Guests: Joel Berg, Debbie Palacios, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Mark Bittman, Seth Bixby Daugherty, L. Joy Williams, George Naylor, Mark Bittman, L. Joy Williams, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, James Carville
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes. Mitt Romney, last night, denied that he played a leading role at
his former investment firm, Bain Capital, after 1999 despite newly
documents (ph) that named him as the chairman and chief executive until
President Obama is expected to continue hammering away at the
discrepancy over Romney`s time at Bain Capital while campaigning in
Virginia today. We`ll have political analyst, James Carville, here to
discuss the Bain Capital allegations later in the program.
Right now, I`m joined by "New York Times" food columnist, Mark
Bittman, also the author of "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating"
with more than 75 recipes. Debbie Palacios, a volunteer for the food stamp
outreach at a food bank in New Jersey, a past food stamp recipient herself
who`s recently applied for food stamps again.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, my colleague at "The Nation" magazine where she
is editor and publisher, and former USDA coordinator of food security, Joel
Berg, author of "All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America" and now executive
director of the New York City Coalition against Hunger. Great to have you
guys all here.
On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee voted to cut $16.5
billion from the food stamp program or SNAP as part of the farm bill.
Congressional Budget Office estimates that two to three million people will
lose their benefits as a result of proposed changes to eligibility rules.
This includes almost 300,000 children who would be ineligible for the free
Democratic representative, David Scott from Georgia, laid out the
stakes on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID SCOTT, (D) GEORGIA: When you look at food stamps and you
think of the recipient of food stamps, you need to think of that child out
there that`s going hungry. Eighty-seven percent of all of the SNAP
beneficiaries are either children, senior citizens on fixed incomes, or
single parents trying to raise their children, and our veterans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The farm bill links the fate of nutritional assistance
programs with subsidies for big agricultural companies. In the House
version that 16.5 billion was cut from SNAP and 14 billion from cross
subsidies, this while the crop insurance program has grown at a much faster
rate over the past decade than the SNAP program has.
Now, the farm bill is a huge important thing that Washington does,
paid attention to by a very small number of people with a vested interest.
That`s usually a recipe for terrible policy, and this bill is no different.
Joel, could we begin on the terrain here. Just to give us a sense, what
would it mean -- I mean, how -- what would it do the bill that would kick
people off of SNAP? There`s a little bit of argument about just how bad it
would be for folks.
JOEL BERG, NYC COALITION AGAINST HUNGER: The House bill has two
provisions that would take food away from hungry families. We all know how
important school lunch is, and we work closely with Share Our Strength to
fund the "No Kid Hungry" campaign to make sure everyone gets school
breakfast, school lunch.
But even some kids would loose school lunch because by losing their
family`s food stamps eligibility, they`d lose school lunches, too.
But just on the food stamp side, the two provisions in the House
would, A, take flexibility away from governors to combine heating benefits
and home energy assistance benefits with food stamps benefits and take
flexibility away from governors to help people have a little more money in
the bank so they can save to be non-poor and still get food stamps.
All in all, it would take $16 billion out of the real budgets of real
people. It`s not waste, fraud and abuse. It`s working parents who will go
HAYES: Debbie, you`ve been a beneficiary of SNAP at various moments
and have just applied again and worked with folks who are trying to get it.
Just tell me what is it meant for you in terms of getting by and going
about trying to raise kids.
DEBBIE PALACIOS, FOOD STAMP OUTREACH VOLUNTEER: Oh, when I used to
receive the food stamps, my kids were younger. And to put nutritious food
on the table, I needed that supplement. I needed that help. And again, my
husband now is out of work because he hurt himself, not because, you know,
he doesn`t want to work. And we need that to help us again. I have a 13-
year-old that`s handicapped.
She needs nutritious food. I have a grandson who`s 16 -- 18 months
old, and he lives with us with my daughter who`s a single mom. And to put
nutritious food on the table, we need that supplement. We need that help.
HAYES: How much of a difference does it make? How large in your
family budget or income is the SNAP --
PALACIOS: It makes a huge difference. It gives me the opportunity to
buy the fresh fruits and vegetables, you know, and meats that I wouldn`t be
able to do. I`d have to do a lot more cheaper meals and not nutritious,
you know, if I didn`t have that supplement.
HAYES: I want to -- there`s the policy here is clear and there`s
these cuts. But I want to lay out this conservative argument that`s been
gathering steam around this program. It`s grown quite a bit. It`s costing
now about $75 billion a year. Now, the Congressional Budget Office
estimates that essentially 100 percent of the growth is due to the effects
of the recession.
States have also gotten more efficient of enrolling people. There`s
been ways of doing automatic enrollment so that people qualify for the
benefit get the benefit. But there is a growing chorus on the right that
this is creating a culture of dependency. It`s similar to what we saw in
the conversation on welfare. Here`s Charles Krauthammer who is on Bill
O`Reilly making this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, HOST, "THE O`REILLY FACTOR": I mean, you know, the
Obama administration is going to say bad economic times, recession kicks
in, people need a food. But, you know, going from $17 billion to $76
billion, come on, something`s in play here. What is it?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: What we have, we have a
political ideology in power in Washington with liberalism which believes
that a measure of success of government is how many people quote/unquote
"helps" or look out at another way. How many people it makes dependent on
And therefore, for them this is a great success, they want to see the
sort of a natural American aversion to taking a hand out, you know, sort of
whittle down, and that people aren`t so proud, I guess, that`s the word
they would use to take aid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THENATION.COM: You know, there`s an obscenity,
I have to say, sitting here.
HEUVEL: You have someone who has lived a life where she has put food
on her table for her children because of this and you have Charles
Krauthammer mouthing off about a program which I doubt he`s participated
in. But there is a radical extremist individualism that we have seen. I
remember during the welfare debates, I think in 1994.
You had a right-wing congressman from Florida really comparing poor
people to crocodiles, and why they had to be sort of done off with, done
away with. There`s an Ayn Randian Swiftian (ph) politics here. But I
think, you know, politically, we`re at discuss (ph) moment where one could
see an expansion of possibility for low income people with the healthcare
bill, with the expansion of Medicaid.
And if one supported through anti-hunger advocates, food advocates, a
robust food stamps, not policy in the time of recession or we`re on the
cusp of a rollback where we see a repeal of healthcare, governors for
ideological reason saying no to Medicaid, funds which would help low income
people in their states, cuts to food stamps, cuts to Pell grants, cuts,
cuts, cuts, for the sake of, you know, what?
That additional 10-year $4.6 billion subsidy for the corporate jet
which is treated as -- these are priorities of a country which has promised
at different times to fulfill a promise to those who need help in times,
BERG: I`ve just got to say, the very conservatives that sunk or
economic ship now want to take away the life preservers from the drowning.
BERG: Food stamps are a life preserver. The only reason we don`t
have massive starvation today like they do in North Korea or Somalia or
Haiti is because the food stamps program work. And by the way, most of
those numbers they cited about the large increase in the program happens
under President Bush.
And let`s not forget the race baiting about this. The last 40 years,
people who have opposed low income struggling families getting some help
from the government, a doll up of the help from the government where the
Donald Trump gets on a daily basis imply (ph) it`s not White people when
throughout American history and today, the majority of people poor, the
majority of people hungry, the majority of people on food stamps, SNAP, the
majority of people on welfare have been and always are going to be in the
near future White.
PALACIOS: I do. I see so many people do with the outreach. I see
Wall Street executives that have gotten laid off coming to apply, their
pride. You know, it`s hard for them to walk in. I see electricians --
HAYES: You`re talking about people who are applying for SNAP.
PALACIOS: Yes. They`re applying for the SNAP. And they come in --
you know, they have -- all their pride is gone because they don`t want to
ask for assistance, but they need it to feed their children. They have
four or five children, three children, two children, they have a new baby.
They need the help. And if it`s not there, I can`t even imagine what would
BERG: How hard is it to apply? You help them. Don`t they have to
take a pile of paperwork that`s bigger than paying their income taxes?
PALACIOS: Yes, absolutely.
BERG: And they pay their income taxes probably show you. They have
to show you their tax returns, don`t they?
PALACIOS: Well, if they`re self-employed, they do.
HAYES: Funny thing.
PALACIOS: Yes. But they also -- it`s such a long process. It takes,
sometimes, anywhere, they`re saying now, from four to six months to
actually get it. And I see families that need help now. Now. Not four to
six months later. They need it now.
MARK BITTMAN, AUTHOR, "FOOD MATTER": I think it`s worth noting that
we`re talking about -- we`re not talking about a couple million people
here. We`re talking about 45 million people, which is one in six, one in
seven Americans. Really a big, big minority of people. And to say, you
know, that chunk of America is looking for handouts or bums or not looking
for works is really cynical and insulting.
HAYES: But it also --
PALACIOS: A lot of children.
HAYES: A lot of kids. And the other thing about this that drives me
crazy is, yes, you know, we have seen a massive increase in poverty because
we`ve seen a massive decline in income and huge growth in unemployment. I
mean, I would be perfectly happy if we all got together for policy that put
people back to work. But if we`re not going do, that, right? I mean,
like, I don`t think anyone --
BITTMAN: It`s the same people who were scorning food stamps who think
that unemployment isn`t a problem.
HAYES: Right. Right. So, I mean, that`s part of the problem is
that, you know, it`s this -- if someone said to me here`s the deal on the
table, you know, we`re going to, you know, we`re going to cut food stamps,
but we`re going to really juice up direct hiring --
HEUVEL: Where`s the full employment idea?
BERG: That`s the point. They`re not using this money saved to pay
for deficit reduction. They`re using it to pay for more corporate agri
business welfare and for tax cuts for the billionaires (ph).
HAYES: We`re going to talk about the crops subsidies. We`re going to
take a quick break before that.
HAYES: I want to bring in Seth Bixby Daugherty, one of "Food and
Wine" magazine`s best new chefs of 2005. He launched the Minnesota
affiliate of the national child hunger group, Share Our Strength. He`s
also been a food stamp recipient to feed his family after a serious skiing
accident left him unable to work in 1997.
Chef, it`s great to have you on. Can you tell us about how you came
to know SNAP program then called food stamps personally and how that kind
of changed your perspective on this?
SETH BIXBY DAUGHERTY, CHEF: Well, in 1997, I was in a horrendous
skiing accident and broke both of my legs and both of my ankles and was in
a wheelchair for almost about eight months, and, you know, at that point, I
couldn`t work. My daughter was one year old. And, you know, basically,
put my wife and our family in a position where we needed federal
HAYES: And how did that change your perspective? I mean, did you
have preconceptions about what it was before you were beneficiary of the
program, and obviously, afterwards, you kind of committed yourself to
dealing with hunger.
DAUGHERTY: Up until that point, I never had any issues. It never
even affected me. Truthfully, I never really even thought about it because
I wasn`t impacted by it. But what it does is that it just speaks volumes
of the fact that you can go from a normal human being to being so close to
bankruptcy and needing that help from federal assistance in the blink of an
eye. And if it can happen to me, it really can happen to anybody.
HAYES: One of the other arguments, there`s this independency argument
that`s being offer. The other is that this is a -- this program has a lot
of fraud in it. And this is very -- it`s reminiscent of previous attacks
on welfare, the welfare queen of Ronald Reagan, the strapping young buck
who bought a T-bone steak. Here`s Rand Paul making that case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: Recently, a woman in Chicago faked the
birth of triplets in order to receive $21,000 in food stamps. We need to
remember that millionaires, including Larry Fick (ph), who won $2 million
are still receiving food stamps because he says he`s got no income. So,
we`re paying millionaires food stamps --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, this -- of the 45 million people on food stamps, how many
would you say are millionaires, Joel?
BERG: Look, according to USDA -- and this has not been contradicted
by even their inspector general who was appointed by President Bush, one
percent. One percent of food stamps benefits are illegally trafficked.
Now, two percent of the members of the U.S. House of representatives have
pled guilty or been found guilty of crimes.
BERG: So, there`s twice as much crime in the House of Representatives
as is in the food stamps.
HEUVEL: It`s a double standard. I mean, those who are truly feel
entitled and have gained the system are sort of let off the hook, but it is
the case that in this, though, it reminds me of the voting fraud where they
pick, you know, this massive phenomenon when, in fact, you know, the Bush
justice department found 87 over ten years incidences of voter fraud.
But I think what`s lost here also is the kind of degradation and
coarsening of our political culture. I went back in Senator Paul Douglas
in 1964 on the food stamp act, talking about, I want to help the poor and
the hungry and not sacrifice them to Coca-Cola. Lyndon Johnson giving a
war on poverty speech to 80,000 sharing people.
Underlying this is the cumulative impact of the tax on government as
an affirmative force providing security for those who, in bad times, can
not provide security for themselves and their families. And I think these
are ongoing debates and disputes that people like Rand Paul don`t really,
you know, provide much high fodder for or cheapness.
HAYES: Well, Debbie, have you seen -- I mean, you`ve been around the
program and you`ve gotten people enrolled in it. You`ve used it yourself.
Have you seen -- what is your anecdotal experience of need and fraud?
PALACIOS: I don`t see fraud. I see people that really need it. I
mean, there`s people out there that they have to put the food on the table.
And it`s the only way they can do it, sometimes, because they have such
high bills. Rent is expensive, you know? All the utilities are expensive.
That`s what they count. Rent, you know, utilities, it`s just -- it`s
just crazy. They`re not making money. It`s not coming in. And they just
need the help.
BERG: I must say, the Republicans are taking the lead in slashing
these benefits, but the Democratic Party too often has been soulless and
spineless of late. The Democratic-controlled Senate did cut $4.5 billion
out of the program. They implied sort of that it was fraud or waste. It`s
taking real food away from real people.
We have a member of what we call our food action board where we
organize low income people to fight for their own future. Miss Sanchez,
she is going to lose $100 a month, a third of her food benefits to feed her
and her children because the Senate and the House have agreed that more
corporate welfare is more important than the economic development of the
anti-hunger help that food stamps provide.
HAYES: Chef Seth, I think there`s a certain segment (ph) of
population that hears about this debate and watches it and it`s hard-
pressed to think of how it could possibly be the 45 million people on the
program that people in America, that hunger in the year 2012 is a real
keening problem for millions of Americans.
How -- you work with folks who are both -- you do outreach to folks
that are maybe not hungry and work with folks who are hungry, and how do
you explain the fact that this is happening in America in 2012?
DAUGHERTY: Well, it is because, you know, first of all, we have to
remember that, you know, half of all these participants are children. It`s
surely not the children that are working the system, you know what I mean?
The one percent that is taking advantage of the situation, they`re not the
We really have to remember that half of these participants are
children, so I`m working with the -- with share strength, the conjunction
with share strength, running these cooking matters classes in inner cities,
really teaching children and families how to work or how to shop, cook, and
eat on a budget, you know?
I -- the last class I taught was at a homeless teen shelter. They`re
surely not the ones taking advantage of the situation. I see it on a daily
basis. And so, for people out there to say that it`s not happening,
they`re just detached from what`s really going on in our country.
PALACIOS: I think -- excuse me.
BITTMAN: It`s great stuff, by the way, from Seth.
HAYES: You`re referring to his tie dye (ph) chef outfit.
DAUGHERTY: I tie dyed it myself.
HAYES: I believe that.
BITTMAN: Nice work.
DAUGHERTY: This is the jacket I wear when I teach the cooking matters
classes because I really think it bridges the gap, lets them understand
that I am a real human being. I had been in the same position they have
where I didn`t know where my next meal was coming from, and it really helps
to make me a link to them.
BITTMAN: You know, I just think -- you must -- doing this show twice
a week, it so often comes down to the same thing, which is a -- it`s a
discussion of whether you believe the government`s role is to actually help
society do well, do better, help people do better, help people who need
help or to pretend that you want government to back off and do nothing,
while, really, in the back door helping your friends and buddies.
And it`s just -- you see these things like this Rand Paul thing. Your
mind just wants to explode.
HAYES: And I`m glad you made that point, because I think what ends up
happening, right, is that this conversation is become very ideological.
This is about the role of government. But the great thing about the farm
bill is that it exposes that for a lie, right, because the farm bill is
not, oh, we have less government and more government.
The farm bill is not, oh, should the market -- the government is not -
- it`s who are we going to help and where`s that money go. I want to talk
about that. I also want to talk about a proposal that a number of states
have been offering about restricting what you can purchase through the
stamp program. I think that`s a really interesting issue. I`d like to get
your take on it right after we take this break.
HAYES: All right. So, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,
SNAP, food stamps we`ve been talking about this morning, it -- essentially,
they use a debit card, right, and EBT card, and it`s credited on the
account and folks can use it to purchase things at the grocery stores.
And there`s been efforts in a number of states to restrict what can be
purchased and what kind of foods can be purchased. The latest such
proposal comes from Florida state senator, Ronda Storms. This is her
defending her proposal on the floor of the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really don`t think that it`s fair that if
you`re poor, your kid can`t have a birthday cake, he can`t have a cupcake
with a candle on it, he can`t have a candy cane for Christmas.
STATE SEN. RONDA STORMS, (R) FLORIDA: You can buy flour, you can buy
eggs, you can buy sugar, you can buy milk, voila, you mix it all together,
boom. Guess what you have, a cake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Seth, you know, that certain sweet type sugar foods, soda
would be banned. They would actually use the guidelines that are already
in place for the WIC program, right? What do you think about a proposal
like that? Someone who`s used SNAP before, who works with folks that are
trying to get on it. What do you think government restricting what can and
can`t be purchased?
PALACIOS: I don`t think that would be a big problem. I think it`s a
good idea, because it`s supposed to supplement with nutrition food --
nutritious food. But the problem is with a lot of people, they don`t know
how to make these meals or they don`t have the capabilities some of them
even because they don`t have the electric on, you know, to use a stove.
So -- but I do believe that it would benefit people to be restricted
on what they could buy and should buy.
HAYES: You don`t think -- that`s interesting, because you say you
don`t feel like that`s Big Brother or, you know, that`s restricting your
freedom and your choice.
PALACIOS: No, because it`s supposed to be there to supplement. It`s
like the WIC program. They give you -- they tell you exactly what you`re
allowed to buy, you know? And I think even they`re trying to ban sodas
PALACIOS: So, if the government is trying to help us with the food
supplements, I believe that it should be used for the right foods for your
children, because that`s what you`re there for. You want to put nutritious
meals on the table.
HEUVEL: Do you think that`s a widely held view among, you know, those
who receive --
PALACIOS: No. I think that --
BERG: I know it`s not. And look, people receive food stamps, they`re
BERG: But I think your job -- your job of trying to convince people
that it`s OK to get this program is going to be harder. If you send the
message, it`s OK for us to eat this food on this table, which may not
(INAUDIBLE). And by the way, this is supported by our tax dollars. Farm
subsidies went into this. These were transported over government roads.
BERG: And the truth of the matter is, loaning (ph) the people on the
food stamps eat healthily (ph). (INAUDIBLE) spent to the study 80 percent
of low income people cook at home at least four times a week. The top
purchased food on the food stamps program is a banana. It`s the wrong
solution to the wrong program. And I differ with Mark on this as well, you
had a great recipe recently for a coconut cake.
And I think soda should be a, sometime, food like your coconut cake
with lots of cream and sugar should be a sometime food. And I just think
low income people should have more food stamps allotment so they can afford
to buy healthier food, not have their diets micromanaged by Uncle Sam.
HAYES: You wrote about Ronda Storms --
BITTMAN: Joel and I largely agree on this. And of course --
HAYES: Oh, come on. That`s disappointing.
BITTMAN: We largely agree that the food stamp program should be
HAYES: Right. Right.
BITTMAN: Of course, we do disagree on whether food stamps should be
limited in what they can buy. You know, I see -- I think so it is really
the prime example, and I do see it as -- in a way, if you`re -- if you`re
allowing people with food stamps to buy soda and, you know as well as I do
that the food stamp spending is not transparent.
We don`t know exactly where this money is going. We don`t know what
kind of food is being bought in general. Every time you`re buying soda,
you`re subsidizing big food with food stamps, and you`re increasing our
health care issues. So, you`re increasing our health care problems.
So, yes, it`s limiting, but there are already limits to food stamps.
You can`t buy everything on food stamps.
HEUVEL: I mean, aren`t there also serious issues in communities where
you don`t have access to low -- cheap or low cost healthy foods? I mean
the whole -- the zoning of --
HAYES: Please. Then I want to get Chef Seth to weigh on this.
BITTMAN: The thing that we probably all agree on is that there are
ways in which food stamps are being expanded right now, and that includes
things like healthy dollars or whatever it`s called. These things where --
BERG: Health bucks.
BITTMAN: Health bucks, right, where cities and states are increasing
the value of food stamps that are used at farmers` markets. So, it`s
expanding the ability of food stamps. If you spend a dollar or you get $2
or a dollar or whatever, it`s expanding the ability to food stamps to buy
foods and vegetables.
HAYES: So, there`s more credit. You can get a bigger bang for your
buck. Chef Seth, I want you to give us your thoughts on these efforts to
restrict what folks are buying with the stamp program right after we take a
HAYES: Chef Seth, I asked you before the break what you thought of
these attempts to restrict the purchasing choices of folks on SNAP.
DAUGHERTY: I struggle with that, because, you know, the people that
are trying to make these decisions and tell people who are struggling with
hunger about what they should do, they probably have never felt that force
of hunger themselves. So, you know, and they might be having lobster and
steak for dinner, and they`re telling someone who`s struggling (ph) what to
You know, I just think that any food is better than no food. And
obviously, I want people to eat healthy food. And so, the key, really,
component to this issue is education. You know, so if you have money and
you don`t know how to cook/shop, then it really makes it difficult to make
good decisions based about around hunger.
So, that`s why I think these cooking matters classes that I help teach
that Share our Strength help started, you know, actually the SNAP program
funds these programs is so important because it really gives these people
the knowledge of food and cooking, and it`s something that -- it`s a life
skill that in our culture has been taken away, and it`s a shame.
HAYES: And your program is funded by SNAP and would be cut under the
House bill if I`m not mistaken.
DAUGHERTY: Yes, yes. I personally feel I have this tremendous great
gift of cooking, the most urging persistent question I ask myself every day
is how do I take this gift to help other people. It would be a real shame
to have that gift taken away from me by cutting these funds.
HEUVEL: How grossly counter productive, right? Here`s a program that
on so many levels is doing good.
DAUGHERTY: We all have a certain gift in our life to be able to help
and give back to other people. And mine just happens to be cooking, and I
do everything in my power to try to use that gift.
HAYES: Also tie dyeing.
HEUVEL: There`s also a pragmatic. I mean, we haven`t talked -- I
mean, $5 of SNAP money is $9 into a community, the investment.
HAYES: In terms of stimulative effect.
HEUVEL: So, it`s almost a back-door stimulative effect.
BITTMAN: This is through (ph) of all stimulus money, right?
HEUVEL: That`s right.
BITTMAN: Almost all government spending, in fact.
BERG: But particularly food stamps because food is still grown,
processed, shipped, warehoused, manufactured in America creating American
jobs. And one other point, the same things we need to do to fight hunger
are exactly what we need to do to beat this obesity.
The New York City Coalition against Hunger has a program where we
bring fresh produce from regional farms into low income neighborhoods. We
subsidized it. We have waiting lists at most sites. If you build it, they
will come. If you make healthier food affordable, physically available,
and convenient, low income will eat it.
We don`t need to restrict what they get. We need to increase their
purchasing power for healthier food.
DAUGHERTY: The hunger and obesity issue is one in the same. You
know, that was a great point right there. You know, it`s the education
piece. It ties right back to what I was saying. Yes. You know, we have
to be able to give the people of America the gift of knowing how to shop
and cook. And then, all of these issues will get better.
HAYES: Yes. But that`s -- I mean, people are working hard. I mean,
I -- you know, I`m an incredibly privileged lucky person right now in my
life, and I find myself like taking a lot of shortcuts in that respect, and
I have it better than a lot of, a lot of, a lot, a lot of folks who are
working their butts off or have three or four kids. It just seems like
wooh, If that`s the thing that we need to do, like that`s a really --
that`s a tough uphill battle.
BITTMAN: You know, I think that cooking -- cooking, too, I think it`s
really important. It answers, addresses a lot of issues. I do want to say
one thing about what Seth said to get back to this -- to how food stamps
can and should be used.
I agree that any food is better than no food, but soda is not food,
and that`s why it should be restricted from food stamps being used to buy
it, because it isn`t food. It`s bad. It`s not good. I mean, I hate to be
black and white, but that --
HAYES: And soda in New York State -- we can say specifically New York
State applied for a waiver that was denied by the USDA to be able to
restrict the purchase of soda, specifically --
BITTMAN: Sugar soda, not diet soda, which could be worse for you.
HAYES: Sugar soda, right.
HEUVEL: This is kind of a pre-political conversation in a sense,
because we`re not taking into account the enormous lobbies behind the soda
HAYES: Oh, right. No.
HEUVEL: And we`re going to talk about the agro business.
HEUVEL: And if you had a pro-people`s lobby, a low-income lobby,
anti-hunger lobby, you would see something different, though, they`re not
treated with the respect on Capitol Hill as you describe. They don`t have
HEUVEL: --you know, the campaign money.
HAYES: And Mark, you reported that after that Florida state senator,
Ronda Storms, had proposed. She said she had Coca-Cola in her office the
next day. And in fact, you know, the big food in Coca-Cola and so forth
have fought strenuously and lobbied strenuously against --
BITTMAN: -- millions dollars.
HAYES: -- against any attempt to restrict food purchases. We`re
going to talk about big food and big agriculture. Chef Seth Bixby
Daugherty of Share our Strength, thanks for joining us.
DAUGHERTY: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: Debbie Palacios, thank you so much. It`s been great to have
you here. We really, really appreciate you coming this morning.
PALACIOS: Thank you very much for having me.
HAYES: All right. The other side of the farm bill, big subsidies for
big agriculture vacation. We`ve got to love the free market when we come
HAYES: A farm bill passed by the House Agricultural Committee this
week not only cuts billions of the food stamps program but also rejects
reforms to agricultural subsidies, reforms that were included in the
Senate`s farm bill. The House bill, though, like the Senate bill, would
finally end direct cash payments to farms, 26 of which received more than
$1 million each last year alone.
And the savings from ending direct cash payments could have prevented
the food stamp cuts that we`ve been talking about. Instead, however, the
House Committee voted to funnel 70 percent of those savings from ending
direct catch payments right back into farming interest in the form of
subsidies for crop insurance and new price support program which pay farms
when their crops sell for less then the predicted of market value.
Agriculture chairman, Frank Lucas, author of the House farm bill
defended using the savings to subsidize farms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FRANK LUCAS, (R) OKLAHOMA: It is to make a living as a farmer.
I still check the weather every day, usually multiple times a day, because
I know at a moment`s notice, a dream crop can turn into a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining us now at the table is L. Joy Williams, founder of LJW
Community Strategies, political consulting firm, and co-host of the
Syndicated radio show, "This Week in Blackness." It`s great to have you
L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Thank you.
HAYES: So, the reason I want to talk about both sides of this is --
you know, the farm bill to me exposes this fundamental misperception about
our politics. When we`re in an election season, what happens is this.
This particularly true from conservatives is, they want to make the
election and every political conversation about first principles, about
ideology, about vision. We believe in freedom, less government.
You want more government. And, I think, sometimes, liberals get
suckered into having this very ideological battle, right? We have to
defend. But, when you look at what Congress does, if you look at
government under George Bush and Republican Congress, government as
percentage of GDP crew (ph), right? There is no evidence that government
under Republicans will shrink.
It`s simply a question of what the government will do and who will
benefit. The farm bill is a perfect example, because here you have the
House Republicans on the same day, on the same day that they vote to repeal
the Affordable Care Act are coming up with new price support programs which
sounds, frankly, positively soviet from the perspective of any other area
of policy, right?
And subsidized crop insurance for farmers that are -- when we say
farmers, largely massive agricultural interests and industrial farms. So,
all this ideology, somehow, just disappears into the ether (ph) when the
actual work of governing and legislating is happening.
So, I just think it`s important for people to look, stair into the
gaping mall that it`s a farm bill, because it shows us what is really
happening under ether (ph) politics, and it is not a battle between some
ideology of less government and some ideology of more government. End of
WILLIAMS: Well, it`s a prime example of pay attention to what I`m
doing here, you know, this magic trick here, and not what I`m doing, you
know, over here, you know? And so, it`s the -- the -- they`re trying to
get the American people to follow what I`m saying, what, you know, I want
you to believe as opposed to what I`m doing.
And most Americans aren`t going to read the text of a farm bill.
They`re not going to read the text of the affordable care. You know,
they`re believing the sound bites on what happens on news and what they
read as opposed to looking, and they don`t have time, you know, to look
through a farm bill and see this is contradictory to what they are telling
HAYES: And the farm bill is a perfect example of the kind of
legislation that a small group of people pay very intensely --
BERG: You can`t understand.
BERG: You can`t possibly parse it.
HEUVEL: But as stare into the gaping mall of the farm bill, what`s
interesting is the role of government in our society has been settled. I
mean, it is -- even those who attack it accepted it as were part of -- yes.
I mean, it has been accepted. It wasn`t -- that wasn`t the case with
That was -- the big debate about the role of government was still to
come even with Johnson. But this is an intensely fought over battle partly
not to be reductionist because you`ve got a lot of money going on.
HAYES: Of course.
HEUVEL: You`ve got the campaign spending and then the money to be
made in agro business. Yes.
HAYES: I want to bring in George Naylor, a corn and soybean farmer
from Churdan, Iowa, a member of the Iowa Citizens for Community
Improvement, former president of the Natural Family Farm Coalition. The
interesting (ph) disclosure, I should say, I gave a paid speech to Iowa CCI
back in 2010 prior to be coming full time here at MSNBC.
George, it`s wonderful to have you. What do you think of this farm
GEORGE NAYLOR, CORN AND SOYBEAN FARMER: Well, I tell you this farm
bill is one in a long series since the early 1950s that were aim at
destroying the wisdom of the new deal. And as long as you, folks, make the
frame that it should be discussed as welfare, then nobody will understand
what the original farm bills in the new deal were really all about.
HAYES: Explain the difference and explain why the current way that we
conceive of farm support doesn`t work.
NAYLOR: Well, you see, as you were talking about food stamps, we`re
not going to eliminate poverty with food stamps. If people were given a
minimum wage that was a living wage and people were guaranteed a decent
job, you wouldn`t have to have -- you wouldn`t have to have food stamps,
and the same way with farm programs.
If farmers were guaranteed an actual price in the marketplace, minimum
price, a good price, and were given the tools to control supply so that the
big corporations that buy our products would have to pay at that kind of
price, you wouldn`t have to have subsidy payments.
HAYES: But isn`t -- but don`t we -- don`t we have price -- I mean, my
understanding is there are price supports for a variety of the big five
NAYLOR: No, there have not -- you`re confusing the term "price
support" with "income support."
NAYLOR: An income support is like a welfare payment, a subsidy
payment, when in fact, what the new original new farm -- the new deal farm
programs did was guarantee farmers a fair price just like a minimum or a
living wage would guarantee a fair wage.
HAYES: Right. So, that`s a key distinction here, right?
HAYES: As opposed to saying you can sell, you know, a bushel of wheat
for "X" price and guaranteeing that price, our support system says if it`s
less than $4, let`s say if it`s not $4, if it`s selling for $3 in the open
market, we, the government, pay you the dollar difference, right? That`s
the way income support works?
NAYLOR: That`s an income support when the government pays me money
from the treasury. So, this is not about -- it should not be an issue
about the federal budget. It has nothing do with the federal budget. What
we have is another program in a long line of programs since the early
It`s intended to guarantee cheap commodities to the big food
corporation so they produce cheap processed food, cheap meat, milk, and
eggs, and so, that there is no actual wise use of our land.
HAYES: So, let`s talk about that and talk about what is in the bill
and who`s backing it and who is benefiting right after we take a break.
HAYES: George Naylor, farmer in Iowa, on the line with us here.
George, one of the really perverse aspects of the way that these subsidies
are structured is that they -- the bigger the enterprise, the more money it
gets from the federal government. So, here`s an example of how this works.
We have a graphic here that just shows under the last subsidy regime.
So, if you`re -- if the household income is above $200,000, your
average in subsidies is $30,000 or more.
If your net income is lower, say 100,000, and you get less in
subsidies and the people who get the least amount of help are those who are
making the least amount of money, is there anything in what`s being done
now with the end of direct payments switching to this crop insurance model
that is going to change the way the distribution of benefits works such
that big interests get the biggest payments?
NAYLOR: Well, I`m not sure there are going to be any big benefits
from this farm program. I think this basically farmers are going to be on
the free market. This farm bill`s not going to let the whole farm economy
crash even if it`s a crazy agri business farm economy, so whatever you`re
projecting there is intended to make sure that the system works.
It isn`t intended to make big farmers or small farmers or any other
kind of farmer stay in business. It`s just intended to make the system
perpetuate cheap food, cheap corn, cheap soybeans so that they can keep
feeding animals in inhumane feed lots, corporate feed lots, and bring our
food from allover the world from thousands of miles away and have everybody
keep looking at this issue of welfare when, in fact, we should be asking
what`s happening to the commons, what`s happening to the farmland.
You come out here to Iowa, you will see nothing but mono crop, corn,
soybeans. You will see soil erosion that you wouldn`t believe and more and
more use of pesticides because if you`re
only going to raise two crops over and over again, you`re going to have
incredible problems with pests. So, this program doesn`t -- this farm bill
nor any of the farm bills since 1953 have addressed any of these issues.
And we have -- you have to understand we have a Congress of the one
percent. So, don`t expect anything to address any of these issues. This
is a bipartisan policy on behalf of corporate agribusiness.
HAYES: Mark, this is something you`ve written about a lot.
BITTMAN: Hear, hear. I mean, it`s just right there. I mean, I`ve
been -- I spent a week in Iowa last year, and the mono culture is really
the thing that`s killing us and it is the thing that`s being most heavily
NAYLOR: Could I interject there?
BITTMAN: Please, please.
NAYLOR: That`s an error to think that farmers raise corn and soybeans
because it`s subsidized. There is no other crop that I could think of that
I could raise to compete with corn and soybeans just because if I was to
raise fruits and vegetables, I would have to have a big labor force of
I couldn`t raise enough fruits and vegetables by myself, no way. And
the market place, besides, is geared to getting fruits and vegetables from
giant farms in California, Texas, Florida, now Mexico and China.
HAYES: So, wait. So, you`re saying that -- I want to be clear here.
The reliance on monocultures and raising vast tracks of what are
essentially commodities that can be sold in international commodity
markets, you`re saying that is not -- that is going to happen regardless of
the farm bill or not. That is not just behavior being distorted by
whatever subsidies are there.
NAYLOR: Yes. You see the real sound alternative to raising corn and
soybeans would be to have hay, pasture, and small grains in a crop rotation
where the livestock are being raised on family farms instead of great big
inhumane giant factory farms, big feedlots, now owned and controlled by the
very big packing companies that are putting lousy meet and unsafe meat on
HAYES: George Naylor, corn and soybean farmer from Iowa. We`re
definitely going to have you back, because we`re going to follow this bill
all the way through its trajectory as it heads towards a Florida vote. So,
thanks so much. We`ll have you back.
NAYLOR: Oh, thank you very much.
HAYES: The one and only James Carville will be with us when we come
HAYES: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Here with "Food
Matters" author, Mark Bittman, L. Joy Williams from the Syndicated radio
show, "This Week in Blackness," Katrina Vanden Heuvel, my boss at "The
Nation" magazine, and joining us at the table, we have James Carville, lead
strategist for the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign, political
commentator for CNN, and co-author of "It`s The Middle Class, Stupid!"
If you want to know just how bad things got this week for Mitt Romney,
last night, he decided to give interviews to ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX News and
NBC. The interviews came in response to a flood of new questions about
Romney`s departure from Bain Capital. In previous days, we saw document
after document emerged indicating that Romney remained at Bain Capital in
some capacity until as late as 2002 rather than just February 1999 as he
has claimed, when asked to account for the performance of Bain companies at
Plus, Democrats hammered Romney all week over his failure to release
more than just two years of tax returns, despite even some Republican
leaders suggesting that he needs to release more, including a "Wall Street
Journal" editorial page editor on this program last week, Romney last night
announced he has decided that unlike previous presidential candidates of
the last few decades, he will release only the two years of returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve already put out one
year of tax returns. We`ll put out the next year of tax returns as soon as
the accountants have that ready, and that`s what we`re going to put out. I
know there will always be calls for more. People always want to get more,
and, you know, we`re putting out what is required plus more that is not
required. Those are the two years that people are going to have. That`s
all that`s necessary for people to understand something about my finances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Mitt Romney playing defense on taxes, Bain Capital
outsourcing, and his bank accounts.
"The New York Times" reported that Republicans are urging Romney to
fight back and deliver a strong counterpunch that will please his
supporters. The article revived an old Romney quotation, "if you`re
responding, you`re losing."
While Romney plans to spend the weekend in New Hampshire with his
family, President Obama is campaigning today in the battleground state of
Virginia, where reportedly will continue to hammer Romney on exactly on
when he left Bain Capital.
James, not at a good week for the Romney campaign.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, it wasn`t. But let me
tell you something -- John McCain saw 23 years of those tax returns and it
forced him to pick Sarah Palin. So, maybe we don`t want to look at his tax
returns, it`s going to drive us to Sarah Palin.
HAYES: Yes, he was quoted -- he was quoted I think 2008 in the
"Arizona Republic" I think said, you know, they asked for 23 years of tax
returns and he said, because I`m a pack rat, I happen to have them. So, we
know that they`re sitting somewhere.
Is he going to get away with this, though? That`s my big question.
CARVILLE: The other point is the single most disingenuous ad ever run
in the history of presidential politics is run by Mitt Romney at the
beginning of the campaign. You`ll remember this. He has (INAUDIBLE) Obama
saying said, if this election is about the economy, we lose.
What he actually said in 2008 -- John McCain -- he said John McCain
said if this election is about the economy, we lose. So, they just take
that out. Then the Romney people bragged because it showed how tough they
were that they were willing to tell a lie. And they said, we`re just
willing to get away with it and there`s nothing you can do about it.
That`s the truth.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THENATION.COM: You know what? I liked it. I
think it was Kevin Phillips, the political strategist, who once said the
Republicans go for the jugular and the Democrats go for the capillaries.
HAYES: The capillaries, right.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think we`re seeing the Democrats go for the jugular
and to ferociously early define Romney.
HAYES: Speaking of the jugular, can I play this? This is definitely
-- I think this counts as a jugular. This is an ad that just was released
today by the Obama campaign. Check it out.
(OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)
HAYES: So there`s that.
HAYES: What do you think of that? You like it?
CARVILLE: Yes, I love it. I do. The thing is finally we`re getting
in early, you know, and letting, you know, setting this sort of thing. I
You know, Romney`s got -- the reason this is working is by and large
true, and people believe it.
HAYES: By and large is great modifier in politics.
CARVILLE: You could argue -- he was some part of Bain between `99 and
2002, all right? I`m just saying.
MARK BITTMAN, "FOOD MATTERS": Why does it matter? If I have that
question, others do.
HAYES: Yes, no. It`s great question.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, "THIS WEEK IN BLACKNESS": We talked about this
before. It doesn`t matter by itself that he won`t lease tax returns and
things like that. It matters to us. You know, it doesn`t matter to
But that combined with was he -- did he have a hand or not in Bain
when they were outsourcing, it goes to his credibility on if he`s lying or
if he can be trusted -- you know, all of those things.
And so, when you put that with the ad today where he`s lying to you or
he`s cheating or doing something, that`s what matters to voters. Not
necessarily that he won`t release a return.
HAYES: If I could be an annoying buzz kill precious liberal for a
second, I`m not psyche about this sort of "American First" theme as being
what to lead with.
You`re looking at me with scorn and contempt -- this is why I don`t
run campaigns, but --
CARVILLE: You`re running for the president of the United States.
That`s the difference. Let`s put the United States first. No, no, no, I
don`t think it`s a good idea.
HAYES: But wait. Let me answer Mark`s question because I thing this
is actually what`s bizarre about the core of this.
OK. Bain Capital runs a -- purchases a company called GST Steel.
That`s in Kansas, OK?
HAYES: They end up closing down that factory and shipping most of the
jobs, I believe, to China around 2001, 2002. OK.
The Obama campaign releases an ad hitting Mitt Romney for that and the
Romney response is I had nothing -- you can`t hit me for GST Steel because
I left Bain in 1999. So then we get the disclosure forms that he signed
with the SEC saying he was the sole shareholder and executive officer of
Bain Capital in 2000 and 2001. These are filed with the government.
He`s now saying, well, yes, I was, but in name only.
But the whole point -- what`s bizarre to me about all of this is that
they seem to be going through a lot of work and bending over backward to
avoid being associated with this one instance, which is GST Steel, which
was the subject of one ad, when the things that Bain was doing before 1999
are not in any ways substantially or qualitatively different.
VANDEN HEUVEL: The whole nature of Bain was about investing in
companies that offshored jobs, and I think that -- let me be even more of
an -- I don`t know, a gadfly.
Let`s be honest. Over the last 30, 40 years, the wages of the middle
class workers in this country have stagnated. Structural reasons.
HAYES: I`m surprised I`m not wearing a t-shirt.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Let`s be honest -- this is a moment where we can maybe
reset the priorities of the bipartisan class, political class, that has
witness trade agreements, that have contributed to moving jobs offshore.
Now, private equity is the ugliest embodiment of that and Mitt Romney
is the emblem of that. But let`s take this as a moment to reset the
priorities of this country. Not "America first" necessarily, but let`s
build a secure middle class and workers and workers` rights and living
CARVILLE: No, no. It`s worse than that. Romney put Bain at issue.
He said the rationale --
HAYES: The entire rationale.
CARVILLE: He couldn`t talk about being the governor of Massachusetts.
He never speaks of that. That never happened. It`s like some -- OK?
HAYES: Some terrible dream.
WILLIAMS: He deleted it from his Facebook page.
CARVILLE: The reason he wants to be president is that he was this
marvelous successful CEO that created these hundred thousand jobs. So
people came in and said, wait a minute. You want to talk about the job use
created, let`s talk about the whole picture, because Romney, although he
doesn`t gamble, is the kind of guy that wants to play the slot machine but
he just wants to count what he wants.
CARVILLE: Don`t count when (INAUDIBLE).
CARVILLE: So then he says it is unfair to question me on the very
centrality of my rationale for president and then he whines about it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Right.
CARVILLE: That`s the fact. That`s no that we picked up somebody,
went up and pick some ancillary thing and found something, the girl you
VANDEN HEUVEL: It`s the heart of who he is.
BITTMAN: The fact that he`s demanding an apology is really pathetic,
CARVILLE: Chef, this is the whole root, this is whole thing. This is
whole dish, man. You burn your root, you`re done. He burns his root.
HAYES: Here`s the Romney campaign ad defending the Bain record,
basically hitting the Obama campaign for not telling the truth and then he
had this apology request that he had in his interviews last night. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: When a president doesn`t tell the truth, how can we trust
him to lead? The Obama outsourcing attacks -- misleading, unfair, and
untrue. There`s no evidence that Mitt Romney shipped jobs overseas.
Candidate Obama lied about Hillary Clinton.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So shame on you
NARRATOR: But America expects more from a president. Obama`s
dishonest campaign, another reason America has lost confidence in Barack
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, here`s what I saw, some conservatives on Twitter last
night saying, this is so lame that we`re asking for apology. That`s what
Democrats do. Democrats whine and ask for apologies. What the heck is
Do you think the sort of apology gambit is worth anything?
CARVILLE: Well, it`s not worth very much because everybody believes
that Mitt Romney shipped jobs overseas for the simple reason, that, well,
Mitt Romney shipped jobs overseas.
And also, culturally, the Obama campaign is coming across as the kind
of Republicans` eye and they don`t like that. They`re used to like going
around and kicking people and getting away with it. Now, they`re getting
And I got to go back to what I said. The single, most disingenuous
fraudulent ad ever run in the history of presidential politics --
HAYES: That`s really saying a lot.
VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s saying a lot, yes.
CARVILLE: Well, look at it. Look at it. I mean, the ad was --
VANDEN HEUVEL: Can I ask you a question? Are there any boundaries?
As someone who has made ads, as someone who`s been a strategist for a
number of years and a very successful one, is it all is fair in politics?
When you say it`s disingenuous, it`s like, does that matter at all if
you`re making an ad?
CARVILLE: I think it does, but you have to be immediate in your
response and you have to be brutal in your response. I mean as soon as
you`re hit, you have to hit right back and you have to hit very hard as to
what they`re doing. But if you let the thing go as they did for two or
three weeks when all the Republicans were saying, hey, you can`t this
because the Democrats would go, oh -- when Dukakis ran, oh, no one would
ever believe that.
Oh, yes, they will. John Kerry, you know, when he -- what was wrong
with the guy going out and saying --
VANDEN HEUVEL: Could I just say I hate -- part of what`s going to
define this election in addition to voter impression and super PAC money is
the media and this false equivalence. You`re seeing a little bit of
Obama`s swift boating Mitt Romney.
No, he`s not. I mean, this idea that there`s -- those were made up
concocted lies. This is a fundamental part of Mitt Romney`s life, Bain
Capital. Defined him. As you were saying, this is what he`s running on.
CARVILLE: This is what he`s running on.
VANDEN HEUVEL: The other thing is the tax returns. The tax returns,
though, I think, if he doesn`t release those, you know, those aren`t going
away. And you got his father as the bar, forget John McCain. His father
released 12 years. That is not going away.
And if he releases them, it`s a field day never seen before by
WILLIAMS: Let`s fast forward this conversation to October, when now,
you`ll have Mitt Romney and President Obama in the same room, on the same
stage in a debate, right? Talk about the Democrats sort of flipping it and
being Republicans. If President Obama goes directly before Mitt Romney on
these issues on the stage in front of American people joining in a debate,
that automatically, that changes the conversation as well, because usually
it`s the Democrats who, you know, obviously don`t go that strong in the
But Obama going strong after Mitt Romney in a debate in October, a
month before the elections, it will come up again.
HAYES: Yes. It will come up. But there`s also -- there`s also the
idea of a division of labor in terms of negative attacks. Let`s remember
swift boat veterans for truth, it was run independent of the campaign. The
Willie Horton was run independently. It did not it wasn`t on George H.W. I
approve this message.
So -- and Ed Rendell said something pretty provocative on our air
yesterday about this possibly hurting the president`s brand.
I want to play that clip and get your reaction right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED RENDELL (D), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: I think Carol also made
a very good point about all this attack may be hurting the president`s
brand a little bit too. Like I think our supporters went a little bit too
far with the felony business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Alex Wagner`s
program yesterday talking about Stephanie Cutter who`s a spokesperson for
the Obama campaign had implied or suggested that if, in fact, he was lying
on SEC forms, that would be a felony. And that -- I think that
articulation is something that I feel you see Democrats do a lot.
What do you think about that?
CARVILLE: Look. I don`t know. Better if Stephanie would have said
if in a court of law after, you know, due process and protection of law and
the appeals have run its course --
WILLIAMS: That would be a typical Democratic --
CARVILLE: No. Maybe if she would have said it differently, it would
have been better. Who cares?
CARVILLE: I mean, in the sort of steam of things, it isn`t too much.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I have more of a problem now. Though I think everyone
has moved so I`m not sure what they said when they said it. But President
Clinton and Cory Booker and one or two others, Cory Booker said the attacks
on Bain were nauseating and he equated them in a Jeremiah Wright video.
I think these attacks on Bain are fully a part of the debate about
what kind of country we`re going to be. What kind of capitalism --
HAYES: I completely agree but I was fascinated by the moment.
Because here`s what happened -- it`s very clear the Bain attacks, they`re
seeing and polling and focus grouping that they`re effective. They`re
effective particularly in swing states, in places that have gone through
the industrialization and have been hit hard on the manufacturing side.
And at the same time, you know, private equity is how -- I mean, it`s
not like a Republican business private equity, let me tell you, all right?
Private equity has -- there`s a ton of Democrats working for private
equity. There`s a ton of Democrats -- George Stephanopoulos went and
worked with private equity after --
VANDEN HEUVEL: Peter Orszag.
HAYES: Tons of people.
So, my question is would the Democratic donor class tolerate this?
You know those folks. I mean, what are they saying? You know, are they
calling up the White House and saying, you cannot -- I now feel I have to
defend my industry?
CARVILLE: Some. But some understand that that happens.
And, again, Mitt Romney never -- I go back to the central point. He
put this whole thing at issue. He was the one that said the whole run he
was running was over Bain. When you run for president, everything that you
do gets questioned. When we ran in `92, remember, we were rubbing drugs
out of the airport, for God`s sake.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I had forgotten that one. That was a big thing.
CARVILLE: "The Wall Street Journal" for a year said we killed Vince
CARVILLE: Come on, you can`t be surprised that if you run for
president and you put something at the center of the it, researchers are
going to come in and say, wait a minute, there`s another story to tell
here. I mean, what are we talking about? This is the most legitimate
thing that`s going on in the campaign.
HAYES: But you think -- whether it`s -- my point more is whether it`s
legitimate or not, they`re going to hammer on this, right? At the same
time, let`s remember, they`re going to hammer on this Mr. 1 percent who`s
got offshore tax accounts, hides his money, paid 13 percent on carried
interest, offshored jobs. At the same time, at the same time, the
president is going to have to go to fundraiser after fund-raiser after
fund-raiser with people who have offshore accounts, Mr. 1 percent, offshore
jobs, worked in private equity and how is that sustainable?
CARVILLE: He`s going to shake hands and say, I hear you and I take
under consideration and he`s going to go to the cell phone and say, double
or buy. I mean, you saw all these people like that that went to the
Hamptons party. That was out of "The Onion".
VANDEN HEUVEL: That was not out of "The Onion". That was like
Here`s a question. Why in 2012 when a candidate who is the emblem of
rapacious private equity breed of the Gilded Age, why isn`t President Obama
many points ahead? Some of that is what you`re talking about because, of
course, the structural issues in this country but it is a fact that in
1970s, the Democratic Party, maybe through Tony Coelho or maybe through
others, became linked into this money-raising system where you got private
equity givers and that`s what this party needs to break through if they`re
going to be smart.
HAYES: Do you agree with that, Joy?
WILLIAMS: But I think the conversation is different. So, it`s not
just a talk about Mitt Romney being wealthy. Or the ones -- everybody
knows they`re wealthy. Most voters, you know, imagine that even the
elected official in their local state is more wealthy than they are. So,
they know that already.
The question is the narrative that Mitt Romney brings in saying are
you a cheat? You know, are you using -- you know, are you paying your fair
share of taxes? That`s the conversation, not about them being wealthy per
se but what benefits they get for not playing by the rules like I have to
as a middle class or a working person.
HAYES: To me what`s so fascinating about the tax returns we receive
and what is in those tax returns, is that, you know, when you`re operating
at that level of income, like that`s a whole other universe. For America
to look into what that means, what a tax return on that kind of income
looks like is just alienating.
CARVILLE: There`s a lot of like really great Americans in private
equity. It`s a thing. It is a legal entity. It does things. All right?
Here`s the difference --
HAYES: It does things.
CARVILLE: It does things. It does good things. It does bad things.
When you run for president and you put it at the centrality of what
you are, then you`re going to be questioned about it. That`s --
VANDEN HEUVEL: And your book talks about the agency of change, "The
Twilight of the Elites", the radicalized of the upper middle class. I
would argue that you need those in the establishment like a Pete Peterson.
I`ve sent him an e-mail a few weeks ago and say, hey, where do you stand on
VANDEN HEUVEL: You need people in private equity to start fighting
for ending the carried interest loopholes, to be part of the 100 percent
and not the 1 percent.
HAYES: Quickly, carried interest is essentially investment income
declared as investment rather than wages. So it`s 15 percent rather than
what you would pay at the top marginal rate. That`s your tax nerdiness for
More on this topic when we come back.
HAYES: Just an extended audition to get one of those shows like "The
Voice." I do a really good chair turn.
HAYES: So this is what`s happening. So we receive this play out
before. A candidate has a bad week, OK? And you see -- start to see the
panic button, the freak-out from the folks on that candidate`s side.
So here`s "The New York Times": conservatives push for Romney to
deliver a counterpunch -- which is one oft this classic, you know, "people
are freaking out" articles.
"Team Obama is doing just what we did in 2004, which is to define the
opposition furiously and early. Most voters don`t have a deep sense of
Romney other than he`s not Obama. And in this cycle, that may be enough
but it`s a very risky approach." That`s Mark McKinnon, strategist who
worked on George W. Bush`s reelection campaign.
This was -- I want to show some sound of you giving some advice back
in September when things look very bad for the president, September 15,
2011. This is James offering some thoughts on what the president should be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARVILLE: We lost all the seats in 1994. A lot of us got fired. I
got -- I didn`t have a consulting contract with the DNC. People -- he made
changes. That`s what happens.
That`s what President Reagan did in 1980 when he didn`t start out
while. He fired John Sears and other people in his campaign. He tossed
out Lincoln. How many generals did Lincoln fired? Even Rumsfeld lost his
job. The Republicans fired Newt Gingrich.
When things are not going well, I`m sorry, the coach, the manager, you
know, we`re both sports fans. You`ve got to do something. You`ve got to
try to change direction here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m not going to try to take it as a personal offense that you
wore a suit and tie for that --
HAYES: You know, it`s Saturday morning.
CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) don`t see him in a suit and tie. I don`t see
HAYES: The reason I said this because it just seems to me like such a
huge percentage of coverage of politics is like Monday morning
quarterbacking and backseat driving and it`s like -- as someone who has
been in both roles, actually having had to run an actual campaign where you
had access to a certain amount of data, you`re seeing certain things, and
then being on the outside commenting, is that like all B.S.? Is that
cheap, all the advice you get, all the articles, the histrionics of people
saying do this, do that -- does it matter at all?
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, the people running the campaign can`t
stand people like me, and I couldn`t stand them.
HAYES: I want to play this very quick. Just to establish, this is
you in 1992 talking about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You don`t know about strategy? You`re the top strategist
of the campaign.
CARVILLE: But you`re asking me -- again, I`m saying TV commentators
comment on strategy. I just try -- we just try to do the best we can.
You`ll have to ask the TV commentators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Bristling with contempt for the TV commentators. Right,
CARVILLE: Yes. You know what? That`s a fact of life. As Stalin
said, if you`re afraid of bears, don`t go in the woods. OK?
If you`re afraid to get second-guessed, don`t be a political
consultant, don`t run a presidential campaign. People like me now, they`re
people in the peanut gallery. They just sit back there and they`re
throwing stuff, and whatever.
WILLIAMS: And the other point is that, you then -- like you
mentioned, you don`t have the TV pundits. Or we`re not in the campaign, we
don`t have access to the daily information. We`re not seeing the daily
polls. We`re not seeing golden tunnel things and don`t know the full out
strategy in terms of what`s next after this, right?
And so, part of it is you not only have the TV pundits but you may
also have supporters that are doing the same thing. But you don`t have
access to --
HAYES: Every -- if you ever worked on a campaign and you`re a field
organizer, everyone at the door has advice for you. Every volunteer know
as what the campaign should be doing.
BITTMAN: You know, Katrina said something -- asked something before.
I`m a complete amateur. So, I`m asking you -- I`m going to be like you.
HAYES: That`s fine. We build on curiosity.
BITTMAN: The balls are in a dead heat, right? So you`re fighting
over 6 percent of the electorate or something like that. And now what`s
clear is you have Obama trying to identify Romney as a creep, which -- it`s
When does he start talking about program, when does he start talking
about what the -- what`s going to happen if he`s re-elected? When do we
start to see this change stuff again? When do we start to see an
explanation of why things have not gone as we hoped in the last four years?
CARVILLE: Let me take that in a couple --
HAYES: Offer some advice.
CARVILLE: Offer some advice for the campaign.
What they`re going to hit Romney on as sure as I`m sitting here,
Romney won`t release his tax returns.
CARVILLE: Romney says he`s a guy with a $7 trillion tax cut but he
says, I`m not going to tell you how I`m going to pay for it. OK?
Romney says I`m going to cut government programs but I won`t tell you
which one I`m going to cut because if you did, it would be very hard on
Romney says I have a position on immigration, but I`m not going to
tell you what it is.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Right.
CARVILLE: So phase two of this is going to be Mitt Romney. He plays
by one set of rules. The rest of us play by a different set. That`s Mitt
Romney all of his life -- sure as we`re sitting at this table, you know
this is coming.
CARVILLE: Now, what the president -- what we know from the public
polls and I know there`s some private polls, your question goes to the
heart of the matter. They want know what the second term is about. All
that Romney talks about is the last four years. People know where they
I think you`re going to see the president not now because right now
he`s down there, you know, and their opponent is drowning. Please, throw
him an Anvil. My God, don`t switch.
At a point, I promise you they`re going to say this is how my second -
- this is my second term. I think it`s going to be -- you know, I can feel
it coming. I see the speeches and everything where the middle class is
going to be front and center the second term. We`re going to start the
process of building the right middle class.
Your question is germane, it`s right, now is not the time to do it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, you know, campaigns don`t necessarily push the
limits of the conversation of the debate. It takes movements outside, and
I just want to put in a word for Occupy Wall Street. It`s in -- you know,
it`s going to be a year this September since it`s erupted. Movement time
may not be how we measure time, but it certainly drove issues and ideas
into this campaign, which we`re seeing flourish around the Bain debate,
which is about inequality, which is about the 99 percent.
And also, you know, I think in terms of the elections are choices,
that`s what this campaign of President Obama wants. He wants to make it a
choice, not a referendum. I do think he`s going to speak out.
You know, there was an article the other day criticizing the campaigns
for relitigating the past. I think the president should relitigate the
past because the past involves a failure of right wing ideas about what
kind of economy, you know, the lower taxes on the rich, deregulating
markets, all the things that drove the economy off a cliff. So I think
there is a role to relitigate the past and then move forward.
WILLIAMS: I think also -- to this point in terms of timing is that
over the summer, sort of now it`s not the time to sort of release, and as
your opponent -- as James says is drowning, now`s not the time to release
your plan. I think the time in term of the campaign time sort of will be
September, you know, sort of when people are paying more attention as we
get closer to the election.
HAYES: The other thing we should say is speech after speech after
speech every day he lays out what jobs -- it`s not like he hasn`t -- hasn`t
talked about it. It`s what the --
CARVILLE: Let me -- I`ve been critical in the past. Let me say that
they have been very aggressive and their speeches have been very focused.
I think that from the standpoint of message is that Obama has done very
much better in this campaign for a month or so. This is somebody you point
out, has not only been --
HAYES: There`s been a lot about the middle class. We`ll take a look
at speech making after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So your book which I want to give another plug, if you`d like
to hold it up, we also have a full screen. "It`s the Middle Class Stupid!"
Here`s the president middle class is, you know, it`s a term that
everybody invokes politics. It`s one of these terms that gets invoked so
much. It`s a little unclear sometimes what it means.
Democrats I think invoke it probably the most. Here`s the president
touting the importance of prosperity for the middle class.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe our
prosperity has always come from an economy that`s built on a strong and
growing middle class.
What we need is somebody who`s going to fight every single day to grow
the middle class. I believe the heart and soul of this country is making
sure the working people can feel some security in the middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Is this a cause of the president reading your book or you
offering advice that he had already taken?
CARVILLE: I think he kind of knew about it before I wrote the book.
Our point here is a little bit of (INAUDIBLE). The middle class in
this country has been deteriorating for 30 years and people tend to think
of, you know -- elites tend to think of the financial crisis as the sort of
dividing point. They had been deteriorating before that.
Now, what I say in the book is they had pneumonia and the financial
crisis, it was like a truck hitting them. It wasn`t any fun and it really
set them back.
They know this has happened to them. They`re completely aware of it.
They`ve had to adjust their lives. And what they`re looking for is for
somebody to say let`s put us at center and how are we going to dig
ourselves out of this.
HAYES: But here --
VANDEN HEUVEL: We were just talking -- it`s interesting -- in the
beginning of the show about the poor and low income.
HAYES: Well, a lot of folks --
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think there`s politics here now because a lot of the
middle class are slipping into poverty. So, there`s -- you know, there`s
more awareness. It`s not reflected in our politics.
CARVILLE: I would make -- the only time by the way factually -- the
only time middle income actually grew since the `70s was during the `90s.
CARVILLE: People have asked me, you`ve slowed (ph) the middle class.
Why don`t you say anything about the poor? What about the poor?
Well, nobody in poverty wants to stay there. People who are poor want
to be middle class. And that`s why things like earned income tax credit,
thank God the health care thing, and when the economy comes back, the thing
that pulls people out of the poverty is to be part of the middle class.
WILLIAMS: And not only that, in reading the book also, sort of paying
attention of in terms of generations later. Sort of my generation, we`re
going to be the first generation that won`t do better than our parents and
won`t be -- you know, in the middle class, right? And so, it`s slipping,
and so the numbers are shrinking in terms of people being in there.
I think my parents and my parents, you know, raised me and they were
able to do that with a home -- you know, with a job, without a pension, and
all those sorts of things.
CARVILLE: With an education.
WILLIAMS: With an education. You know? And are we going have that
and, you know, most people in my generation are still in that struggling
standpoint, they tear not safe where I think my parents -- you know, both
of my parents and grandparents, they felt safe and secure in their job and
their pension and their health care and all of those things to be able to
HAYES: The irony is everything gets cheaper except for the pillars of
middle class lives. Everything like DVDs and all that stuff get cheaper,
but education and health care and housing don`t get cheap.
BITTMAN: When Obama gets attacked for class warfare, it`s just the
biggest joke in the world, because it is class warfare. And the middle
class has been attacked for 30 or 40 years and we`ve just seen this
standard of living actually erode, get worse. I mean this is almost -- for
those of us who grew up in the `50s and `60s is unheard of.
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, the language of our country, our politics,
has been hijacked over the last 30 years, too. The idea of class warfare
is actually bandied about, I think the left progressive liberals need to do
a better job in terms of words.
The living wage is one of the few two-word terms. If my husband goes
around the house one more time and talks about death taxes, I`m going to
kick him out. I mean, these are terms that are not real.
HAYES: I`m going to ask you this, which is given how much it matter
messaging, versus the actual economic fundamental, because there`s two ways
of thinking about this. Political scientists say one thing. Folks that
are in your industry say another.
I want you to answer that right after we take a break.
HAYES: If you talk to political scientists, which I don`t know how
much of that you do --
HAYES: -- they say basically look, if you leak at the metrics,
incumbent, you look at the personal -- average personal disposable income,
for instance, rising and falling, you can make pretty good model
HAYES: In the world of punditry and political strategists, you know,
every little thing is looked over, this gaffe, that statement, that ad.
How much control does a campaign really have over the outcome? Ten
percent? Ninety percent? Forty percent?
CARVILLE: Most elections that you go into, it doesn`t matter. We
kind of know who`s going to win. I hate to say this --
HAYES: It`s amazing to hear you say that because presumably --
CARVILLE: I`m right. And I think if James C never existed, Bill
Clinton wouldn`t have gotten elected president in 1992.
However, there are some fundamental matters. 2004, I think the
campaign made a difference. `76 was a big one. About four almost won that
election. It was down by a gazillion (ph), OK?
This is one of those elections where it`s going to matter that the
campaign -- the candidate performance is going to matter. It is -- we do
not know right now who`s going to win this election. I can`t sit here and
say, you know, Obama`s going to win.
HAYES: Right, just because it`s so close.
CARVILLE: So close and you have the competing dynamic of -- the
political scientists -- one thing I know, is that if you talk to five
political scientists, you will get six opinions.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Another cut at that, there`s a kind of shrinking
democracy process at work here. There are now what, 12 states at best in
play, swing states. Last go-around, there were 19. And maybe there are
eight, depending on the attack money, follow the money.
And within those states, you`re dealing with 3 percent or 4 percent,
the persuadables. I wonder how we bust open a system so that people feel
every vote counts.
CARVILLE: By my definition -- there are five swing states. My
definition of a swing state is this -- it`s a state you have a chance to
win but if you lost, you could still win.
CARVILLE: OK? Therefore, Pennsylvania is not. If the Democrats lose
Pennsylvania, they don`t have a chance to win.
VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s where another -- I`m going to come back to just
briefly, the voters` impression stuff is really serious in Pennsylvania.
HAYES: Seven hundred fifty thousand voters estimated to not have the
ID necessary to vote under the new law.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And a state senator a few weeks ago saying he had
really pulled it together for Mitt Romney to win that state.
WILLIAMS: We`re also missing in the conversation is voter turnout and
sort of being able to predict how many people are going to, you know, turn
out for this election. You can`t use 2008 as a barometer.
James would probably tell you, in terms of looking at the numbers, you
can`t put 2008 numbers in an equation to try and predict.
HAYES: And it`s going to be hard for them -- those turnout numbers
were a key part.
So, what do we know now we didn`t know last week? My answer is after
HAYES: In just a moment, what we know now we didn`t know last week.
First, a quick personal update, my book "Twilights of the Elite" is on sale
now at online retailers and your local bookstore.
This Wednesday, July 18th, I`ll be appearing at the Common Good here
in New York to discuss it. You can check out the "Twilights of the
Elites`" Facebook page or a Web site at Up.MSNBC.com for details,
information about upcoming appearances.
Also, happy Bastille Day. And to my wife -- happy anniversary. I
love you, babe.
All right. What do we know that we didn`t know last week?
We now know that in 2009, the same year the Tea Party began their
anti-tax protests, Americans paid the lowest tax rate in 30 years. We know
the average tax rate was 17.4 percent, down from 19.9 percent in 2007. We
know the rate declined in part because average household income of
Americans slid from 101,000 in 2007 to 88,400.
We know, although the figures beyond 2009 aren`t ready yet, that the
CBO expects to see historically low tax rates in 2010 and 2011 as well. We
now know the fallout from historically low tax revenue and austerity
measures is spreading across the state of Florida in the form of an
outbreak of tuberculosis.
As part of Florida Governor Rick Scott`s massive Health and Human
Services budget cuts, we know that Florida shut down its only TB hospital
three months after receiving a report from the federal Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention that one of the largest TV outbreaks in 20 years was
uncontained. Three thousand Floridians may have already been exposed.
We now know the Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act so much that
since 2010, they have spent more than 80 hours on the House floor, that`s
two weeks, at a cost to taxpayers of $50 million trying to repeal the law.
We know that on Wednesday, they followed up their 33rd attempt to repeal
the legislation in the House by announcing the result of a recent
congressional golf tournament at a country club.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to report to the House that this year`s
winner of the congressional cup is the Republican team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Like it was ever in doubt.
We know who Republicans like to put our tax dollars to work.
We know that an investigation by the Justice Department reveals that
independent brokers for Wells Fargo discriminated against black and
Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom, steering minorities to costlier
subprime mortgages and charging them higher fees and rates than they had
white borrowers with the same credit risk.
We know that Wells Fargo, which denies any wrongdoing, agreed to pay a
settlement of at least $175 million, which if approved by a federal judge,
would be the second largest residential fair lending settlement in Justice
And, finally, thanks to a study published in the Journal of Computers
and Human Behavior, we know that 85 percent of undergrads participants felt
phantom cell phone vibrations. We know that the more you use the phone and
the more you neurotic you are about receiving text messages, the more
likely you are to feel a buzzing in your pocket that isn`t there. You
know, that`s a metaphor for something.
I want to find out what my guests know now they didn`t know when the
week begin. Let`s begin with you, Mr. Mark Bittman.
BITTMAN: Well, what we know that we didn`t know before was that we`ll
change the subject here a little bit, is that 3,000 heat records were
broken in the United States in the month of June. That`s 100 a day. And
that followed on heals of the warmest May on record.
Heat records are being broken all the time. Climate change is for
real and it`s just another part of the -- you know, the denial of climate
change is exactly the same as denial of the needs of the people of the
United States and that the denial of the support of the 1 percent by
Republican Congress. It`s all the same. Both are part of the same
HAYES: We talked a lot about the record heat last week on UP. And
since then, there`s new data out from one of the national centers for the
first six months of the year being the sixth months warmest on record.
L. Joy Williams?
WILLIAMS: We talked about voter suppression but something that I know
now that I didn`t know was the project that just came out with a report
that in addition to the people that would be disenfranchised because of ID
and other things like that, that there will be about 5.85 million people
across the country that will not have the right to vote because they were
previously incarcerated. So that`s a whole another population that have
their rights, their voting rights sort of stripped from them. It depends
state by state. That`s 5.85 million people that will not be able to cast a
ballot in this coming election.
HAYES: You know, Florida had a bad record on this. They barred all -
- anyone of any felony from voting forever. It was repealed -- to his
great credit -- by Charlie Chris and then reinstated by Rick Scott in
Florida. And we have seen that repeated in a number of states.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel?
VANDEN HEUVEL: July 19th, George McGovern`s 90th birthday. I bring
it up -- I know, Mark, you wrote a great column about him last year, but we
were talking about food.
Little known is his Food for Peace program that he ran and also, in a
bipartisan move he did a lot of work with Dole for women, children,
But, you know, he`s a man of great integrity, decency. And I think,
you know, you don`t have to be a winner to be a winner. He certainly
didn`t -- that campaigning --
VANDEN HEUVEL: He was quoted as saying, you know, 2012, send in the
clowns. I couldn`t believe that this country was -- you had people talking
about a rollback of Social Security and Medicare.
VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s right.
CARVILLE: I have an opportunity to be a huckster and I`m not going to
pass me up.
What I know now that I didn`t know --
HAYES: I counted on that.
CARVILLE: -- is that this book is selling very well and gotten very
good reviews. It`s called "It`s the Middle Class Stupid!" Look,
(INAUDIBLE) my huckster, this is deep in my bones. That`s all I can tell
HAYES: Well, it`s a great pleasure to have you here. You`re on short
leave selling your book. So, we are happy to have you.
My thanks to Mark Bittman, the author of "Food Matters"; L. Joy
Williams, co-host of the radio show "This Week in Blackness"; Katrina
Vanden Heuvel from "The Nation" magazine; and the one and only James
Carville, who is, in fact, co-author of "It`s the Middle Class Stupid."
Thank you for joining us today. It`s a pleasure of getting UP.
All right. Thank you for joining us today. Join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00. We`ve got a great, great guest I`m really looking
We`ll talk to Ed Conard. He`s a partner at Bain Capital until 2007,
which means he was there during the mysterious period between 1999 and 2002
when apparently no one was running the company. And Mitt Romney was
simultaneously both at and not at Bain at the same time. We are confused
and we are going to ask him to sort it out for us.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". Today on MHP, Melissa is
talking Big Bird, Mitt Romney and the middle class. If the middle class is
key the election, how could Big Bird be Mitt Romney`s greatest undoing?
Melissa has the answer. That`s Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next.
We will see you right here tomorrow as always at 8:00. Thank you so
much for getting UP.
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