'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, July 1, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Guests: Mona Eltahawy, Ethar El-Katatney, Kenji Yoshino, Herb Smitherman,
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Katon Dawson, Igor Volsky, Emanuel Cleaver, Willie
Parker, Christopher MacDonald-Dennis
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, hello, Democrats. The
convention is in Charlotte, but it seems like a bunch of you all can`t get
plane tickets. Making me wonder, where is the party at?
And a new law in Mississippi effectively eliminates women`s reproductive
rights. And I`ll speak with one doctor who is fighting back.
Plus, the evolution and revolution of HIV/AIDS, progress in a decade`s long
But, first, in the more than 105-4 ruling since John Roberts` join the
Supreme Court; the chief justice has sided with the liberals only one time.
He picked a big one.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Now before we begin, while 2.6 million Americans are still without power
this morning here in New York City overnight, workers at the utility
company , Con Ed, has been locked out, as contract talks there have broken
down in a strike moods. Thousands of union workers this morning have been
replaced by company managers. Con Ed says they`ll be able to respond to
emergencies and power outages, but not necessarily to every day maintenance
work, all of this, of course, in the midst of a national heat wave.
But, on to our top political story. OK, and by the way, it`s July 1. My
student loan rates did not double. Party! OK.
Our top story. It`s so ordered. With those words, which concluded the
Supreme Court`s majority opinion in the national federation of independent
business versus Sibelius, Obama care, or known by its government name, the
affordable care act was declared constitutional on Thursday. The court`s
affirmation of the sweeping over haul of health care gave President Obama a
victory that up until now had been sought unsuccessfully by Democratic
presidents for the last 75 years.
And whether you side with the five justices in the majority or the four in
the minority on the split decision, there were a couple of facts we all
ought to be able to agree upon.
One, the affordable care act is constitutional, and two, thanks to that
decision, 32 million people will soon have health insurance.
Then again, if you are Senator Rand Paul, why let a little thing like facts
get in the way of your opinion? He responded to the court`s decision,
saying quote, "just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court declare
something constitutional does not make it so. The whole thing remains
Well, I guess he`s sort of right in that it`s not a couple of people, but a
majority of the nine people on the Supreme Court that have to make that
declaration. And that happened and that is what makes it so.
And you can subtract from that 32 million who now have the legal right for
insurance, the citizens of at least some states who at seems maybe denied
coverage available to the rest of the country.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker vowed, quote, "Wisconsin will not take any
action to implement Obama care. And no health care for you either in
Louisiana because you`re and my governor, Bobby Jindal, response, you get
this, "we are not going to start implementing Obama care.
Same goes for South Carolina governor Nikki Halley whose spokesman said,
the state quote, "already made the decision not to implement in exchange."
As did Texas, whose governor, Rick Perry, has said quote, "absolutely, he
has absolutely no interesting in accelerating the implementation of Obama
care and will not create a health insurance exchange."
And Virginians, you might be in the same boat. Governor Bob MacDonald says
quote, "there is still some uncertainty at this point to what the right
You can`t forget Arkansas governor Orval Faubus who respond to the Supreme
Court`s sufficient with these words, "I was not elected governor of
Arkansas to surrender all our rights as citizens to an all-powerful federal
autocracy. It is my responsibility and it is my purpose and determination
to defend the constitutional rights of the people of Arkansas to the full
extent of my ability."
OK. I cheated a bit. Faubus is not the current governor of Arkansas. In
2010, the governor of Arkansan is Mike Beebe, but back on September 18,
1958, governor Faubus delivered that speech affirming Arkansas`s place on
the list of states that resisted the Supreme Court`s landmark school
desegregation decision in Brown Board of Education.
Now, that`s three years after the Supreme Court ordered southern states to
move with quote, "all deliberate speed" to desegregate public schools.
Now, the affordable care act line is more specific. States have until
January 1, 2013 to demonstrate by the department of health insurance
services that their exchanges, the marketplace where is customers can shop
around for insurance, will be up and running next year.
The governor`s threats of delays now as they did then, have very real
implications for the lives and the liberty of American people. By 1964,
for example, a full ten years after brown, less than two percent of black
children in the south attended desegregated schools. And the health of
individual Americans and the already astronomical cost of caring for the
uninsured can`t afford the cost of that kind of delay today.
Joining me today, Kenji Yoshino, constitutional law professor at New York
University, Kayton Dawson, Republican consultant and former chairman of the
South Carolina Republican Party, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and
publisher of the nation and Igor Volsky, deputy editor of
thinkprogress.com. I feel like I butchered your last name, Igor.
IGOR VOLSKY, DEPUTY EDITOR, THINKPROGRESS.COM: Volsky.
HARRIS-PERRY: Volsky. All right. I have a tendency to do that.
OK. Healthcare reform is now constitutions. Despite Rand Paul it does
only take a couple of people, in the sense of five to make this
constitutional. What then do southern governors, and not just southerners,
we have Wisconsin in there too. What do Republican governors hope to gain
politically or in terms of policy by basically standing in the school house
KAYTON DAWSON, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I think what we have --
HARRIS-PERRY: You are a southerner and a Republican.
DAWSON: I think the accent gives it away, I`ll tell you, one of the things
that Senator Paul just did, and you framed a part of the election that I
see. Because I come from the campaign election side and some of the public
policy is the governors changed in the last election cycle. So I can put
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, not always swing states. But it
matters when have you a sitting governor when you have a major election
And then what he did is he framed that this election and the base we talked
about yesterday, the base got activated both ways. We talked in agreement.
The Republican base, now understand that we could have as many as and you
told me, four Supreme Court justices appointed in the next term of the
So now, they understand electorally what`s in swing here, the bases are
moving, is those people in the middle. The southern governors, mine
included, are making a statement. This election is not over yet.
VOLSKY: You all see a real momentum shift I think with this decision. For
a long time, people are saying well, it is going to be overturned. It is
going be gone. We are going to -- a big loss for the president who wasted
his time, Romney said.
Now, those independent voters are looking, the law is constitutional and
they are saying we want to back a winner, and right now this is the
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, Katrina.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, PUBLISHER, THE NATION: I was going to say
two things here. But there is a cruelty, in not just southern governors,
but governors like Kasich, Walker, and the governor of Florida, Rick Scott,
in turning down federal funds and they did it on high-speed rail which was
about pragmatism and building a better state and future for their people.
But on this, it`s just putting lives on the balance for ideological
I also think this decision and I defer to the constitutional experts here,
was crafted, the finesse, it still puts limits on the federal government
and that relationship between the government and the states is still up for
grabs, though the immigration decision was interesting, because there was
very clearly the federal government has the prerogative in the immigration
area, so I think it`s a very fluid moment, and last point on the brown
versus board, it will take movements, it will take movements, fused with
court decisions, to bring about the real progress in this country. We saw
it with the civil rights movement, having to push years after brown to make
real the promise of that decision and I think that will be the case with
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean it goes to the notion of an activated base. The
court is ultimately passive, right? The court rules on what someone brings
to it. And part of why brown is an important way of thinking about this,
OK. You get in a decision, 10 to 15 years later; you get the
implementation of that decision.
But it feels like the affordable care act is really quite different than
that. And even, you know, it doesn`t say all deliberate speed in this
decision. It says and basically and now it is so.
Kenji, what happens as a matter of law for governor who`s say, you know
what? Yes, you have a federal law here, yes, you know, the Supreme Court
has decided its constitutional, but we will not take action? You know,
there is a kind of -- there is a trigger in the law itself, but is there
something legally? Do we end up with a real crisis of the federal system?
KENJI YOSHINO, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Right. So, in fairness, I
think that Democrats have done this too. And I think back to Gavin Newsom,
who is actually a personal hero of mine, but he did something that I
thought that was all for here as an outside of his powers when he said that
he would just unilaterally declare that same-sex couples could get married
in San Francisco.
And what ultimately happened there was a lawsuit was brought, you don`t
have the power to do this, and the court smacked him down he reacted to
that. And so, if this comes to that then ultimately, what we`ll have is a
But I want to make really clear that this is not like a partisan issue.
The left is doing to us as well as the right is. I think, you know, I
think it was wrong when he did it, I think it`s wrong when the governors
are doing it. I think they have a little bit a plausible deniability here.
So, it`s not really clear what they are saying to me. Like if what they
are saying is, we`re not going to accept dollars for Medicaid, that`s
within what the Supreme Court allows them to do. So, they would be in
conformity with the Supreme Court decision. If they are saying we`re
engaging in a form of like state-wide civil disobedience and acquiesce to
Obama care, that`s a different thing entirely. I think they are still
metabolizing the decision. So, I think that we are going to actually see
more nuances coming out over the next few days.
HARRIS-PERRY: I still love the idea of Nikki Halley in metabolizing the
Supreme Court decision. That`s really lovely.
But, let`s - maybe we should go a little bit too to executives because, you
know, I have been focusing a little bit here on the exchanges. Because the
exchanges are the things, that if they are not in place by January 1,
right, then the federal government has the right to set them up.
So, talk to me about exchanges versus Medicaid. Because there are two
different relationships between the federal government that this new
decision has given us.
VOLSKY: Well, that`s the irony, is that the red states are saying we`re
not going to implement the exchanges. They are inviting the federal
government to come in and do it for them.
You know, one of the things about this, it`s very state based. Fifty
different exchanges here, different regulations, states decide what kind of
products insurers offer, what works best in their state, and if the red
states are giving that up and say let Kathleen Sibelius come and do it,
that`s their prerogative. But, it also, I think, it is really ironic point
for those who scream about the tenth amendment and say the federal
government, stay out in this case, they are inviting it in.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that`s interesting. By not setting it up, they
actually invite more federal power. We`ll dig into the decision a little
bit. I have the decision. I`ve got the dissent. We got -- I promise I`m
not just going to read them on air.
HARRIS-PERRY: But we are going to dig in a bit to the decisions and
specifically into the mind of chief justice Roberts. That`s going to be
Later, as Egypt celebrates a new dawn, what`s ahead for women there?
And also in our next hour, a new era for the Democratic Party and a new
frontier in the battle against HIV/AIDS. All that is coming up.
HARRIS-PERRY: As of Thursday, you can now make it two times that the names
Barack Obama and John Roberts will be mentioned in the same sentence in
American history books. The first one was this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I will execute the office of president to the
United States faithfully.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I will execute it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Faithfully the office of the United States faithfully.
OBAMA: The office of the United States faithfully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Look. If you screw up the first black president`s big
moment, you probably owe him big time. But I think after the affordable
care act decision, I think President Obama is probably willing to call it
even. Now, pretty much no one predicted that the president and chief
justice would be sharing faith in those books as Batman and Robin, the
president as Batman, to the affordable care act damsel in distress.
But there you have it. Supreme Court`s decision can sometimes make strange
bedfellows. And all the stranger because the usual occupants of that bed
aren`t stranger at all. In fact, there are very familiar. After all, the
Roberts` six terms as chief justice, there have been more than 100 5-4
decisions, then, out of all those rulings, there has been exactly one time
that he sided with liberal justices, and that was three days ago.
Which is probably why everyone is trying to get into Justice Roberts` head
to find out the one question that he didn`t answer in the 59-page opinion.
Why did he do it?
Still with me, Kenji Yoshino, Kayton Dawson, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Igor
Volsky. I`m killing your name, I`m sorry.
Kenji, I have heard a week now from Thursday to save the court argument.
Roberts did this to somehow save the court. Save the court from what?
YOSHINO: Well, I think save the court from increasing sort of deficit and
legitimacy that has been created by partisan 5-4. See, you had Bush versus
Gore, have citizens united, you know people mentioned the slot, but you
also have Gonzalez versus Carhartt, the partial birth abortion decision w
here you get the partisan 5-4s that gradually diminish the idea that the
court is just there to hand down the law in an lawful passion. So here I
think he did save the legitimacy of the court.
HARRIS-PERRY: And he said he wanted to be the umpire, right? So he was
very clear that his initial sort of understanding of how the Supreme Court
is meant to act is umpire, not as activist.
YOSHINO: Absolutely. He said to Jeffrey Rosen that when he looked back
over all the past chief justices, that it was actually very humbling.
Because he saw each one of them or many of them get captured or be
threatened with capture at some point in his career. And I think that he
was really trying to avoid that and to say they are hot seat decision, so,
he broke ranks in order to do that.
Also, I want to underscore that Briar and Kagan broke ranks as well on the
Medicaid portion, the spending potion of the decision. So, this is a very
good decision from my point of view in the sense that I don`t think it`s
good to live in a country where I can point to Supreme Court justices and
to say I can predict the vote in every case. That`s not a country I want
to live in.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because at that point, the court is not doing what
it`s supposed to. Let me ask you one more like sort of talk me down
Here is my nervousness. We have the Arizona SB1070 decision earlier in the
week on Monday. That is upholding some power for the federal government.
And then, we have this decision, which, you know, certainly challenges the
role of the federal government in some ways, but also, you know, basically
upholds the power of the federal government.
Here is my terror, that part of the reason Roberts is joining in this is
not to be not Roger Tanny who decided the Dred Scott decision, you know,
and has gone down in infamy in Supreme Court history, but so that when
DOMA, the defense of marriage act shows up, he can then rule reasonably
that the federal government has a right to wipe out the right of state to
allow people to marry and/or that this then allows also the ability to wipe
out Roe vs. Wade at the federal level rather than the - so, I`m just, you
know, typically I tend to like federal government, but I`m worried now that
he blamed the ground work from being able to do that.
YOSHINO: Yes. So, I actually -- I`m not sure if I can talk you down on
this one. I might actually pour gasoline on the fire, to a mix of
So, I think that there are two concerns here that progressives could have,
and two things that conservatives could celebrate on the Obama care
decision from a juror`s reaction perspective.
One is that, he actually did ratchet back both the commerce power, and the
spending power. And both of those powers have traditionally been used to
expand federal government power. So, although he expanded a bit of a
taxing power, that`s only one of these three powers. Traditionally, the
other two have been the aces that Congress has used. Not the taxing power,
but rather the commerce power and the spending power. So, he ratcheted
both those back. That`s point number one.
Point number two, going into next term and in to the future, and really the
rest of the chief justice ship, the man is now bullet proof, right? So, I
think that progressive can warn this and conservatives can celebrate this.
And that we have a lot of big ticket civil rights cases coming out next
term, not just the defense of marriage act or the Perry case coming from
California. Not just voting rights act, not just the -- what`s a big one?
Affirmative action case, the fisher case, we know basically I think
Roberts` views on affirmative action, given the Seattle school district
case. But given that he`s bullet proof, I feel like you can go whichever
way he wants.
HUEVEL: It`s important that Justice Roberts understood that legitimacy of
the court was at stake. But this is still many ways a one percent court in
terms of its decisions on worker`s rights, on corporate rights. It is also
in just real world terms allowed, for example, the Koch brothers to unleash
$9 million in attack ads against the health care legislation hours after
I think we cannot ignore the process, the span from Bush vs. Gore, just
citizens united. Bush vs. Gore justice Steven, in his decent, was very
troubled by something I think we still need to be trouble which is can this
court remain the steward of the rule of law?
There is one decision here which will - is unsettled in terms of the role
of the federal government, visa vie states. And as you pointed out,
Roberts may be bullet proof, but that doesn`t mean we should expose him to
scrutiny on this decision and others.
The Montana decision was really troubling in doubling down on entrenching
the power of corporate money at a time, few days after, they just really
screwed, if I could say that, labor rights. So, what is the check on
corporate power in the system now? We are corporations, are not unhappy
with the healthcare decision.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. Exactly.
VOLSKY: I think a lot of constitutional scholars also thought that this
was kind o an easy call. You saw that poll come out before, right, the
decision, that some 19-21 constitutional experts thought it would be
upheld. And it was certainly going in to the decision before they will
arguments from the great majority constitution experts said, this is solid
So, I think that, you know, Roberts made the right call, but a lot of
people thought this is the right call all along.
DAWSON: Melissa, what John Roberts just did, showed to me is a political
operative that elections matter. And elections have consequences, and the
consequences were the democrat party won in 2006 and 2008. They controlled
the house, they controlled the Senate and they controlled Pennsylvania
avenue. It showed elections have consequences that matter. That`s wheat`s
getting ready to happen here.
I mean, he affirmed that they had the right to do that in Congress. The
president had the right to sign it. And what our party is seeing this that
those consequences mattered and they mattered now. All these issues we are
talking about now will matter greatly especially after the November
election where these Republican governors are laying markers down now. If
we have an election there, is a change in the White House.
HUEVEL: Scalia played a role.
HUEVEL: I think he played a role in Justice Roberts` decision not to let
this court, in this decision, be an adjunct to the Republican Party or
behave as a partisan be viewed as a hickory. Scalia`s broadside against
the president in the immigration decision, ranging in. It seemed to me
unprecedented that he was bringing in evidence or information about what
President Obama did via executive order, just a few weeks earlier, to bring
that into a court case, and issue a broad side against a president.
Sounding like a talk radio -- had to have worried Justice Roberts in terms
of the view of the court.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well - and Kayton, your point that elections matter, look,
we have an aging Supreme Court and an aging only on the liberal side, and
the conservative justices very young, looking like they have a very
VOLSKY: Thank goodness, they are working out.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to be back later with you Kenji. We have more
terrifying things on my mind.
But up next, what will the health care reform look like for doctors and
patients on the ground? The answer also, because this trivia question.
Think about this during the break. Which Supreme Court justice is
responsible for the installation of the first frozen yogurt machine in the
Supreme Court? These are the important questions we asked. We are going
to answer after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break, I asked you which Supreme Court justice is
responsible for the installation of the first frozen yogurt machine in the
Supreme Court? The answer to that is Justice Elena Kagan who served on the
court cafeteria committee. You apparently got this right.
HARRIS-PERRY: People in previously Kagan was actually also known as the
coffee dean in Harvard Law School for providing free coffee to the students
which you really need on law school.
OK. So, now to the confetti or if you are oppose to the decision, the
tears have all been flip away. We know have to turn to the matter of
actually giving people insured under our newly constitutional law. And
today, more than 50,000 Americans with pre-existing conditions are covered
under the affordable care act. 2.5 million additional young adults have
access to coverage and more than 85 million people have received free
access to preventative care.
But there are still two more years and millions for people to go before the
entire scope of Obama care history realized.
Here to help us get a sense of what that will look like Doctor Herb
Smitherman, assistant dean of Community and Urban Health at Wayne State
University, School of Medicine. He joins us from Detroit. Also, Karen
Finney, MSNBC political analyst, columnist for "the Hill" and former DNC
Still with me Kayton Dawson and Katrina Vanden Huevel and Igor Volsky.
Doctor Herb, let me just start because I feel like so many folks have been
talking a lot about the kind of individual mandate that they don`t
necessarily know about the community healthcare and preventive provisions
of the laws. I want to just take a little quickly at the spending that ACA
has in it including 126 million for community and clinical prevention, 70
million for public health infrastructure, another 31 million for research
and tracking, and 23 million for public health training.
Doctor, what difference does this make, both for the actual healthcare of
Americans, but also for cost containment?
DOCTOR HERB SMITHERMAN, ASSISTANT DEAN OF URBAN HEALTH, WAYNE STATE
UNIVERSITY: Well, thank you for having me on, Melissa. And I appreciate
I am a physician. I have been practicing in urban Detroit the past 25
years, predominantly caring for Medicaid and uninsured patients. In fact
about 25 percent of my practice is uninsured, and it`s critical to
understand that, a, we don`t have enough primary care physicians in the
United States to actually absorb 33 million new people into the system.
Actually, Massachusetts is a state example of expanding healthcare to all
of our citizens. And they incorporated 550,000 people, and -- and -- who
now had an insurance card, what happened? They couldn`t find a primary
care physician. They all ended up in emergency rooms, increasing costs by
So, we need time, the four years or the ramp-up time for the ACA between
2010 and 2014 was partly to get the primary care infrastructure together
and you alluded to some of those, the community health center dollars,
which is about$11 billion to increase the number of primary care sites and
primary care positions, health services core dollars that out national
health service core dollars are about 1.5 billion to help - had loan re-
payment plans for physicians to practice in urban areas.
So, these are very, very important resources to ramp up to the capacity and
infrastructure we need to care for this very needy population.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Igor, you sort of nodding your head as the doctor has
been talking. As are you looking at what this actually means on the
ground, what are the fundamentals we need to start doing, regardless of
what Republican governors are telling us they are not going to do?
VOLSKY: You know, prevention soak in when we talk about lowering the
health care spending over the long terms lowering that rate of growth. You
talk about re-orienting the health care system from a system that threats
chronic conditions, has very good high-tech treatment, to one that keeps
people healthy, so they can avoid getting those diseases in the first
And so, that means investing the primary care. That means paying primary
care doctors more, that means encourage -- encouraging newly graduated
doctors to go into primary care. Even though the reimbursements are is
somewhat lower. That`s really key if you are going to start seeing costs
HARRIS-PERRY: And from here, oh, America has the single best health care
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
VOLSKY: Health risk prevention and that`s where we falls short.
HUEVEL: Yes. And I think for women, this also, I mean, being a woman is
no longer a pre-existing condition. I mean, you have you an end to the
gender ratings discriminatory practice and charging women more in premiums
for the same health care practices as men.
FINNEY: I`m not sure women knew that would happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Because if you are a woman and getting a quote, unless
you are a business owner and you are actually looking at your different
employees, you may not realize that you are paying a higher rate.
HUEVEL: But Melissa, you just made a great point. Because I think part
what we need in the next period is the president and Democrats and others
who care about health care to get out into this country and explain
provisions that are popular.
HUEVEL: The bill as you know, I mean, everyone knows is not. But when you
break it down to what it means in real life concrete ways, it become -
FINNEY: It`s also an economic issue, right? An economic issue for women.
Because these disparities are costing us more and we`re already make less,
FINNEY: But also, when we talk about preventative care and we talk about
communities of color, I mean, it`s much more expensive when people go when
they are in the chronic condition than if you promote a culture of
wellness. It also means that you put people in a position of being able to
make good health decisions for themselves earlier on in the process. And
we should be about promoting the kind of individual responsibility that
says let`s promote wellness.
HARRIS-PERRY: Aren`t you down with individual responsibility? Isn`t that
the Republican line? And I just heard it from the democrat at the table.
DAWSON: She got it right. A wonderful discussion about the wonderful
programs we`ve created. You touch the doctors. My brother is a pulmonary
position in Charston, South Carolina, who is already stretched so thin in
seeing so many patients.
And being a physician is a life-style. It`s a God-given talent to be able
-- you can`t just go out on the street talk to them and say you are going
to be a physician. You talk any position and they are already stretched.
You say well, maybe, we`ll take a little less. I don`t know how much less
they can take.
VOLSKY: We are going to pay more with this law.
DAWSON: Yes. I truly hope so, but they don`t believe it as far as I can
tell so far. And then, the point is we talked about these things, and we
wonder, how will we pay for that? Those are wonderful numbers that the
I got how we get paid for and that`s where the argument is, who is going to
pay for it, how much and where is the money coming from?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, actually, when we come back, I`m going to make an
argument that in certain ways, this could be seen as an economic stimulus
for exactly the reasons that Dr. Smitherman just suggested.
We have to hire folks to provide care. So, coming up, we are going act a
little about this question of free access to care and whether or not there
are folks to provide it and whether it counts as job creation, if in fact
you create jobs, or people to do it. We`ll also talk about women in Cairo
and why democracy is complicated, all that when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. According to the association of American
medical colleges, there will be a shortage of about 63,000 doctors by 2015,
with greater shortages to come. In the future, 91,500 by 2020, and
130,600, by 2025.
Still with me, Dr. Herb Smitherman, and still at the table, Karen Finney,
Kayton Dawson, Katrina Vander Huevel, and Igor Volsky.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dr. Smitherman, again, you made a point earlier,
insurance is not equal access. How do we get to a point that access and
hiring all those doctors, nurses do their jobs that can`t be sense overseas
because it feels to me like this could in fact be a great economic boon to
SMITHERMAN: Well, it can be. We are going to have to use other
practitioners, like nurse practitioners and P.A.s, and which we can get
them through the system, the educational system faster. So, we will need
and we are ramping up in this country with increasing the number of medical
schools, et cetera, to have the kind of position and workforce that is need
to care for this population.
I did want to make one point, though. Someone - one of your guests
indicated that this bill, the ACA, will actually increase the cost of care.
Let me just say. Most of us who are practicing medicine in this industry
don`t feel that is going to happen. Most of the uninsured receive their
care in high-cost settings. That`s emergency rooms and hospitals. Ten
times the kinds of costs if they were to see a primary care physician.
This significantly increases the cost of care in this country. In fact,
around the uncompensated care cost in the United States there, are about
$60 billion, costing almost half of the hospitals in the United States as
being nonprofit. That`s unsustainable. And who pays for the uninsured?
The insured pay for them in current premiums by about 1,200 to $2,000 a
year. So we`re already paying for the uninsured. Paying an exorbitant
cost by getting population in a system of care. We will actually decrease
costs by getting an exchange. And having prevention services.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me pick up on exactly that. And I`ll beat you up a
little bit, Kayton.
DAWSON: It will be the first time.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that will be the first time. But that`s exactly the
language from the decision that Republicans have picked up on, is given
that Roberts talked about the taxing power, it is now being revised in
public political conversation. And so, this is a tax.
But, if Dr. Smitherman -- we`re already being taxed. If you are insured,
then you are already paying a higher insurance rate, because poor folks
have to get uninsured medical care at emergency rooms, who is paying for
it? We`re already paying for it.
So, won`t this, in fact, bring down the costs? Aren`t Republicans being
DAWSON: I think that the criticism, I clean the room and who is actually
is. I mean, we get it, maybe this will save money. But on the front end,
look at who is paying for? Small businesses like the auto parts business,
I own for 36 years, now have to get 999 for everybody who spends over $500
get a tax incentive.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, small businesses will now get a tax incentive.
DAWSON: Then, you have you an increase in the medical tax, capital gains,
from 15 to 20 percent, dividends go from 39.6 percent to 43 percent, 3.8
percent tax on the profit of the sale of your home. We keep going and here
is the big one. There are two big ones that the electorate will get in
campaigns and elections care. If we have 16,500 new IRS auditors. Nobody
in favor of that.
HARRIS-PERRY: All the people who have jobs as IRS auditors.
DAWSON: And the number one thing is the tanning booths now have a 10
percent sales tax.
HUEVEL: With all due respect, we have just heard the talking points we`ll
hear over the next two months. But Obama care provides the largest middle
class tax cut for healthcare in history. There is a division among small
On the news the other day, they had three people from ALEC, American
Legislative Exchange Council. There are millions of small business owners
who are very pleased to see this progress, because it will help them in
terms of hiring, in terms of moving costs out of their business. It will
And with Dr. Smitherman, it will create jobs. Jobs we need. If there was
political will and wisdom, we would provide primary health care providers.
HARRIS-PERRY: And as you point out, these are the talking points. We are
going to keep hearing them which mean, we will keep talking about them here
on the show.
So, thank you to Dr. Herb Smitherman in Detroit.
The rest of you got to back for more a little later.
Up next, the political party with the record of marginalizing women is
ruling Egypt. So, what do women if you just think about. We are going to
go to Cairo and talk to two women after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday, Egypt`s newly Elect President Mohamed Morsi
addressed tens of thousands assembled in Tahrir Square to celebrate his
inauguration this weekend. And he told the crowd, I stand with you in a
square of freedom, and I am one of you.
Yesterday, Morsi, Egypt`s first Islamist and civilian president, was sworn
in before the country`s supreme constitutional court. And in the first
speech as president, Morsi claimed a transfer of power from the military
Now, many are hoping he will use that power to follow through with promises
to extend the revolution to the women of Egypt, by appointing and upholding
Many are skeptical that such changes will come to (INAUDIBLE) under a man
who previously led the fundamentalist Muslim brotherhood and personally
called for restrictions on Egyptian women.
To help me sort this out, joining me from Cairo are Mona Eltahawy,
columnist and public speaker and Muslim issues around women and Ethar El-
Katatney from Egypt and blogger, joining me via Skype.
Hi Mona and Ether. Thank you for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for having us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Mona, first tell me a bit of what it`s like in Cairo
today, now that there is a new president.
MONA ELTAHAWY, COLUMNIST: I think it`s important to remember that this new
president only got 25 percent of the votes in the first round. And that
the majority of voters helped him become president did so out of fear and
hatred of the other candidate. And the other candidate was essentially the
And now, we have the president who struck some kind of deal with the
military junta. So, we have the military junta and the Muslim brotherhood,
basically, in power in Egypt.
So, in all of us are waiting for concrete promises from Mohamed Morsi as
president of Egypt that will give us a promise that he wants to include
everybody, women, Christians, minorities of all kinds, and people who don`t
belong to the Muslim brotherhood. This is really important.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Ether, Some of what Mona is calling for there, you know,
we have heard from President Morsi at least in terms of language that he is
going to support women`s rights, potentially will be a woman as one of the
vice presidents, are you sort of encouraged by the language or do you
ETHAR EL-KATATNEY, EGYPTIAN JOURNALIST: Well, so far, it`s good. What we
have seen so far, discussion of the Muslim brotherhood these days, we have
been discussing his personality, the ideology of the Muslim brotherhood,
and the military-civilian relationship, who is going to be in charge of
what kind of ministry.
But only time is going to tell us if he is really going to distant himself
to the Muslim brotherhood and what`s the relationship with the military.
But what we can see is that, the Muslim Brotherhood is, they have the new
kind of dynamic centrist approach and they are displaying it toward
I mean instead of their dramatic ideology, so starting a new page,
especially with parties that may not have wanted the Muslim brotherhood.
And they must do that because as Mona just said, he only got in with a very
small margin and most of the people -- a lot of people voted, they voted
not because they wanted him to win, but they didn`t want Shafik too. They
wanted Shafik to lose. They were - they are happy because of democracy
won, not because of him. So, we have to take steps to consolidate all of
the polarized groups, all these preference and ideology.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Mona, I think Ethar makes a really important point there
that it is one thing to be an outside the group and another thing to be
actually part of the governing or ruling majority or in this case, sort of
But particularly on the issue of gender and gender equity. You know, how
should we take sort of the history of this president within the Muslim
brotherhood, versus, what this new position needs to govern more from the
ELTAHAWY: Right. Well, when I look at the history of Muslim Brotherhood,
the history of women`s rights especially, as a feminist, I am very
concerned. We have female parliamentary to belong to the Muslim
Brotherhood who have justified among other things atrocity such as female
genital mutilation, we have the woman who heads the women`s committee, all
the political party that Mohamed Morsi used to lead, the seasoned and
justice party saying outrageously such as it is undignified for women to
protest, and they should leave that brothers and fathers to protest for
them, conveniently forgetting that if it wasn`t for the fact that Egyptian
women were front and center of the protest that led to the revolution,
Mohamed Morsi wouldn`t be president of Egypt today.
So, based on rhetoric in the past, I am concerned. Had Mohamed Morsi said
during in his many accepting speeches, "I salute the women of Egypt,
standing here is example who were sexually assaulted, who paid with their
lives, who paid with in such a high price, I might have said, you know,
this could be the turning a new page.
But I get to hear, there is also remember, the Muslim brotherhood has said
in the drop box during the past, that women and Christians could not be
So, I wait. I want to be proven wrong in this regard. I want to see him
appoints a woman as vice president to send us a clear message that women
can it be in the highest echelon of power.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mona and Ethar, I need to take a quick break and come right
back because it possible that I`m asking you the wrong question. I want to
talk a little bit about the economic questions when we come back.
And also, in our next hour, we are going to ask about the Democratic Party
and seems to be the little unfamiliar these days.
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are talking about the new dawn for Egypt. And back with
me from Cairo, are Mona Eltahawy, and Ethar El-Katatney. I`m sorry, I
Ethar, let me begin with you. You said that for Western Journalist, this
sort of language about gender and women`s right is kind a sexy topic, but
it`s a real issue for every Egyptian, is the issue of the economy.
EL-KATATNEY: Definitely. It isn`t the issue party or religion or civilian
and military that can be decisive for each of right now. It is the hard
economic and social reality. Consider this, there - we are currently
discovered his projected as 1.5 percent. We have de-evaluated pound. We
have almost 25 percent unemployment. I mean, we are down to around $15
billion in foreign users. The inter-military government, they raise money
by its only one Egyptian investor, but the interest growth and the EON (ph)
was I think 15 percent.
And so, we have to re-pay $4 billion in short term burn in six months. And
we have to have foreign financing. The intern government refused to
consider us. So, there is no liquidity in our domestic current market.
And the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, there is a deal for $3.2
billion loan and we need that.
Egypt`s economy has projected to grow. We are growing in 1.9 percent. So,
in around 40 years, we are going to double our population. She still has
really high corruption. The deal between government and NGOs and the
private sector is down. Our tourism is an all time low. Investors,
foreign directly investment has to increase in Egypt.
So, for this - in the coming period, Morsi really need to focus on economy,
on decrease in corruption, on house dealing with subsidies. You know, 10
percent of our GDP goes towards subsidies in fuel and that almost a quarter
of the government budget.
And I think probably before it was developed, the intern government
actually presented a post budget that is going to cut to a subsidy by I
think some 27 percent and end up fuel industry subsidies.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So Mona, you know, Ethar presented - it is really
incredibly important point there is that we have this fundamental economic
issues that are underlined particularly a transition to democracy.
How do we balance the kinds of issues that Ethar mentioned with the sort of
human rights basic civil liberties questions on that you often raised?
ELTAHAWY: Right. Well, let me connect what Ethar just said with the
gender question or the gender issue. At least 40 percent of Egyptian
households are women that household. That means that they are - that means
they are actually dependent on women to bring the money in.
The Muslim Brotherhood belong to a conservative religious end of the
spectrum that very much like the moral values Christian coalition crowd in
the U.S. who make a big start about family values and moral values. And
fact is often completely disconnected from the reality on the ground.
And so, if we hear the Muslim Brotherhood making this grandiose statement
about how a woman`s position is in the home because that`s where a good
looking woman belong, that is out of nonsense because the average Egyptian
family cannot afford to have women in the home.
And so, we have to keep the gender issue from consensus here. We also have
to be realistic and understand the horrendous levels of sexual violence and
sexual assault that Egyptian women face in the street.
I`m moving back to Egypt to launch a campaign against sexual violence
because that`s the way I feel I can contribute. I will take that campaign
to President Morsi and see if he really does believe in equal rights for
all Egyptians. And if he really does want to be inclusive. And I think
this is where the gender and economic, because if women is going to go
after work, because so many of them are need to support their families,
they need to feel safe outside in the street.
That`s the reality on the ground.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to both Mona and Ethar in Cairo.
And Mona, there is a seat free with this table whenever you do find
yourself back in the States and there in New York.
Coming up next, where is the party? That`s what a lot of people are saying
about this Democratic Party these days. And I will tell you why after the
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST: Yes, we`re having a party in Nerdland.
But the big party is coming up, September 4th through 6th. The
Democrats are going to have their big event in Charlotte, North Carolina.
And their party is going to have all the lights and food and music that one
can imagine and balloons, thousands of balloons.
But will they have the one thing you really need to get a party
going? People, attendants because you can`t have a party if there`s nobody
there. Well, you can but definitely would not be a good party of an
So, it`s a valid question -- with people like Democratic Senators
Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana and Representatives
Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul of New York not attending among others.
And according to the report by "Reuters," Democratic Congressman
Steve Israel of New York, who is also chairman of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee, sees it another way. He said simply, "If
they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts."
OK. So, in the sense, I get the congressman here. You know, I mean,
those senators and House members I noted are in some tightly contested
races. It`s good to be knocking on the doors and making it the calls.
But don`t they also need to not just be looking out for themselves in
the expense of the Democratic Party, which for the sake of all the upcoming
elections, need unified front and strength in numbers.
At the table: Karen Finney, MSNBC contributor and former DNC
communications director; Katon Dawson, Republican consultant and one-time
candidate for the chairman of the Republican National Committee; Katrina
Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation"; and Igor Volsky,
deputy editor of ThinkProgress.org.
OK. So, you guys, Katon, seemed to do a pretty good job on the party
front, in that y`all don`t really like Mitt Romney. We -- you know, the
secret is out, we know that you don`t. And yet you seem to managing to
rally behind me, despite him starting to do that pivot, back to the center.
KATON DAWSON, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT : We do like Mitt Romney. He`s
going to be a good nominee.
In the end of the day, though, what this tells you dramatically is
there`s a tension inside the Democratic Party right now. They`re hiding
from their president. They`re taking care of their own political hides,
covering their own political turf.
To say that they need to stay in their districts for a week when you
have a national convention where you`re networking, you know the worth of
going to a national convention, we`re all going to Tampa to support Mitt
Romney and pull our party together. And we learned that from the
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I mean, is that true? Because that`s irritating
to me if they are hiding from the president.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. It`s irritating to me, too, I
have to say. I mean, I thought that our party had become better at being
a, quote-unquote, "big tent party" -- meaning, you know, we share values,
we may have some disagreements on how we get there. And I think not
showing up but being perfectly happy to take the money is really
And what really is frustrating is that Republicans -- the fissures
within the Republican Party, I mean, the variability, is much greater
frankly that within the Democratic Party. But we pull crap like this, then
it does make us seem more divided. And I think it`s very disappointing,
and it`s part of why Democrats lose because we will not stand up for our
values and principles the way that sometimes --
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: Let me begin -- true confession.
I am member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. It is the
great late Paul Wellston, senator, would say, Howard Dean. There`s no
question that we are living in a moment when the Republican Party, as
Norman Ornstein has argued, is a bloc, is a parliamentary in a non-
parliamentary system -- disciplined, rigid in its defense of no tax
increases to revenues we need.
But the Democratic Party, yes, there are core values. And I would
argue, the Democratic Party at its very best, when pushed by movements, has
stood for the civilizing advances of our country, civil rights, women`s
right, economic rights. But we have two parties right now, Republican
Party more, which are in hawk to corporate interest.
And until we`re agreeing (ph) to the parties of that, until we get
money out of the system, we`re not going to see enough Elizabeth Warrens,
enough Sherrod Browns and enough of a Progressive Caucus in the Democratic
Party which stands in my mind for the best Democratic principle.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I mean, and this is the actual challenge of
being the editor of "The Nation" or "Think Progress." This idea that, you
know, in certain way, it`s horrible but easier when you got the Republican
in office, right, because you just rail against the insider. But when it`s
a friend in office, right, it`s actually tougher to keep the party going.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, it`s a belief that movements have always pushed
the best presidents, Roosevelt, Johnson, beyond the limits of the
incremental timid reform into something big. And the hope is to keep
pushing President Obama, do it in ways that are constructive.
FINNEY: And as Howard Dean used to say, you know, from the
Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. But also, we can`t be Republican-
lite. We`ve got to be and we`ve got to be firmed about that.
IGOR VOLSKY, THINKPROGRESS.ORG: And the good news is I think here we
have a lot to be proud of. Certainly, health care is a big victory. LBGT
rights -- big victories on that front. Getting rid of "don`t ask, don`t
tell." Women, and Lilly Ledbetter Act. There are just so many things that
this president has done that progressives should be proud of.
These are goals progressives have been -- specifically health care --
have been working for, for generations.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that`s right.
VOLKSY: And they need to start acting like this is a progressive --
FINNEY: Every president since Truman has been trying to get this
done. Democrats are the ones behind it, pushing it. It finally happened.
If now is not to be a time to be a proud Democrat --
VOLSKY: Let`s hold their --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if it`s actually harder to lead the Democratic
Party -- I mean, you know, it`s a coalition.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And the Republicans are disciplined, motivated. And
Mitt Romney is the best investment Shelly Adelson, the Koch brothers and
there are others is going to make because they will -- you have Mitt
Romney, he`s essentially a business vehicle. He is kind of private equity
candidate, because he will do the bidding of those interests.
I believe in what you just said and Karen said -- these victories are
important. Of course, when build -- to build greater victories like what
happened with Social Security and Medicare. But at the same time, so many
millions of people in this country feel both parties are rigged against
And it is incumbent upon the Democratic Party to find a way to speak
to ordinary people, to people in this country who feel they don`t have
someone on their side.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s not just that the Republican Party is more
disciplined. I mean, you know, in many ways, it feels kike they are, but
they are also relatively more homogenous, at least in the leadership. I
mean -- and I don`t just mean like race or danger homogeny.
I mean, literally, we were as a Democratic Party, the Democratic
Party was really two parties for a long time. There are a bunch of
Southerners who are Democrats because they were still mad about the
emancipation proclamation, right, 100 years later. And then there was the
sort of Northern, you know, sort of labor Democrats.
So, what are the things that Democrats now believe?. And you both
suggested there are shared values.
What are they?
FINNEY: Yes. I mean, too me, though. I mean, all of the things
that Igor just talked about, whether we`re talking about health care, gay
rights, African Americans, you know, civil rights, this idea that I am my
brother`s keeper -- to me that`s all a very core value, and the role of
government that we see in terms of how we treat each other as human beings,
what our Constitution means? And it doesn`t fit to the cute, little, you
know, smaller government, which is a crap. You know, lowered taxes, and
strong national defense, I don`t think we should buy into that.
But the point is, I think we have a core value about, you know, I am
my brother`s keeper, we`ve got to be all in this together. We`ve got to
always be expanding rights for every person. There are no inalienable
rights. I mean, there are no illegal aliens in this country, to maybe
people who are here illegally, but we still have to deal with that and
treat those people with humanity.
DAWSON: I`m not going to minimize these issues at all. They`re all
important, but I think that what we`ve missed here is the Republicans have
caught a good candidate to run for president. Second all, we`re talking
This election, every day that the president is not talking about the
jobless number and the pain that`s out there and the economic pain. And
remember the deficit fight. I mean, our party is united over some core
principal beliefs. You might not agree with them. I do.
But we`re united about this government spending and the overreach of
the federal government into our face.
FINNEY: The Tea Partier and your party totally ripped the whole
DAWSON: Well, the Tea Party is right there. That`s a whole another
segment about who they are, what they are and the impact they. But the
business they have is winning elections. I`m not saying the organizations,
but the messaging help of the overreach of government, how much money
they`re spending and how much to all of this cost?
And that`s where we have the high ground. It is why.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I disagree. There`s fundamental division in this
country over the rule of government.
DAWSON: That`s what this election is going to be about.
VANDEN HEUVEL: The role of community and whether you want an economy
that is YOYO, you`re on your own, or an economy that is going to take care
of those who are not only the most venerable, but shared prosperity.
But I would also argue freedom. It`s an economy and community but
With all due respect, on the show, if I hear Democrats, Democrats
said it one more time, I`m going to reach my filibuster. But I`m going to
reach to my filibuster baton if I hear Mitt Romney at the NRA convention
invoked 29 times.
There is freedom and there is freedom. I believe in what freedom
from want, freedom from fear, freedom of expression and freedom of
religion. And I think those are the freedoms that the Democratic Party has
spoken to at best and that we`re deformed in many ways.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, we`re going to get exactly this
question of what we believe. And sort of -- there were 17 Democrats this
week who seemed to believe other than the rest of the Democrats.
And so, up next, we`re going ask -- where is this party if the
members can`t all get in line on Supreme Court victory day? Seventeen
folks were still wandering around, doing something else. We`ll talk about
that, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have been talking about today`s Democratic Party,
where they are, what they stand for.
Well, on Thursday, we found out, more than 100 Democrats led by
members of the Congressional Black Caucus and leader Nancy Pelosi, sent a
clear message when they walked out during the House vote to hold Attorney
General Eric Holder in contempt. And while that very act showed unity it
didn`t show consensus, since 17 Democrats voted to hold the attorney
general in contempt.
Back at the table are Karen Finney, Katon Dawson, Katrina Vanden
Heuvel and Igor Volsky.
And joining us from Kansas City, Missouri, is Representative Emanuel
Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
So, nice to have you, Congressman.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, can I ask you this? What in the world were
the 17 Democrats who did not join you in the walkout, what were they
CLEAVER: Well, I had made the appeal to the Democratic Caucus on
Thursday morning to walk out. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina had actually
suggested at the CBC meeting the day before that we walk out, and we
thought that we would have over 100, which we did.
But we also realized that there are some Blue Dogs who simply believe
that, you know, the people back home would think kindly of them if they
went along with the contempt citation. Obviously, I disagree. Steny Hoyer
then asked if they would at least vote and go to the cloak room in the back
so our side would be empty, and I think most of them did.
But, you know, each person who voted with the other side obviously
believed that it would be a good move back home, particularly those who are
in close races.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, Congressman, let me ask you about that
exactly. Are Democrats better off with or without the Blue Dogs?
Obviously, the Blue Dogs provide a majority. They help to create the sense
of higher numbers.
But is it actually better off to end up with a consensus or a more
easily corralled group than to have the Blue Dogs as part of the Democratic
CLEAVER: Well, you know, we are a coalition. Someone mentioned
earlier, of all kinds of people. We have conservative Democrats who
embrace I think overall the Democratic principles. And then we have people
who are considered liberal, like me, who would find antithetical many of
the things that the Blue Dogs vote for.
But, you know, I try desperately to respect the fact that they can`t
go along with us on a number of things, but let me also say that there
comes times during the course of a session when I would say, now, we
probably can do better without the Blue Dogs, and then I rethink it, come
to the conclusion that the Democratic Party is a big tent party and we need
HARRIS-PERRY: So, is it possible -- I mean, you know, here it is,
basically July 1, we`re moving toward a Labor Day DNC convention. Is it
possible to get everybody on the same page between now and then?
VOLSKY: You know, it`s always been hard for Democrats. You see how
the right does it. They are so organized, they are so well-step. Although
on the Fast and Furious, I get the sense that the leadership wasn`t happy
with this vote. They scheduled it on Thursday, when the decision came
down. They didn`t want the headlines.
But the right-wing members knew this was a base issue. This is an
issue to rally their base, to come out, these conspiracy theories about a
way to control gun violence, secret attempt by the president to get gun
control in place. I mean, how beholden is this party to the NRA? How far
have they moved to the right for this to happen?
FINNEY: I mean, this is the best example of what Katrina is talking
about in terms of the grip that big money has on politics. Those 17
members likely did not vote the way they did because that`s the way their
constituents would want, were they to make their argument about here`s what
I support, here`s where I don`t.
They were afraid of the ad that would be run against them by the NRA
and the outspending, the outside spending against them.
VOLSKY: Democrats think if they get along, if they try to compromise
with the Republicans, it will work in the end. It hasn`t. We`ve tried it,
it hasn`t. They will run against you.
DAWSON: It doesn`t work on our side either. But I found it
interesting, the congressman said Blue Dogs who stay there, and I love the
fact that we are putting people in all of these groups, certainly
counterproductive. But because they want to represent the people back
home. I mean , he just angered those members, because they are willing to
represent the people back home.
DAWSON: That`s what he just said.
VOLSKY: The jobs, which Republicans said when we get the majority,
that`s what we`ll focus on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, Congressman Cleaver, I mean, exactly this
point about jobs and sort of what do people back home want.
You know, Karen Finney here is making the point that it`s not so much
about sort of what people want, if somebody was making an argument. But
rather, the kind of the danger of running against the NRA, of needing them.
Particularly -- I mean, look, I live in Louisiana and we like our guns.
And so if you were to run, you know, commercials against -- and we`ve
got some Blue Dogs from our state, that said, you know, this person trying
to take away your guns that would be damaging for them.
CLEAVER: Well, yes, and the gentleman who just said -- who just
quoted me on something I didn`t say. I hope he will look at the tape. I
didn`t say it was because they were trying to represent the people back
home. I said because they believed that`s kind of what the people back
home would want and it would play out for them politically.
Now, there`s no question about it, that many of those individuals who
did not vote with us believed that in the long run it helps them.
Now, even though I disagree, why get a 2/3 Republican when you can
get a 100 percent Republican? We see that being played out over and over
again. I mean, you know, look, the Congressional Black Caucus in the last
election, a horrible year for Democrats, did not lose one single seat.
The Blue Dogs, on the other hand, that did, you know, move over,
trying to make sure they didn`t get one those 30-second spots, were
And so, I think that what we need to understand is that --- and I
respect the people who are over there, in spite of what the gentleman said.
I respect them, I don`t put people down for trying to stay in office.
However, I think if you look at the raw numbers, the people who do that
lose far more than the people who stand up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Congressman Cleaver. I think it`s a useful
point. It goes to our broader question of do you win by being Republican
light or really sticking out space as a Democrat? I appreciate you joining
And thank you also to Katon Dawson.
The rest of you are coming back.
And we`re going to ask about Mississippi and the fact that
Mississippi`s only abortion provider may be barred from providing
termination services after today, even though abortion -- please do not
forget this -- is still legal in this country.
Later, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told me about the role AIDS
activism in her career. We`ll talk more about that after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to play you a clip from May of this year.
The man you`ll see speaking is named Bubba Carpenter, a Mississippi state
representative addressing his local Republican Party about the state`s new
anti-abortion law, House bill 1390, which mean mandates that any abortion
provider be an OB/GYN and have privileges to admit patients to a local
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. BUBBA CARPENTER (R), MISSISSIPPI: We have literally
stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi. And, of course, there you
have the other side. They`re like, well, the poor, pitiful women that
can`t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home
with a coat hanger. That`s what we`ve heard over and over and over. But,
hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and
that`s what we`ve decided to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, coat hangers, but you`ve got to start
So, when asked by MSNBC`s "Maddow Blog" about that coat hanger
remark, Carpenter said he used it because, quote, "That was just some of
the language that some of the African-Americans used on the statehouse
floor during the debate.
So, it seems that moral values of lawmakers like State Representative
Bubba Carpenter do not include a concern for women`s health and safety.
The new law goes into effect today, and the effect is to make it
impossible for women in Mississippi to obtain a safe, legal, medical
procedure to which they have a constitutional right -- an abortion.
Joining us from Washington to tell us exactly how it restricts
reproductive rights is Dr. Willie Parker, an OB/GYN, and member of the
Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.
Dr. Parker, thank you for joining us.
DR. WILLIE PARKER, PHYSICIANS FOR REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE AND HEALTH:
Thanks for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is a law that is profoundly insidious?
Because it sounds like it`s a law that will protect women`s health, right?
You`ve got to be an OB/GYN. You have to have admitting privileges.
Explain to me why this actually reduces the ability of a woman in
Mississippi to obtain an abortion.
PARKER: Well, Melissa, the law, as you said, under the guise
creating safety with abortion care, which is extremely safe, are ready
mandates that you have to be a board certified or to be OB/GYN. And in
practicality, what that says is that other health care provider who are not
OB/GYNs will not be allowed to provide the care and that would greatly
restrict the number of abortion providers that could potentially come to
Mississippi or in the state of Mississippi and begin to provide that care.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Dr. Parker, it`s already pretty restrictive,
right? I mean, you`re in Alabama. You`re actually flying in as part of
your understanding of your responsibility and community giving back as a
physician because there are so few providers.
PARKER: That`s correct. I actually reside in Washington, D.C., but
I`m from Alabama.
And part of the reason that I decided to go to Mississippi is because
I am familiar first hand with the poverty and the disparity when people
don`t have access to health care -- and abortion is health care. So I made
the decision to begin providing services in Mississippi because I saw first
hand what women faced when abortion is not safe and accessible.
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels to me also, Mississippi has this strange
reality that it has one of the lowest abortion rates, but then also one of
the highest teen pregnancy rates, and one of the highest -- in fact, the
highest poverty rate in the country.
What is it about women`s health that is important in terms of being a
provider? Because it`s just not clear to me that people understand, this
isn`t just some vague moral issue. This is really about women`s
livelihoods and their lives.
PARKER: Absolutely. We know that when women have the ability to
make the very important decision about when and whether or not to have a
pregnancy and have children, that they make decisions about themselves and
their well-being, as well the families that they are responsible for.
So abortion in abstract might seem like a moral issue, but one in
three women will have an abortion in their reproductive lives, and half of
all pregnancies are unintended. And although that doesn`t mean unwanted, a
little less than half of those pregnancies end up in abortion.
We know that when abortion is illegal and safe and accessible, that
women thrive. We know that when abortion is illegal or inaccessible, women
driven to extreme measures.
So, the concern is that women, as you said, who live in Mississippi,
who are already in extreme circumstances of poverty and low access to
health care and modern contraception, that would be further exacerbated if
one option they have when they do become pregnant and don`t plan to be or
want to be is taken away. That`s would happen if the clinic in Jackson
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to bring in Kenji Yoshino.
Because, you know, we`ve just been seeing these images, keep abortion
legal. And so let me ask you the legal question. This kind of state-based
restriction that doesn`t say we`re restricting abortion, it just makes it
more difficult, more burdensome -- does this end up in the Supreme Court?
If so, what does the law tell us about the likelihood of this being upheld?
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Absolutely it could end
up in the Supreme Court. In fact, the Center for Reproductive Rights has
actually challenged the law in question.
This gets filtered through the undue burden standard. So, in the
Casey case in 1992, the Supreme Court enunciates in this a joint opinion,
and garnered a majority for that in 2000. So, basically the undue burden
test says prior to viability, you cannot place a substantial obstacle in a
way of a woman getting an abortion.
So, it`s pretty fuzzy language. So, we don`t w know what it means
since basically it`s litigated in a case-by-case basis. Generally, it`s
been pretty permissive.
So, the question is, you know, the things like 24-hour waiting
periods have not deemed an undue burden. And so, have been upheld.
So, the question is --
HARRIS-PERRY: Without parental notification. Those are also --
YOSHINO: That`s a great question. So, parental notifications by
minors, as long as there is a judicial bypass option, where the minor can
go to a judge, and do bypass around the parents, that`s been upheld as not
being an undue burden.
What has been struck down as an undue burden is for example spousal
notification requirements, so you have to notify your spouse -- that was
struck down in the Casey case.
So, I think the issue will be, is creating this obstacle. So, you
know, if Mississippi shuts down this only abortion clinic in the state due
to this regulation, will that be deemed substantial obstacle in the path of
a woman to get an abortion? I think you and I would agree that counts as
undue burden, but given that undue burden is kind of a term of art that the
court uses and it`s been used very permissibly, we don`t know what`s going
Dr. Parker, I want to give you the last word on this. If you are a
woman living in Mississippi today what`s your option, what`s your
alternative if, in fact, this clinic is shutting down today?
PARKER: Well, the options are very limited in terms of for a woman
who might be 16 weeks today, which is the legal limit in Mississippi. If
the clinic is closed tomorrow, that woman effectively loses her right to
have an abortion in the state of Mississippi. And if she can`t travel,
I think women have to speak out, speak to their legislators and help
them to understand that they demand their constitutional right to
reproductive privacy so they can access these vital services.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much, Dr. Willie Parker, not only for
joining us today, but for the work that you are doing to try to make it
possible for women to continue to have choices.
And thank you to Kenji Yoshino, who always helping me understand what
this all means in terms of the law.
And up next, the end of AIDS in America as we know it? More from my
interview with Nancy Pelosi on the legacy of HIV and AIDS and what the
future holds, whether or not a cure may be there.
HARRIS-PERRY: Much of my interview with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on
Friday focused on her role in passing the Affordable Care Act and her
reaction to the Supreme Court ruling it`s constitutional. But I also asked
her about one specific public health issue that has been a life long
rallying point for her, one that she staked her early career on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: The issue of HIV and AIDS has
been a life/death issue for me in my district. When I came to Congress,
many, many people had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. And so, when I came 25
years ago on the floor of the House, in my first comments, I talked about
coming here to fight HIV and AIDS.
People criticized me for that. They said, why did you want that to
be the first thing people knew about you in Congress? Why did you say
And I said it because I meant it. It is my commitment for all these
years, and I`m very proud of my community in San Francisco, which has been
the source of many ideas on prevention, care and research for a cure. And
I feel a special responsibility to the issue.
I participated in the pink triangle ceremonies at gay pride weekend
last weekend in San Francisco and look forward in July to participating in
the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Representing the needs of those affected by HIV and
AIDS was a courageous position for the new congresswoman. And over the
course of her career, we as a nation have actually come a long way in
combating the HIV crisis.
When Pelosi first became a congresswoman in 1987, the CDC estimated
that about half a million people were infected with HIV, with 85,000 new
infections per year. In 2009, that figure was down to 48,000 new cases per
But the possibility of a drug that could prevent the transmission of
HIV being approved by the Food and Drug Administration this summer, a new
Quad HIV pill, making it easier for those infected to live with the disease
more comfortable, a kind of once a day pill, it is at times hard to
remember when HIV was known as grid or the gay-related immunodeficiency.
With incident rates down, could we be nearing the end of the struggle
against AIDS in America?
At the table with me is MSNBC contributor Karen Finney and Katrina
Vanden Heuvel from "The Nation" and Igor Volsky of "Think Progress."
And in Minneapolis is Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, dean of
multicultural life at Macalester College.
Hi. I actually want to start with you this morning, Chris. Thanks
for joining us.
CHRISTOPHER MACDONALD-DENNIS, MACALESTER COLLEGE: How are you? How
are you, Melissa?
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m great.
We should let people know that we`re Twitter friends, and thus the
smiles between the two of us.
But your personal story and your work around HIV is part of how we
actually became Twitter friends, how I got to sort of follow the work have
you been doing.
Just reflect for me a bit on your own story around HIV and sort of
where you see -- where we are at this moment.
MACDONALD-DENNIS: Sure. I was diagnosed with HIV 16 years ago. It
was March 10th, 1996. A day as probably you can all imagine that I will
never, ever forget.
And I was really fortunate, because I was diagnosed right when
protease inhibitors came on the market. I`ve been asymptomatic for a long
time. My current virus load is undetectable.
But one of the things that I really wanted to do was working with
young people especially is helping them talk about and think about the
choices. You know, I often reflect on why I made the choices that I did,
not to use condoms. So I often want students to really reflect upon issues
of self-esteem, issues of prevention, issues of really remembering that
this is a disease that impacts us in this country.
One of the things that I do find now is a lot of my students really
think of this now as an African disease or in developing nations. And they
sometimes forget it still impacts us in this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, Chris, actually, let me show this to the table,
because that notion this is an African disease, I will never forget this
moment in the 2004 vice presidential debate. Let`s just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: I want to talk to you about AIDS and not about AIDS in
China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women
between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the
disease than their counterparts. What should the government`s role be in
helping to end the growth of this epidemic?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Here in the United States,
we made significant progress. I had not heard those numbers with respect
to African-American women.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First with
respect to what`s happening in Africa, and Russia, and other places around
the world, the vice president spoke about the $15 billion for aid, John
Kerry and I believe that needs to be doubled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: She said, I`m not talking about Africa or China. And
both of them were like say what?
So, Karen, let me bring you in on this, because you`ve been doing
work both overseas and here domestically. I just thought, oh, my gosh,
we`re nowhere near solving this problem if we don`t know it exists.
FINNEY: That`s right. Well, even the CDC, I just read this, you
know, one in five people living with HIV is unaware of their infection.
But we`re talking about 56,000 Americans each year becoming infected in the
United States. And what we`re also seeing, as you alluded to, in
communities of color, those rates are increasing by staggering numbers,
particularly with African-American and Latino youth who, you know, now
there is this idea that since people don`t look as sick when they are on
the drugs, kids think, oh, if I get it, I`ll just go on the drugs.
African-Americans are more likely to think there is a cure. There`s
no cure. And yet, we know that the sooner it is diagnosed, the more chance
we have to save your life and yet there is still the stigma that prevents
people from getting tested.
VANDEN HEUVEL: There`s the stigma. There`s the value of Chris` work
with young people. But there are the alarming statistics of after men
having sex with men, the African-American women, the numbers are
extraordinarily alarming. A lot of it has to do with poverty, lack of
access to health care. Maybe we`ll see a change in that.
But it`s also the shredding of the social safety net. You know, with
the Ryan White CARE Act, when that was passed, there was a commitment that
people would have access to medicine. That has been shredded in many ways
and if it hadn`t been for President Obama, I think and the Democrats in
2011, you would have seen more cuts.
You had a great idea, if it`s permissible to bring in something that
was said outside of air this morning. You know, the African-American
churches, such pillars in community around this country, maybe instead of
railing against President Obama`s stance on equality, same-sex marriage and
abortion, might open their doors after services for testing in their
community, which play a great role in increasing access.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love these ideas. And, Chris, I know you
(INAUDIBLE) you as well. I want to come back.
As we come right back, we`ll talk about exactly these rates,
particularly in our nation`s capital in Washington, D.C., and try to think
about how do we do the wrap around services? How do we make the story
better for everybody?
HARRIS-PERRY: Wednesday was National HIV Testing Day, an effort
whose growing reach highlights how much progress has been made to fight the
AIDS epidemic. But that progress is not equal across the board.
According to the CDC, African-Americans make up about 14 percent of
the U.S. population, but accounts for 44 percent of all new HIV infections
in 2009 -- that`s the latest figures we have available.
But last week, the D.C. -- the Washington, D.C. Department of Health
reported that while there was an overall drop in infection, it remained the
highest incident rate in the country.
And the rate for heterosexual African-American women in D.C.`s
poorest areas nearly doubled in two years, rising to 12.1 percent. Health
officials says that this increase reflects the trend in wider testing but
unfortunately could also suggest a still rising infection rate.
At the table, MSNBC contributor Karen Finney, "The Nation`s" Katrina
Vanden Heuvel, Igor Volsky of "Think Progress"; and in Minneapolis,
Christopher MacDonald-Dennis of Macalester College.
So, I want to go to you first, Chris, ar8und the question of wrap
around services. I know, you know, each year on testing day, you tweet out
sort of your own personal story and part of it has to do not only with
antiviral medications, but also about community, about housing, about
issues of incarceration, about issues of kind of sort of mental health.
All of those things together, when we`re talking about testing, around HIV.
MACDONALD-DENNIS: Right. I think that, you know, one of the things
about this epidemic is that it really touches upon everything this society
does not want to talk about. So we have to talk about poverty. We have to
about race. We have to talk about homelessness.
We have to talk about sex. And particularly, men having sex with
other men, which is something we really never want to talk about.
So I think that one of the reasons I tweet out my story is that I
want to tell people we aren`t ever really going to be able to ever deal
with this epidemic in a productive way if we`re not able to have those
conversations, and then to make sure we have the level of community that we
need to also support each other.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And, Igor, isn`t it possible for -- not just
community in sort of a vague sense, but literally as Katrina was saying,
the social safety net can help provide that. Some of that is in the
Affordable Care Act?
VOLSKY: It is. I mean, you showed that`s disastrous at the last
block. We`ve really come a long way. You have Hillary Clinton laid out a
global vision for an AIDS-free generation last year.
With Affordable Care Act, you have a series investment on HIV/AIDS.
No more premium variations for those with HIV/AIDS. No more annual or
lifetime limits that they often hit.
You have a Medicaid expansion for those people to get services. And
then community health centers, $11 billion has already gone out to
community health centers, particularly in D.C.
So, you do see it moving in the right direction, and then the
prevention fund, and that`s why you see Republicans try to chip every time.
You want to pay for something they say take it out of prevention fund which
makes investments in that.
FINNEY: Particularly for the black community, we are losing our
young men and women and the Latino community to this disease, because we`re
so afraid to talk about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re dying, because we don`t want to have the
FINNEY: We`ll talk about guns, but we won`t talk about the
importance of testing and prevention. And that`s why when we were talking
about this idea that how about instead of having black ministers out there
railing against marriage equality, why don`t you -- you don`t have to talk
about homosexuality, talk about the importance of getting tested, the same
way African-Americans get tested for diabetes or heart disease. It should
be seen as prevention and a part of staying healthy and being healthy,
rather than that -- it`s killing our people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Chris, I`m going to give you the last word on
this. You are -- you always are often running this conversation on college
campuses. What should the conversation sound like in the broader
MACDONALD-DENNIS: I think that we have to -- one, we have to
remember that HIV and aids still impacts us. I think that we have to be
willing to -- see, for me as a gay man of color, I -- I think I can really
only talk about my part. So, I would say as someone who is viewed as an
elder in that community, I want to say to -- especially young black and
brown men who are gender loving or gay, I love you. And I love you enough
that I want you to protect yourself.
So, I think we need to be willing to have an honest conversation,
while I`m coming from that community, I think we all need to talk about. I
think we need to remember that these issues we need to face.
HARRIS-PERRY: Chris, thank you so much. I know we`re about to lose
your feed out there in Minneapolis. So, thank you so much.
So, I just want to say this final thing, because you and I were
talking about this, you know, kind of the makeup room.
HARRIS-PERRY: This issue of stigma and love, right? Chris is giving
us love in the face of stigma, you`re right. If we`re going to talk about
this, we`re going to have to talk about incarceration. We`re going to have
to talk about men having sex with men.
Is it possible we can love ourselves enough to go on the other side
FINNEY: We have to talk about it. That`s the most important thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re just going to have to be able to talk about it.
Up next, my footnote for the Fourth of July, which is, of course,
Malia Obama`s birthday, Fourth of July.
HARRIS-PERRY: Wednesday is the 4th of July. Grilling over an open
flame, fireworks in the summer sky, patriotic parades down main street USA,
and one overriding theme: freedom.
But Independence Day is more aspirational than actual. We have
longed defined the American Dream with commodities, a home of ones own,
better education for the kids, family vacation and a car to the vacation
And if we measure the dream by acquisitions, we`re trouble. National
unemployment remains above 8 percent. Wages have dropped, and the median
net worth of American families plummeted by almost 40 percent.
Financial security is important, but it`s only an outward
manifestation of the American Dream. Freedom itself is both more elusive
and more complicated. Our founding is not an acquisition and merger story
of young entrepreneurs looking to maximize profit -- or at least not solely
that. I mean, our founding is an unlikely narrative of young men, so
inspired by an age of ideas that they threw off the yoke of colonialism and
founded a free nation -- men who were embarrassingly imperfect.
The land on which they formed this Union was stolen. The hands with
which they built this nation were enslaved. The women who birthed the
citizens of the nation are second class.
But all of this is our story. Each of us benefits from the residuals
of oppression and each of success harmed by the realities of inequality.
This is the imperfect fabric of our nation, at times we`ve torn and stained
it, and at other moments, we mend and repair it.
But it`s ours, all of it. The imperialism, the genocide, the
slavery, also the liberation and the hope and the deeply American belief
that our best days still lie ahead of us.
Which is why my favorite Independence Day story this week is about a
group who are not technically free. A class of 27 inmates, teens and
adults, who received their GEDs Tuesday at the correctional facility on
Rikers Island. Despite being incarcerated, they hold fast to the
optimistic belief that education, hard work and second chances are still
the stuff of America. And that they have a right to take part in the
Of the graduation, Corrections Department Commissioner Dora Schriro
said, "We are about rebuilding the past and building futures."
So on the 4th of July, I`m going to think of the Rikers Island
graduates, and I`m going to wave a flag without hesitation -- not because
I`ve forgotten my nation`s many wrongs, but because I remember them. And I
am nonetheless proud of my country, not because of perfection, because the
alternative is too grim, the alternative is to give up on the dream of the
nation founded in the belief, if not yet the practice that all are
created, all deserve freedom, and all have the right to pursue happiness.
Now, that is a dream worth celebrating -- with fireworks.
And that`s our show for today.
Thank you to Karen Finney, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Igor Volsky for
Thanks to you at home for watching. And I`ll see you next Saturday
and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
And 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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