'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, June 17, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Guests: Steve Cohen, Michelle Bernard, Michael Hastings, Esther Armah, Lorella Praeli, Luis Gutierrez, Michael Bell, Ta-Nehisi Coates
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Voters in Greece are headed to the polls today for a crucial election
that could determine that country`s future in the eurozone.
And Syrian opposition groups are urging the United Nations to send
armed peacekeepers to that country after U.N. monitors suspended their work
there due to intensifying violence.
Right now, joining me today -- we have Congressman Steve Cohen,
Democrat from Tennessee; Michelle Bernard, founder, president and CEO of
the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy, former president
of the conservative Independent Women`s Forum; "Rolling Stone" contributing
editor, Michael Hastings, also a correspondent at "BuzzFeed"; and Esther
Armah returning to the table, host of WBAI FM`s "Wake Up Call."
All right. In dueling speeches on Thursday afternoon, Mitt Romney
issued a series of conservative talking points about debt and Europe and
big government. While President Obama made his own ideological case,
arguing that Romney and the current GOP regime are so extreme, they have
broken with over half a century of good faith political and economic norms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been fierce
arguments throughout our history between both parties about the exact size
and role of government, some honest disagreements. But in the decades
after World War II, there was a general consensus that the market couldn`t
solve all of our problems on its own. It`s this vision that Democrats and
Republicans used to share that Mr. Romney and the current Republican
Congress have rejected in favor of a no holds barred, government is the
enemy, market is everything approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president sent out to define what this approach would
look like -- trillions of tax cuts for the wealthy slashes the government
jobs and services, millions of Americans losing their health care -- and
told voters if they liked what they heard, to cast their ballot for Romney
and the GOP agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You should take them at their word and they will take America
down this path. And Mr. Romney is qualified to deliver on that plan. No,
OBAMA: I`m giving you an honest presentation of what he`s proposing.
I`m looking forward to the press following up. And making sure that you
know I`m not exaggerating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, I thought the speech was interesting because it came --
those two speeches came in a week where I thought two things kind of
happening in the campaign this week. One was: earlier in the week, there
was this panic button that was being pressed. James Carville said
something about -- oh, it`s going off the rails. There are a few worrying
poll numbers out.
And the polls -- Nate Silver had this hilarious tweet about sort of
making fun of the different polling that was happening. He said, "Obama
support cratered among elderly, gay, Hispanic Jews in the latest tracking
poll. Margin of error: plus or minus 87 percent."
The fact of the matter is, just to put this to rest in terms of the
panic button being pushed, here`s a Gallup poll of Obama versus Romney.
It`s the tracking poll on April 15th to June 15th. If we can show that for
And what you will see, that is, you know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s flat line.
HAYES: Exactly. It`s essentially dead heat. It`s basically a 50/50
nation at this point. And, barring some huge shock that comes to the
system from outside, it`s this -- you know, we`re going to grind it out.
So, that to me, that put us all on the staff that put us all in mind
of this classic image that I have to show. This is an image that was
created in 2008 when in the midst of the Republican convention and Sarah
Palin being named and before the bottom tail of the economy, there was a
period where John McCain was polling ahead of Barack Obama.
And there was just this wave of commentary from Democrats who were
just like heading for the life rafts like jumping off the ship. Just total
panic everywhere, which reminded a little bit, and they made this now
iconic message. I know staffers on the campaign that have that up on their
desk. We blurred out the obvious there.
MICHAEL HASTINGS, ROLLING STONE: Are you suggesting the media is
pushing the panic button and creating a false that doesn`t actually exist?
HAYES: Never would I suggest something like that. No, I think this
week, it was -- I think one of the things that does happen, I`d be curious
to hear your thoughts on this, Steve, because it`s a long campaign. The
fundamentals aren`t going to change that much. There`s not a lot to cover
in certain ways.
But I do think that the panic that we saw a little bit earlier this
week seems to me part of the disposition of Democrats in campaigns, to
start hitting the panic button, to start going to the press with off-the-
record quotes about, oh, we`re doing it wrong.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: There may be some truth to that,
but it is a long way to go. I was taught early and makes it more local and
national, elections are won in the last 10 days. Maybe that`s spread out
some in a national campaign and with social media and all, but it`s towards
There are so many things that could affect this election in Europe.
You know, the president was responsible for the price of gas, if you listen
to the Congress two months ago. When gas goes down, the president had
nothing to do with it.
HAYES: Very, very good point.
Michael, how do you -- you have been covering the campaign.
HAYES: The other big thing to me that happened this week and I
thought was interesting, Ryan Lizza published this big piece in "The New
Yorker" about what a second term looks like. And part of the speech was
laying out a second term and there`s been a pivot to try to think about the
vision for the future.
How -- how much is that an intentional strategic choice because they
can`t, they understand they cannot affect the economy between now and
HASTINGS: Well, look, I think that piece is essentially a way to
make the case for an Obama second term, right? I mean, that`s what it`s
laying out. And it`s funny, over the past 48 hours, I`ve been on the phone
with some of the folks on the Obama campaign and I quote them the Carville
line, and I have to say, the Obama people do not necessarily appreciate all
the feedback they`re getting from Clinton land.
But I said to them, I said, look, you know, in 10, 20 years, you guys
are going to be doing to some Democratic president, too. So, you should
give all guys a pass.
Look, I think that in terms of Ryan`s piece of laying out this vision
for the second term, you have the environmental issue that`s going to be
key and also on the foreign policy side because presidents have most
control over their foreign policy and in the second term foreign policy,
he`s going to lay out sort of this grand, strategic vision, deal more with
China and issues like that, while also getting us out of these ground wars
and some of this is robust, counterterrorist apparatus.
I think it`s a way to make the case for a second term in a kind of
very clever way.
HAYES: I should note, though, that the speech on Thursday and I
think the focus down the stretch, right, is going to be on the economy.
The Ohio speech basically said, yes, he literally said something like --
yes, social issues are important. Yes, foreign policy is important. But,
the core of this is going to be the economy.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: One of the things I
found fascinating about the piece in "The New Yorker" and about the
president`s speech is that, I mean, it makes the case for what the country
may look like in an Obama second term. I think it`s essential to do that
because right now, the president having a great deal of difficulty,
obviously, with the Republican government, divided government in turning
the economy around and getting legislation passed.
So, the only thing he can talk about is for every single human being,
every person that lives in the country regardless of race, gender,
ethnicity. Here`s what the country looks like if I get a second term.
Here`s why you`re so important. Here`s what I`m going to do. Here`s what
my legacy is.
And it`s a way to get his base excited, again.
COHEN: But he needs to get his base to realize that it has to be
more than Obama. He needs to have Speaker Pelosi.
HAYES: I`m so glad you said that because you got a line in the
speech where he said, we have a stalemate and this is your chance to break
HAYES: Chance to break the stalemate is only true if you do not
recreate the current conditions of the divided government. Because then
you`re going to have more stalemate, we know what that looks like.
And I think that`s the interesting thing because to lay out a vision
of what a second term looks like is obviously highly contingent on the
Republican and --
HASTINGS: It`s also saying don`t hold the next five months against
me. You know, whatever happens at the end of the summer, if the economy
tanks, don`t hold that against me. Remember, we`re looking for the future.
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI.ORG: I think it`s also about very specifically a
battle that is ideology versus the record. And that in this moment where
the economic record, which may be getting better slowly, but the last
figures don`t look so good when it comes to the jobs` numbers mean that the
ideology, which is going back to the 2008 campaign is the way to move the
country in a particular direction because the record ain`t going to do it.
And I think the Obama administration understands that the record
cannot do it, that Romney and the Republicans can beat them up every single
time, but also because when it comes to ideology, Obama can fairly argue
that the Republicans are in this intimate relationship with political
paralysis that actually affects every single one of you watching this. If
you think you`re going to stand on the sidelines, then you`re in the same
relationship and paralysis as the Romney campaign is.
COHEN: And you`ve got to remember that the economy is the Bush
economy. It`s Bush and the Republicans who ruin this economy and Romney is
a replay of that. That`s why the president says if you like what you had
then, you got it more now.
ARMAH: But that`s not what people feel, because I think part of the
challenge has been, although the political paralysis has been on the side
of the Republicans, the people blame the Democrats and the Obama
administration for failing to act more aggressively to overcome.
COHEN: I know that. I think it`s like "Men in Black and you got to
not erase their memories. You have to remember, it was Bush.
HAYES: That`s a good point.
Well, I would push back on that a little bit because we`ve seen
polling that it remains the case that a majority of people primarily
blaming Bush for the state of the economy. Now, that`s come down over
time. Which one would assume.
But I think it`s both, right? There`s not a zero sum of blame. I
mean, people are frustrated, they can hand out the blame cards to everyone.
In fact, what you see is people are not very happy with Congress,
right? They really dislike Congress. The president is battling right
around 50 percent. And they also think Bush was the worst president in
So, there is blame to go around.
BERNARD: It`s sort of like a pox on both your houses. We`re really
sick of all of you.
HAYES: That`s the danger.
BERNARD: Well, that`s the danger and the other danger for the
president, this campaign season, it`s very difficult to explain to the
American public how much worst things could be.
HAYES: That`s the counterfactual argument.
And I want to talk about how the record, the economic record cuts
both ways for Congress and for Republican governors, right after we take
HAYES: Talking about the president`s speech on Thursday and Mitt
Romney`s speech on Thursday, and the vision for the campaign at this moment
in terms of moving the focus to the second term, a vision for a second
And, Congressman, here`s something I`d like you to address, which is,
one of the things that has broken down in the normal mechanics of
Democratic accountability under the lock step Republican House is that you
have sense that sure there is an incentive to obstruct the president,
right, because he`s from the other party. But that`s balanced by the
incentive to deliver something in terms of tangible goods because you,
yourself, has to stand for re-election, right?
I mean, every member of Congress has to go home in the House and run
for re-election. And if things are really terrible, presumably, you`re
worried about voters holding you accountable for that. And it seems that
the Republicans just don`t think that`s the case. That they can defy that
gravity and convince their voters when they have to go back to their
districts in the next six months and run for reelection, that they`re not
going to be held accountable for the same problems they`re blaming on the
COHEN: A lot of districts are determined in the primaries. In the
Republican primary, doing nothing is wonderful. They, you know -- so those
people will be OK and the people that elected the Tea Party people, those
folks like doing nothing.
The concern that I think they should have and I think they`re going
to see is that people realize, like Ornstein in his recent, I guess it was
COHEN: It`s the Republicans causing the problems. It`s not Democrat
-- it`s the Republicans. So, they`re going to be blamed more than the
Democrats and I think they`re coming around some.
HAYES: But what I`m hearing from you is the nature of gerrymandering
means that most of these Republicans don`t have to worry about competitive
races. They have to worry about primary challenges from Tea Party
But there`s some group of -- I mean, there are enough swing districts
that Congress changed hands twice in the span of four years. It did in
2006. It did in 2010.
Someone has to be worried about getting re-elected, right? I mean,
if the country is in the bad shape, that usually bodes ill for incumbents.
And it seems to me like that political gravity is being defied.
COHEN: But you`ve got a lot of neophytes. A lot of the Tea Party
people are first-time people in government. They want to get rid of
government, and they`re not thinking the traditional way. The traditional
way of compromise and make things work because they don`t want to, they`re
ideologues, and they haven`t thought about reelection because they never
had a reelection.
HAYES: But is there a space then, does that open up space for
COHEN: Well, I think it does. The Democrats can take back the
Congress. There`s a limited number of seats because of redistricting.
Redistricting made this more difficult than ever.
COHEN: But I think there`s a chance we can get it back. You saw
Barber, Gabby`s aide, win in Arizona. I think the people will say we want
to keep Social Security as we know it. We want to keep Medicaid as we know
George Romney would just be abominable. I mean, if you win --
HAYES: Mitt Romney.
COHEN: Yes, Mitt Romney.
HAYES: George Romney wouldn`t actually be too bad. Let`s be clear
COHEN: You know, this automobile industry -- and the president saved
the automobile industry.
COHEN: But, he`ll be Neidermeyer. But I`m not saying our guy is
HAYES: Explain this reference to our viewers.
COHEN: Well, there was this great movie that`s probably still around
called "Animal House" and Neidermeyer was the head of the fraternity, like
the black ball people and the elitist kind of uptight conservative guy
that`s the typical stereotype.
HASTINGS: I think your audience is familiar with "Animal House."
HAYES: I just want to make sure. You don`t know whether our
BERNARD: My observation is that for many Republicans that are in
Congress right now, they actually feel like they are doing something and
they feel like they are delivering in the sense that by obstructing
everything that the president wants to do, even at the risk of completely
destroying the economic law being of the country, that they are delivering
for their district.
The problem is it won`t be until they actually succeed in destroying
the economy that they get put out of office. That`s the problem.
ARMAH: And it goes to two points. It goes to your "Men in Black,"
the ability to raise memory and literally recreate the record because
paralysis has been effective in so far as it has definitely created, to
some extent, I think a feeling that there is an impotence among the
And I think the tightness of the polling reflects that to some
degree. And so, the paralysis is not an action. That`s a strategy, as
ARMAH: Whether or not it`s a winning strategy is a whole another
conversation. But it is a strategy. The question to how far they can take
Then I look at Wisconsin and what happened there, even though it was
a historical recall vote. The way in which the Republicans are willing to
kind of fly into action reveals that that paralysis has an end game and
they`re willing and able and ready to move when they have to.
HAYES: The other way that the economic record cuts in different
directions is that the recovery, such as it is, which again I don`t think
there`s a person -- it`s hard to find a person in the country who thinks
the economy is just going awesome right now and that we just can call it a
win and walk away.
But the recovery is very unevenly distributed geographically. And
there`s a really interesting article in "Wall Street Journal" about how
this creates personal dynamics in states where you have a pretty strong
recovery happening in Ohio that the Republican Governor John Kasich wants
to take credit for and you have pretty strong economic recovery happening
in Virginia where Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is running ad saying,
hey, things are going really well.
And then the question is, at the same time, you have John Kasich
saying things in Ohio are looking up and Mitt Romney comes to the state to
say, everything is terrible.
HASTINGS: Right. And Romney is trying to convince people that it`s
not going that well because obviously that helps him.
But back to the Obama campaign and the sort of central tension we`re
going to see play out over the next few months. It`s managing expectations
about the economy. And this is where the Carville criticism comes from, or
even people who are very strong Obama allies have been saying this past for
the past few weeks, that if we -- if the president comes out and says
everything is looking good, everything is fine. They`re going to set
themselves up in case things go badly.
HAYES: I think they`ve learned that lesson, because I think there`s
been -- I mean, one thing that`s interesting about this recovery or non-
recovery or sort of ambling along has happened is that there have a number
of moments where it looked like we were about to get -- escape velocity,
HAYES: And there is a recovery spring and there was, even this
winter looked quite good, actually. I was saying on this program, it
looked like really started to take off. So, I think they`ve learned their
I want to read a quote from an Obama, a top Obama strategist that
made me absolutely panicked about what the White House has learned about
the Republican Congress, right after this break.
HAYES: Welcome back. I had not mentioned it is Father`s Day. Happy
Father`s day to all the fathers out there. Dad, we`ll hang out later.
So, this is the quote. I just said there is a quote that I read.
And this is from the Ryan Lizza piece that was in "New Yorker" -- a really
interesting piece. Ryan is a great reporter and always delivers very in-
depth looks at what`s going on behind the scenes.
This is David Plouffe talking to Ryan Lizza in "New Yorker" about
exactly what we have been discussing, which is -- there`s a presidential
election but, of course, there`s Congress and the consequences of divided
government and a consequence of a Republican Party that is implacably
committed to destroying the president to blocking any possible chance at
any improvement or compromise, et cetera.
David Plouffe says, "If both chambers are more evenly divided, it
could be a recipe for actually getting some things done. Because of the
closeness, neither party is going to be able to do anything on its own.
So, either zero gets done for two years or there is a kind of center."
What have you been watching for the last few years?
I mean, Congressman, you work in Congress. Does that strike you as
completely out of touch with the reality of what the -- it seems to me they
still have not grasped the nature of the opposition.
COHEN: Well, I think you`re right because the Republicans want to --
A, McConnell said, we want to beat this president. But, B, they got a
different ideology. They want to destroy all the regulations that control
the financial markets, the regulations that give you clean water and clean
air, a chance to breathe.
I mean, they want totally free market. And they don`t care about it,
and they want to get rid of the inheritance tax. They want the rich to
become richer and the --
HAYES: But, wait a second. It`s not even that, because those are
That, you know, it`s one thing to have an affirmative vision, right?
And Mitt Romney laid out his budget and whatever.
But that`s -- right now, what we`re seeing a party line opposition to
anything getting done that could possibly improve the economy in the short
term. So, just from the perspective economic management, and for the
perspective of cutting some grand bargain on the budget for years to go out
ARMAH: But that quote shows that as much as the Republicans are in
this intimate relationship with paralysis, the Democrats are in a
relationship with delusion.
BERNARD: They`re not understanding it.
ARMAH: David Plouffe is deeply involved in the management of this
second term in the campaign. And to be so off base and so far away from
the reality of what has happened --
HASTINGS: It`s away from the reality of Congress, but it`s not away
from the reality of trying to get that small, independent vote that wants
to think that we need to work with both sides.
HAYES: The question is, does he believe this?
HASTINGS: I`m talking all the time and all they say is, privately,
the Republicans are obstructionists, we can`t work with them. They`re
trying to defeat everything the president is trying to do. So, I think
with a quote like that and a major, you know, piece of magazine journalism,
there`s a bit of the wishful thinking and this is a campaign improved hope
kind of quote.
HAYES: Let`s remember one of the first press conferences that the
president gave after Republicans took the House and Marc Ambinder who is in
with "The Atlantic" got up and said, you know, there is this debt ceiling
that you`re going to hit later this year. And how is that going to work?
Are you going to be able to get the Republican votes for that?
And the president said and looked in the face and said, I think
they`re going to have responsibility. They`re going to -- having actual
power is going to change them and they will not recklessly drive the car
off the cliff.
Fast forward six months and the entire nation in the car as it speeds
towards the cliff. And I think that, you know, that debt ceiling moment, I
thought would open everybody`s eyes about what the nature of this dynamic
is. And I`ll say this, you know, there`s not a member of the Republican
Party per se sitting at the table.
You know, they are pursuing a vision that I think is the detriment to
the country, but, you know, I`m going to give them the benefit of the doubt
and think they think it is better in the long run because Barack Obama is
so bad. But they are pursuing it with total discipline and zealousness --
ARMAH: I don`t think we should underestimate the Republicans`
commitment to the politics of winning, like the reality of what it means to
win. It`s not just about the destruction of the Obama administration, but
the destruction President Obama himself.
I think part of it is absolutely personal. So, it is not that they
don`t accept that the strategy they`re pursuing may not be to the detriment
of the country, but the reality is, they`re offsetting that this means
we`re going to win, that no way that we will not stray off that course.
BERNARD: But you have to sit back and ask yourself. A reasonable
person has to ask --
ARMAH: This is not reasonable, this is about winning.
BERNARD: True. It`s also about a party now where you`re called a
moderate, that`s a bad thing. But how do you win if you disenfranchise
African-Americans, you attack women, you attack Hispanics, you basically
attack most of the country as we know it today and you say to yourself,
this is a winning strategy.
HAYES: Well, I mean --
BERNARD: It makes no sense.
HAYES: Yet, we see what the tracking polls are. I mean, the fact of
the matter is, the defining feature of the electorate continues to be
polarization. It continues to be the fact that there isn`t a lot of space
left over to battle for the mythical swing voter, the unicorn --
ARMAH: The Republicans understand that we`re not willing to
confront. And that is the fact that the polls are so tight, when
everything you just said 101 percent true, means there is something else
that the Republicans are willing to explore that we`re not facing.
You wage a war against women the way the Republicans have. When you
are literally creating this assault against the Voting Rights Act which is
disenfranchising American, when you are against the DREAM Act, which is the
Latino swing vote, you`re against all of those things -- those polls were
in a dead heat. How is that possible with those truths?
HAYES: Well, let me say one thing and then you cued up something
very nicely which we`re going to talk about next which is -- it`s not,
let`s just be clear here. Disenfranchising African-American voters is an
entirely rational, if morally odious way of strategy for the Republicans to
I mean, we know one of the bedrock facts about American politics is
that particularly in the era of Obama, African-Americans are going to vote
9-1 more or less for the president, and against Republicans.
And so, if you could take voters like that off the table in a swing
state like Florida, if you can get 1,000, 2,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 of
those voters to not show up, who are 9-1 against you, you know, it`s
reprehensible from the perspective of everything that we believe about
equality and democracy and self-governance. But just morally, mutually, as
a strategy, it`s not a dumb strategy. Let`s be clear.
BERNARD: But the Democrats then need an equally strong strategy to
reach out to all of these groups to say in their vision for the future of
America, you don`t count. You mean zero.
HAYES: Right. But I think a lot of that -- I guess that point that
pie has already been sliced. You know what I mean? Like people had sort
of figured out what team they`re on and that`s why this election is going
to be 2000 all over again.
HAYES: We`re going to be up at 5:00 in the morning and there`s going
to be like nine votes in some county and one of the -- the only place that
I think there is some wiggle room is one of the big places there is wiggle
room is among Latino and Hispanic voters and that brings us to the game-
changing moment for President Obama on immigration this week, right after
HAYES: Big policy change announced by President Obama on Friday.
Huge news will allow undocumented immigrants who are brought to the United
States as children to remain in the country, unlike the original DREAM Act,
legislation that I remember covering back in 2002, it looks like in my
past, it was introduced in 2001.
The president`s new policy does not award permanent legal status.
Here`s how he described it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Effective immediately,
the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of
deportation from these young people. Over the next few months, eligible
individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety
will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and
apply for work authorization.
Now, let`s be clear: this is not amnesty. This is not immunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: He`s right, because the president cannot award citizenship to
thousands without Congress` approval.
What President Obama has done is put forth what is essentially a
watered down version of the DREAM Act and it is also not coincidentally
very similar to the plan Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The plan basically would award the
kids who meet a certain criteria. They got here by a certain age, have
lived here and graduated from high school and don`t want a criminal record,
want to go to college, and get in essence a student visa, and thereafter, a
work visa. And after some period of time, probably 10 years, we would then
allow them to access the immigration system, just like any non-immigrant
visa holder in the United States would.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But the president in effect calling Republicans bluff on this
issue, Mitt Romney was left to twist and dodge and other Republicans tried
to attack the president while being careful not to actually attack the
substance of the policy.
Senator John McCain accused the president of adding confusion and
uncertainty to the issue and Senator Chuck Grassley said the president`s
action is a, quote, "affront to the process of representative government,"
Joining us now is Lorella Praeli, an undocumented immigrant on the
coordinating committee United We Dream. She`s also a recent college
It`s great to have you back.
LORELLA PRAELI, UNITED WE DREAM: Thank you. Great to be here.
HAYES: How are you feeling? We had you here, I think about a month
and a half ago at the table. You had actually just met with Marco Rubio,
and this was in a political context in which we saw some of the rhetoric on
the Republican side on the primary.
Let me give a little look at what that rhetoric was sounding like in
the Republican primary. Here`s Mitt Romney talking about immigration on
the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Amnesty is a magnet. When
we have had in the past programs that have said that people who are here
legally get to stay legally for the rest of their life, that`s going to
only encourage more people to come here illegally.
But in order to bring people in legally, we`ve got to stop illegal
immigration. That means turning off the magnates of amnesty, in-state
tuition for illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire people that come
here illegally. It is bringing in people who in some cases can be
terrorists and other cases they become burden on our society and we have to
finally have immigration laws that protect our border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right, you`re making notes about being a burden on society.
PRAELI: I`m wondering how he defines that.
HAYES: Yes, what is interesting, that was the rhetoric during the
primary and you don`t see that rhetoric any more. You see Marco Rubio
saying, meeting with you and fellow advocates say, well, maybe we can find
some compromise and then this huge announcement yesterday that did not
precipitate a big Republican backlash.
What does that say to you about where the conversation has moved?
PRAELI: I think we`re in a completely different place in this
country. So, I think many things have happened that led to this moment.
It`s important to recognize the role that Senator Rubio has played. He`s
opened up a lot of space for this to happen for the conversation to take
And I think the country is finally recognizing the presence of dream
youth, the contributions that we have made, and the contributions that we
made to execute our professional degrees.
HAYES: I want you to talk about the movement that you have been part
of and helped put together and walk us through the arc of this
administration which began with doubling down on enforcement, record
deportations and has moved steadily in a direction that has culminated, for
now, with Friday`s announcement.
How do we get from there to here?
PRAELI: It`s been a long journey. There`s a sense that, you know,
this just happened all of a sudden out of nowhere. This has been years of
work by people who have done it before I got onboard.
So, there was the trail of dreams early on in 2010 where four
dreamers walked from Florida to Washington, D.C., to deliver this message.
Not even just about the DREAM Act, the specific message to the president --
HAYES: Which is stop deporting people who would be DREAM eligible.
PRAELI: Exactly, exactly.
So, since then and I mean, I think we realize at the end of 2010 that
people weren`t ready for this. America was ready for this, but Congress
wasn`t ready to act. Or not ready, but they were unwilling to act. I
think it`s important to say that. Fell five votes short of passing.
And so, we had to figure out what can actually happen in this country
and what do we do to make it happen. And that`s where we said, the
executive has the authority, the legal authority to do what we`re asking
him to do.
HAYES: There was a change of strategy from a congressional strategy
to executive strategy?
PRAELI: Absolutely. Absolutely. The congressional -- for us, you
know, the only, a permanent solution can only be achieved in Congress. And
we`re very aware of that. We`re committed to making that happen.
But in the meantime, in the interim, the president can act. He`s
done his job. You know, him speaking on Friday, that was huge. And now he
just has to implement this fully the way that he`s described it.
HAYES: I want to talk about the implementation. I want to talk
about the previous attempt to implement a similar policy, which did not
work very well and what separates this and we`ll also talk to a member of
Congress who has been at the forefront of pushing for not only the DREAM
Act, but comprehensive immigration reform, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you`ve done everything
right your entire life. Studied hard, worked hard and maybe even graduated
at the top of your class, only to suddenly face the threat of deportation
to a country that you know nothing about, with the language that you may
not even speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the president making the empathetic case for why this
is just right thing to do. Of course, those deportations were happening
under his watch and accelerated, right? I mean, that is where this started
in terms of the Obama administration and we ended up here, you talked about
the strategy of people pushing for the DREAM Act, changing from Congress to
When you made that strategic shift, how did you try to apply that
pressure and to push for this?
PRAELI: I think we had done that last year and then it didn`t -- it
wasn`t until this year, the beginning of this year we said, okay, we need
to redefine what we`re doing. Plus, Antonio Vargas` writing has helped us
and opened up and shifted the narrative in this country in many ways.
And so, once we decided to develop an internal and external strategy,
we had a national day of action May 17th. So, we were making this an
issue. We were raising awareness about this.
And then, internally, we were also meeting with White House
officials, with Senator Rubio and with many folks and it`s important to say
that I think a big turning point was when 96 professors, the brightest
legal minds in this country wrote a letter to President Obama saying, you
have the legal authority to do this. There was no longer a question about
the legal objection here.
HAYES: I want to bring in Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat
from Illinois who has been incredibly active on this issue for a long time,
since I covered him back in Chicago.
Congressman, it`s great to have you. Thanks for coming on.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Pleasure to be with you, Chris,
HAYES: I want to get your reaction to the president`s announcement
on Friday. Both, what it means for people and what it means politically
and what it means for the prospects of actual, congressional action on this
GUTIERREZ: Well, first of all, I want to congratulate the president
of the United States for taking this step. I know he didn`t want to do it.
I know that his friends, his allies, people who care a great deal about his
success because we believe that his success is America`s success engaged
him, forcefully, in a conversation and in a dialogue, and in the end he
sided with us. That sometimes is not very easily done.
We met with him in December of 2010. And I do want to put this in
perspective. We passed the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives, 216-
198. Eight Republicans joined 208 Democrats.
You know what? Fifty-one Democratic senators two weeks later in the
Senate said we`re for the DREAM Act with four Republicans. They stopped it
from happening. So, to -- I think we need to put it in perspective.
And then we met with the president just days before Christmas in
2010, and the president said to us, I`m going to take steps to protect the
immigrant community from an executive, but we need to discuss that.
We took the memorandum to the president in February of 2011. We said
you have the executive authority. We had three general councils of the
INS, we had ample background. The president has from a legislative point
of view, since 1997, the immigration reform, that the authority to do this.
And, so, we said, Mr. President, use it.
If you remember last August, he issued his memorandum for discretion.
Many dreamers, their deportations were canceled on the basis of that.
But, you know what? Many were still being caught up in the
immigration system. Millions of American citizen children, their parents
were being deported and separated and they had no criminal background and
we needed to fix this immigration.
So, we continue to engage this president. I mean, Senator Durbin and
the problem many times in understanding how it is something arise before
the public is that, you know, we engage the president privately. We engage
the president many times quietly. And many times I haven`t done it
GUTIERREZ: But, in this case, we said, you know what we think is
important is to reach the goal. And, so, I just want to say that, you
know, we had to meet with Janet Napolitano. I mean, there were those of us
who were this close, Chris, to simply asking for her resignation.
Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Durbin and the kind of work they did
needs to be heralded and needs to be acknowledged in this process.
So, I`m very proud to be part of a process that has begun over 10
years ago to bring about comprehensive immigration reform and to say this
is important. And let me just try to suggest to you from the immigrant
community`s perspective, immigration reform is a human right struggle, a
civil right struggle. So, I want you to think in 60 days when the DREAM
students, 800,000 strong are going to be able to apply for work visa. It`s
like 800,000 gay men and women being able to get married, or 800,000
African-Americans finally being able to vote.
It`s going to be significant and I want to thank the president for
taking that kind of step forward.
HAYES: Congressman, I want you to stay with us because we`re not
only going to talk about what produced Friday, but where we go from here,
right after this break.
HAYES: We have Congressman Luis Gutierrez on the line and we have
Lorella Praeli talking about how yes, Friday`s announcement of the
president`s immigration policy for dreamers, DREAM eligible young folks
like yourself who came here as children, how that came about.
When you started -- the congressman talked about pressure on the
inside, pressure on the outside, conversations in the White House, very
loud conversations happening outside the White House. Were there people
telling you to back off when you started -- go.
PRAELI: Absolutely. I would say even many progressives were telling
us, don`t do this, it`s an important year and you don`t want to put the
spotlight on the president.
And we were saying we don`t work for President Obama or the Democrats
or the Republicans. We have a responsibility to our community and there`s
an opportunity here. The president should be doing his job and we`re going
to go after that.
HAYES: The irony, of course, is that in pushing the president to
make this decision, Congressman, what you saw from the Republican reaction
says a lot to me about actually, this not just being the right policy on
the merits, but being the right policy politically, because the reaction
gives it away in that sense.
GUTIERREZ: It does, Chris.
Let me suggest to you that getting arrested in front of the White
House two years in a row after we worked so hard to elect this president
was not easy, but I think it was important. Not just I, but many activists
for the last three and a half years have been around this country
challenging this president.
But let me just say the action he took from a person who has been
very critical of this president and has publicly stated this -- that the
action he took is significant and meaningful and it is already beginning
from the moment he made that announcement to heal the kind of preying that
occurred between a huge Latino community that came out in gangbusters in
2008 to help elect him president and moving forward. And, yes, you see the
So, now you see this very stark contrast, one that we wanted. What
did Latinos want? They wanted him to fight. They wanted to shine a light
on injustice and unfairness and to be our champion. What he did on Friday
was, I`m your champion.
And you know what? It may come a little later than you wanted, but
he is our champion and that`s what people wanted to see him do.
So, you got Mitt Romney who says that the dreamers should simply
self-deport and he would veto the DREAM Act and a Barack Obama who is
saying, I will use the authority that I have as president to make sure you
can stay here because what we have to do is stop the deportation because
this will allow us to incorporate.
GUTIERREZ: Don`t think that after we pass comprehensive immigration
reform, which we will do eventually, we`re simply going to say, oh, we were
just kidding, why don`t you just come on back.
GUTIERREZ: Once you are deported, you are basically gone from the
HAYES: In some ways, I think the irony of this whole thing, I think
from talking to folks around the White House and some of the advocates,
also, the White House thought that the increasing of deportation doubling
down in enforcement was going to create the political space to move things
I mean, the president said that explicitly in the State of the Union.
He said to Congress, I`ve gotten tough on immigration, so, now we can have
But, of course, that was not how it played out.
GUTIERREZ: It wasn`t how it played out because Republicans don`t
want to see action.
GUTIERREZ: In 2004, I and Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy
introduced comprehensive. It was bipartisan, it was bicameral and my
colleague, Congressman Flake, was the co-sponsor with me, right? We did it
together in the House. It was Flake-Gutierrez and when we took over the
majority, it was Gutierrez-Flake.
And now, Congressman Flake is out there in Arizona campaigning as
though that never happened. And, of course, he`d like nothing better than
me to go denounce him because he --
HAYES: Congressman, you should --
GUTIERREZ: You have to understand, we no longer have that
partnership. So, the president had to act because Congress would not.
HAYES: Congressman, I want you to stick around because I want to
talk about the possibility of this being something that happens in the
second term and there is a really interesting quote that was given in an
article this week that suggested that might be the case. And I also want
to talk about heckling on the White House lawn, right after we come back.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With me this morning, I have Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of
Tennessee, Lorella Praeli from immigrant advocacy group Connecticut
Students for a Dream, "Rolling Stone" magazine`s Michael Hastings, and
Esther Armah, from New York`s WBAI FM. We also have Congressman Luis
Gutierrez live in Chicago.
Lorella, I wanted you to explain a little bit, we don`t have to get
too into the weeds of way this -- this is not an executive order, we should
mention, first of all. That was the more partisan executive order. It`s
not an executive order.
LORELLA PRAELI, CONNECTICUT STUDENTS FOR DREAM: It is not.
HAYES: It is a cabinet level directive that comes from Janet
Napolitano and it is an update -- it is different than the memo of
prosecutorial discretion, which was issued earlier this year which was us
basically saying, hey, frontline immigration workers who are dealing with
who we should go after and who we shouldn`t. These are the metrics you
should use to decide whether it`s a smart use of the government resources
to go after person "A," Lorella Praeli, for instance.
And it basically said, look, if you have someone in your
circumstance, a dreamer, don`t deport them. And that was insufficient,
right? A lot of problem at the ground level getting that to flow through
the bureaucracy and be implemented.
So, how did this announcement on Friday differ and what difference is
it making in the lives of folks right now?
PRAELI: This is a class basis of deferred action, basically. And
that is discretionary determination to defer the removal action of an
individual as prosecutorial discretion.
HAYES: OK. What does that mean?
PRAELI: And that basically means it`s a stopgap measure. It`s a
temporary relief for a specific group of folks.
HAYES: The point is that, the assumption is that anyone who meets
the criteria, right, they can actually affirmative apply. That`s the key
It`s not that you just have to sit and hope there is no knock on the
door, right? They can affirmatively apply and get immigration papers that
allow them to stay in the country legally, even if it`s not citizenship.
PRAELI: Right. This does not count for someone`s lawful status.
But it -- what it does is it protects someone, right? It protects this
category of individuals from being deported, from living a life in fear and
from being able to live their lives fully.
So, this is huge for people, for the dreamers who have been fighting
for this, the president is exercising, finally, exercising his
MICHAEL HASTINGS, ROLLING STONE: I mean stepping back, obviously,
there`s lives at stake and, you know, obviously these policies very
critical for how this plays out for a generation of undocumented workers.
But as the kind of horse race, political guy at the table at the moment --
HAYES: What does it do for the polling, Michael?
HASTINGS: You know, what to do to the polling, exactly. One of the
most amazing things this week is watching the Obama campaign send out e-
mail after e-mail calling this another Mitt Romney etch-a-sketch moment.
What they mean by that is that we`re seeing in real-time, in
excruciating detail how Mitt Romney is flip-flopping on this critical
issue. This was a guy who back during the primaries, as you showed earlier
in the clip, who was savagely against any kind of immigration reform. Who
when Rick Perry even suggested that you show some compassion, blew a gasket
HAYES: More than that. Let`s remember, that the way Rick Perry,
right, was going to be the great hope, right? He showed up and basically
Mitt Romney pulled out this machete called the DREAM Act which had been
passed in Texas. And he just stuck it in Rick Perry`s gut over and over
and totally dispatched him from the race using this issue, by demagoguing
on this issue, saying you are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars of
discounted tuitions to illegal, illegals, illegals, illegals, illegals.
So, let`s just remember the context here.
HASTINGS: Now, he`s like -- well, Marco Rubio says this, I`m going
to hide behind Marco Rubio.
HASTING: I mean, it`s been amazing.
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI FM: I think one point for me was the political
capital that the president is absolutely going to gain with Latinos in
Florida, which is a huge swing state for the general election, because
when, in his State of the Union Address, he literally spoke about he`s
going to up the deportations and we saw record numbers in 2011. He was now
playing politics with the Republican Party about, if I do this for you,
maybe we can get something from you.
But what he had done was abandon the mandate of the people that put
them into office in the first place. And with his movement, he has
literally switched back to the direction of the people.
I wanted to ask you about what that`s going to mean not just for the
Latino vote, but for capturing his 2008 hope and change kind of platform
that he ran on.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: If I could, Congress --
HAYES: Please, Congressman.
GUTIERREZ: I think it`s important to understand that 2 million more
Latinos voted in 2008 than 2004.
HAYES: Exactly. That 500,000 Latinos turn 18 every year. They have
been doing that for the last three and a half years.
Let me tell you what this is going to allow him to do. This is
important. This is a significant move on his part, gesture on his part,
initiative on his part, that a whole community of people.
You know what they`re going to see during September and October, the
two months before the election? They`re going to see up to 800,000 people
who we know. I mean, these are our family members. We go to church with
them. We go to school with them. They`re an integral part of who we are.
And the community is going to say, God, there are 11 million
undocumented, we care for them all. What a great, courageous first step.
So, they are going to see them gaining relief. And the difference
was, when we got the prosecutorial discretion, we were so angry and
frustrated because just like the Barack Obama administration, they`ll do a
GUTIERREZ: What they said, if we catch you, dreamer, we`ll let you
go, if you apply for prosecutorial discretion. This is an affirmative
action, as you suggest, Chris. Now, they don`t have to wait to get caught.
In 60 days, they`ll be able to kind of turn themselves in and as they turn
themselves in, they`ll be gaining a work permit, a driver`s license and be
able to integrate.
And let me just say, it`s renewable for another two years. But what
we have to understand I think also is, there are 11 million. Just like the
wonderful, young graduate student that you have on your program this
morning, who I want to congratulate for their tenacity, for their
creativity, for the vigor in which they`ve engaged us all in this debate --
I want to say I want her mom, I want her dad and the millions of moms and
dads that are out there to one day also be able to live free in this
country, and we need to continue to work on that.
HAYES: That brings me, Congressman, and, Lorella, I`d like you to
sort of close on this, which is, the question of the prospects for actual
comprehensive reform, right? The president did have the authority to do
this based on finding a bunch of legal professors and this is well within
the bounds of the executive, but any kind of permanent change to the
landscape is going to have to come through Congress.
Very quickly, here`s a quote from Ryan Lizza. "The White House is so
convinced of the centrality of Hispanics in the current election and its
aftermath that Plouffe told me he had been preparing for months for an
onslaught of advertisements from a pro-Romney group attacking Obama from
the left on immigration, arguing Obama`s deportation and border security
policies have been too draconian."
In that same article, right, worried about being attacked from the
left, they imagine a scenario in which Barack Obama is re-elected and
Republicans, once again, having gotten killed among Latino workers finally
understand they have to do something about that and that creates the
conditions for comprehensive immigration reform in the second term.
Congressman, do you see that as a likely scenario?
GUTIERREZ: I do. I do see it because you know what? I really this
step and the election is really getting everybody ready.
The election will be over, we`ll have four years. The president will
make this an initiative that is important to him and his legacy. And, let
me just say, I remember in September of 2010, it was Harry Reid fighting
for his life out in Nevada saying we`re going to support the DREAM Act and
he got savagely attacked for two years. And you know what? He won that
HAYES: That`s right.
GUTIERREZ: We won Colorado. We won California . And we kept the
majority in the Senate because Democrats stood up for immigrants.
The president is going to stand up for immigrants and Latinos. You
have to understand -- I think you have to understand one thing is that
Latinos look at you first and say, are you percent being kind? And are you
being good with immigrants? And if you are, I will listen to you on other
The president has taken a bold step, and he`s going to be rewarded, I
know, very handsomely.
HAYES: People who are very good in politics are figuring out who`s
on their side.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois, and Lorella
Praeli from the immigrant advocacy group Connecticut Students for a Dream -
- thank you, both, for your time this morning.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: What changing demographics mean for the presidential election
and nation, right after this.
HAYES: In 2008, President Obama won both Virginia and North
Carolina. His campaign as able to seize upon Democratic changes to win
states that were historically out of reach for Democrats. He was the first
Democrat to win Virginia in 44 years.
Those demographic changes at play in 2008 have only continued. 2010
census data showed that in previous decades three quarters of black
population gains occurred in the South. During the same time period,
nonwhites and Hispanics accounted for 98 percent of population growth in
large, metro areas. These changes will help decide the presidential
At the same time, major cities are experiencing different phenomenon,
commonly referred to as gentrification.
This week, Michael Petrelli from the Thomas B. Fordham Institution
released a list based on Census data of the 25 fastest whitening zip codes
in the country. Not surprisingly, Brooklyn led the way with four zip codes
and Washington, D.C., with three. The discussion around gentrification
often centers around white people displacing non-white residents who have
lived in a neighborhood for generations.
On a national level, we see the opposite narrative as people across
the country grapple the fact that we, as a nation, are becoming less white.
The question is, how an increasingly diverse nation is going to get
along, or going to live together and overcome the tension that genuine
integration and diversity can sometimes produce.
Michelle Bernard from the Bernard Center for Women Politics and
Public Policy is back with us at the table now.
I also want to bring in the one and only Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the
finest writers you can find on the Internet, senior editor at "The
Atlantic," and Michael Bell is rejoining us. He`s been a professor of
architecture at Columbia University and principal at Visible Weather
Gentlemen, it`s great to have you here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
You know, the thing I find fascinating about the process of what we
call gentrification, I think we should get into what that looks like and
the complexities of it because you`ve written some interesting stuff about
how we oversimplify it in racial terms. You know, the question to me is,
if you look at what are diverse neighborhoods, often diverse neighborhoods
are neighborhoods that simply are in the process of changing, right?
So, in the, you know, the Bronx, in the neighborhood of the Bronx my
mom grew up in, right, that was a diverse neighborhood in a period because
a tremendous amount of white flight happening and immigration from African-
Americans and neighborhood in Brooklyn now that are diverse are diverse
because white folks are moving in and in many case displacing black and
The question is, is there a stable equilibrium of genuine
integration, right? Can we produce a system, can we produce the policies,
can we produce and the cultural norms that create -- you`re smiling
bemusedly, Michael, like this is too much to ask.
I mean, do we have -- is that a possibility or are we just going to
be a nation that is sealed and self-segregated as we get more and more
MICHAEL BELL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: The reason I`m smiling is because
it`s not because I`m amused, it`s a huge issue. It`s an issue that has the
kind of history to it, of course. It`s a question going forward.
And if you look at it historically, you can look at it in any number
of ways, but gentrification, one the term invented around what terms is it
adjudicated. But it has everything to do with who is in a place and why
did they feel unstable?
But going forward, the reason -- one reason I`m smiling is that I
think going forward, the pressure that is on cities to change, going
forward, the kind of modernization of cities, again, as a kind of paradigm
that`s efficient. In other words, if you see a city like New York, a
centralized city as an efficient model of the carbon footprint and
everything else kind of pushing towards deeper urbanization, what does
gentrification mean going forward as it meant, for example, in the `60s
when displacement meant something different, or in the `70s.
HAYES: Well, isn`t that -- Michelle?
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: I`ll talk mostly about
Washington, D.C., which an area I`m more familiar with. If you look in the
areas in the metropolitan area that we say that are undergoing
gentrification, they started off primarily as low-income areas heavily
populated by African-Americans and Hispanics and there`s a period of time
in many areas where you see, where you see the mixing of the neighborhoods
and you see, you know, upper middle class whites moving in, you see
African-Americans, you see Hispanics of all socioeconomic levels living
together, and then eventually you get to what you`re talking bout where the
area becomes predominantly white and everyone has moved out.
I don`t know so much, though, at least in the Washington area,
whether or not that is because people are uncomfortable with one another or
what you see is that housing prices go up.
BERNARD: The cost of living escalates so much that a lot of the low-
income people that lived in these neighborhoods have to find somewhere else
to live. I don`t know what kind of policies government can enact to do
something to change that.
TA-NEHISI COATES, THEATLANTIC.COM: I think that it`s really
important to take history in account here. We had our own little
conversation back in the green room, sorry, you didn`t get that on camera.
HAYES: Yes, man.
COATES: But one of the important things to recognize is that
government did produce segregation. That was the result of policy,
redlining policies of private, public partnership where you were block
busting. You know, this was redlining. These are laws. These are
actually policies that happened.
So, we use terms like white flight as, though, you know, it`s just
sort of, you know?
HAYES: Out of nowhere, people just express their preference. That`s
a very good point.
COATES: This is policy. This is policy.
So, we know we can produce segregation, you know? So, I don`t see
why we can`t necessarily produce integration.
HAYES: Well, in part of, I mean, the people that are looking at
gentrification, right, say the same thing. That part of this, yes, in the
future the desirability of people, people do like increasingly living in
high density areas, particularly (INAUDIBLE). But part of it is policy,
right? There are things being done.
I want to, I want to talk about the political tension that can create
and read a really, really provocative quote from Marion Barry about keeping
Washington black, right after this.
HAYES: Ta-Nehisi, I want to read you this quote from Marion Berry on
gentrification, because the fact of the matter is, look, politics -- I
mean, look, I grew up in the Bronx, right? My dad was community organizer
and I grew up in New York. I lived in Chicago. I lived in D.C.
City politics to me are in some ways the most fascinating politics
because that`s where like the most raw stuff is happening, right? It`s
like these people look like me and those people don`t, and these people
have jobs and these people don`t, and it`s like you have real conflict
there and the ways that cities when they do succeed in managing that
conflict to create that diversity we all love is incredible. But the
flipside of it can be a lot of tension and conflict.
And this is Marion Barry, talking about gentrification in March 2001,
saying, "We`re going to stop this trend gentrification. The key to keeping
this city black is jobs, jobs, jobs for black people so they can have a
better quality of life in the neighborhoods in the city. I believe in
integration, but I don`t believe in the apartheid we have in Ward 8."
He`s talking about a specific neighborhood in the city.
Is keeping a city black a proper or appropriate goal?
COATES: No. No. And especially not appropriate or proper in D.C.,
I don`t think. I think the key is opportunity.
And if you look at why D.C. is experiencing these demographic trends
which goes back to Marian Barry`s mayorship, it needs to be pointed out,
it`s because a lot of African-Americans have gained some amount of wealth
and moved out to Prince George`s County. I believe Prince George`s County
is the only jurisdiction in the country that got richer and blacker at the
So, I mean, we have to be really, really careful about this. You
know, obviously, I`m very liberal, you know, and want there to be equality
of opportunity as we often talk about, but we need to make sure that`s
exactly what -- you know, when we discuss this, that`s what we`re talking
I need to add in something else. Watching this turn with Marion
Barry, particularly -- I mean, most people know him as the mayor who smoked
crack, that`s how he`s known. He used to be something much more than a
kind of doctrinaire, nationalist borderline racist. So, watching him to go
into this rhetoric where he is talking about preserving his own political
power. That`s his ultimate goal.
HAYES: But ethnic demagoguery in cities is always about that, at a
certain level, right?
COATES: It`s a little better than this at one point, actually. I
BERNARD: I looked back. First of all, wanting to keep a city black
is not, it`s not a proper goal. It`s not a moral goal.
Washington, D.C., has been fondly known for so many years as
Chocolate City, but because it`s predominantly African-Americans, but also
because there are large numbers of African-Americans that live in the city
that are highly educated that are doing very, very well. They`re raising
their children. Their children have access to excellent education and it
seems to me that if we`re going to talk about how we sort of stave this
off, you know, government can`t come in and say, when white people move
into the neighborhood and housing prices go up we`re just going to make
sure they don`t go up too high.
What the proper role of government here should be and city mayor
should be, and state legislature should be, as well as the federal
government should be, is to make sure that we put every single American in
a place where they are able to get a great education and be able to move
forward and realize the American dream.
HAYES: And also afford housing. I think one of the issues --
HAYES: Yes? That`s not what the policy framework is right now.
If you state it as keeping a city black, I think that sort of sets
certain alarm bells. If you say there are people living in this places
that have ties to these places, and you know, dense neighborhoods near jobs
and transportation are a good places to live and particularly for folks
that don`t have a lot of other opportunities, we don`t want to push them
out to the extremities, right, which is also something we`ve seen happening
and that`s what our policy framework is right now.
BELL: Well, I grew up in Prince George`s County, right on the
northeast corner of Washington, D.C. And without revealing my birthday,
all I can remember, which is fine, 1960. Without -- but I feel like my
entire teenage years in childhood, you could sense not only the change, but
the tension in the change.
But the reason I bring that up is not to make it personal in any way
but to say there`s a scenario where over that period of time, the suburbs
and cities were changing and the mechanics of that was legal, political,
economic, social and everything else.
It tends to get discussed largely on the social level. In other
words, that friction you`re discussing. You are not like me, you have a
job, I don`t have a job, et cetera, et cetera.
But I think what I always feel like as a huge struggle is bringing
more of a public discourse up to the level of the mechanics of what exactly
is going on, so that people can discuss it less confrontationally.
HAYES: Let`s talk about the policy and not necessarily as a natural
-- I mean, that`s a really good point. Segregation was not just revealed
natural preference. It was a set of policy frameworks.
But, Congressman, I want to bring you in to this conversation because
you have this unique role in American political life. It really is. It`s
a unique role in American political life, which is that you are the only
white member of Congress who represents a majority black district. And so,
so your entire political life is transcending the kind of politics that we
see sometimes in their worst incarnation at the city level.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: I think in Memphis we`ve seen my
constituency showed that race has become less important. It`s still
important, but less important and they respond to issues and to commitment
and to results.
And, in Memphis, we don`t have so much gentrification. We were
blessed with -- cursed with and then blessed with a lot of non-developed
space in the downtown area. And it`s something you have to see. Henry
Chorley (ph) did this phenomenal job in developed housing, which is
integrated downtown. It was a new place and people had an opportunity to
move in and they were economically privileged, but it`s been an integrated
communities in downtown and uptown.
HAYES: One of the points made when you go through the list of what
they`re showing right now, the whitening zip codes, is that a lot of those
are places that haven`t gone Roanoke, for instance, downtown Roanoke. You
know, it wasn`t it was majority black and now it`s majority white. It was
that no one is living in downtown Roanoke and a bunch of white folks moved
So, that`s a different kind of gentrification, I think much less
fraught, which is when you have areas that are nonresidential, that are
post-industrial uses or whatever, people live in them, there is a
I want to talk, though, about what policies create gentrification,
how that can be problematic sometimes in terms of displacement. An example
here in Brooklyn, with the new Brooklyn Nets, right after this.
HAYES: Talking about gentrification and diversity and integration.
I mean, that to me here is the key thing. The reason that integration is
so important as I said at the top is that`s -- you now, we are going to be
a more diverse nation, right?
So, at the micro-level, right, when we`re like living close to each
other, how do we create the conditions to produce integration, diversity,
harmony -- even if I could sound like a hippy for a moment.
And, Michael Bell, there is a policy framework that is at play here.
One of those is, you know, we see a lot of development incentives, even in
a place like downtown Brooklyn that has -- that is already a hot real
estate area. There`s still -- the city is still giving tremendous
And we saw a huge, huge epic titanic battle over the Barclays Center,
which is where the new Brooklyn Nets are going to play. And there was a
multi-racial coalition of people in the area fighting it.
Some people say that`s classic not in my backyard, they don`t like
developments. Some people will say, no, it`s going to destroy the
diversity of the neighborhood and displace people.
And, clearly, the Nets are a little worried about this. Need to take
a look at this trailer as they sell themselves to their new neighborhood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: We`ve also been the underdogs, waiting for our chance.
And now, Brooklyn, we root for the same cause, because we believe in the
same things you do. That neighborhood is family. And loyalty never goes
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I love that because it`s just like --
BERNARD: I like it.
HAYES: It`s good, but it`s addressing -- what do you, when you see
big development plans like Barclays Center, when you see incentives being
given for development, what do you make of that as policy?
BELL: Well, you know, first of all, I was just going to say, I`m an
architect but I got deeply involved with urban design and housing, largely
trying to figure out how to be an architect. And when you teach, you have
to contextualize what you do. And architects often feel embattled and
empowered in these big situations.
So, the reason I say that, if you look at something like the
Barclay`s Center and that redevelopment, unlike Memphis or Houston or
anywhere else -- I mean, it`s a transit issue, for example. That zone, I
think, has 13 subway lines and the city knew it was a deeply undervalued
So, the degree to which it`s gentrification or urban development,
it`s also a kind of transit question.
I think the other side of it you have to look at Barclays Center
after 9/11. The city really made a major effort at rezoning countless
places in an effort both to increase density and livability, et cetera.
Well, maybe not livability -- but to combat job loss to New Jersey or to
So, that, that, the gentrification issues there are real, but it was
already, I could get a lot of flak for contextualizing it this way, but
it`s in a much broader macro problem, too, which is cost of transportation,
which is good for the working class.
HAYES: Part of the -- part of the issue here, this is something I
wrote about when I lived in Chicago, is that you -- part of the problem
we`ve seen with development in major urban areas, remember, that urban
population actually grew for the first time, right, in -- I don`t know if
it was between 1990 and 2000 when it grew for the first time in the major,
in the top major ten cities -- inside the city boundaries, not the metro
areas. Metro areas always grow.
That you`re seeing a greater space grow up between where jobs are and
where affordable housing is, right? I mean, I saw this in Chicago where,
you know, increasingly, particularly during the housing boom, folks --
working class folk have to move further and further and further and further
outside the city 40, 50, 60 miles, the jobs were on some other side, the
huge community as a result.
COATES: I was going to say, you know, two things that have higher
conversations and that will get brought up.
COATES: OK. So, the first thing is, there`s a wealth gap -- a huge
wealth gap between African-Americans and the rest of the country, really,
but particularly between African-Americans and white Americans. We often
ask housing policy to answer for that.
COATES: But a much bigger macro issue that I don`t know that housing
policy can necessarily solve.
The second thing is you want serves and we all want services in our
community and we want good commerce in our community, we want diverse
commerce in our community, we all want better schools.
How in the world do you get those things and not expect prices to --
housing prices to rise?
COATES: And as long as you have that wealth gap, and as long as
you`re asking for those things, I don`t know how you resolve that tension
HAYES: That`s a great point. If a neighborhood has good
transportation, a good housing stock, good schools, then it`s a desirable
neighborhood. The price for which will get bid up.
COATES: I mean, in New York, there`s always this thing is, I wish it
was 1978, again. I mean --
HAYES: Is it, really?
COATES: It was the idea it was cooler then or something like that.
It`s like -- I mean, really, do you want to go back to the past? Do you
want a slum in service of it remaining black or remaining as it was?
HAYES: But, I think that`s straw man. Is anyone really arguing for
COATES: No, but it`s -- I mean, we`re on cable TV --
COATES: I forgot I was on your show, though.
BERNARD: I was going to raise my question and really to the
congressman. If you go and look, for example, at Marion Barry`s Ward 8 in
Washington, D.C. It`s one of the poorest areas in the Washington
metropolitan area. And if you look at that neighborhood and neighborhoods
like that across the country, I sit back and ask myself, why is it, for
example, you can`t get premium grocery stores?
BERNARD: Why can`t you get good public schools -- you know, really
highly effective public schools in that neighborhood? Why is it that these
children that live in these neighborhoods are forced to live in for the
most part what is a food desert and what can we do from a policy
perspective so that integration or gentrification aside, people can live
wherever they want to live and have the services that they deserve.
So, my question to you is -- I mean, what can be done from a policy
perspective because that`s the real problem?
HAYES: Congressman, I want you to answer that question, but we have
to take a quick break, first.
HAYES: I`m seeing on Twitter just an update we were talking about
immigration. Mike Allen is reporting Romney twice declines to say if he
would undo Obama`s immigration order. That`s going to be interesting to
see if he can make it to November without answering that question. I
suspect he can`t.
Michelle Bernard, you are asking the congressman, you know, how do
you create a policy framework that allows for there to be amenities and
opportunities and publicly accessible public goods, even in neighborhoods
BERNARD: Yes, that are low-income neighborhoods.
COHEN: We put a bill in, because we`ve got food deserts in Memphis,
which most inner cities have to give incentives to grocery stores to move
in to the inner city. It hasn`t moved and it`s not going to move until
there is a Democratic Congress that can move.
There can be tax policies that do direct and give opportunity for
Michelle Obama is doing a great job and there`s a lot of gardens and
farms that are starting to kind of in the inner cities and people growing
their own in the legal way.
HAYES: I thought you made that distinction for our audience.
COHEN: Walgreen`s talked about doing more vegetables and fruits in
the inner cities. I encourage them to come to Memphis first and I want
them to come on Dr. King`s birthday and publicize our (INAUDIBLE) with the
balls and have it there.
But there`s opportunities and I think American industry and
Walgreen`s for one, sees it and they`re going to start trying to do it.
But it`s tough.
HAYES: One of the things I think on a federal level, we should also
note, when you`re talking about that, is that look -- I mean, this is a
place where at the level of federal policy, cities, particularly the
actual, not just metro areas and actual in-city boundaries and dense urban
areas are entirely represented essentially by Democrats in Congress.
They do not vote for Republicans and they are completely -- the
Republicans don`t care about them more or less from -- I`m not saying this
because they`re bad people, I`m saying from a political constituency
standpoint, they don`t represent them, they`re not getting their votes.
That`s not where the influence. Urban policy and this kind of thing is
just not going to move very much unless there is a Democratic Congress or
Michael, let`s talk about the role that subsidies play because that`s
a big part of it. I mean, Ta-Nehisi, you`re saying you`re covering the
fight over Wal-Mart coming into the west side of Chicago. Development
doesn`t happen just in a vacuum and a lot of times the government is
actually -- when you see these big stadium deals, for instance, in most
cases just totally scandalous, right, and just absolutely taxpayer footing
the bill --
BERNARD: Ours was not scandalous in D.C., I have to say. I cheered
the agency that did it. We literally did a public/private partnership, Abe
Pollin paid $200 million of his own money.
HAYES: That one. Exactly, you`re talking about the arena.
BERNARD: The MCIA Arena, which is now the Verizon Center.
HAYES: Yes, the Verizon Center.
But we see this as a rule, right? I mean, that government
subsidizing private interest to develop.
BELL: I think some of these things which, you know, as an architect,
you end up trying to find out what`s controlling this world. Architects
love to think they have a lot to do with shaping territory, but they, of
course, have not that much.
I mean, just in the case of New York City the other night, had a
conference around the foreclosed show, which is why I was here the last
time, the housing development agency for the city, he made an incredibly
lucid argument about the billions and billions of dollars that New York
City has spent on trying to produce affordable housing the last 20 years.
But his point wasn`t success or failure, but the degree to which the
world we have is far from organic.
BELL: And it is laden with directives and initiatives and, in his
case, this was a positive thing. I bring it because we were talking about
unintended consequences before we came on. The Brooke Amendments in 1969
set public housing rent rolls at 30 percent of household main income and it
was meant to be a positive thing in the broadest sense. It was Senator
Brooke from Massachusetts, but ended up, basically, diminishing the
diversity within public housing because it raised the rent on certain
So people whose rent went up left and you ended up with more of a
homogenous stratum of a demographic, which by 1998, the Quality Work and
Housing Responsibility Act starts to try to undo and produced more mixed
So, I think this, to me -- the reason I made the personal statement
of growing up in D.C., I feel that there is a life-long process of trying
to understand how the world we live in was made, but we`re negotiating it
very personally. If we`re in need of a store, it`s a very personal issue.
Why the store isn`t there is not a personal issue.
COATES: I want to -- again, I got to raise this point because we`re
talking about race. It`s very important that we remember that some people
don`t like the city. If you are like me and you grew up in a neighborhood
in a city where you did not have space, a lawn, a big house -- this was a
sign of wealth.
And what we`re seeing right now is a large number of really middle
class African-Americans fleeing our cities and moving down south where
housing is cheaper and you can get that big lawn.
These people are not crying. You know, that`s not to diminish the
issue of gentrification, not to give ammo to say that we shouldn`t have
policy, but I think that`s really, really important.
HAYES: That massive demographic shift that is happening, which is
really remarkable. I think in some ways an untold story because we all
know the story of the great northern migration. That`s one of the iconic
stories in the history of American --
COATES: And the people going back are in much better shape, much
better educated. They make more money compared to the people who came up,
to their forefathers who came up. So, I think that`s important to
HAYES: Michael Bell, Columbia professor of architecture, Ta-Nehisi
Coates from "The Atlantic" magazine -- great to have you here on this
discussion. We`ll do it again.
BELL: Thank you very much.
HAYES: What we should know for the news week ahead, coming up next.
HAYES: Just in a moment, what you should know for the week ahead.
But, first, a quick personal update. My book "Twilight of the Elite" is on
And next week, I`ll be appearing in events at Washington, D.C. I`ll
be there Monday, tomorrow night, and Tuesday night. And I`ll be in Chicago
on Thursday night.
You can check out "The Twilight of the Elite" Facebook page for more
details, information about upcoming appearances. We`d love to see you.
So, what should you know for the week coming up?
We should know that thanks to a new homeland security directive,
approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants under 30 years old who came
here in their youth will be able to obtain work permits and no longer have
to fear deportation.
You should know that prior to this announcement, the administration
had already attempted to implement a similar policy by distributing
prosecutorial guidelines to immigration officials, but those guidelines are
often ignored and further angered activists who had been organizing for
years for the DREAM Act.
You should know applying sustain political pressure on the White
House works and you should know that while critics are charging the White
House of acting politically, sometimes doing the right thing is also good
You should know that, remarkably, the House of Representatives have
yet to hold a vote on the Senate`s version of reauthorization of the
Violence Against Women Act. You should know the act has been for years a
bipartisan piece of legislation and that Republicans now object to those
provisions that would expand legal protections to victims of domestic
violence who are gay, undocumented immigrants or Native Americans.
You should know that the Republicans are doing what they have become
so adept at, obstructing the Democrats agenda by running out the clock.
And you should know that Democrat Patrick Leahy and Republican Lisa
Murkowski have written to Speaker John Boehner, calling on him to hold a
vote on the bill the Senate passed.
You should know that the Southern Baptist Convention will be held
this week, and the denomination will elect its 57th president since its
funding in 1845. You should know Southern Baptists emerged from a split
from Northern Baptists over slavery. And even after the Civil War,
Southern Baptist long supported segregation.
You should know that Reverend Fred Luther, Jr., is expected to win
the presidency next week, and will if he does, become the last African-
American to lead the Southern Baptists.
And finally, you should that falling gas prices can help other places
other than the pump. On Thursday, we learned consumer prices fell last
month, largely due to gas prices. As we discussed last week, fighting
inflation is one of the main jobs of Federal Reserves. So, falling prices
give the Fed more leeway to fulfill its other main mission: using monetary
policy to help create jobs.
You should know the "Associated Press" reports some economists now
predict Fed Chair Ben Bernanke will do just that when Fed policymakers meet
this week. And you should know, if this happens, it would seem to disprove
the policy I talked about last week, that Ben Bernanke is in fact trying to
get Mitt Romney elected by refusing to do all he can to spur hiring.
You should also know, I would rarely be so happy to be wrong.
I want to find out my guests think we should know for the week coming
up. I will begin with you, Congressman Steve Cohen.
COHEN: Well, we have probably another extension of the
transportation bill. We need a transportation reauthorization bill. The
House bill did not pass, because Republicans couldn`t get their act
together. The Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support.
We`ve gone to conference through some unusual route. And the
Republicans are still trying to get some of those draconian things in there
about the Keystone XL Pipeline and coal ash, coal ash is good for America
according to them, and things like that.
But we need a jobs bill and we need the transportation
reauthorization, our infrastructure is 20th in the world. We need to be
getting back to first. We need to build roads. We need to do things that
make -- you know, commutes to the city easier, have mass transit involved.
So, I think they`re going to have another continuation extension,
because they don`t want to give the president the jobs. There will be
tiger grants announced, which is $500 million. That`s good. But you need
the good jobs.
HAYES: So, you`re saying -- I mean, it sounds like what we`re doing
with a lot of bills, sort of temporary extension, kick the can down the
road sort of thing. Not the full bill between Election Day.
COHEN: We`re not going to get anything done. There`s going to be an
extension until after the election, and then there`s not going to be time
because the tax cuts and everything else is going to come up. And they go
to the next Congress.
That`s a shame because America`s future is infrastructure.
HAYES: Incentive for people to vote for the party in Congress they
think can best attack those problems.
BERNARD: I think that what people need to know is that the Catholic
Fortnight for Freedom begins on June 21st and goes June 21st to July 4th.
This is a 14-day period of education, a call to action, to focus on
I think it`s important for people to really tune in, see what`s
happening. We`ve had a Catholic bishop recently compared President Obama
to both Stalin and Hitler. And my colleague, Melinda Henneberger at "The
Washington Post" has a fascinating blog. It`s called "Is the Catholic
Fortnight for Freedom really a fortnight to defeat Barack Obama?"
I say this is someone who attends the Catholic Church. She`s not
being anti-Catholic, but I think it`s important for people to really listen
and see what`s happening and see what the Catholic is saying with regard to
religious freedom and President Obama.
HAYES: Really interesting. Michael Hastings?
HASTINGS: You should know Jose Antonio Vargas and that already make
a difference. I`m going to be a little sappy here. Jose was a reporter
who I spent the 2008 campaign with on the bus. Very talented young guy and
made a huge -- took a huge risk by coming out last year as an undocumented
worker. Risked his career, risked his livelihood, but he kept at it, he
took a lot of criticism for doing that.
And one of my proudest moments as a New Yorker, my dad Brent Hastings
was in town for Father`s Day. Yesterday, we`re outside 30 rock, we ran
into Jose, and I said, dad, this is Jose Antonio Vargas. He was on the
cover of "Time" magazine, and his writing actually made a difference.
So, if you`re out there and you`re writing and you`re a young
journalist, it`s an individual decision, but individual decisions can have
HAYES: I love that, Michael. You are right. And Jose was great on
Melissa`s show yesterday, talking about exactly this issue. We had him on
the program, will definitely have him back.
ARMAH: You should know this name Malvina (ph). She was a black
woman born in 1844. And it turns out that she was impregnated at 14 years
old by her white slave master. And she is the great, great, great
grandmother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
And this is one of the stories in a brand new book called "American
Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of
Michelle Obama." It`s written by "New York Times" reporter Rachel Swarns.
She`ll be in New York on Tuesday, June 19th at the Schaumburg, 6:30 p.m.
Powerful, interesting story of Michelle Obama`s entire ancestral
history, a slice of America, but also it has the conversation around
slavery and race in a most unexpected way.
HAYES: Wow. That sounds super fascinating.
ARMAH: Fascinating. fascinating.
HAYES: Is it out now, the book?
ARMAH: It`s just out now. And she`ll be in New York, Tuesday, June
19th, at the Schaumburg, 6:30 p.m. She`s on my show on Monday.
HASTINGS: Buy your book, Chris Hayes book rocks. It`s awesome. And
you got to support it.
And it`s Father`s Day. Support it proudly.
HAYES: OK, all right.
I want to thank my guests today. Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen,
Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center for Women Politics and Public
Policy, Michael Hastings from "Rolling Stone" and Esther Armah from New
York`s WBAI FM -- thank you all.
Thank you for joining us.
We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time.
Our guests will include "New York Times" columnist Ross Douthat and
comedian Michael Ian Black. That should be awesome.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY."
At today`s "MHP": Melissa makes the argument that a corporations
aren`t working towards the public good and that a corporate president is
not the ideal candidate. And she presents an argument for why in Mitt
Romney`s framing, Jay-Z would actually make the best president, and white
voters may be the tipping point for President Obama`s re-election.
"MHP" looks at the numbers to show why white voters should be the
voting bloc we hone in on. Ask, what do they want anyway? What do white
That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
We`ll see you next week. Happy Father`s Day to all out there, here
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