'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, July 8, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Guests: Ester Armah, Eric Klinenberg, Bill McKibben, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, Stephen Moore
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Mitt Romney is expected to pull in as much as $3 million from a
series of fund-raisers in the Hamptons today, including a $50,000 per
person event at the estate of conservative billionaire David Koch.
And Congressman Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat became the first
sitting member of Congress to enter into a same-sex marriage yesterday,
tying the knot with longtime partner Jim Ready in a ceremony officiated by
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and attended by 300 people.
Congratulations to them both.
I want to start today with my story of the week: life in the disaster
Hani Ahmad lived in a house in Colorado Springs for the last 24
years. The wildfires there are expected to be fully contained today after
burning for more than four weeks. But when the Waldo Canyon fire exploded
out and over the mountainside next to Ahmad`s house, he and his family
And while they were gone, the fire reduced their home to a foundation
Here`s what he said about it in a video produced by climatedesk.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANI AHMAD: It`s really hard not to think about the 23 years that
were lost in that house.
It bothers me when people say this is junk science. I`m convinced
this planet is warming and that this is part of the result of that.
The West is a tinder box. It`s so early in the season I`m terrified
for everybody in the West. If this doesn`t tell us that now is the time
for the debate, I guess nothing will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Weather is terrifying and incomprehensible. There`s a reason
that, first, God welded thunder and the winds. And even today, with all of
our progress and technology, with all the things on this earth we can bend
to our industrial will, a single storm can knock out power for more than 3
million people, as it did last week in D.C. and the surrounding states,
where some are still without power. The last century of electrification
and modern life snuffed out in an instant.
Of course, storms and wildfires come and go. Summer heat waves come
and go and our atmosphere does all kind of freaky things. Weather and
climate are not the same. But if you take a step back and survey the
wreckage of the bizarre, extreme weather just this year, it`s nearly
impossible to avoid the conclusion that the planet is screaming out an
Climate change is here, the wolf is at the door. It hit 95 in New
York City, 105 in Washington, D.C., 107 degrees -- 107 degrees in St.
At least 60 people have died due to this heat wave, and this year
alone, we`ve had a staggering 23,984 daily record highs.
Just look at this map. These are the places that reported record
monthly highs in March. These are the record monthly highs for April.
These are for May and for June. And these are the monthly records set for
July in just the past seven days.
And the reason we didn`t run through a list of maps showing daily
record highs for these months is that all of those maps look the same, like
this. Oh, yes, you will hear people say, can we really say that climate
change is causing the disastrous weather we`re seeing?
It`s a fair question.
My friend writer David Roberts points out that it`s entirely the
wrong question. No weather event ever has a single cause. The broad
question is, is the increase in carbon in the atmosphere and the climate
change it`s producing, making extreme weather more extreme and more common?
And the answer to that is yes.
This video produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research
uses I think a good analogy to describe the relationship between climate
change and the increase in extreme weather.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARACTER: Imagine a baseball player who has been taking steroids.
This baseball player steps to the plate and hits a home run. And, you ask
the question, was that home run due to the steroids? If you look at the
number of home runs he hits over a season when he`s taking steroids and
compare that to a previous season he wasn`t taking steroids, it is only
then you can figure him that the steroids have him more able to hit a home
run because it made him stronger and the chance of him hitting a home run
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There`s been a well-documented, highly resourced concerted
effort often funded by the fossil fuel industry that has to it`s evil
determination sought to sow doubt among Americans about the basic
scientific consensus that our carbon emissions are warming the planet.
It`s reminiscent of the decade-long battle the tobacco industry waged to
discredit the robust and sustained medical evidence that smoking causes
cancers and kills tens of thousands of people every year.
Eventually, enough people sat in hospitals with dying relatives to
realize the truth. That`s where we are right now. The question is, will
we see it?
One of the problems is that climate is abstract and weather is
tangible. Most of us don`t know climatologists but we do know weathermen.
We watch them every morning or every evening. And they are the conduit for
which we get the information about the weather. They are experts that we
recognize when we see them in the street. We know their names and we trust
And yet, as "The New York Times" has documented, many meteorologists
are downright hostile to the robust, durable scientific consensus that the
increased carbon emissions are warming the planet. One of the co-founders
of the Weather Channel has denounced global warming a as a scam. And in a
survey by George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication
conducted in 2010, of the 571 TV meteorologists they surveyed, only 27
percent agreed -- not just that climate change was unproven but an actual
hoax, a vast conspiracy.
Occasionally, you even see meteorologists go on TV and make their
views on this known. Which is why it was a great relief and breath of
fresh air to see NBC D.C. affiliate WRC`s chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer
say this on the air last Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEOP CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Doug --
DOUG KAMMERER, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, sir?
TV ANCHOR: Let me ask you something. You showed the temperatures
for the next several a couple of minutes ago.
TV ANCHOR: All in the 90s. Are we at an unusual pattern? Is this
is a harbinger of what we can expect of the summer or does it mean anything
at all like that?
KAMMERER: I really don`t think it means anything, Jim. One thing
that this does say, I was on the radio talking with some of the folks from
WMZQ and they said, well, Doug, is this global warming? If we did not have
global warming, we wouldn`t see this. I really believe that.
I really think that this is because we would have seen 101, maybe we
would have seen 102, but not 104. We have set all-time records all across
a portion of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To be clear, Kammerer is no more an authority on climatology
than any other meteorologist. What he was doing on air was simply
connecting the dots, expressing a view that is in line with and flows that
uncontroversial peer-reviewed scientific consensus.
And it was not a political statement. But the industry of denial I
just mentioned and the conservative media that amplifies its message
excoriated Kammerer. Michelle Malkin attacked him in an a column write
next to (INAUDIBLE) or Al Gore.
And when a producer from UP requested that video we just played for
us to air, WRC, which is an NBC-owned and operated station, declined to
share it and declined to comment when we asked why.
Climate change is here. But for us to have even a shot at saving the
lives of future heat wave victims and storm fatality, the livelihood of
drought stricken farmers and on and on, we have to wake up as a society to
the peril we now already, right now face in this dawning disaster era. For
that, we will need many more everyday people like Doug Kammerer to state
the obvious, again and again, until it sinks in.
My guests today to tell us how we make that happen, right after this.
HAYES: All right. Joining me today, we have Esther Armah, host of
WBAI-FM`s "Wake Up Call."
Thomas Mann, co-author of "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks,` a sunny
title, "How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New
Politics of Extremism," senior fellow of governance studies and the W.
Averell Harriman chair at the Brooking Institution, which sounds quite
MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh, also author of the upcoming book,
which I am really looking forward to and you should be, too. It`s called,
"What`s the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age that
Never Was." What is the matter with white people? She is also Salon.com`s
editor at a large.
And Eric Klinenberg, and author of "Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of
Disaster in Chicago" -- a remarkable book. And professor of sociology and
public policy and media culture and communications at NYU.
It`s great to have you all at the table. We`re talking about weather
and climate and the kind of weather that we`ve been seeing, not just in the
last week where we had this heat wave. And, again, you know, heat waves
happen. They happen under all sorts of conditions and we`d just went
through a whole long thing about the relationship between weather and
But, to me, one of the reasons I wanted to have you come in, Eric, is
that there`s two tracks that I think we have to start thinking about what
the next few decades of American life are going to look like, which is,
(a), working on one side to reduce our carbon emissions drastically and
produce a plateau, and then a decline in our global carbon emissions. The
other is planning for disaster because we`re going to have a lot more of
those and we`ve seen in Katrina and we see in your book, your amazing book,
chronicle of the heat wave in Chicago in the 1990s that killed 800 people,
if I`m not mistaken.
ERIC KLINENBERG, AUTHOR, "HEAT WAVE": A little more than 700.
HAYES: A little more than 700. That disaster, does the hammer of
disaster does not fall evenly on different populations.
KLINENBERG: Look, disasters discriminate and heat waves do
especially. They pinpoint certain people and also certain places. We know
with a high level of certainty who is going to be affected and how to
allocate resources. We just don`t do it very well and we don`t invest much
HAYES: What do we know about how this -- how this goes down?
KLINENBERG: Well, so, I call my book a social autopsy because, in
fact, the social stuff mediates the impact of weather. The neighborhoods
and cities that are most affected are not just poor, but they tend to be
depleted urban areas, places that lack viable public spaces, that draw
people out of their homes and into contact with each other.
The people who are most vulnerable are older. They tend to be
isolates, more male than female. That is very interesting to me.
I wrote a book about "The Rise of Living Alone" and it turns that
women are more likely to live alone but less likely to be isolated. So you
tend to see it far more men die during heat waves than women. There is a
gender component to it.
And you also see real concentrations in big cities because of the
urban heat island which attracts and traps the heat.
HAYES: And that`s what we`re seeing, you know, St. Louis. That`s
why see these highs that are so off the charts in areas that are urban heat
KLINENBERG: That`s right. And another thing about the heat island
that`s significant here is, you know, you can get out of the danger of a
heat wave by turning on the air conditioner, right? But a lot of people in
cities don`t have air conditioning and because cities don`t only attract
the heat, but also trap it. They don`t get the evening cooling that you
get in the suburban and rural areas. So they can stay above 80 degrees at
night and that could be a death sentence.
HAYES: One of the things that I think is interesting and important
when we`re thinking about how we`re going to change the social attitudes of
the country about this and cope with the coming disaster era and mitigate
climate change is just the fact that when, you know, it was snowing in
Washington and there was heavy snow like you saw on FOX News, right? Like
ha-ha, Al Gore is wrong. It`s snowing.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right.
HAYES: And because of that, right, there is a tendency to not want
to commit the same logical error for people who do, except the this is to
me, as Hani Ahmad said in the video, if you can`t talk about it now, if you
can`t say, look, right now, this is what our present and future look like.
Then, what can we do?
WALSH: Well, I think, you know, we did have a problem that it was
described exclusively in terms of global warming so then you could be
mocked and laughed at when you had snow storms and the "Drudge Report"
which is champion.
HAYES: Every cover of the "Drudge Report" for --
WALSH: Right. I`m also struck, too, by the way you showed Michelle
Malkin -- the right wing has two modes. They have outrage about certain
things, if you can say the wrong thing. I won`t say anyone who might have
done that recently, myself included.
So, there`s outrage that comes at you and you should be taken out of
the public square. But then they got mockery.
WALSH: And that`s what they`ve really done with climate change.
But to go back to what I was saying, we didn`t call it climate change
fast enough because it isn`t just warming. It`s fires, it`s floods, it`s
hurricanes, it can be extreme cold -- it`s these weather extremes. But
now, it is also warming. So, this is really happening.
HAYES: Yes. And, Thomas -- I mean, what we`ve seen and this is what
you chronicle in your book, is just the way in which a certain sector of
American politics has really radicalized in certain ways and grown more
extreme and more unified around an agenda that is extreme and a set of
principles and beliefs that just do not broke any place or openness to the
fact at hand.
THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: That`s exactly right, yet, we`re
not supposed to say that. That is all of the norms in the reporting world
and in the punditing world are to say that there are two sides. And,
surely, those who criticized the possibility of climate change have to have
their air time, too.
So, what you have is a sort of ideological zealotry and certainty
taking over a party that in the past and not so distant past was the center
of constructive thinking on matters pertaining to the environment and we
could then carry it on to fiscal policy and many other matters.
HAYES: Yes, Esther?
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI.ORG: I have two issues with this. I was thinking
about the point that you made in terms of the right and radicalism. But
then I always think, if the right has that radicalism and that outrage and
that mockery, what do we have as a progressive to mitigate against that?
HAYES: I showed you maps.
ARMAH: Exactly. And the maps don`t make it work.
HAYES: I know.
WALSH: We like them.
ARMAH: So, this is my thing that I think that the question of
framing. How do you make this issue land on the ground and in the lives of
people in a way that doesn`t make it feel like, frankly, it is a group of
white people talking about something that is disconnected from the rest of
My family is West African. So for me, global warming and global
justice is American women in thongs, this agenda justice that lives --
HAYES: Let`s also be clear, the same point that Eric made about what
communities are going to have it the worse in the U.S.
ARMAH: But do those communities feel that in that way? Do you know
what I mean? Does it connect to them in that way? Because I think part of
the challenge is -- because part of the challenge is the political
paralysis is the success of the right. And the left, I think, has been
guilty of political cowards, because what do you -- if you`re going to
accept that we are in this moment of disaster, then how are you going to
frame it so that you`re not sitting consistently in this space of
Because if all you have and all you`re going to argue is that we`re
sitting in this radicalized political space, and that is our answer, we`re
condemned to sit here for a very long time.
KLINENBERG: So, experience matters and I think it`s important that
we seized the moment like to have this very conversation, the bubble does
burst from time to time.
There is a bubble in Washington, D.C., whether you`re a Republican or
a Democrat this week, you probably didn`t have power. You`re probably very
hot and you`re probably concerned about that.
We tend to have a really silly way with dealing with the risk of
crisis and disaster in this country. We haven`t invested properly with
infrastructure, for instance, so that every time we have had hot weather,
cities break records for power consumption and the grid goes down.
Shouldn`t that be an issue that transcends party lines? Don`t we all have
an interest in infrastructure?
HAYES: Yes. And the confluence of those things, I mean, that seems
to me like a starting point, right? Republican or Democrat, you want air
conditioning in the summer. You don`t want storms to knock out your power
for a week. So, let`s talk about that and maybe work our way, sort of edge
our way towards the maps that we`re showing up.
I want to bring in an amazing prophetic voice on this issue,
remarkable writer and activist, right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is America prepared for climate change and its effects
going into the future?
SECY. JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We are
seeing the change in weather patterns and we`re seeing right now what
already has been a very difficult summer.
REPORTER: Is it climate change?
NAPOLITANO: You have to look at climate change over a period of
years, not just one summer. You can always have one abnormal summer. But
when you see one after another after another, then you can see, yes,
there`s a pattern here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. That`s, of course, Janet Napolitano talking about
the wildfires in the context of climate change. It was a reporter asking
her that question.
I want to bring in Bill McKibben, author of the book "Eaarth," that`s
with A`s, "Making Life on a Tough New Planet," founder of international
environmental organization 350.org.
Good morning, Bill. Great to have you.
BILL MCKIBBEN, 350.ORG: Very good to be with you, Chris.
HAYES: All right. Bill. So, you -- I`ve been following you on
Twitter. I follow your writing. And you have been the person I think most
forthrightly pressing the case about wake up, wake up, wake up, the weather
is telling us something.
I just want you to start out by defending that as a legitimate, as
essentially legitimate deduction, right? Not as propaganda. Why is it
different than the "Drudge Report" showing, you know, snowstorms in
MCKIBBEN: Look, you know, I wrote the first book for a general
audience about global warming 25 years ago now. And, so, I`ve gotten to
follow this for a long time and I know the science pretty well. What`s
amazing about what`s happening now is that it`s exactly what the
climatologists have been telling us will happen and exactly what`s been
happening with more and more regularity in more and more places around the
350.org works in every country on the planet except North Korea. We
have a pretty good sense all the time of what`s happening and it`s the same
kind of thing place after place. The real tell, though, here is that, you
know, even the people who used to fund this kind of climate are giving up
The CEO of Exxon gave a speech last week in which he said, yes,
you`re right, global warming`s real. And he went on to say, but it`s an
engineering problem with engineering solutions and we`ll just move our crop
production areas to some place where it`s not so hot -- which is ludicrous.
But, you know, that`s the tell.
MCKIBBEN: Anybody who pays any attention to this knows that physics
and chemistry are carrying the day and, you know, as powerful as the right
wing talk machine is, it`s not as powerful as physics and chemistry.
HAYES: James Hanson who, of course, is a legendary scientist, sort
of pioneer in this field. We have this amazing testimony that he gave.
This is him testifying to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in
And he says, "We notice a clear tendency in our model for greater
than average warming in the Southeast United States and the Midwest. We
conclude there`s evidence the greenhouse effect increases likely would have
heat wave drought situations in the Southeast and Midwest United States.
If our model is approximately correct, such situations may be more common
in the next 10 to 15 years than they were in the period between 1950 and
So, there is this match now. You can go back and actually look at
the record. How do you connect --
MCKIBBEN: That`s right.
HAYES: How do you connect -- how do you connect, Bill? I mean, this
is the conversation we`re having here about, first of all, facing up to the
fact that we are going -- I mean, this is what your book is about -- that
we are going to have, even if we get our butts in gear to reduce our carbon
emissions, we`re going to have a different-looking Earth and different
climate and different weather -- and how do you connect that to what is
happening now for people to make that tangible. Because I think that`s the
frustration we all have in this conversation, making it tangible.
MCKIBBEN: Two models here. One, adapt to that which you can`t
prevent. Eric is right. You got to have cooling centers in big cities now
because we`re going to have heat waves and it`s impossible to prevent that.
Mantra two, prevent that to which you can`t adapt.
Everything that we`re seeing around us now is the result of a planet
that`s warmed about one degree. But the same climatologists who told us
that would happen tell us that unless we get off coal and gas and oil very,
very quickly, that one degree will be four or five degrees before the
century is out and most of it locked in very, very soon.
So, we need, above all else, to be working, working desperately to
turn off coal and gas and oil and move to renewable energy. It`s not
impossible thing to do. Technologically, we know how to do it.
Last month, there was a day in which Germany generated more than half
of its energy to solar panels from within its borders. That shows me that
we can do this technologically. What we lack is political will. That`s
why we build movements like 350.org.
And, you know, last year we managed to pull off the biggest civil
disobedience action in 30 years in this country, at least temporarily, slow
down construction of these pipelines to the vast tar sands of Canada.
We`re not strong enough yet, but we`re getting stronger and if we can
build that movement, there`s some chance of taking on not exactly the
Republican right-wing talking machine, more getting at the people behind
them -- the wizards behind the curtain who are the guys who run the fossil
MANN: Bill, you say political will, but, of course, the problem is
centered mainly in the Republican Party. When you wrote your first book
and a bit before that, the Republican Party had prominent conservationist
who would speak out against the kind of rhetoric that is coming from the
extreme right wing. But now, the party establishment has really embraced
those extreme views.
What`s the way of returning some sensible Republican thinking and
talking and opinion leadership to American politics?
MCKIBBEN: So, two quick answers here. One, the Republican
leadership will follow the day that the fossil fuel industry, that the Koch
brothers and others feel the heat and that`s where we need to turn most of
Second, we can figure how to turn some of that political heat on.
One of the things we`re doing at 350.org this summer is a big campaign
against the fossil fuel subsidies that the federal government pays out. It
turns out that 80 percent of Americans, Republican and Democrat and
independent across the board think it`s a poor idea to be giving federal
money to the biggest, richest industry on the planet.
Even without climate change, it`s obnoxious that we`re paying them a
performance bonus to wreck the planet is really disgusting. And so, that`s
a campaign that can begin to do some of this damage that we need to do.
HAYES: Bill, I want to talk about this divide between meteorologists
and climatologists, too, and how that`s playing out, particularly as we
watch this weather disaster unfolds before us. Stick around and we`ll talk
about that right after the break.
HAYES: Talking about the weather we`ve been all experiencing and
watching in some parts of the country genuinely suffering through and its
connection to the fact that we`re warming the planet.
At the top, Bill McKibben from 350.org. At the top, Bill, I was
talking about this climatologist/meteorologist divide in terms of almost as
a sociological divide, like this distrust that they have from
climatologists from some of the reporting I`ve seen.
This is -- some data we have on this. This is the George Mason
University and Yale project on climate change that surveyed people`s
beliefs in human cause of global warming. American comes in around 46
percent believe that humans are causing global warming. Meteorologists
come in at 19 percent -- which seems to me, really, a big, big, big part of
the problem because that`s where people are getting their day-to-day
information about what`s going on with their atmosphere.
MCKIBBEN: There`s actually been some really good work going on
recently. There`s a group called Forecast the Facts that has been working
with weatherman to try to get them to deal forthrightly.
I think the biggest problem is the one that you alluded to in your
opening with your local station in Washington who would not give you the
footage of the weather forecast. The local stations are terrified of the
right-wing pressure on this and they pass the word down. All of that is
going to come out in the wash because, at this point, Americans can`t help
but see with their own eyes what`s going on, the percentage of Americans
who believe in global warming is actually much higher than that now. It`s
gone up a lot in the last six months and that`s because we keep having the
most incredible weather anyone has ever seen and more on the way.
Here`s the story of the next two weeks. You know, even as the heat
begins, hopefully to break some today across the country, the drought
across the grain belt of this continent is just deepening -- a deepening,
deepening by the day. We`re watching each acre lose two, three bushels
worth of yield and grain prices have gone up 35 percent and 40 percent in
the last three weeks around the world because of our drought.
Corn can`t really pollinate when it`s this hot and this dry. That`s
just basic science and it`s catching up with everyone`s perception.
KLINENBERG: Bill, this is Eric Klinenberg, let me tell you what an
honor it is to be part of a conversation with you. I`ve learned so much
from your reporting and writing on this over the years.
You know, it`s interesting for me, my book is about the heat wave.
And what I notice is that we can generate a conversation about this issue
in the summer, for about three or four weeks, when it`s unbearably hot and
we all have the bubble burst and experience this a little bit first hand.
How do we sustain the conversation over time? This is not a hot
weather issue. This is an everyday issue about an age of extremes. And I
find that it`s difficult to persuade Americans that this is really
something that we should care about.
MCKIBBEN: It`s a little harder when it`s not hot. But,
unfortunately, reaching the point where there`s something going on most of
the time. You know, here in Vermont where I am today, we went through the
greatest rain storm we ever had last September. It damn near washed half
the state away.
I dare say there`s hardly anybody in this state who doesn`t
understand something is going on.
But the other half of this is, this goes back to what Esther was
saying earlier. It`s not just that we need to talk about peril, we need to
talk about opportunity.
MCKIBBEN: If you want to figure out where you might find something
to get our sluggish economy moving, again -- well, the place is pretty
obvious. If we were able to get serious about putting solar panels on
rooftops across America, all those people who are good at swinging hammers
and don`t have any more McMansions to build would find themselves seriously
back to work.
This is where jobs are. It`s where our society needs to go and where
it can go, once we break the grip of the fossil fuel industry.
ARMAH: Bill, this is Esther Armah. So, I wanted to pick up on that
point and ask you. So then how does the environmental activism movement
take on that specific point?
Because I feel like we are absolutely rooted in a discussion about
peril, but the positives, the solutions, the way in which folks on the
ground can get connected so that there is a narrative that includes them is
where we fail. And as long as we continue to fail and sit in this politics
of paralysis, how do you move forward?
HAYES: Yes, right.
MCKIBBEN: Well, think about really wonderful operations like Green
for All or like mild friend Van Jones who has been doing harder, doing a
tremendous job of mobilizing communities to man this shift towards, say,
green energy. The biggest economic shift we could be making.
Imagine, also, that that is going on now around the world in place
after place after place. We`re not winning this fight yet. The power of
the fossil fuel industry is so great. I mean, it is the most profitable
enterprise human beings have ever engaged in, so they will not give up.
But this movement is building. We organized 25,000 demonstrations in
every country but North Korea, over the last four years. That movement is
beginning to grow to the size where it holds some peril for the fossil fuel
industry and that`s good news.
HAYES: One of the things I think that`s fascinating here is that
what I`m hearing from you. There`s just two ways to think about getting to
where we need to go on this issue. One is persuasion and one is power.
And what I`m hearing from you, is that it`s actually not a persuasion game
at this point, but the planet is going to do the persuading, that the
weather is going to do the persuading, that the public opinion will come to
where people can no longer ignore it.
The problem is power. The problem is centers of power that are in
the most profitable enterprise and the human endeavor on the planet. I`m
not sure I agree with that, though. I mean, think that I worry a lot about
this persuasion issue because it seems to me that the public opinion does
play a role here and that seems like a big obstacle.
And I want you to just address that right after we come back.
HAYES: All right. Bill McKibben, left off with a question there
persuasion problem versus a power problem. Is it the interest and that you
are stopping it or is it public opinion? Ands obviously, that you`re
related because the interests are doing a lot to try to manipulate and
distort public opinion. And I sort of threw out there, I think you may be
discounting a bit how central public opinion it seems to me in persuasion
is to this.
MCKIBBEN: Well, I mean, I don`t disagree with you. I spend my time,
much of it, writing books and organizing big demonstrations and that kind
of thing. So, I think, you`re right.
And I think that there are ways that we can be doing this better to
wit, the president of the United States gave a talk on Friday in
Pennsylvania and the temperature was like 102 or something and 25 people
passed out, not from his incredible charisma, but from the heat.
MCKIBBEN: And he managed not to mention global warming then or any
other time in the course of this heat wave.
It would help once in a while if people like that would say the word.
All I`m telling you is that what`s interesting is despite the power
of the right-wing media and everything else, two-thirds of Americans or so
understand that we have a really serious problem with global warming.
Every poll shows they`re willing to do something about it.
Our problem at heart is the incredible financial power of this
industry. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who spent more money on the
election cycle last year than RNC and the DNC combined acts essentially as
a front group, for instance, for the fossil fuel industry.
They filed a brief with the EPA a couple years ago that said: you
know what? You shouldn`t regulate carbon because even if the scientists
are right and the earth warms, humans can adapt their physiology to cope
with the heat.
You know, that`s a pretty extreme and radical idea of changing your
anatomy in order to deal with this problem, instead of having the fossil
fuel industry modify its business plan to deal with wind and solar. We`ve
got to be calling these people out and regularly, that`s where the fight
HAYES: I, for one, look forward to the future in which we all grow
fans out of our shoulders. That will --
WALSH: I live in San Francisco and I think it`s going to be good for
us. We`re adapting. It`s a little warmer every year.
Bill, this is Joan Walsh. I`m joking, of course.
I was struck by how successful the tar sands Keystone XL actions
were. I mean, they really - they jumped on the front page. They really
had an impact.
Where else are you looking? What other issues, what other specific
kinds of issues are right for that and what did you learn from the success
of that movement, which is not over?
MCKIBBEN: Yes, we won a temporary victory -- all environmental
victories are temporary -- and this one temporary than most because big oil
is coming back. But it was really interesting.
One of the things we learned was that there were a lot of people out
there willing to take real action. I mean, when we said, I sent out the
letter with Naomi Klein and Wendel Barry and few other people saying would
you come to Washington and get arrested. We had no idea what to expect.
This was well before Occupy, for instance.
And, you know, 1,200 people-plus showed up to get arrested. And the
biggest civil disobedience action in 30 years taught me that really the
possibility of that kind of more militant movement is there. I think one
of the next frontiers for this may have to do with looking at divestment
from the fossil fuel industry, you know, reminiscent of what happened in
the apartheid movement a quarter century ago.
We`ve got to go after that financial power.
HAYES: Bill McKibben, founder of the international environmental
organization, 350.org -- thanks so much for joining us. I rally appreciate
Eric Klinenberg, great to have you here, as always. Come back soon.
All right. What we should take away from this week`s follow up on
the Supreme Court ruling on health care, right after this.
HAYES: Mitt Romney was forced to backtrack this week after coming
under intense pressure from conservatives to call the individual mandate at
the heart of the Affordable Care Act a tax rather than a penalty.
The Supreme Court ruled that the mandate is constitutional under
Congress` authority to levee taxes. Republicans in Washington immediately
left on that justification with some falsely labeling the mandate, quote,
"The largest tax increase in American history."
On Monday, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom poignantly refused to call
the mandate a tax, presumably fearing that Romney`s own health care
initiative in Massachusetts, which also included a mandate, would be
labeled a tax, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY ADVISOR: The governor has consistently
described the mandate in Massachusetts as a penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Two days later, after being barraged by the right, Romney did
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Supreme Court has a
final word and their final word is that Obamacare is a tax. So, it`s a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The tax versus penalty imbroglio capped a week of political
fallout over Chief Justice John Roberts` decision to join the four liberals
on the court in upholding the individual mandate as constitutional. CBS`
Jan Crawford reported based on two unnamed sources in the court that
Roberts initially voted with conservatives in the court to strike down the
Republicans said Roberts` vote switch was evidence that it was
motivated by political calculation rather than the merits of the case. The
court`s other major finding in that case that expanding Medicaid is
constitutional, but forcing states to participate in that expansion is not
-- continues to have repercussions. At least seven Republican governors
have now said they will refuse to implement the Medicaid expansion in their
states, potentially leaving more than 2.3 million Americans uninsured in
those states alone.
Joining us at the table to talk about the politics of all this is
Norman Ornstein, co-author, along with Thomas Mann of "It`s Even Worse Than
It Looks," a resident scholar at the American enterprise institute.
First question for you, out of the decision there was an interesting
debate that happened I think among progressive and other journalists about
whether we would see Republican governors refuse the Medicaid money. I was
on the side that said, of course, they`ll refuse it. And there was genuine
debate and, you know, I was right.
But -- just saying -- but how -- but there`s a question of whether
they`re actually going to follow through on that and how long they can hold
out. But how surprised were you or were you not by the fact that we have
all these Republican governors saying they`re going to walk away from, and
I should be clear, 100 percent fully paid for, for three years and then
eventually 90 percent/10 percent shared cost for ensuring people up to 33
percent of the poverty line?
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: How can anyone be
surprised by it, except for the reality that it`s utterly self destructive
decision and the decision that has nothing to do with actually running a
I was just with Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans who was a
terrific student of mine talking about what this would cost New Orleans,
because, of course, when you take people off the Medicaid rolls, or don`t
let them get on the Medicaid roles, they go off the emergency rooms, which
have to take them.
So, this is not only something that`s given to the states for free
for three years and if you wanted to opt out when it goes to 90 percent?
ORNSTEIN: But it`s going to cost the states money. It`s a decision
made for nakedly partisan and ideological, political reasons and these
governors deserve condemnation for it, I believe.
HAYES: Well, but then is why is it the case that the normal
mechanics of political accountability are not functioning, right? I mean,
why -- shouldn`t it be the case that you would be scared to walk away from
in the case of Louisiana -- I`m looking at the number here -- $8.9 billion
in federal money because, if you do that, presumably, you will be punished
by the voters. But they are making a political calculation -- these
Republican governors -- that they will not be.
So, what is not working that that is the case?
WALSH: Those people are not their voters. The people affected by
this horrible decision and who are going to suffer terribly are not their
voters. And they are so invested in proving to their slightly higher
People may fall into this category and not know it. But for now,
they`ve got this ideological thing going that the problem with the economy
is too much government spending.
WALSH: So, we just got to cut it in every way possible. People feel
good about that, as long as they`re not one of the people who`s going to be
thrown off Medicaid. And --
HAYES: But if they`re not their voters, they`re presumably somebody
else`s voters or they should be, right? I mean, that is the point, right?
You should have to -- we`re not talking about, we are talking about people
who make 133 percent of poverty, households.
Now, the party line is low, I think it`s lower --
WALSH: It`s shameful.
HAYES: Yes. It`s extremely. So, 133 percent of the poverty is
people not struggling to get by.
HAYES: And voting rates among that cohort are lower than people,
say, making $100,000 a year, but there`s still voters there. I mean --
MANN: These -- these Republican governors were elected in 2010.
They`re not off until 2014. They`re making a statement now. They`re
hoping Romney will be elected president with the Republican Congress and
much of this will be disabled, if not absolutely repealed.
So, it`s a calculation about where things will stand when they have
to face the electorate.
ORNSTEIN: There`s another point here. It`s not just refusing the
Medicaid money. Many of these governors are playing a game of chicken by
not creating exchanges in their states, which mean physical they don`t move
forward now, the federal government will step in. It`s a calculated gamble
that they can use this to attack Obamacare and achieve that political
But there`s another point to be made here. These are poor voters in
this case. The Ryan plan to cut Medicaid by 20 percent and turn it back to
the states will hit the elderly and those of us who have parents or
grandparents in nursing homes, the single largest component of Medicaid.
Just wait until you get that cut and instead of having one nurse`s aide for
every six patients, there will be one for every 60.
ARMAH: And even the notion of poor given the economy that we`re in
is a shifting spectrum. It`s no longer what people define as poor, which
is folk who look like me, that`s really what we`re talking about.
But I think it`s also the other point is this, that while the
Republicans are making this calculated, political gamble, the Democrats are
engaging in a battle of whether this is a penalty and a tax and it`s the
wrong fight. That`s my point. It`s absolutely the wrong fight because
they need to ensure that folks understand, this is the party that doesn`t
want you to have something, not just you need your grandparents need and
your grandparents will need.
So, the point is, while one side is making a political gamble, what
are the Democrats doing, not to offset that argument, but to speak to the
HAYES: Let`s talk about the political movement. Let me just say,
stipulate for the record -- I don`t think most American`s conceptions of
poor are glamorous, elegant, West Africans like you.
HAYES: Unless then maybe I`m wrong.
We will be right back after this break.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With me this morning, we have Esther Armah, host of WBAI-FM`s "Wake
Up Call"; Thomas Mann, co-author of "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the
American Constitutional System Collided New Politics of Extremism"; MSNBC
political analyst Joan Walsh; and Norman Ornstein, the other co-author of
"It`s Even Worse Than It Looks."
We are talking about the fallout from the health care decision which
has played out through the week on a number of different fronts. Two, most
interestingly, the Republican governors in seven states, it looks like,
saying they`re not going to take this Medicaid expansion because the court
ruled that states couldn`t be forced to do it with the threat of losing all
of their Medicaid.
And these are some familiar names, Rick Scott in Florida, and Scott
Walker in Wisconsin and Nikki Haley in South Carolina.
We were just talking about why the mechanisms of political gravity
don`t seem to be operating such that you can`t walk away from 100 percent
funding and $9 billion in the case of Louisiana, without getting hit for
it. I think what`s interesting who the Republicans are representing or who
they`re concerned about.
I mean, one of the other things we are seeing happen at the same
time, there is a great "Times" article about this, what they call an
awkward around Medicare, because let`s remember, the Republicans ran on
$500 billion in cuts to Medicare as the one sentence description --
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Of Obama care.
HAYES: -- of Obama care.
And so, particularly for Norm and Tom, because you have this book
about this kind of ideological extremism, I just feel like we concede too
much if we say it`s ideological extremism, because there`s not actually a
debate over the size of government. It`s not government gets bigger or
It got bigger under Bush and the Republicans. It`s going to get
bigger under Mitt Romney and the Republican Congress, I guarantee you.
It`s about who it benefits. That`s a much different conversation.
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It is a much
different conversation. But I actually think the Ryan budget, which, by
the way, includes the $500 billion in Medicare cuts --
ORNSTEIN: -- so that it`s able to move things down and which would
cut out virtually all of discretionary government, domestic government by
2050, they`re serious about moving forward with something close to that and
it would leave an awful lot of the society, which means people who don`t
vote for Republicans in this case in tatters.
The cuts in Medicaid they`re determined to do -- and I think as we
were discussing earlier, it`s partly based on their own misconception who
benefits from Medicaid. It isn`t just poor people.
And they do want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. So, if
they win all the reins of power, the mother of all reconciliation bills is
going to include a good share of that. And it`s going to be like a grand
experiment. They will retreat from it because there`ll be an enormous
HAYES: Well, and that`s the question. And that`s why essentially I
think the states here on the Medicaid expansion are the kind of
laboratories on that, right? I mean, it`s an open question. Will you face
political consequences in a state like Florida where have a lot of seniors
were dual eligible, which mean they`re on Medicaid, also.
HAYES: You know, can you walk away from that money? Can Rick Scott
WALSH: Can Rick Scott revive? Right. Will there be a front-lash --
can there be a front-lash that will prevent some of this and will we see it
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI.ORG: I mean, I just think it`s a failure to learn
the lessons of the rise of the Tea Party movement that came out when the
Affordable Care Act was being discussed. It`s a failure of the Democrats
to go on the offensive about what this means to the electorate and to not
engage in the party politicking that the Republicans have become so
successful at because they consistently hold every piece of legislation
hostage using -- it no longer matter if the facts are inaccurate or even if
they believe them, because at this point it`s become such a successful
strategy in paralyzing the Democrats, that it`s continuing to work.
HAYES: Right. And one of the things that I think we saw which was
important about this Medicaid announcement for the Republican governors was
-- I think there is a question, at what point does the battle end? And I
think the president came out and gave a statement, let`s not refight this
battle. OK, it`s been declared constitutional, it`s going to be the law of
But, no, Romney`s pledging to repeal it and the House is going to
hold a vote on repealing it, the governors aren`t implementing the
exchanges. It`s ceaseless battle.
THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: The real question you framed is
how much of this is ideological and how much of it is strategic.
MANN: We have seen and we illustrate in our book time and time again
Republicans take positions that don`t necessarily advance their ideological
interests but their immediate political interests and that`s what`s going
on right now. The Ryan budget was amended so no Medicare cuts that would
be felt by individual recipients would come into effect for a decade --
HAYES: Ding, ding, ding.
MANN: They put that off and the rest is just all that other spending
that goes to poor people.
HAYES: But that`s the point. We`re talking about, it`s just really
important how this conversation gets framed. We`re talking about the Tea
Party backlash to the Affordable Care Act as it was working its way
The core there was in don`t trend on me, I mean, that was the
manifestation of it. Don`t tread me, big government. It was, you`re going
to take from my -- the part of the pie that I now have. Medicare and give
it to someone else.
This is a zero sum battle over the resources that are already in the
federal budget. Right, this is a battle over where that is going to go in
ORNSTEIN: You know, one element of this. Let`s move beyond the
health care issue for just a minute. What the Ryan budget would do if they
got into power would basically cut discretionary spending on the domestic
side by 25 percent or so and put it all back in defense.
HAYES: Right. Exactly.
ORNSTEIN: But think about all of the implications of this because
we`re not just talking about money for poor people. It starts with that
and we already see it in the farm bill with food stamps now going down so
you can preserve subsidies for some of the farm groups. But think about
food safety. Cut the meat inspectors by 25 percent and you cut the Centers
for Disease Control by 25 percent. So when the E. coli breakouts occur,
there`s nobody there to help deal with it.
There will be a backlash against it. But what`s also going to happen
is the federal employees who are being bashed daily, now have a three-year,
it will soon turn into a five-year pay freeze who are the ones on the front
lines trying to operate with 25 percent fewer resources are going to be
even more vilified for this and it`s going to be a downward spiral.
HAYES: The one place where there has been genuine consistency is on
taxes. I mean, that was made the fallout of the penalty tax decision so
hilarious, right? Because, it`s -- it was hilarious in -- well, not
hilarious -- darkly comic in the lead up through the actual arguments,
because it was clear to me, at least, that the structure of the thing was a
tax -- whatever three letters you want to attach to it.
But those three letters have such a totemic power. I mean, they`re
so, so forbidden. They`re so taboo you cannot say the word. And that was
so hilarious to watch this play out over the week, it`s OK. Tax, say it.
It`s -- but that is why they tie themselves into pretzel knots all
week because that is the one place where the Republican Party has been
incredibly consistent, amazingly so, and discipline, which is no taxes
MANN: And would act accordingly, that is Grover Norquist tax pledge
is the major pillar of the Republican Party. It also, realistically,
happens to be the biggest obstacle to doing anything about any of our
HAYES: Here`s the "Wall Street Journal" attacking, you know, it`s
Eric Fehrnstrom went on Chuck Todd`s program here on MSNBC to say, you
know, it`s penalty, because you wanted to preserve him, Romney, from being
attacked to raising taxes.
"The Wall Street Journal" said, "He`s managing to turn the only
possible silver lining in Chief Justice John Roberts` Obamacare salvage
operation -- that the mandate to buy insurance or pay a penalty is really a
tax -- into a second political defeat. Perhaps Mr. Romney is slowly
figuring this out, because on the July 4 interview, he stated himself that
the penalty now is a tax after all. But he offered no elaboration, so
campaign looks confused, in addition to being politically dumb."
And then here`s Rush Limbaugh, this is -- I like this. This is Rush
Limbaugh running with the critique of Obamacare in quotation marks as a big
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: What we have been told by the chief
justice of the Supreme Court and four liberals on the court, Obamacare is
just a massive tax increase. That`s all it is. Obamacare is nothing more
than the largest tax increase in the history of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The largest tax increase in the history of the world.
MANN: It`s overwhelming to hear that, isn`t that? Listen, it is
just ludicrous, the extent to which Republicans will go to define things as
taxes, destroying the rest of the world.
It turns out that this penalty tax, I don`t care what you call it, is
a minor part of the financing of the Affordable Care Act.
HAYES: It`s not even -- it`s negligible.
MANN: It`s a trivial part and, actually, Justice Roberts` decision
was well-thought out. He said it can be constitutionally yet it provides
the basis for allowing the mandate, you know, to proceed, even though
Congress didn`t call it that.
He`s not making some grand claim about it, other than that it`s
ARMAH: But the trouble is, you end up with days and days of
punditry. Is it a tax? You know, gleefully saying, look at Mitt Romney,
once again the most unsophisticated flip-flopper ever in political history,
in the history of the world.
WALSH: Yes, you say he did a 180 and I think it`s now a 360.
HAYES: It was a 180 and then another 180.
ORNSTEIN: Wait until next week, it will be a 720.
I was struck first by the fact that Rush Limbaugh doesn`t realize
that horizontal stripes on a body like that are --
HAYES: Come on. That`s a cheap shot. That`s a cheap shot.
ORNSTEIN: It`s a real shot.
But the other part of this is another failure of messaging on the
Obama and Democrats` part. This, as a tax, hits a small number of people.
The big problem with it is, it`s too small.
HAYES: That`s the big concern.
ORNSTEIN: It`s a big concern because you`re not going to have enough
of an incentive for people to get insurance.
But it`s being portrayed as a tax on everybody and that`s biting more
than it should.
ARMAH: At what point, at what point do the Democrats learn that?
The manner in which they have a really serious framing problem that
consistently have that and it`s allowing the Republicans to get away
without just really articulating what should be devastatingly dismissed --
HAYES: I think you`re wrong this week because that actually, what
ended up happening was the story of the week wasn`t is Obamacare a tax.
The story of the week was Mitt Romney is flip-flopping on the tax.
So, I think that actually from just purely political perspective they
played that pretty well.
More on that, after this break.
HAYES: All right. We`re talking about the fall out from the health
care decision and the great penalty tax debate that ensued afterwards and
also the Medicaid.
I mean, the Medicaid issue is the more substantive one. I think the
penalty-tax debate to me is interesting because they`re window into just a
fundamental problem, right? This fundamental problem which is that
governments need to collect taxes -- they just do. There`s just no real
government effort that has been so -- if you object, if you object to
taxes, just almost, it`s very clear -- it`s very unclear how you operate
politics within that confine.
And it`s not just that, it`s not just that Republicans say they want
lower taxes, they always want them lower than they are now. That strikes
me as a problem.
HAYES: Right. Right. It always has to be lower. So, you know,
it`s a one-way ratchet.
WALSH: Except for the earned income tax credit, they like to raise
HAYES: That`s true. Herman Cain and all those folks did want to
WALSH: Raise taxes on those dead beats.
But, you know, I was thinking about in terms of Tom and Norm`s book,
because you do have a kind of nullification at every level. You have this
determination to block Obama by any means necessary.
But they ultimately fail with the Affordable Care Act. Chief justice
Roberts lets them down.
And then -- but then you go out into the states and the red state
governors are going to thwart him there. And it reminds me of something
that Grover Norquist said. I think he said, it, too, like a Harvard
reunion and Deval Patrick was there.
And he wrote an op-ed about it. And he said, Grover said what we do
when we have Democrats in power is we make it impossible for them to govern
as Democrats what we do whatever we have to, tax pledge, thwart it in every
And then -- and then it goes to what you were talking about before
because the Democratic constituencies are sort of like, well, why vote?
HAYES: Can I play devil`s advocate on this?
HAYES: I don`t want to sit in this hot tub of consensus for too long
here. So, you know, the idea that this kind of any means necessary
nullification kind of thing -- I mean, the problem, I`m not sure I disagree
with that as just for a strategy. The problem is the thing they`re trying
to nullify I think is good.
But if Democrats -- if there were something that I -- that
Republicans of massive piece of social legislation and Republicans pushed
through that I thought was genuinely a threat to the country`s future and
its character and was awful and terrible, I would want Democratic
politicians at every level to reject it, to fight it, to not give up, to
keep fighting, to challenge the Supreme Court.
HAYES: Right, exactly, but is it -- are we expressing envy or
condemnation when we talk about Republicans being so determined in this
ORNSTEIN: It`s a different matter. It`s not just nullifying laws
that you think are just terrible. It`s nullifying everything, including
things that you believe would actually help the economy, but if it helps in
the short run, you don`t want to do that because you want the revolution
now, it may cause some blood to be shed so that you can take over.
HAYES: I`m not a mind reader, but I don`t think, I don`t think it`s
as disingenuous as that. I think that people convince themselves of what
ARMAH: You don`t think the Republicans are as disingenuous about
their political strategy to bring -- in terms of bringing down Democrats
HAYES: No, because I think that what ends up happening is you think
that it actually will be the case that the president`s health care plan is
going to be terrible for the country.
ARMAH: Right. But do you believe the Republicans think it`s going
to be terrible for the country? Or this simply part of the long --
HAYES: No, I think they think it`s going to be terrible for the
country. I really do. I think they convince themselves of that.
MANN: But did that happen over a period of three or four years
because a dozen Republican senators were embracing that same health care
policy not so long ago. So, doesn`t that suggest some disingenuousness and
strategic action on their part?
HAYES: I have suddenly become the Republican at the table.
ARMAH: When we think about implementation. When Brown versus Board
of Education passed about desegregating schools, the implementation it
reflected the same thing that we`re seeing now.
HAYES: All deliberate speed, of course. The three words in that
opinion that set the stage for a lot of focus on the deliberate, not so
much on the speed.
ARMAH: Exactly. So, the point that I`m making, one, I just find
really challenging that the Republicans genuinely believe this is terrible
for the country. I don`t think that`s their interest at all. I think
their political strategy around paralysis and negation succeeds in
consistently putting the Democrats on the defensive.
But I also think your point about, is it condemnation is a fair one,
because I do think the Democrats -- the Democrats almost are envious of the
Republicans` willingness to simply stand their ground irrespective --
HAYES: Right. The question is, have the Republicans said -- I mean,
this is the big core question here, right, which is the Republican Party
has operated in a way that has been incredibly contentious of precedent in
norms in terms of the institutional norms that govern, right, in the
Senate, particularly, and in Congress more broadly and now in
governorships, et cetera.
The question, is that just a case of them just being more committed
to their vision than the other side, or is there something that is really
genuinely lost in a poisonous fashion by the lose of those norms and
And I`m not going to let you answer that question, maybe after the
We`re also going to talk about Mitt`s Caribbean money right after
HAYES: The Obama campaign this week seized on new reports about Mitt
Romney`s extensive overseas financial interest. Stoking the fire this time
by a "Vanity Fair" piece by Nicholas Shaxson, detailing Romney`s rather
opaque holdings in tax returns. The Obama campaign seeing a further an
opportunity to further define Romney produced a new web video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not have a bank account outside of the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not have a Swiss bank account, I don`t
have an account in the Caymans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve never heard of anyone that I know having
overseas a bank account.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where there`s smoke, there`s fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: At issue here is Romney`s holdings and investment based in
the Cayman Islands, a Bermuda-based corporation owned by Romney and a Swiss
bank which was listed in Romney`s 2010 tax returns but was closed out by
2011. And then his IRA which holds over $100 million.
Now, all this paints a picture not of any legal wrongdoing, but a
rather of a world where taxes exist to be evaded on a personal and
Let`s dive into that distinction a little more. To me, the really
interesting question here. There`s this Mitt Romney clip where he is
responding and this came up, obviously, in the Republican primary and this
is him in the Republican primary debate -- somewhat defensively responding
to the accusations that he has been tax dodging -- to use a term, not
necessarily tax dodging but try to massively reduce his tax exposure. Yes,
take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: The issue came up about your dad and I`m
saying it has to be 12 years. But why not release more years than just
this year or rather 2010 and then an estimate for this year?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That will be more than any
other Republican candidate and I`m not going to go back to my dad`s years.
That was even before the Internet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, we`re going to see if he holds to that. And this is his
explanation, he talked about not paying more than $1 more in taxes than he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it`s patriotic of you to stash
your money away in the Cayman Islands?
ROMNEY: I have not saved $1 by having an investment somewhere
outside this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That seems to me, almost, certainly untrue. But the question
to me is this moral question about -- is it, you know, there are a lots of
things someone can do that are legal that we would think reflect poorly on
them when they`re running for president.
Leaving your cancer-stricken wife, for instance, for another woman we
would say, sure, we should not outlaw that -- but, also, doesn`t reflect
well on you. If someone who is the head of the tobacco company who was a
tobacco executive ran for president and no, it`s not the head of to be a
But there`s some kind of moral issue here and that is the kind of
issue here with the tax. What does it reflect about? What is our social
sense of what the obligations are in terms of our tax code? Is it this
kind of maximalist that you do everything possible no matter how contrived
or how complex to reduce your taxes or do you not do that?
WALSH: I`m not sure I agree with you. On some political level, I
think that people could be out there listening and saying -- well, I take
my mortgage tax deduction and I`m with that guy. I don`t think I want to
pay more than my share of taxes either.
However, what people don`t know is the extent to which he`s going to
avoid paying taxes. The industry that exists that is not, that is off
limits to people like us because we don`t make enough money. There`s the
whole, not just a world view, there is that, but there`s an industry
devoted to helping, to tax avoidance and to avail yourself of all of that.
We`re having a national kind of teach-in on how the tax code has
privileged the ultra-wealthy with this man.
HAYES: I want to bring in quickly, Stephen Moore, senior economics
writer for the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board. Former president of
Club for Growth.
It`s great to have you, Stephen. Thank you so much.
STEPHEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Good morning.
HAYES: We talk about the tax avoidance industry, things like
incorporating the Caymans or Bermuda, or corporations that are called tax
blockers that you set up so you can move assets through, do you think
there`s anything morally questionable in engaging in that kind of behavior?
Just matter of first principals before we get into the details.
MOORE: As long as it`s not illegal. I don`t think anyone is making
the allegation that Mitt Romney made illegal moves to illegally pay his
I mean, I just think this whole discussion -- look, the United States
should be the tax haven country. We were founded as a country where people
could come to pay less taxes and I think it`s an indictment of our current
tax system that rates have gotten so high that we`ve become so
HAYES: Rates have gotten lower.
MOORE: Rates have gone up and, in fact, you know, we`re going to go
up, way up next year if the tax bottom goes up.
My point is, look, when you talk about this patriotic duty to raise
taxes, I turn this around on all of you and say -- wait a minute, all these
liberals are running around the country, rich liberals saying, we want to
pay more taxes, we want to pay more, and yet you look at the tax returns,
none of them have paid more taxes than they owe.
So, why are you indicting Mitt Romney for not paying more taxes than
he owes when all these liberals say they don`t do that? Everybody from
Warren Buffett to all these left-wing groups that say we have to raise
taxes on rich people.
HAYES: First of all, those people aren`t running for president.
MOORE: No, that`s true.
HAYES: Second of all, they`re -- there`s a distinction here between
what tax policy is and individual tax compliance and even with individual
MOORE: Chris, you have to agree, though, Chris, they`re hypocrites.
If they say they want to pay more taxes and they don`t, that`s
HAYES: No, I think that`s hypocritical. I think we actually
disagree on this. It`s like the Al Gore riding in planes issue, right? I
mean, the point is that there`s something called social policy. Social
policy is something you want to put into social contract.
The reason you want to put in social contract is because it has the
force of coercive law. The force of coercive law is the way that we bind
each other in a democratic governance and taxes are that.
MOORE: Chris, that`s not true. People -- look, we have a military
of the people who are patriotic. They don`t -- they don`t join the
military because they`re compelled to do so. They do it because they think
it`s their patriotic duty.
Similarly, liberals say they think it`s their patriotic duty to pay
more taxes but they don`t do it. So, to me, that is an act of hypocrisy.
If all the liberals who say they want to pay more taxes do so, we could
probably reduce this deficit by a lot.
HAYES: You know that is a silly and enumerant (ph) argument.
MOORE: No, it`s not.
HAYES: Of course, it is.
MOORE: Why would Warren Buffett pay more taxes if he says he wants
HAYES: You think we`re going to reduce the deficit on Warren Buffett
having some kind --
MOORE: Liberals who say we can reduce the deficit by taxing rich
HAYES: But taxation is fundamentally not a voluntary undertaking.
You can`t say --
MOORE: That`s not true. Chris, that is not true on the bottom line
of your tax form, it says if you want to pay more taxes and reduce the
deficit, you can do so. Liberals don`t do it.
HAYES: Getting back to Mitt --
MOORE: The most incredibly hypocritical things.
HAYES: Warren Buffett is not running for president and you want to
castigate unnamed liberals, right? We do have a tax return for the
president. We have tax return for the president for many years. We don`t
have the tax returns for Mitt Romney.
And in the course of compliance, I think there is a moral question
here about is it at all shameful or indefensible if you use every single
possible loophole, every single tax avoidance strategy, is that just a
squarely praiseworthy thing?
MOORE: You know, I hate the tax code. I`m a flat tax guy.
Literally, Chris, I think we should get rid of every single deduction and
loophole and tax carve out in the system.
I think they should be incredibly simple. I think there should be no
tax dodges. I think everybody should pay 19 percent and we should be done
with it. I`ve been advocating that for 25 years.
Everything you have been saying for the last half hour is one of the
strongest cases for the flat tax I`ve ever heard.
HAYES: But if you got rid of all of that, there is just no way that
you still wouldn`t have tax blockers in the Cayman Islands.
MOORE: That`s not true.
HAYES: Stephen, I have news for you, if you have $250 million in
assets, you`ll find ways the legal loopholes to get away.
MOORE: You know what, Chris, actually, when we cut tax rates in
1986, the last great bipartisan act that Congress has passed in a long,
long time, taxable income went way, way up. When you got rid of loopholes
and you brought tax rates down, guess what, more investment capital came to
the United States.
This is the problem I`ve had with your whole discussion for the last
half hour. It`s not going to be a problem if we raise taxes on investment
and if we raise taxes on people. That`s not going to be a problem. That
is going to lead to more tax evasion, not less of it.
WALSH: If we cut taxes on investment, then we don`t have more
WALSH: All that happened under the Bush administration.
HAYES: We dropped -- hold on one second. We dropped our top
marginal rates, we had two rounds of tax cuts in Bush, we had net zero job
growth. Let`s take a quick break and come back to this in a second.
HAYES: We`re talking about Mitt Romney`s tax filings. His vast,
complicated financial holdings, with Stephen Moore from "The Wall Street
Stephen, an advocate of a flat tax, of simplifying the code.
As an advocate of simplifying the code, don`t you think it would be
good for your cause to have Mitt Romney release more of his tax returns to
show just how vastly complex the current system is? Shouldn`t we see in
all its particulars over the last five years, say, since he has been
running for president, more or less, just what it looks like on the
granular level? Because I think part of what this is, right, is that when
you make the argument from the place of genuine good faith and justice for
a flat tax, which is the people at the top were able to gain it.
Let`s stipulate that`s where you`re able to make it from. This is
what happens inevitably and so, shouldn`t we see what that looks like up
MOORE: Well, I think Mitt Romney may very well have to do that. I
mean, I think that`s something the political campaign is going to decide.
Voters are going to make that decision about whether to command and demand
that Mitt Romney releases tax returns.
You know, I`m not an expert on this. The Romney campaign tells me
they released as much tax return data as normal presidential candidates
have. But, you know, given how controversial his tax information has been,
he will probably have to do that in the weeks to come.
HAYES: It`s interesting. I was looking through the history of this.
Of course, his father famously released his tax returns and released a lot
of them to "Look" magazine, which actually "Look" magazine actually ran a
chart of his tax returns for all the years.
It`s kind of fascinating thing to look at, because you can look --
first of all, a huge amount of money to the Mormon Church, which is not
surprising. Also, he`s paying effective rates in one year like 45 --
almost 50 percent on an income of about $270,000. So, it`s kind of an
And then that prompted Richard Nixon who had to release his tax
returns. He had to release them for three. So, we now have basically one
and a half years of Mitt Romney`s returns which is half of what Richard
Nixon had to disclose.
You had a comment you want to make to Stephen.
ORNSTEIN: Stephen, I get the sense that there is a belief here that
if you reduce tax rates that it brings in more revenue than you would have
otherwise, when I just don`t see any history that supports that. But,
also, that if you cut taxes, that`s the way to cut spending when as Bruce
Bartlett has told us pretty compellingly, the times when we cut spending is
when we increase taxes like in the 1990 budget agreement.
MOORE: Yes. Well, two points. One is I did a big study with
Richard Viguerie (ph) on this and it is true that higher taxes do lead to
higher spending. I do think there`s any -- I think Bruce Bartlett is just
wrong about this.
I mean, one of the reasons -- I heard your previous discussion about
Republicans being against raising taxes. I`m one of those people. I think
the Republican -- to be a Republican is to be against raising taxes and if
Democrats want to be the pro-tax party, that`s fine.
But what we found in our study very clearly through every dollar of
taxes that have been raised over the last 50 years, spending has gone up by
$1.50. That`s one reason why I don`t think raising taxes is a good way to
reduce the deficit.
In your point about tax rates, look, I`ll just give you one
statistic. I mean, if you look in the `80s, as you know, one of the things
Reagan did was cut that top tax rate from 70 percent all the way down to 28
percent. In 1980, when Reagan was elected, we`ve got $500 billion of
revenue. By 1990, we had $1 trillion of revenue.
ORNSTEIN: -- after six rounds of tax increases after that first
MOORE: What did you say?
ORNSTEIN: After six round of tax increases. We raised taxes in
1982, `83, `84, `85, `86.
MOORE: Wait a minute, are you saying that -- did Ronald Reagan --
wait, did Reagan cut taxes or raise them?
ORNSTEIN: He cut them in one year and then raised them in six years.
MOORE: But, look, yes, but the rates came down from 70 percent to 28
percent. That`s a pretty big reduction in rates.
I think the point I`m making, Norm. I think you would agree with
this. If we want to have -- I do want more tax revenues to come in. You
guys are -- we`re not going to reduce this deficit just by fiscal triage,
but just cutting all these programs. We need to also have a lot more
And the way to do that is to increase the economic growth rate in
this country. We`re only grown at 1.89 percent. We`re never going to get
HAYES: We should all get in a room together --
HAYES: We should be also sitting in -- look, I will proudly carry the
banner of pro-tax but not the banner of anti-growth. I also want robust
MOORE: Those two things are contradictory.
HAYES: No, historically they haven`t been. High tax rates and very
profound growth, I mean, obviously --
MOORE: The big growth we had -- look, look at the growth periods we
had in the United States. The `20s, we cut tax rates. John F. Kennedy cut
the tax rates from 90 percent to 70 percent. We had huge growth. Reagan
cut tax rates, we had huge growth.
HAYES: You don`t think it`s the absolute level. You just think it`s
MOORE: The direction matters. Yes, if you cut the tax rate from 90
percent to 70 percent.
HAYES: But that`s exactly the one-way ratchet. That`s exactly the
one-way we`re talking about.
If it`s always directional and you always have to cut taxes to spur
growth, eventually, you have the problem the Federal Reserve has. You hit
the zero lower bound of Federal Revenue. You can`t keep directionally
cutting taxes in one direction.
MOORE: No, that`s what I`m saying.
HAYES: Wait, hold that thought, hold that thought, come back after
MOORE: But that`s not what I`m saying.
HAYES: Stephen Moore, we`re talking about taxes here. Just in
concept of tax returns. George W. Bush released 17 years of tax returns
over the course of his career. So, it`s become the standard thing, ever
since actually George Romney that you look at it. And partly because of
the complexity of the modern code and tax avoidance at the top, which I
think is a big problem.
One of the ironies here is that you`re advocating a 19 percent rate,
which would, of course, be a tax hike for Mitt Romney. We should be clear
in 2010, he paid 13.9 percent effective rate and 2011 estimate, 15.4
So, on that, I can get -- I can, you and I can find a little sliver
in the Venn diagram of common ground, which is that Mitt Romney should pay
more in taxes, right?
MOORE: You know, the problem with those statistics you put up,
Chris, you know this, that how does Mitt Romney make his money? He makes
it through investing, through Bain Capital, through building companies. He
You`re not including the money that`s already withheld from the
corporations that he owns. So, if you include the corporate taxes --
HAYES: Those corporations are incorporated into Cayman Islands so
they don`t pay any money in taxes.
MOORE: No, come on.
HAYES: That`s the whole point. Why do you think they put them in
the Cayman Islands? Because they want the money to go to the beach.
MOORE: Look, I don`t know what he`s doing with this Cayman Island
money, what I`m talking about the investments he makes in the United States
companies, those are taxed at the corporate level. What we ought to do is
either have capital gains and dividend tax or no corporate gains, or
corporate tax and no capital gains dividend.
We shouldn`t tax the corporate income tax twice. That`s what we do.
That`s why those numbers are misleading. But --
HAYES: We`re actually not -- I just want to make -- even if we are
taxing those and there is a sort of philosophical debate about taxes on
capital gains and corporate gains, because you`re taxing the same money
HAYES: But in terms of the incidents of whether those taxes are
getting paid, that`s the whole core of the conversation. The point is that
corporate taxes is a percentage of federal revenue have fallen down to
about 8 percent. They were 40 percent in the 1940s.
MOORE: That`s right.
HAYES: Huge industry of avoiding corporate taxes which is located in
the Cayman Islands. That`s the whole point. It`s not getting taxed twice.
MOORE: Chris, you and I are saying the same thing. Yes, we have
right now on the corporate side of the aisle (ph), we have the highest
statutorily corporate tax rate in the world. You know, Japan has fell and
United States, of every country we compete with.
HAYES: And we don`t collect any of it.
MOORE: Right. And we don`t raise any revenue. Now, I think we can
all agree that is the essence of a stupid tax system. It doesn`t raise any
money and has high rates. That`s my point about corporate reform.
We should -- one of the things Barack Obama should be talking about
is fixing this corporate system, getting our rate down to the international
average, get rid of these shelters that you`re talking about. I`m all in
favor of that.
HAYES: All right. We`re agreeing on getting rid of the shelters.
Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for "The Wall Street Journal"
editorial board -- thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
MOORE: Thank you.
HAYES: What we should know for the news week ahead, coming up next.
HAYES: Just a moment what we should know for the week ahead, first,
a quick update. Earlier in the program, I mentioned one of the co-founders
of the Weather Channel called global warming a scam. I should note, the
Weather Channel is a sister company of MSNBC.
Now, quick personal update. My book "Twilight of the Elites" is on
sale now on online retailers and your local bookstore. And tomorrow, I`ll
be appearing at an event at Seattle town hall during the evening at 7:30 to
discuss the book with the great Luke Burbank. On Wednesday, July 11th,
I`ll be at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
You can get tickets, check out "The Twilight of Elites" Facebook page
or our Web site at Up.MSNBC.com for more details about -- and information
about other upcoming appearances.
So, what should you know for the week coming up?
You should know that California will become first state in the Union
to require its students learn about gay and lesbian history. California
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that mandated contribution of gays and
lesbians have been included in the state`s social science textbooks and
instructions. As we`ve talked about here on UP, the gay rights movement
has been one of the most remarkable, inspirational and successful social
movements our time.
You should know students have a whole lot to learn from it. And if
you`re interested in learning more, I highly recommend Lind Hirshman`s
excellent new book, "Victory."
You should know that in the wake of the disappointing jobs reports,
the Republican House has redoubled its efforts to wage meaningless,
symbolic battles against the president rather than pass legislation that
would actually help the sluggish recovery. On Wednesday, the Republican
majority will hold the symbolic vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a
vote that is we should note, a vote to take away health care insurance from
throat with preexisting conditions, a vote to kick people ages 22 to 26 off
of their parent` health insurance.
We should know that today at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, a coalition of
activists from a broad swath of progressive groups will be crashing a swank
party in the Hamptons, a party at the Southampton New York home of right-
wing billionaire David Koch, and it`s a fund-raiser.
You should know that while it`s a general matter, showing up
uninvited at someone`s house is rude, it`s also the case that peaceful,
purposeful disruption of the ordinary rituals of influence that define our
political system are absolutely necessary to jar us from complacency. It`s
a strange, embarrassing feature of our political system that kissing the
hands of billionaires at private estates is what candidates from both major
parties spend so much of their time doing.
You should know that sometimes showing up on someone`s lawn is the
only way change happens. And finally, you should know we`ll get relief
from the heat this week. Forecasters predict the heat wave will break in
cities like Chicago and St. Louis, we`ll see things cool off.
We should keep in mind that weather is distinct from climate and any
discrete weather event cannot be said to be caused by climate change and
climate will change and is already changing our weather by warming the
You should know we`ll be seeing many more emergencies in the years to
come. You should know there are things we can do right now to reduce our
risk and what we`re not doing.
I want to find out what my guests think we should know for the week
We begin with you Esther Armah.
ARMAH: Frank Ocean, who is an R&B singer, in the world of hip-hop,
hyper masculine hip-hop, came out early this week, and he`s on the front
cover of the arts section of "The New York Times" today. And what he
reminds us is that with all of the victories of the LGBT community, there`s
also been an emotional cost and scars that are often not explored,
discussed, in the world of policy, protest, and politics.
HAYES: And he was getting a lot of nastiness on Twitter. Also a lot
of support. He`s part of the Odd Future crew, whose lyrics have been very
casual about invoking really sort of awful words to describe folks who are
gays. So, there`s this embodied in him this kind of amazing cultural
contradiction about these attitudes. It`s really fascinating story.
MANN: You should know the House Republican leadership to schedule
the vote to repeal Obamacare as you mentioned, in the wake of a bad jobs
report and an IMF report saying we need more stimulus now, is not an
exception, but the rule of this entire two years of Republican rule.
Sometimes it`s neutral and ineffective.
Sometimes it`s downright harmful, like the renewed threat to
challenge the debt ceiling. Take it hostage again. If anything could slow
the economy more, that would.
HAYES: Yes, and that`s really I think a worrisome train wreck down
the road that we`re headed towards.
Joan Walsh, what should folks know?
WALSH: We should know that 56 percent of Americans wish that the
Republicans would leave the Affordable Care Act alone, move on.
HAYES: Stop picking on the Affordable Care Act.
WALSH: Stop picking on the Affordable Care Act.
Even some who don`t like it. So that what the House Republicans are
doing is wildly unpopular. And to get back to the framing discussion, the
question, how do the Democrats get people to understand. This is what they
are doing -- this is why you don`t want them to do it. They are not
listening to you.
HAYES: Yes, I agree with that and seen that pulling as well. In
some ways, it`s self-evident. I really do think actually the basic
political dynamic here is every day the new cycle is not about the economy,
it`s a win for the Obama campaign frankly, even if it`s about a law that`s
been unpopular in many respects in terms of when people think about it, not
it`s actual provision.
So, I think in some ways you just kind of say Democrats, keep it up.
HAYES: Norm, what should folks know?
ORNSTEIN: You should know if you live in a swing state like Ohio or
Florida, to fire up the TiVo, because the next week, indeed the next month,
will be a flood of awful commercials from Americans Crossroads, GPS, from
the Chamber of Commerce -- all in advance of a very good decision by the
Federal Communications Commission to require television stations to put
online the identity of donors, starting on August 2nd.
So the next month, you don`t want to watch any commercials, you want
to skip through them if you have any programs.
HAYES: The data -- the ad buying data, right?
ORNSTEIN: Ad buying data and finally we`ll get the data are actually
supposed to be there, but they`re stuck away in the stations` back rooms
and they rarely allow anybody access, even they are supposed to. It will
be online and it will be at the FCC Web site as well.
HAYES: And it`s going to be a really important to see what these ad
buys look like, who is buying them. We should note, people benefit off the
amount of money that`s going to be spent on this campaign, local stations
being one of them.
HAYES: It`s a source of revenue.
I want to thank our guests today, Esther Armah from WBAI FM, Thomas
Mann from the Brookings Institution, MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh and
Norman Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute -- thank you, all.
Thank you for joining us. We will be back next weekend, Saturday and
Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time. We`ll have a rare appearance by James
Carville right here on set. I`m really looking forward to that.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY."
On "MHP" today: is the Republican Party playing a Jedi mind trick on
the nation, telling that they want one thing and then doing otherwise?
Things they said they didn`t want in the candidate during the primaries,
now they`ve got with their nominee to be. And they`re going to make his
Plus, the word police. Melissa asks why there`s so much hand
slapping. Why is July 4th not the perfect time to celebrate your country,
warts and all?
That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." That will be coming up next. You
should definitely stick around for that.
And we will see you next week here on UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2012 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
WATCH 'UP W/CHRIS HAYES' SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FROM 8:00A.M. ET TO 10:00 A.M. ET ON MSNBC.
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: