'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, May 19, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guests: Ezra Klein, Alex Witt, Victoria Defrancesco Sotto, Gwen Moore, Dwight Hopkins, Otis Moss, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Nick Gillespie, Elon James White
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning Congress is failing women,
and if the lawmakers don`t get in line, us, girls are ready to make some
And why the biggest threat facing us from the evidence in the Trayvon
Martin case has nothing to do with George Zimmerman.
And plus a billion here and billion there, how the banks can lose $5
billion and still act like it is not real money.
But first, political agitators like Fred Davis need to back up off of my
church and get it through your heads, the African-American church is not
your political wedge.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
With the negativity of the Republican primary over, you may feel like
something is missing from the daily political diet. Never fear, the season
of general election dirty attacks is upon us, so get the swift vote loving
selves ready for the defeat of Barack Obama Hussein Obama, the Ricketts`
plan to end his spending for good.
According to "the New York Times," a proposal with commission by super PAC
founder, and owner of the Chicago cubs, Joe Ricketts. It was overseen by
Republican advertising strategist Fred Davis and complied with the help of
Republican pollster Whit Aires.
And just what is their big idea? To align President Barack Obama with the
potentially damaging comments of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Yes, that is
So, full disclosure first. I attended the Trinity United church of Christ
while it was pastored by Reverend Wright on and off for seven years while I
lived in Chicago. And, before the show launched, I once was paid by TD
Bank to give a speech and TD is affiliated with TD Ameri-trade which is the
brokerage firm Joe Ricketts founded.
So, let`s go back to our plan. Let`s go to page four. Now, our plan is to
do exactly what John McCain would not let us do. The world is about to see
Jeremiah Wright, and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first
time in a big, attention-arresting way. He will draw the attention. He is
truly the elephant in the room.
OK. And why do they think this will work? Let`s go to page eight, the
metrosexual black Abe Lincoln has emerged as a hyper-partisan with more
than a bit of the trimmer in him.
OK. And the crumbling of the Obama phenomenon properly exploited and
explained should have a devastating impact on the elusive independent, who
does not pay close attention but knows of things are bad and feels it could
get a whole lot worse seriously. No worries about being charged here with
racial bias, because on page 41, they covered that.
They will include an extremely literate conservative African-American in
our spokesman group, our recommendations is Larry Elder, a prominent ABC
talk radio show host in California. We have discussed the plan with him,
and approached him in confidence and he immediately understood and got it.
Yes, Elder got it, and so did Ricketts a along with the unfavorable
reaction against the leaked plan.
The president of his super PAC moved quickly to distance himself from the
proposal saying, Joe Ricketts is neither the author nor the founder of the
so-called Ricketts` plan to defeat Mr. Obama that "the New York Times"
wrote about this morning. Not only was his plan nearly a proposal one of
several submitted to the endings spending action fund by third party
vendor, but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects
and it was never a plan to be accepted, only a suggestion for direction to
Now, Mitt Romney was not far behind Ricketts in disavowing the proposal.
He had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the aircraft this morning I
was asked by someone here about whether I had seen "The New York Times"
article with regards to a PAC that was presumably being for formed to
attack President Obama. And if I had a reaction it to, I had not seen the
article at that point. But I read the article on the aircraft. As I read
the article, I want to make it very clear I repudiate that effort. I think
it is the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign. I hope that our campaigns
can respectively be about the future and about issues and about a vision
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Romney has made his position clear. But I`m not
convinced and here is why. It seems that some of President Obama`s
opponents are showing a lot of interest in using the black church as a
weapon in the upcoming election.
Last week it was the constant speculation that President Obama`s public
support of marriage equality would send the black voters shopping for a new
candidate because of the religious beliefs.
Now, so far polls show no exodus of black voters from the president, heck,
he even got rappers and Boxers standing up for same-sex marriage. Then the
defeat Obama memo makes it clear that at least one group was considering
using a specific black church, trinity, as a political weapon.
But again, the strategists seem so out of touch with reality. It has been
four years since Reverend Wright became a household name, but they still
have no idea about the histories, beliefs, practices or contributions of
the black liberation theology tradition that he preaches.
So I figured if we are going to be talking about the black church in 2012,
then let`s start by actually knowing what we are talking about.
With me to delve into the politics of pulpits and pews is Reverend Otis
Moss, the current senior pastor of Trinity United church of Christ in
Chicago, and here at the table with me is Professor Dwight Hopkins. He is
the professor of theology at the University of Chicago divinity school and
a member of the Trinity United church of Christ.
Thank you both for being here
REVEREND OTIS MOSS, PASTOR, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: Thank you,
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Moss, I actually want to start with you, because
you are, obviously, Reverend Wright`s successor. You are now the senior
pastor at Trinity United church of Christ, and you have made news twice
this week both for your stance on same-sex marriage in the days following
President Obama`s stance, and also of course because trinity has now found
its way back into the news.
Start just by telling me a little bit about trinity and trinity`s position
on issues of human and civil equality.
MOSS: Well, first I want to thank you again for allowing me to be on the
show, and how tragic it is that we are back in the news as a result of a
super PAC that focuses on fear and not inspiring people to talk about the
issues such as the economy, also about voter I.D. laws and the prison laws,
and restoring the powerful and brilliant legacy of a man who served for 36
years on the south side of Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Wright.
We are a church that believes in the liberation of the community. We are a
church that believes in Jesus Christ as our saver. And also, we are a
church that has built housing for the seniors head start for the children,
HIV aids programs, along with serving 2,000 students in the Chicago
neighborhood who are the first time to go to college to prepare them to not
only be gate scholars, but so they understand what it takes to graduate
So, we are revitalized the south side of Chicago and because of the work of
Dr. Wright, because of the work of the founder Kenneth Smith, because of
the brilliance of William Sheers an William Jamerson, all previous
ministers, they have laid a foundation for a model church of what it means
to be a liberating church that recognizes the savior Jesus Christ.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Moss, I so appreciate that. And Dwight, I want to
come to you, because you are a long time member of the church, but you are
also a scholar, a theologian specifically of the liberation theology. So,
we just heard Reverend Moss describe the work of the church of being in the
interests of the liberation of the community, but help folks who are
listening to understand, and it has been four years since we first heard
from Reverend Wright, but help folks to understand the long sort of
political and historical context in just a few minutes of how sort of
trinity fits into a longer story of black liberation theology.
DWIGHT HOPKINS, THEOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Yes, again,
also thanks for the invitation, it is great to be here. I`m a long
follower of your program.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
HOPKINS: Black follower theology simply put focus on the tradition of
Christianity. That is the theology part, the liberation part speaks to the
central message of Jesus which is to help those who are locked out, those
who suffer, they help liberate them, and the black part is basically how
does theology and liberation reveal itself in African-American culture.
So, that is basically what is normally threatening point there is very much
rooted in the Christian tradition.
The African-American emphasis on liberation and justice has a long
connection obviously note to the presence of black people do in slavery and
how the black church was central to that liberation struggle, but
specifically the phrase black liberation theology emerges in the 1960s.
And the central question there was, is it possible to be a follower and
believer of Jesus Christ and at the same time embrace African-American
culture and that is to say can I be black and Christian? And a lot of
churches in that period throughout the United States particularly in the
north inner cities were trying to grapple with the issues. Can you be not
just Negro and Christian, but can you be black and Christian?
HOPKINS: So trinity is one of the churches that responded to the question
by saying that we are not going to go to the suburb. We are going to re-
root ourselves in Christ, and root ourselves in the community and root
ourselves in culture.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And Reverend Moss, I want to come back to you for a
moment here, because it feels to me like that aspect of it that Professor
Hopkins was just sort of clarifying for us, this notion of the connection
between blackness and theology is part of what gave a lot of folks anxiety,
and it seems to be -- it seems to be the thing that folks think they can
use as a political wedge here.
What are they missing of how that is understood within trinity, itself, and
how are you feeling in the south side of Chicago about being back in the
MOSS: Well, of course, we don`t necessarily want to be back in the news at
that level, but at the same time it serves as an opportunity to be able to
speak about what we truly believe in. That there is no difference between
our Africanity (ph) and our Christianity as someone who is German reform
can be a proud of being German reform, as someone who is Irish catholic can
be unashamed and unapologetic about being Irish catholic just s someone as
a Korean Presbyterian can be unashamed and unapologetic about being a
Korean Presbyterian. We at the Trinity United church of Christ believe
that God has developed us, and that we love who we are, and we serve the
savior to be unashamed and unapologetic about where we come from and also
the God we serve. That is how we root that.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to hold you right there, because we are going to
bring in some more voices in on the conversation. I want to go back and
actually look when we come back at after the break at some of the sermons
of Reverend Wright that have been sort of Franken-bited in our news, and
try to delve into this a bit more.
But as we go to this break, I do want to note that we lost a great voice in
Donna Summer, the music world`s first lady of disco. And we are going to
fill our show with as much of Donna`s legacy this morning as we can. So
don`t go away, much more on this.
HARRIS-PERRY: So using Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a tool against
President Obama might have seemed like a good idea in the beginnings, but
then reality set in and the Republicans could not distance themselves fast
enough. Could this move possibly be the worst thing for the GOP?
If as we are to focused on President Obama`s former pastor, does that leave
open the door to ask questions about what happens inside of Mitt Romney`s
I`m back with Reverend Otis Moss of Trinity United church of Christ in
Chicago where Reverend Jeremiah Wright of course, used to be senior pastor,
Dwight Hopkins, University of Chicago, professor.
And joining them at the table is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and
publisher of "the Nation" and Elon James White, founder in
thisweekinblackness.com and he wearing a tap hat this morning.
So, help us embody this idea of the metrosexual black Abe Lincoln which is
what President Obama was called in the "defeat Barack Hussein Obama"
Now real quick, before we bring in other voices, I just want to remind
everybody why the GOP thought that this might have been politically useful
by taking a quick listen again to Jeremiah Wright`s sermon or the part of
it that was played over and over again four years ago in 2008. Let`s take
a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, PASTOR: The government gives them the drug, then
big in prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing "God
bless America" no, no, no. Not "God bless America" but "God damn America"
because it is in the bible for killing innocent people, God damn America
for treating us citizens who are less than human, and God damn America as
long as she is (INAUDIBLE) and she is supreme.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Dwight, that feels to me like very clearly out of the
black liberation theology tradition that says inequality is sin, racism is
sin, that sin is sort of this personal things, but the sin is the big
structural questions and so, it isn`t sort of Americans who need to be
rooting out the individual sin. It is the nation, itself, that needs to
confront the sin of racism, and that what I heard when I hear that, but
somehow it turns politically into just "God damn America."
HOPKINS: Yes. I think people are confused in two things. One, there is a
political debate about the facticity (ph) or the relevance of the examples
of what the U.S., he the U.S. government has done. But there is also, the
particular point where he literally points to the bible, and there as a
theologian, it is clear that this tradition of the bible is particularly a
prophetic tradition. And in fact it says that in bible particularly old
testaments where Yahweh God damns the way what Israel nation and to bring
back to use a resources to serve as a model for the rest of the world as he
points to the world.
So, when he points to the bible, there is theological and it`s indisputable
as a person of faith that it is very prophetic in terms of the trend and
direction Yahweh God. So, too, in the Christian scriptures, the whole
point of Jesus coming and from the prospective Christian faith, is to free
the poor, to liberate those who are oppressed and that is the public
announcement of Jesus Christ, and then finally when Jesus talks about one
way to get to heaven and there is only one passage where Jesus gives
instructions to go to heaven. And the instruction is not to build a
prosperity church. It`s not to say I`m sorry for guilty. He specifically
says the only way Christians can get to heaven is to serve the poor, help
those in prisons, give water to those who thirst and visit the widow.
So, anybody else is not looking at Jesus Christ that way, is really not
interpreting the bible correctly.
So, Katrina, you know, it feels to me like on the hand, I want to engage a
bit in the theological question here since it came back out, and whoa, wait
a minute, we cannot assume that talking about Jeremiah Wright is
politically bad, because there is actually a narrative there. I mean, that
we have heard from Dwight Hopkins, the theologian, is if Barack Obama as a
young man had learned something from Wright, perhaps what he would learned
is primary responsibility is one to be helpful to those are on the bottom.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, PUBLISHER, THE NATION: And those in prison
and in the industrial complex. But Melissa, we are sitting on a show that
is enlightened, that is engaging intelligent people in an intelligent
conversation. You know, as well as anyone what the media echoes fear is
like. This video when it appeared the loop, the loop, and it was ugly how
it was used, manipulated and abused. So I think that needs to be factored
in, because it is very hard in this media system that we live in to get
through the core points that you have just made, and that Reverend Wright
is making in that talk, and we live with cesspool politics which is getting
worse with the deluge of the money, this polluted money that is using this
kind of now going to bring back this loop in the ugliest way. And the hope
is that we, organized people, can speak with some organized intelligence
about what really matters for the country that is in the trouble that
Reverend Wright spoke of and needs some liberation from the problems
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Moss, let me come back to you for a moment. You
know, obviously, you were occupying the pulpit where there is so much
scrutiny and as you are preaching from the pulpit, does it impact, you
know, for you how you actually approach a Sunday morn org a Sunday evening?
MOSS: No, not at all. Every Sunday that I preach specifically focusing on
the love and the justice that comes through not only biblically, but what
Jesus Christ calls to us to and we are to speak prophetically. That is the
call of the ministry to speak love and justice. Love without justice is
just sentimentality, and justice without love can become naked brutality.
But when you marry love and justice together, you produce to twins, one
called liberation and the other called transformation, and that is what the
church is called to do.
HARRIS-PERRY: I just need to ask one question before we go to break, Elon.
Is there anyone who would be cooler on the planet to hang out with the
metrosexual Abe Lincoln?
ELON JAMES WHITE, FOUNDER, THISWEEKINBLACKNESS.COM: Absolutely not.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, under what terms is this, a slur?
WHITE: Well, it is a slur when it is specifically trying to get someone
silly. He is trying to paint like what the metrosexual and obviously a
swipe at gay, black, we know that is always problematic. And then Abe
Lincoln with the whole like civil rights thing or whatever, it`s like come
on, we just put them together, and that should scare people in general,
that`s why they are bringing out the whole Reverend Wright thing here. It
is about like which is hilarious that we are discussing Reverend Wright
four years later. It`s ridiculous we are having this conversation. You
guys are being very, very smart about it, talking about what he means and
all this staffs.
That`s not what the point. The point was to put on a scary black dude on
television and go, remember the scary black dude? He is still scary. And
you guys want to connect with-come on, him? Scary black dude? We have to
get him out of the office. And that is what the major point of all this.
Is all this lovely talk is beautiful, but it is about the scary black dude.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But before he does something like Abe Lincoln did,
like save the union and bring people together, stay right there. I will
tell what I make of all the new evidence with Trayvon Martin case.
But first, more on metrosexual black Abe Lincoln type, right after the
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m back with Reverend Otis Moss of the Trinity United
church of Christ in Chicago, Dwight Hopkins, University of Chicago
professor, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of "the Nation" and Elon James
White, Host of blacking it up.
We only have a few minutes in this segment. I want to move on to some of
the other questions. But I do want to ask you this, Katrina. Is the leak
is the story? I mean, this is a - this is a hilarious document. So, I
almost want to believe that it was not an actual strategy, but is the leak
HUEVEL: I mean the leak is the story in the sense that it reveals with so
many of us already knew. It`s that the money that is going to pour into
this election fused with the cesspool politics amplifying an ugliness that
is been part of the politics, that is to me is the revelation and the
meaning of this leak.
But it also, it is quite tricky and insidious, because Reverend Wright now
is injected back through the leak even though we won`t see the ad campaign,
he is back in there and not just Mitt Romney on Hannity a few months ago
saying well, I don`t know about Reverend Wright, but I know that President
Obama may not be as Christian as this country needs and then says a few
hours later, something like I don`t know what I said, but I stand by what I
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Exactly. And so that is the story.
HUEVEL: And so, the story of the leak becomes the story enough.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Reverend Moss, I want to give you the last word here.
Tell us what we should know about what Trinity will be doing in 2012.
MOSS: Well, Trinity will be focusing specifically getting out the vote.
That is why I wrote an open letter to other clergy who had some issues in
reference the president`s stand and in reference to marriage equality to
say that the marriage is not under attack by the president`s words.
Marriage has been under attacked ever since men viewed women as property
and children as trophies of sexual power, is that fore closures and also
the economy and high in employment and the prison industrial complex has
attacked marriage and we do not need to frame gay and lesbian people as the
problem in our community. The constitution speaks very clearly that we are
to support and give liberty to all.
And so, Trinity is going to be focused on getting out the vote, focus on
the prison industrial complex, focus on health care, focus on voter I.D.
laws and to ensure that we have a future for our children.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Reverend Moss. I greatly appreciate you joining
us today from Chicago. Give my love to the south side.
Dwight Hopkins, thank you for being here.
MOSS: I certainly will.
HARRIS-PERRY: The rest of you, stay with us. Coming up, the latest battle
wage against American women in the halls of Congress.
But first, before we go to break, I want to mention another important mark
of this weekend. Today, we remember Malcolm X as it is the late civil
rights activist birthday. My dear friend and mentor, (INAUDIBLE) died last
spring, just three days before the publication of the most important and
anticipated work of his career.
"Malcolm X" which won a Pulitzer Prize for history last month. It`s an
amazing book, and raises continuing questions about Malcolm assassination.
And for more thought, read my essay on MHPshow.com.
And up next, how Congress this week left women in the dust, again. Don`t
HARRIS-PERRY: Once upon a time in Washington, a beautiful bipartisanship
lived in the halls of Congress beneath the shining white dome on the hill
and the laws like the violence against women act signed into law by
President Clinton in 1994 were pass with the blessings of both sides of the
aisle, and women across the land rejoiced for it was good. But that was
This go around the renew of the violence against women act has been the
latest casualty of a polarized congress, and the ones hurt could be the
women the law was originally intended to protect.
In April, the Senate passed a version of the bill that upheld and even
improved upon the original. But this week, the Republican-controlled house
stripped it and passed a weaker bill that would leave some of the most
vulnerable women even more exposed.
Still here around the table, Katrina Vendon Heuvel, Elon James White, and
joining them is Victoria Defrancesco Sotto, NBC Latino contributor and a
fellow at LBJ school of University of Texas and Nick Gillespie, editor in
chief of reason.com and in Milwaukee is Wisconsin Democratic congresswoman
Gwen Moore who has been vocal on the house bill and as a survivor of rape
and domestic assault.
Thank you all for being here.
What I actually want o start with you, congresswoman. Just tell me a bit
about the fact that VAWA has been bipartisan for nearly two decades. Why
is it now divided in congress?
REP. GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN: It is really pathetic, Melissa. I wish I
could be there with you at the table. Thanks for having me.
You know, prior to 1994, I think the balance was tipped towards abusers,
the case that I talked about on the floor of the house was when I have been
raped and this is before rape shield law, before prosecutors really looked
at the whole pattern at institutional now say, victimization. I went to
court and instead of prosecuting my rapist, you know, they talked about
what I had on, how I was dressed and the fact that I had voluntarily gotten
into his car, and, you know, that I had had a baby out of wedlock. And it
seemed with this bill that we were passing that we were sort of retreating,
backsliding back into that.
And the case of immigrant women, the preponderance of support went towards
their abusers, the victims actually, you know, were put into the position
to where they had to prove they were being victims before they were going
to be provided any services. LGBT women, they just put gender-neutral
language in the bill. Yes, it is as this is asexual people who are being
victimized and of course, native American women, you know, had to go to
federal court so they would be hundreds of miles away from support, and
basically not helping them at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. So, thank you, you have laid out a lot of that.
You want to say just quickly that we did extend an invitation to the
Republican congresswoman Sandy Adams who is the coauthor of the Republican
bill. She is also a survivor of domestic violence herself. She was unable
to join us due to a scheduling conflict, but I want to, you know,
Congresswoman Moore, just laid out sort of what the fundamental questions
in these versions of the bill are -- yes, there is this language of
neutrality, but does neutrality actually end up leaving out or letting
folks fall through the cracks?
VITORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTTO, NBC LATINO CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. You know,
and I think the one provision about immigrants, we have to separate it out
into a couple of different sections so it hurts authorized immigrants so
the women who have married a U.S. citizen, and they are waiting for their
permanent residency, during the case their immigration paperwork is halted
and there used to be a provision for self-petitioning, meaning if I`m
abused I can go and seek out recourse and get that process starting without
Now, they bring the abuser back into it, and then we get in to the
unauthorized immigrants. So, the unauthorized immigrants have recourse
starting 2000 with the u-visa.
SOTTO: f I`m a farm worker and my foreman is sexually abusing me, I can go
and get this visa, but now they are saying, it is a lot more difficult to
get, and if you get that u-visa, you are not eligible for permanent
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And we are talking about months and months of
waiting. And that even before that is possible.
HUEVEL: I mean, to me, there is a cruelty here underlying so much of this
on two levels. One, a cruelty and cluelessness. A cluelessness it seems
to me in week when census statement comes out showing that will soon be a
majority, minority country; yet, the house puts forward this bill which
excludes provisions for protection of native Americans, for immigrants, for
LGBT same-sex couples, then the cruelty. It seems to me that we are living
in times of economic crisis which have already hurt women and abused women,
and not that the economic crisis leads directly to the domestic violence,
but there is no question in times of economic stress and unemployment,
family street, you will see more incidents.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because families have to lose their housing, so they move
into a smaller apartment, and all kinds of stressors that create that.
SOTTO: Well, these women are pressured that if I tell on my foreman and I
lose my job, I`m deported and I don`t know what happened to my child. So,
not only because of the economic crisis to less likely to report abuse.
WHITE: I mean. I just want to give the Republicans credit because it is
now. It`s not quite a war on women but a war on poor women of color. It`s
WHITE: So, some of the women, you guys are good now. And at this point,
when you hear about what they were actually vetoing, it`s like - it`s
almost like playing a game of is this a Republican policy or a super
villain policy, because it sounds about the same.
We are like, well, we are not going to protect the immigrant women. We are
not going to protect LGBT, people whatever, and we don`t like the wording
on that, and we will do this now.
NICK GILLESPIE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REASON.COM: I mean, I don`t really have
a, you know, I certainly have no interest in defending Republicans, but I
think that it is also worth looking at this as a political, you know a
political wrangle in an election season, and what not, and most of the
provisions have been extended while the new bill is being hear, the new
authorization is being worked out.
I`m all for open borders, I`m all for equal treatment of anybody in the
U.S. whether they are a citizen or resident, but it is, you know, not going
to help anything by demonizing everybody as super villains or as, you know,
moving from in difference to cruelty.
You know, this - I think the larger kind of message of the war on women is
typically, you always misguided, because oftentimes, it ends up taking
legitimate differences of opinion, and who should pay for what into a realm
of where you are saying that if you ever deny any woman anywhere cheap
contraception or contraception, you are against women, you are against
reproductive freedom. And I think, you know, the broader we make this
conversation, the more kind of unreal it becomes.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I actually hear you on that, like I think for example,
and Congresswoman Moore, I, too, am a survivor of sexual assault. None of
us think that any government law would have in the moment of our assault
protected us from that assault occurring, right. It is not sort of a belief
in the magical government, but there is a sense, you know I think, Nick, in
what you were saying and congresswoman what you were saying, the fact is
that what the government can help us to do is to find some pathways to
justice on the other side of assault, on the other side of this thing which
government can`t necessarily protect us from.
MOORE: You are exactly right, Melissa. Because I did the right thing. I
went to the hospital. They did the rape kit. I went to court. You know,
it took some bravery and courage to go to court.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it does.
MOORE: And to tell the story in public, only to be demonized in court.
And there was a motion to recommit, which I submitted because we feared
that the bill in its current form, the manager`s amendment weaken
protections not only for women of color, but for all women.
We tried to strengthen the privacy. You know, women are more at risk right
after they decide to leave their abusers and confidentiality immediately is
extremely important. We feel that this bill weakened it so much so that
the abusers are contacted or brought into the equation at a point in time
at which the women need services before their abusers are notified.
And with respect to the other comment, that, you know, it is just too much
to call this a war on women, I just would submit that it is not on the
topic, Melissa, but when you look at Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grant, food
stamps, women, 2/3 of the adults who use the services are women.
So, it is not just contraception. It is all of the things that have been
under attack, our programs that by far benefit adult women more than men.
GILLESPIE: I mean. This is what I`m talking about. So, you are bringing
up Medicare suddenly as a case of the war against women. Both the
Republicans and the Democrats --
MOORE: No, you brought up the concern. You brought it up.
GILLESPIE: No, no. Yes. But, what I`m saying is that.
MOORE: You did.
GILLESPIE: There is massive amounts of money spent on Medicare, and even
if you take Paul Ryan`s fever dream of making money by killing old people
in the year 2050 when the vouchers kick in, we spend so much money on the
Medicare irrespective of the demonstrated need on the part of seniors, you
know. And younger people - people who are under 50 are getting screwed
royalty to pay into Medicare which will not be there for them and should
not be there for them and it should not be there for people who are wealthy
HUEVEL: And I don`t want to go into demonization, OK? I agree with you
about that, but let me use two other d`s, decency and dignity. I think
that is really critical. We are listening to Representative Moore who has
had a real life experience. We often sit back and there`s policy. The
real lives in the balance at stake. And I also think overarching much of
this is we`re witnessing, you talked about a glorious era, and it was not a
On the other hand, there is a rolling back of the civilizational advances
of this country, and some of that has to do with the protection and the
social civil protection of women.
HUEVEL: And I think we are witnessing some of it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And exactly on, as soon as we comeback, I want to talk about
how we are seeing exactly that sort of rollback and particularly in the
case of Washington, D.C. and my friend, it is time to free D.C., because
one member of Congress was barred from even speaking on the issue of
women`s reproductive rights for her own constituents. And as we go to
break, I want to give a nod to Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go music
who died on Wednesday. Our fedoras are off to you, Chuck Brown.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, when men and Republican-led state legislatures make
decision about women`s reproductive rights, the very least they can say
that they are absolutely representing the interests of the women who after
all voted for them.
But this week, some Republicans in the U.S. Congress have dropped any
pretense that women should have involvement in their own reproductive
choice, because I say with 100 percent certainty that not one single
Washington D.C. woman voted for Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks
who is proposing a bill that would ban abortions in the District of
Columbia, not in Arizona, in the District of Columbia after the 20th weeks
You see some of the nation`s capital is not at stake. Its citizens have no
congressional voting representation. A single delegate, democratic
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks for D.C. people in the house of
representative, but is not allowed to vote. She is, however, permitted to
speak at hearings like the one on Thursday where our house subcommittees
considered the abortion bill that would restrict Washington`s women`s
reproductive rights and constitutional rights all in one swoop.
However, Norton never got the chance to speak. When she asked if she could
speak on behalf of her constituency, the answer was, no.
Still with me, Katrina Vanden Huevel, Elon James white, Victoria
Defrancisco Sotto, and Nick Gillespie, and the Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen
OK. So, Republican believed in local government governing close to home,
and so when Arizona congressman is sort of, you know, reproducing this
colonial model about I will tell you people of D.C. how to govern this
SOTTO: Of course, they won`t let delegate Norton speak, she is so fabulous
and feisty, of course not. I mean here, they talk the talk, but won`t walk
the walk. So, it`s -- the bigger picture is a continual assault. In the
big scheme of things, this is to Democrats` favor, because as we are closer
to November, we keep having all of the pieces of the puzzle that reinforce
and mobilize women to come out to the polls.
HUEVEL: And to the shame of the nation is that D.C. is not a state yet. I
mean, that is the larger framework in which you see a voice
disenfranchised, people disenfranchised and a city which should have been
many years ago, but there is a lot of horse trading around that, and I
think both parties have played games, but they should have a voice.
Eleanor Holmes Norton should have a voice.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, sometimes it is - it is worthy of reminding
people that people who live in the district of Columbia have no voice in
the federal government, but they do however pay taxes to the federal
GILLESPIE: And to complicate it, students trapped in the D.C. public
school system, they get more money spent per student than any other school
district in the country, and they have the worst schools, so perhaps if we
are going to be talking about abortion and choice, it is worth talking
about how do you proliferate choice throughout the decisions that matter
most the people.
I`m an absolute supporter of abortion rights and that the government should
not pay for it, because it is a divisive issue, and that other people would
step up. But, you know, how do we bring choice across the board to people?
And I think that is extremely important issue in D.C., but also throughout
SOTTO: And where are the women? We were talking before to a break that
2010 was the year of the Republican woman, nine new Republicans went to the
house, democratic women lost seats, and --
HARRIS-PERRY: Women overall lost seats for the first time since 1970s.
HUEVEL: And maybe not a single woman governor after this round.
SOTTO: And democratic governor.
HUEVEL: Democratic governor.
GILLESPIE: Let`s not equate Democrats and women --
HUEVEL: Well with, to be fair, those who have stood tall in the
GILLESPIE: And we were talking about abortion, and does everybody believe
that late term abortion should be legal and at what point does that end?
Because these are the types of issues that are going to start coming up.
HARRIS-PERRY: What I`m saying is this. What we know about the late term
abortion after 20 weeks is that it is already quite rare and that it is
almost nine in ten abortions occur before the first trimester and the fact
is that most people who make that choice in late term is making the choice
because of the viability of the pregnancy and or the health and the life of
the mother. And the idea that we would intervene, and that we would think
of women in that way --
GILLESPIE: look. I agree with you. But that`s also the issue here.
Because there is a broad consensus I would also say, that is the issue
here, because there is a broad consensus around the country that most
abortions and the time frame of which most abortions take place that should
be legal and majority of the Americans believe that and that is not rolled
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, but it is. It is. In terms of the access and in terms
of the access it absolute -- and the fact that you can`t if you live in
Mississippi, there is not a place where one can go to actually get them, so
not even the power to restrict.
HUEVEL: It may not be illegal, but it is a real reality.
GILLESPIE: And this is also where - look, we can agree that abortion and
again I say that I`m an absolute supporter of the absolute abortion rights.
It is a divisive issue we all recognized especially as you get closer to
the end of the pregnancy period, it is time for the groups to step up to
make sure that these facilities are available and services are available,
and you won`t get that through.
HARRIS-PERRY: I am sorry that we did not get back to you Congresswoman
Gwen Moore, but thank you for the work in the U.S. congress.
MOORE: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And coming up President Obama is meeting with leaders of the
world`s richest countries right now in Camp David for a G8 summit. Top on
their agenda is the European economic crisis that could soon engulf us here
in the U. S. And we are going to talk about what they are saying about the
possibility of an apocalypse.
But first, the latest on Trayvon Martin as soon as we get back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Two days Ago Special Prosecutor Angela Corey renewed
national attention to the trial of George Zimmerman when she made important
evidence of the case public. Video footage of Trayvon in the hoodie buying
tea and skittles on the night of the shooting February 26th. Eye witness
of what neighbors thought they heard and saw. The gun Zimmerman used to
shoot Trayvon in the chest, photos of George Zimmerman`s swollen nose soon
after he shot and killed Trayvon, and images of the Knicks, cuts and blood
on the back of the head. We learned earlier in the week that the skin on
Trayvon`s knuckles was also broken. And we learned that Trayvon had traces
of THC, marijuana`s psycho active ingredient in his system at the time of
his death. All of these evidences, a sure to play as the defenses claim of
self-defense. And so this seems that the argument from the Stand Your
It`s a reminder that the Stand your ground law is essentially a victim
blaming law. A law that state you can be kill if your assail deems you to
be threatening. And so, a reasonable defense strategy would be to demonize
Trayvon Martin, make him seem threatening through a caricature of a violent
So, the wounds on Zimmerman`s nose and back of his head and Trayvon`s
knuckles seem to be evidence of struggle and for some, this struggle is
enough to justify Zimmerman`s deadly actions, but remember, we don`t know
how the physical altercation began. What we do know is that Trayvon was an
unarm e unarmed teenager facing an armed stranger on a dark street.
Trayvon had every right to feel that he was threatened and that he needed
to stand his ground.
But this is not the time to adjudicate a legal case, we have a system for
that in the first part of the movement that rose after Trayvon`s death was
to make sure that that system went into action.
The second part is to make sure that we do not lose sight of the bigger
picture, regardless of the facts of this one case, there is a problem of
racial profiling in this country, regardless of the facts of this one case,
criminal justice is applied differently in the country depending on the
race of the assailant and the victim.
Regardless of the facts of this one case, too many Americans die as a
result of gun violence, death that could be avoided with common sense
legislation that does not violate constitutional norms.
This week reminds us of the risks inherit in using a single case to
illuminate larger social injustices debating the innocence or the guilt of
the individual players is a poor substitute for meaningful, investigation
of how too many of to public policies deepen and enhance long-standing
This week, I cringed about how this new evidence might be used to implicate
Trayvon in his own murder. And I was reminded of the lyrics to Ella`s song
written for a civil rights leader Ella Baker.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes, until the killing of
black men, black mother`s sons is as important as the killing of white men,
white mother`s sons.
Coming up, if you have been watching the news on the euro this week, you
might want to run for the hills. Is our own economy really going to heck
in a hand basket? Maybe.
Ezra Klein, thank goodness is here to help me answer that question.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST: Welcome back.
This morning, the world`s most influential leaders are meeting at
Camp David for the annual G8 summit. And just moments ago, President Obama
concluded his opening remarks to the table that included the newly-elected
French President Francois Hollande, Italy`s new prime minister, Mario
Monti, and Japan`s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, all persuasive, all newly
elected, reminding the president that economic turmoil has upended many of
his former colleagues` careers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning, we`re
going to be spending a lot of time on economic issues. Obviously, the
eurozone will be one topic and all of us are absolutely committed to making
sure that both growth and stability and fiscal consolidation are part of an
overall package that all of us have to pursue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: With Europe rhetorically on fire these days, this
weekend`s back-to-back diplomatic summits from G8 to the NATO meeting
tomorrow in Chicago will be clearly dominated by the eurozone crisis.
This week alone, we have seen upheaval in Greece result in slow
motion run on the banks and the downgrading of dozens of banks in Italy and
Spain put those nations on notice -- all while tens of thousands of
Europeans have been taking to the streets to protest record unemployment
and severe austerity measures.
So, have the apocalypse come to Europe? Is what`s happening over
there a more extreme version of our domestic picture? Are we next?
These are the moments when I say, please, God, somebody get me Ezra.
And so, here to me answer these questions is the wonk, himself, Ezra
Klein, columnist for the "Washington Post" and a MSNBC policy analyst;
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation"; Nick
Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason.com; and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto,
communications director, Latino Decisions.
HARRIS-PERRY: Paul Krugman says it`s the apocalypse, is that true?
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: Well, it is not untrue, but it is
not true yet, is the thing you would say about it.
KLEIN: The way I`ve been trying to think about this is that Europe
is in the middle of a bank run, but it`s a bank run on countries, basically
we`re seeing investors and ordinary Greeks are trying to decide if Greek
banks can pay them back. And if it can`t, if Greece goes down, the
question is then: does it spread to Portugal, to Italy, to Spain?
The problem is that in order to stop a bank run, you have to do big
things. In this country, we did it by the FDIC.
KLEIN: FDR created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And
that insures every deposit we put into the bank.
NICK GILLESPIE, REASON.COM: Up to --
KLEIN: Up to $200,000.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, not all of it, but what we would put in the
bank. Yes, I`m with you.
So, that has worked because ordinary people know that even if the
bank has the problem, they will get the money back, but the problem is that
is Europe ever going to be willing to come to some kind of comprehensive
solution? I think we talk too much about the growth as, and we think of it
in this country as stimulus over there. We think they do some just kind of
But what you really need to be willing to have is the European
central bank to come in to put in a backstop. And what that will end up
doing, and Krugman is very eloquent on this point, is create an amount of
inflation potentially, that the German core is not happy with having.
KLEIN: Yes, that is the key. Yes?
GILLESPIE: And for good reason.
KLEIN: Well, we can argue if it is for good reason.
GILLESPIE: No, no. I mean, you know, inflation is not a good thing.
KLEIN: Well, inflation is sometimes a good thing.
GILLESPIE: This is the dream of central bankers everywhere, is that
we`re going to get a little bit of inflation so that our money is cheaper
and our debt goes down. And it never works out that way. Inflation gets
out of control. And when you`re talking about --
KLEIN: What do you mean it never works out that way? Of course it
works out that way sometimes.
GILLESPIE: Remember, Germany has still strong associations with the
`20s, as well as the post-war era and the U.S. in the `60s and `70s,
inflation was not able to be controlled until the central bank let interest
rates go up to 20 percent, and the government spending came under control.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: The longer the crisis in Europe
persists, the greater the ethnic bigotry and the rise of nationalism. But
step back for a moment, because there is a larger point to be made here if
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think austerity has failed. It has failed in
Europe. We are witnessing Britain which controls its own currency, faring
worse than the Great Depression.
GILLESPIE: Define austerity.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Debt is a greater ratio of GDP than it was before the
GILLESPIE: Please define austerity.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Austerity, slashing spending.
GILLESPIE: And of course, has England --
VANDEN HEUVEL: And to give bondholders confidence --
GILLESPIE: Has England cut spending? No, no, it has not.
KLEIN: We are talking about nominal inflation?
GILLESPIE: No, no, we`re not talking nominal inflation. What we are
saying is --
KLEIN: Austerity does have to do with tax increases. Austerity is
about macro flows.
But I just want to make one other point on this, the other thing
Europe hasn`t done is it has not created euro bonds. So, currently, every
single country is on their own.
In America, the way we finance this is that all of the states
basically have the backing of the federal government and the treasury, that
is basically how we deal with thing, we equalize the risk across. That is
short of inflation to be the end game.
GILLESPIE: Or --
KLEIN: And as of yet, Germany is not willing to go.
GILLESPIE: Wait --
HARRIS-PERRY: And wait a sec. Here is what I want to make sure we
are doing, because for a lot of folks watching, even as we were trying to
wrap our heads around this, and we started to say inflationary margins and
folks just tune. So I want to be sure that we are clear about how human
lives are impacted, how sort of how what we are talking about matters on
So, I mean, when we look for example at Moody`s downgrading the banks
in Spain, and in Italy, right -- I want to know specifically what does the
downgrade of those banks in Spain and Italy mean for those nations? What
should those nations now be thinking about and what does it mean for us
who, ourselves, experienced a downgrade recently?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, LATINO DECISIONS: What`s going to happen
in the States, what`s going to happen to somebody in Utah? Utah is a state
that exports the most to Europe. So, folks in Europe, they`re downgraded.
They`re not going to be able to buy as much.
So when we`re talking about in 2012, how does affects us? States are
going to go down -- certain states, not across the board. Some states,
more than others, but we are going to see a tangible effect across the
VANDEN HUEVEL: But I do think there`s another lesson. I mean, to
step back, why should we -- I`ve always felt that the nation, we did
instead of a Dow Jones index, we did a Doug Jones index for a while. I
mean, look at it through the prism of people.
Spain has youth unemployment of 50 percent, and inflation is --
VANDEN HUEVEL: And my point is that let me draw a lesson I think for
2012 for President Obama if I could. I think that the lesson is that he
wisely resisted too much austerity, maybe because of the Tea Party and
others could not agree on the debt deal, but this is a moment, at a record
low interest rate time in this country, record low interest times to
promote job creation, public investment and housing relief and use the
money to invest in this country.
And I think that is a plan for this country that all sides should get
on at a moment when as I said record low interest rates and no threat of
GILLESPIE: Can I just say thought -- we are talking and we have
politicians in this country, and right now we are talking about a 2012
election where the Republicans are saying we want to go from spending $3.8
trillion this year to spending $4.9 trillion in 10 years, every year. The
Democrats under Obama say, well, we want to spend $5.8 trillion in 10
years. There is no austerity.
England did not cut spending. England has increased spending in the
last budget cycle. It also increased taxes.
When we talk about austerity, most people say we cut spending. We
slash spending and cut taxes or raise the taxes. That is not what is
happening in most of Europe and not all of the countries, but there have
been massive tax increases across the board in most countries, and either
slight or serious increases, like in France, spending has not gone down in
France, and Holland is going to raise taxes and raise spending.
That is why Europe is in the toilet, because they have an unreal and
unsustainable economic model where they are going to keep spending and keep
taxing and then the gap between revenue and outlays is gone.
KLEIN: This is not quite right on a couple of levels. One, the most
troubled countries in Europe have clearly cut spending and raised taxes.
Portugal and Ireland.
GILLESPIE: And that has not worked.
KLEIN: Wait a second, Nick.
KLEIN: Number two, before the crisis, Spain and Italy had the
structural budget deficits going down. One thing that people missed, as
Paul Krugman called it, we`ve had a Hellenization of the crisis. Greece
was in really, really bad shape. They are very irresponsible.
Others weren`t, the economy collapsed under them. Three, the point
of the austerity and one thing that does get missed in this conversation,
one, it is a lot about tax increases. People should not miss it at all.
But the number, it also operating against the baseline -- what you
normally do and what orthodox economists would tell you to do is that when
these economies begin collapsing is the government needs to spend more, not
keep it steady, not go debt down.
KLEIN: Yes, it is orthodox economics. And so, that is what they
have not done. They have not been able to do that.
GILLESPIE: And then, wait, you do agree that England did not cut
spending? Because England is typically used as the poster child.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I want to go back to the tax question for a
moment, because my understanding is that there are two pieces, one is what
tax law says that the tax rate is and the other piece is actual compliance.
And the other piece of the understanding of what`s going on in the
eurozone question is that Greece and Italy actually have low tax compliance
rates. In other words, people aren`t paying their taxes.
This is actually part of the anxiety that places like Germany, that
have their high tax compliance rates, have about the entire notion of how
this eurozone will work -- that as the eurozone was created, it had a lot
of clarity about the democratic rules on the political side, but much less
clarity about how sort of the economic norms, norms for example of paying
one`s taxes should be part of this broader European zone.
SOTO: And austerity is a medicine. You have to dole it out.
We saw what happened in Latin America years ago when they went in
with strict reforms and people rebelled. And we are seeing this in Europe
Austerity is need, but to a certain extent. Certain extent.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And at the moment it is like the countries are --
HARRIS-PERRY: Shared sacrifices.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I would -- I would argue with that, I have to say,
Melissa, because I think it`s become a mantra, shared sacrifice. But a lot
of people did not share in the boondoggles that we have seen.
But I think we are looking at the patience, and like you start
leaching them in the process of slow recovery. Even, you know, Nick has
the strong point of view, and Ezra has strong points of information and
point of view.
But you know, even the IMF --
GILLESPIE: And so I don`t have information?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I don`t know, I`m trying to be diplomatic.
But even the IMF, not known as a bastion of radical, expansionary,
Keynesianism, is very deeply worried about what will happen to strangling a
recovery that is slowly beginning, and I think Germany is going to play a
critical role and France to a certain extent.
But you are right in the lack of clarity about the eurozone.
HARRIS-PERRY: And we are not done. Stay right there, because we`re
going to stay on the economy.
But up next, we will talk about how this caught on moment camera
actually tells us something about our economy and our very own speaker of
the House. There`s an allegory in that alligator, I swear.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, the debt ceiling debates are back.
Speaker John Boehner drew a new line in the sand this week, saying he
would not allow an increase in the debt ceiling without substantial
spending cut. And this is my idea of what`s in store.
But what you are watching now is a scientist with the North Carolina
Wildlife Resource Commission trying to relocate a wayward alligator. The
scientist is fine now by the way, but it is also, I think, an allegory for
the speaker who should be forewarned that bringing up the debt ceiling
before the debate could end up biting him in the rear.
So, with me to experience the debate deja vu is Ezra Klein of "The
Washington Post"; Katrina Vanden Heuvel of "The Nation"; Nick Gillespie of
Reason.com; and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto of Latino Decisions.
Thanks to everybody for being here.
So, we started by talking about Europe, and the position that Europe
finds itself in right now. And, Victoria, you were talking about the
But then the debt ceiling showed back up here and I began to wonder
if there is a European crisis happening at this level, is -- are we the
next Greece? Are we the next group that will be facing the --
KLEIN: We are not Greece.
We should always say that we control our own currency, and we are a
tested economy. We are the strongest economy in the world. We have the
cheapest treasury debt in the world. We have the safest investment in the
We are not Greece. We are not Europe.
But in conversations about Europe, we get too deep into the economic
sometimes. They are fundamentally facing a political crisis. The eurozone
is the new institution. It began in 1999, Greece joined in 2001. It is
And what investors are terrified and what everybody is terrified of
is that it actually can`t survive, and that the political system does not
work. We have no analog here, but the closest thing we do have is that if
Congress begins and the polarization of Congress gets to the point where
they are inducing financial crises like deciding to default on the debt
which we have not never done in the entire history of the United States.
That would be terrifying to the markets because on small levels of what
we`re learning about the eurozone, it would say something you never thought
could happen here, something you never was true about the American
political system is true, it doesn`t work the way you thought it did, and
you need to change how much risk you think there is in it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so to the extent that we behave as a broken
nation, we can, in fact, influence our breaking economy?
GILLESPIE: It`s also true that investment companies and whatnot and
people who rate bonds when the government is incapable of following its own
plans, and spending plans and reducing spending or reducing the debt, they
start to say, you know what, I`m going to charge you more to lend or borrow
money from you and that happens. And then if inflation comes in and kicks
in interest rates go up. I mean, this is part of the problem.
Katrina, you are saying, it`s a great time to buy the debt, because
it is cheap, but what happens in five years or 10 years if the interest
rates triple or go back to the historic average as opposed to being low
right now? You will be stuck with massive interest payments.
VANDEN HEUVEL: First of all, there`s a debt amnesia about how we got
in the debt, the Bush tax cuts, two unfunded wars.
GILLESPIE: And actually, it was the Bush spending which are
absolutely horrific and terrible --
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to show you a actual pie chart on this,
although what were the drives of -- and we are big fans of the pie charts.
So, there are debt drivers here that are not about the President Obama
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely right.
HARRIS-PERRY: These are spending that happened certainly under Bush,
but part of it is driven.
KLEIN: And, you know, I can identify the source of the chart, it is
a Pew chart.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And the key here, Nick, is that no one, if we can
invest in the country at record low interest rates, the recovery will come.
And when the recovery comes, we can return to a different set of
priorities, but it seems to me that the talk -- the best deficit reduction
in my view is job creation.
KLEIN: And can we not walk while chewing gum in this country? There
are very few economists frankly on either sides of the aisle who don`t
think it would be perfect sense to put in place a 10-year deficit reduction
plan that is paired with some short term infrastructure investment and
possibly mixing in other narratives.
This is not difficult to frontload growth, and backload the debt.
GILLESPIE: It has proven historically impossible --
KLEIN: What do you mean historically impossible?
GILLESPIE: -- to frontload spending -- to frontload spending and
then, oh, we`re going to backload. We`re going to cut the spending. It`s
like junkie logic, and give me the drugs now, and I will pay you on
KLEIN: All our deficit reduction and the bills in the `90s were
multi-year deficit reductions.
GILLESPIE: What I`m saying is they also had to do with actual
decreases in spending, not slowing the rates of increase of spending. And,
you now, we are talking about the last deficit.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I want the ask a question, because it seems to me
that part of what is going on is that there are different sort of values
and goods within the economy, right? So, one is deficit reduction. One is
managing inflation. One is job creation, right?
There are different sorts of goods. And part of what happens, at
least part of what I hear for example in this debate is -- well, when you
say words like deficit or say words like inflation, that they become scary
words for listeners for voters who think -- well, we can`t have inflation
or we can`t have a deficit without actually thinking, well, why can`t we
have a deficit?
VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Why can`t we carry a deficit while we create job? And
what would be wrong with actually a marginal tax increase for Social
Security, not a tax increase at the vast majority of the people would feel,
but a tax increase that simply said in order to keep Social Security
solvent everybody will pay on all of it?
SOTO: There is no silver bullet, and you can`t say, if we stick to
the austerity we will solve our own problems. We need tax increases. We
need to cut some programs.
GILLESPIE: What? Name a program when you say that, because people
always say, we need tax increases and we need to cut some programs.
HARRIS-PERRY: How about defense?
GILLESPIE: Defense spending should be cut in half, and we would be
VANDEN HEUVEL: And the House Republicans are fighting tooth and nail
to avoid --
GILLESPIE: And as is Obama.
VANDEN HEUVEL: As John Boehner is trying to put forth with the
alligator Eric Cantor, a new debt debacle, they`re reneging on the previous
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to stay right in this conversation,
because as you say, there is a lot for us to say.
So, thank you, Victoria. I really appreciate you being here today.
The rest of you will stay where you are. Coming up, I actually have a $15
million solution to all this. Seriously, I do, $15 million, I found it the
other day. We can add it to the pile.
HARRIS: OK. So we have been talking about ways that America might
cut its spending, and I think that I have a small but important way to help
I know one Hurricane Katrina survivor that doesn`t deserve its FEMA
funding and should give the money back. What, you didn`t think I`d say
OK. Hear me out. It`s true that Hurricane Katrina was one of the
strongest and the deadliest hurricanes to hit the United States. It made
landfall three times, killed more than 1,800 people and wiped out entire
So, yes, the survivors deserve aid from the government to get back on
their feet. But maybe not everyone does. Hat`s off to "Harper`s" magazine
for bringing Beauvoir or a beautiful view to my attention, and that is the
estate in Biloxi, Mississippi, housing several buildings, including the
Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. You remember him, right?
Oh, really? Let me refresh your memory. A man of many
accomplishments, Jefferson Davis is remember most for the time he spent as
the only president of the Confederate states of America, you know, during
the American Civil War, the war that killed over half a million people,
threatened to separate the United States, and was instigated by the fight
to end slavery. Yes, that guy.
Apparently being president of a short lived non-existent America
warrants one getting a library, and when it and the surrounding buildings
are destroyed albeit by a devastating natural disaster, it`s FEMA to the
rescue. FEMA, you know the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as in
federal government, the federal government Davis sought to destroy.
Here is the proposed rendition of the new and improved library.
Isn`t it beautiful?
So, just how much are we talking about here? A public assistance
award of $17.2 million from the Mississippi Emergency Management, a FEMA
grantee for Hurricane Katrina damage that includes $14.5 million for
reconstruction projects alone.
OK. Here`s the kicker: out of that $14.5 million, only $6 million of
the dollars have been used, as of an audit two years ago.
Now, I`m not saying that important landmarks on the Gulf Coast
shouldn`t be reconstructed. Actually, I`m kind of fall for reconstruction
of the former Confederate South, if you know what I mean.
What I am suggesting, is that the federal government should not pay
to repair and replace a monument to a traitor to the federal government,
and I would think that all of those small government Mississippi Republican
leaders would agree, right? Right?
What does it mean when a giant bank loses a few billion dollars, when
a group of entrepreneurs in sweatshirts become billionaires off of a
virtual social club? Maybe it means it is time for more rules and
regulations. And more on that when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I know. That was not Jefferson
Davis. It was Robert E. Lee. Sometimes, the graphic gremlins get you.
But we are back. And speaking of the pictures, your family vacation
photos, your favorite videos of cats, and your personal likes are the likes
of stockbrokers now. Facebook`s public offering raised some $16 billion
yesterday, providing a ray of sunshine for the market still reeling from
the news in billions from the banking giant JPMorgan Chase.
Now, JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, announced last week that the company
thought it would loss under $2 billion on a proprietary hedge bet gone bad.
And "Wall Street Journal" now reports losses that could extend to as much
as $5 billion, Mr. Dimon will face questioning from the Senate Banking
Committee on Tuesday, while the Federal Reserve launches their won
investigation into the origin of those losses.
But, hey, what`s a billion dollars these days? I mean, Facebook,
whose main contribution to society is letting you see if your high school
ex got fat, is now worth $104 billion, give or take. And losing $5 billion
for JPMorgan would only be one quarter of 1 percent of the asset under the
So, no reason to overly regulate the markets as Dimon and others
claim, right? Or is it time for more regulation? And if so, how should it
be done and how it should be done? So, here with me to answer some of
these questions is our expert panel, Ezra Klein of "The Washington Post,"
Katrina Vanden Heuvel of "The Nation," and Nick Gillespie of Reason.com,
and Elon James White, founder of thisweekinblackness.com.
OK.; It seems like a lot of money to many, and I guess that maybe
perhaps it`s not $2 billion a lot of money, but it starts if I`m worrying
and thinking of the emotions of the market, this loss does feel like a lot
KLEIN: Look, it`s a lot of money. It`s not a threatening amount of
money. JPMorgan doesn`t need a bailout. There`s no systemic threat here.
They made $19 billion in pure profit in 2011. So, I think people need to
sort of ask what exactly we`re trying to learn from this.
And the main thing I think you see is that JPMorgan were the folks
who knew how to manage risks. They came through the financial crisis
better than any other bank. The idea -- and Jamie Dimon`s -- his internal
argument is that, look, there were dumb banks, but don`t want to take the
dumb banks and use their failings to regulate the smart bombs, over-
regulate the smart banks.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, and we`re a smart bank.
KLEIN: And the thing here is that all banks eventually do dumb
things. And so, we do need to have sufficient regulations. Even when the
smart banks become dumb, they don`t destroy the rest of the economy as
happened in a couple of years ago.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I want to see it in the system of checks and
balances, OK? I mean, the United States went without serious financial
crisis after the New Deal regulations shackled that back a little bit. And
only after Reagan and Clinton`s deregulation have we seen financial crises
conflict this country.
I also think of conservatives like Richard Fischer, the head of the
Dallas Federal Reserve bank, who says, wait a minute, we need to reorganize
these banks which control way too much, and the hyper financialization,
conglomeratization, and that you have a company that begins to serve people
and not vice versa.
But the short, the bottom line is, to me, if this is the smart banker
and the bank, God, how many more evidence to restore like to get a Volcker
Rule or Glass-Steagall which was a good separate commercial from the
GILLESPIE: You know, I mean, I have to say, and obviously, we
VANDEN HEUVEL: We disagree.
GILLESPIE: And look, we can get the people who are the smartest
people in the room, even people smarter than us at this table, if such, you
know, Olympian geniuses exist. Ultimately, the only regulation that is
going to work is that the investors are liable for their gains and the
So, we can have the Volcker Rule which is going to be, what, 1,000
pages long and the people don`t fully understand how it would be or how the
regulations would be spelled out. Dodd/Frank is a classic to be announced
regulation. It tells a bunch of people to come back in a while with
thousands of pages of regulation, and --
GILLESPIE: Wait, wait, and that -- no, no, it does. It does,
VANDEN HEUVEL: The lobbyists made it more complex than it needed to
GILLESPIE: But it always happens that way, and what I am saying is
that this is not a story. JPMorgan losing a bunch of its own investors`
money, of its own money.
The only reason that becomes a story is because of TARP and because
of bank bailouts, where now we`re worried that we`re going to start bailing
out every business that does something bad and what we think is bad. Oh,
then we`re going to regulate it. We`re going to control it, because it
might bother me. There is a basic regulation in play.
HARRIS-PERRY: We can`t talk about the separation, right?
GILLESPIE: What separation?
HARRIS-PERRY: The separation between those who want to take risks
with their own assets, and those who take risks under the umbrella --
GILLESPIE: Sure, don`t do business with banks that will take your
money to make money for themselves.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, I`m not talking about how consumers behave,
I`m talking about the banks and what sort of bank you are and whether or
not you are under the protection of the federal government. This is sort
of -- as we`re talking about the FDIC before.
KLEIN: It`s good to sort of say that the only regulation that works
is good investors making good decisions, but --
GILLESPIE: No, I did not say good decisions. I said they are
responsible for their gains, they keep their gains, and they keep their
KLEIN: Well, we didn`t do it, and we did almost crash the entire
global financial economy.
GILLESPIE: That is because of government interventions.
KLEIN: That is crazy I think.
KLEIN: But what I do agree with you is that smart regulations tend
to be a bad idea. If you get these 1,000-page Volcker Rule bills, it`s 500
page as Nick sort of implies, it becomes that`s where (INAUDIBLE) can get
in strong and they just sort of find ever more esoteric ands complex
strains to get around.
What was good about the Glass-Steagall and I don`t think Glass-
Steagall is necessarily the right regulation for this era of financial
complexity, but it was just simple. Commercial banks and investment banks
VANDEN HEUVEL: Elizabeth Warren is valuable to talk about, because
her mission at the consumer protection financial board was simplicity. And
also that you needed a cop on the financial beat who stood there for
families, for ordinary citizen, because the banks have so much power in
this country. Richard Durbin, Senator Durbin once said in a moment of
honesty that the banks own this place, and the Volcker Rule would not be as
complex if you didn`t have a financial industry spending millions and
millions fighting regulations and making them more complex, and I do think
we do need checks and balances so that ordinary people don`t feel that the
system is rigged against them.
GILLESPIE: I agree, and the thing is that we don`t regulate people
making good investments, but you have to be liable for your behavior at the
individual level and the corporate level, that`s all. Don`t invest in
banks that do things you don`t like.
HARRIS: And talk about the individual gain, because I have to say --
for me, I was, and that this sort of story of the American who can come up,
who can, you know, be innovative, who can create something, whether it`s
something you hold in your hand or just something click on and become a
And here Facebook gets billions of dollars, and then the next thing
we find out is that our new Facebook billionaire is prepared to renounce
his American citizenship, because he is uninterested in paying taxes on
this new wealth. So, it feels like to me that if there is a sense of
everyone being liable, there is also -- I mean, this is a fundamentally
American narrative, right? This is about Harvard giving a certain kind of
cache to Facebook, so that Facebook goes on and becomes the thing that it
becomes, and then there`s no sense of collective responsibility, no sense
of paying back into the system?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Two things. One, there is a wonderful group called
Patriotic Millionaires and who want to pay more taxes and contribute to a
country, because they know that the interstate and other things contributed
to their innovation, other factors. But you do feel that is what exposed
here is larger than the defriending of America by these two, by Salverin.
It`s about a tax system that is in desperate need -- though we may
all disagree around this table how -- but it in desperate need of reform.
That sounds cliche, but it is so true, because what they are doing is
legal, and it should not be legal.
KLEIN: Let me make one point --
HARRIS-PERRY: You should not be able to do that sorry.
GILLESPIE: You are on Facebook as we are speaking.
ELON JAMES WHITE, FOUNDER, THISWEEKINBLACKNESS.COM: I might be.
A lot of what you are saying is theoretical. Like it should be, and
this is the way should be and this is the way it should come down and this
is the way et is supposed to happen. I feel as if a lot of your logic is
not based in what`s actually happening within what people are doing. Like
what actually happen like you said people are completely deciding to
decide, oh, I`m not going to be American anyway, and I will keep the money
which should be wrong.
Regulation has to happen, otherwise people are not that good of
people, all right? Regulation has to come in and kind of hold things
together a little bit, just in order for society to continue to move
forward, and it is not a bad thing -- just for regulation to happen. Now,
yes, you can over-regulate, obviously. But that`s not what -- apparently
almost everything that everybody is upset, and oh, too much regulation,
regulation everywhere. No, there`s some need regulation.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this is the fundamental, and maybe this is the
kind of libertarian impulse, because it`s the fundamental notion of the
leviathan that we create collective rules to generate incentives in order
to keep life from being brutish, nasty --
GILLESPIE: But, wait -- I mean, you are a political scientist.
Hobbs argument is also that we find our fullest, you know, fulfillment in
of being absorbed into the leviathan, into the body politic in a form of a
leader. That is anti-liberal -- whether it`s classical liberal or
contemporary, let`s not go down that route.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it depends. I mean, one could see that -- I
mean, I made an argument that part of what human beings want is not only
sort of fairness in our distribution, but also fairness in our experience
of the public space, that as we enter into the public space, we want to be
seen for who we are. We don`t want to be misrecognized.
So, the things like racism, and sexism, and homophobia -- even if
there were not structural economic inequalities, which there are. And so,
I can -- I can do a reading of Hobbs that isn`t about absorption into the
state as a matter of -- sort of being the cog and the wheel, and but rather
into the public sphere.
GILLESPIE: Shouldn`t you be happy -- I mean, Facebook is the
brilliant case of the third space, that`s not the public space, that`s not
the private, it`s a shared space that`s voluntary, and people go to form
new communities. I mean, this idea that Saverin --
HARRIS-PERRY: I am not mad at Facebook. I am totally not mad at
GILLESPIE: But Saverin created a great space that we all hang out
HARRIS-PERRY: Because you do not create it on your own, and I think
GILLESPIE: I did not contribute to it.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, but when millionaires ands billionaires made money
by moving products along, in interstate transportation system, or along the
rail roads built by all of us, the fact is that we don`t just exist out of
nothing, we go to our public schools, we are part of a collective. And the
notion that we are on an island is --
GILLESPIE: But you`re saying that Eduardo Saverin, I mean, this is
like, you know, something that Castro would do. In order --
HARRIS-PERRY: I have to lean back on that.
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- or Fred Hayek, or Ayn Rand, don`t do Castro.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love it, somehow I have turned into Castro.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are going to ask more of what this election will
hinge on. Stay here. We`re going to have to take a break. I wish we
didn`t have to because I want to talk about being Castro, I`d love the
cigar right now. Can someone get me one?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t look now, but there is something funny
going on over there at the bank, George. I have never really seep one, but
it has all of the earmarks of being a run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that`s how we think about what a run on banks is,
but Ezra was just saying in the break that the problem now is that the
banks are the ones running or potentially the banks are the ones running
rather than us doing a run on the bank.
KLEIN: Right. We talked about Eduardo Saverin moving to Singapore
to escape taxes. But he same thing can happen with the bank, right? If
the bank, if we regulate in the way they don`t like, a bank can either
move, or simply the banks in Singapore can become the favorite place to do
And that might be fine, except for they became huge, they continue
trading with our financial institutions. They make bad trades. They
invest in a bubble. And as happens, they blow up and everything else blows
up down the line. So, banks that we are not capable of regulating are the
banks that begin a financial crisis that destroys our financial system. I
mean, the regulatory world now is very tough and very scary (ph).
GILLESPIE: Sarbanes-Oxley, the Dodd-Frank of, you know, some years
ago actually helped contribute to companies fleeing and listing on European
and other stock exchange around the world because they`re like these
regulations are nuts, I can`t handle this. I`m going to do someplace else.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, let me suggest, so this could be just an
is, right? This is an era where we live in the global economic world, but
that`s -- and we are deeply intertwined. This is why we talked about both
Europe and Facebook at the same time, because we are intertwined.
VANDEN HEUVEL: There is a new politics. I mean, the G8, these
leaders are meeting at a time of economic collapse and unprecedented global
protest. I really believe there is a new politics that isn`t going to say,
this is, this is it.
And this idea that regulations so complex -- you can find ways
without all of the inputs that want to make it more complex to make it more
simple and transparency and disclosure. You`re not going to get rid of a
KLEIN: Well, there is a group called Basel, and they do the global
financial regulation. And the key financial regulation that they deal with
is leverage. How much leverage can you have? How much can you borrow on
top of your assets?
And one interesting thing about the JPMorgan trade is they`re
supposed to come out with new leverage not that long from now. This might
toughen them, and that is the single most important financial rule in the
world, and what the Basel committee decides on leverage.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it all seems to me like the politics around this
is in part a narrative about values, right? So there is a policy question.
I mean, and really a set of policy questions about what can you actually
do, how can you thwart these sorts of things out, how can we protect some.
But the other face of it is a far more basic values` question.
I mean, at one point, you know, sort of earlier in the show, you
said, all right, let`s be careful not to go too far on the war of women,
but tonight just called Castro, right? So, I think we have to be really --
GILLESPIE: I was about to tell you that, you know, the problem with
Social Security is that it shouldn`t exist. So, it should be provided for
poor Americans. We shouldn`t provide for well healed people simply because
they are over 65. That`s a value statement.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is a fundamental question about what we believe.
VANDEN HEUVEL: The different values at this table.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean, I think that is wrong.
GILLESPIE: That`s why I`m in the corner.
VANDEN HEUVEL: In fact, I think we should expand --
GILLESPIE: What the middle-class and the wealthy people?
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- for Americans and not upward distribution and take
more from the wealthy.
GILLESPIE: So, you should take from money from young, poor kids to
give it to the old rich people?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think Melissa is absolutely right on a fundamental
issue, which is whether it`s our budget or what happens with the eurozone,
budgets are more than just raw numbers. They are that. But they are a set
of priorities and show the values of a country, and of people.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Nick, let me make the quick argument for why
Social Security should not be means-tested and simply this, when we have
had public policies that are mean-tested public policies particularly
around poverty, those policies become highly politicized and the group of
people who are beneficiaries of them are the most vulnerable, and the least
likely to have political access -- part of why Social Security is
untouchable in the way that it is, because of the AARP, and the old folks
are not a group that is stigmatized in the way that poor people are.
So you look at how easy it was to end welfare as we know it,
literally creating food insecurity for American children who are poor and
because they are poor have less access and ability to maneuver and keep it.
GILLESPIE: Please, Social Security is not help for poor people.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, it`s for old people.
GILLESPIE: I, and never the table is at a place where you will get
less out of it and in the dollar for dollar basis from Social Security that
you put in.
HARRIS-PERRY: And my mother did not have Social Security right now
and the cost of my household in my household to support my mother would be
GILLESPIE: Wait, stop. If she`s poor, let the government provide a
social safety net, that`s a good thing. Medicaid spending keeps going up.
If we didn`t like the poor, it wouldn`t be going up, it would be going
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s just because we actually created more poor
HARRIS-PERRY: We have been talking billions all hour, and in a
moment, I want to talk to you about a little girl who raised hundreds of
thousands of dollars in pennies.
But, first, it`s a time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT".
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Wow, I can`t wait to meet that little girl.
That`s a great story.
Let`s get to this, though. Some new numbers from states across this
country suggests unemployment has gone down in some critical regions in the
past year. We`re going to bring you the numbers and what they might mean
The budget crisis in California, how did it get so bad? I will talk
with former California Governor Gray Davis and get his perspective. And by
the way, it`s going to take a lot more than that little girl collecting
It was supposed to be an historic rocket launch. Why did it end in
failure? I will talk with a noted astronaut on just why it`s so important.
And, you know that movie, "The Social Network," about the funding of
Facebook? Well, in light of the stock offering, we`re going to talk with
the man who wrote the book, used to make that film. He has some very
So, with that, I`ll send it back to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Alex.
That little girl, she could probably solve the whole federal deficit.
WITT: (INAUDIBLE) can to say.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is why we`re going to talk about penny pinching
and why it`s the most inspiring thing that I witnessed this week. My foot
soldier is 13 years old. Ands her story is up next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Abraham Lincoln may with be one of America`s favorite
presidents. But for many of us, the currency that bears his countenance is
one of our least favorite coins, except on a rarer occasion, that we can be
bother to count out exact change.
The pennies jingling around in purses and pockets only amount to a
lot of dead weight. But it all depends on your perspective because one
group of young philanthropists seized those pennies that are weighing the
rest of us down as a valuable way to lift up their community. Since 1991,
the Penny Harvest program has enlisted compassionate kids between the ages
of 4 and 14 to collect pennies and donate the money as grants to community
And they`ve converted all that pocket change into social change.
Over the last two decades, penny by penny, children have raised and given
away a whopping $8.1 million in grants. But Penny Harvest encourages
children to be more than just coin collectors. After raising the money,
kids research problems in their communities, determine the needs of
organizations working to tackle those problems and vote to decide what`s
most important to them and how to best allocate the grant.
I got to see firsthand how Penny Harvest cultivates a new generation
of social activists recently when I met Quinn Smart, a remarkable and aptly
named young woman. At only 13 years old. This seventh-grader is already a
four-year Penny Harvest veteran and has helped to raise more than $200,000
for her community.
Now, I had the pleasure of being introduced by Quinn last week at an
event for Solid Ground, the organization that administers Penny Harvest. I
was so moved by Quinn`s message that young people are uniquely qualified to
make a difference. Not in spite of, but precisely because they`re kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINN SMART, 13-YEAR-OLD PHILANTROPIST: Sitting in a room full of 8
to 12-year-olds who are brainstorming issues to community issues, you would
be amazed at the ideas that are tossed around. They may not well thought
out and at times, they may involve superheroes and mascots dressed up in
bunny suits, but they are also ambitious and raw. Having not yet faced
obstacles in life that give them doubts about their own ideas, kids are
able to think bigger and broader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Bigger and broader, the kind of outrageous thinking is
the stuff that revolutions are made of. That gave a bunch of colonists the
gall to break free of the British Empire in the 18th century and give a few
college students the audacity to sit down at a lunch counter and resist
centuries old culture white supremacy, or gave a smart young girl the
confidence to use small change to make a big difference.
As Quinn says, we should never doubt ourselves of being able to make
an impact. So, for being penny-wise, Quinn smart, you are our foot soldier
of the week.
And that is our show for today. Thank you. Thank you, Ezra Klein,
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Nick Gillespie, and Elon James White, for sticking
And thanks to you at home for watching. I will see you tomorrow
morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Former presidential candidate and senator,
Bill Bradley, will join us.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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