you`re running to be president of the United States, folks want to know who
you are. And if you`re a multimillionaire, people don`t begrudge you
making all the money that you make, but they do want to make sure that you
are not benefiting off of someone else`s pain, someone else`s misfortune,
or making your money illegally. I do think the American people are well
within that are right to want to know the sources of income that has made
Mitt Romney a wealthy man.

SHARPTON: If you disclose like -- or whatever, we showed only seven
candidates haven`t -- he would have to then show what his gross amount was,
and net, and then people would know whether or not these reports about Bain
and others, at least from the figures, would tell us whether or not he is
still reaping money from this company that he`s playing is long ago in his
past.

CAPEHART: We would want to know the sources of income. We know how
much he`s getting from Bain Capital from his retirement, but we want to
know other sources of income. That`s all we know is Bain. He`s a
multimillionaire. He`s got other pots of money, other sources of money.
There were stories this week about his blind trusts not being so blind. We
need to know these things to ensure that if he does indeed -- let`s say he
beats President Obama and becomes President Mitt Romney, that he does not
benefit from president of the United States financially because of all of
the tangled webs that you could possibly imagine his finances being, since
he`s so wealthy.

SHARPTON: Jack Gillum, great article. Thanks to you and to Jonathan
Capehart for joining me tonight.

GILLUM: Thanks.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with some special visitors to
POLITICSNATION. It`s not what you expect. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Another long day battling these right-wingers. Let me
relax and get a bit of TV in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes -- of
course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Corporations are people? Come on, Willard. Wow. These
Republicans never cease to amaze me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Really poor children in
really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No habits of working? Get real, Newt. Sometimes I wonder
what these Republicans are talking about. I mean, sometimes I wish I could
just talk some sense into these people.

(SINGING)

SHARPTON: It`s the right-wing Christmas carolers. What do you got
for me?

(SINGING)

SINGERS: I`m dreaming of an American-born president, just like the
ones we used to have.

SHARPTON: What? Just like the ones we used to have? What are you
talking about? That doesn`t even make sense. You`ve got anything better
than that?

SINGERS: Oh, Obama, just go back to your country and bring us back a
real proof of your birth.

SHARPTON: Proof of birth? You`ve got to be kidding me. Don`t you
songbirds remember this press conference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not have time
for this kind of silliness. We`ve got better stuff to do. I`ve got better
stuff to do. We`ve got big problems to solve, and I`m confident we can
solve them, but we`re going to have to focus on them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We do have better stuff to do. That`s why the president
released his long birth certificate this past April. I take that song out
of rotation, right-wing carolers. Only Donald Trump carolers like those
songs. Surely you have something.

SINGERS: We need you to show some I.D. we need your photo I.D. we
need you to show some I.D. or we won`t let you vote.

SHARPTON: If that`s not off-key, I don`t know what is. These are the
Jim Crow laws of our day. Can you try another tune?

SINGERS: We need tighter voter laws. There`s widespread voter fraud.
You should need a photo I.D.

SHARPTON: Let me stop you right there. There`s no widespread voter
fraud. That`s simply not factual. Here are the facts. Since 1997, there
have only been 311 voter fraud convictions. Meanwhile, there were 593
million votes cast. That`s 0.00005 percent. You singers are giving me a
headache. Got anything else?

SINGERS: Don`t tax the rich, don`t tax the rich. Just tax the poor
and the middle class. Don`t tax the rich. It will trickle down.

SHARPTON: Slow down. Those tax cuts haven`t trickled down at all.
Just take a look at this. This shows just how much the income gap has
spread since Ronald Reagan and his massive tax cuts. The bottom 20 percent
of this country have only seen the income grow by 18 percent. That`s top
one percent. Their income rocketed by 275 percent. Say it with me, right-
wing carolers -- tax cuts don`t trickle down.

Got anything else?

SINGERS: Christmas will die if we don`t stop Obama`s godless reign.
His ornaments are only aluminum self-portraits. There are no Jesus things,
there are no Jesus things, there are no Jesus things.

SHARPTON: Just hold it right there. I`m a minister, and I can tell
you one thing. This president likes Christmas. Can you songbirds serenade
with the real Christmas carol?

SINGERS: Just hear those sleigh bells ringing -

(SINGING)

SHARPTON: I`d like to thank the carolers. Their sketch group is
called Politics Subversity -- Political Subversity. Go to their
PoliticalSubversity.com for more information on their upcoming shows.

Don`t forget to tune in tomorrow night for the Revvie (ph) awards.
Have a merry Christmas to you and your family. 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.
END

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