'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, November 17th, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
November 17, 2012
Guests: Rep. Jerry Nadler, George Goehl, Heather McGhee, Joy Reid, Astra Taylor, Amin Husain, Sarah Ludwig, Doug Henwood, Sarah Ludwig, Astra Taylor, Amin Husain, Doug Henwood, Bill McKibben, Elana Schor
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Israeli rockets continued to strike Gaza early this morning as the
bloody conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants entered
its fourth day.
And after testimony yesterday by former CIA director, General David
Petraeus, Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, says he will not convene a
special panel to investigate the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi
in September. We will be talking about both those stories in-depth on
But right now, I am joined by George Goehl, executive director of
National People`s Action, which advocates for racial and economic justice,
Heather McGhee, vice president of the progressive think tank, Demos, New
York Democratic congressman and friend of the show, Jerry Nadler, and MSNBC
contributor, Joy Reid, managing editor of our sister website, TheGrio.com.
Great to have you all here.
On a conference call with donors this week, portions of which were
posted online by ABC News, Mitt Romney blamed his loss to President Obama
on what he called gifts the president had given to core Democratic
constituencies like students, women, and Latinos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the
president -- the president`s campaign did was focus on certain members of
his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the
government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Just note that, you know, deferred action on deporting people
doesn`t actually cost any money, but side point. Romney`s framing of the
president`s campaign strategy is, of course, craven (ph), mean-spirited,
and offensive, but it is also not entirely inaccurate. The president did,
indeed, deliver on some of the major policy priorities of those core
Mandatory insurance coverage for birth control, making student loans
more affordable, and deferring action, as I said, on the deportation of
young, undocumented immigrants among other things. Romney calls those
gifts, progressives (ph), and in many cases, a majority of Americans would
call them good policy.
But what Republicans seem to be picking up on is that key components
of the president`s coalition exerted considerable leverage over the White
House during the presidential campaign. Now, as we enter the fight over
what I and some others are calling the fiscal curb, the combination of tax
increases and spending cuts set to start on January 1st, the question is,
will the left retain any of that leverage over the president or has it
On Tuesday, a group of union leaders and progressive organizers met
with President Obama at the White House. Lee Saunders, president of
AFSCME, the American Federation of State, Court and Municipal -- State
County and Municipal Employees said the coalition that re-elected President
Obama would remain intact to pressure lawmakers during the standoff over
the fiscal curb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE SAUNDERS, AFSCME PRESIDENT: What we`re going to do is keep our
members mobilized and organized in a different communities across the
country. We`re going into another campaign. We won the election, but
we`re going into another campaign now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For his part, President Obama reiterated on Wednesday the
election had delivered a clear verdict on the question of whether taxes
should be raised on income over $250,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there was one thing
that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr.
Romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a
balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure the
wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.
I think every voter out there understood that that was an important
debate. And the majority of voters agreed with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama met with Congressional leaders yesterday to
begin the talks and House speaker, John Boehner, suggested the parties
could reach broad agreement on revenue targets and savings from entitlement
reforms to avoid the immediate budget cuts. The leaders said they would
meet again after Thanksgiving.
All right. Congressman Nadler, before we get to this political
question, because I think the political question is really important. I
think that some of the stuff we saw in the election year really was the
product of election year dynamics. And in a positive way.
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: That`s why we have elections.
HAYES: That`s exactly right. People say, well, that`s politics.
That`s also known as democracy. That`s also known as accountability.
There`s nothing wrong with it, right? Before we get to the politics of
that, and George I want to bring you in on that question, substantively,
where do you want, what do you want to see?
I mean, if you`re to say Jerry Nadler, I make you emperor of America
for -- for -- or emperor of these negotiations and you get to like sign the
document and that`s what we get, what is the end point you would like to
NADLER: The end point I would like to see is something we`re not
going to get given the fact that the Republicans control the House, but,
what I would like to see is much less of an emphasis on the deficit, which
is a long-term, maybe medium-term problem, but not an immediate problem,
and a concentration of getting people back to work in curing this economy.
So, I would like to see much more spending on infrastructure. Let --
the government can borrow money now at negative interest rates. They`re
paying us to take money off their hands, borrow more money as a temporary
increase in the deficit, frankly, use that to invest in infrastructure,
schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, smart electric grid protection against
hurricanes, whatever, which will make us more competitive in the long run.
NADLER: Number one. Number two, give money to state and local
governments as we did in the stimulus bill but haven`t been doing since
then so that they don`t continue laying off police officers and
firefighters and teachers and so forth. And make investments in education
in the next generation.
And if we did that, put people back to work, get the economy moving
again, if we got unemployment down to five percent, which is where it was
in 2007, that by itself would reduce the deficit by 40 percent.
HAYES: Yes, that`s --
NADLER: That`s what I`d like to see.
HAYES: So, short-term stimulus, combination of ways of focusing on
NADLER: Long-term investments --
NADLER: Because those investments in infrastructure are key.
NADLER: We used to invest close to three percent of GDP in
infrastructure pre-Reagan. Now, we invest less than one percent.
NADLER: China invests nine percent.
NADLER: Who do you think is going to be more competitive 30 years
from now in terms of efficient economy?
HAYES: George, National People`s Action has been mobilizing around
these issues. You were just arrested last week, I think, in the offices of
Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois senator. Now, someone might hear that and
say well, why are you going after Senator Dick Durbin? He`s your friend.
He`s your ally. He`s a Democrat. He`s really progressive Democrat in the
Senate. Why weren`t you in his offices getting arrested?
GEORGE GOEHL, NATIONAL PEOPLE`S ACTION: I think that first Obama term
was like a dress rehearsal for progressives, like, we got some stuff right,
but at the end of the day, it was like we got him elected and we thought he
would govern and we`d work in Unison. And this time around, I think we`ve
got to inject way more post- election accountability, both the
administration but also any elected (ph).
And so, yes, Senator Durbin is a great ally of ours. We work with him
on a bunch of stuff, but he`s been part of this gang of six or gang of
eight depending on the story, and you know, really trending in the wrong
HAYES: A bipartisan group of senators in the house who had been
working together to try to hammer out some kind of deal they could then
take to the full Senate.
GOEHL: They seem to be backing away from the Senate.
HAYES: Right, yes.
GOEHL: They`ve got a shot at doing that, but I think that we need to
in this second chance, we`re past the dress rehearsal is actually get out
on the streets, put tension. Two of the big things that President Obama
did that he didn`t plan on doing would block the Keystone Pipeline where
people added tension in the relationship and the Dream Act work.
GOEHL: And those were both times where people actually put tension
into the relationship, put people on the streets, and made the
administration react. And I think this time around, it can`t just be a
handful of us doing that. We need a broader set of folks.
HAYES: What`s your ask in that office and what do you want to see?
GOEHL: I think we actually want to broaden the conversation. It
feels like a (INAUDIBLE) and completely the wrong place. It`s like, you
know, Congressman Nadler just said, we started off with deficits. And so,
that was the frame. And actually, we should be talking about the bigger
crisis, which is the jobs deficit and like a fairness deficit.
And so, how do we expand the number of revenue options on the table?
Like nobody is talking about the financial speculation tax in this debate.
So, you know, Obama`s now got 1.6 trillion on the table, which is certainly
better than where we were last year, but why not add the financial
speculation tax which if you went with Congressman Ellison`s bill that
would be, what, $3 trillion over ten years, close more tax loopholes, tax
shelters, Cayman Islands stuff, generate real revenue.
HAYES: Yes. One of the things that says we have a graphic here that
shows some of the, some of the revenue options, and one of the things that
always gets said is, and Ed Conner (ph) here said that`s a carbon tax.
There are different proposals, right, and different modeling for the carbon
One of them, we could raise income -- taxes on income over $250,000.
That`s on the table from the president. We could repeal capital gains tax
break, financial transaction tax, or we could limit --
NADLER: U.S. figures are annual or every ten years?
HAYES: Little over ten years, yes. Little over ten years. So,
there`s -- and again, it depends on how you structure this and what the
actual financial transaction tax number is, right? But you can -- you can
end up in a situation where you can get a lot of revenue, right? I mean,
one of the ways in which the conversation has been constrained is this idea
of, well, it can`t all be done on the revenue side.
Well, who says it can`t all be done on the revenue side? Taxes as a
percentage of GDP are the lowest they`ve been since the 1950s, right,
HEATHER MCGHEE, DEMOS.ORG: Right. And we have already done it all on
the spending side.
HAYES: That`s right. Yes.
MCGHEE: And that`s one of the things that is sort of detracting (ph)
the conversation always misses is that we have actually done, because of
the debt ceiling deal the budget control act, about 1.5 million in spending
HAYES: Trillion and a half.
MCGHEE: Trillion and a half, sorry. A trillion and a half in
MCGHEE: And we are, you know, we have discretionary budget caps right
now which has been a longtime conservative aim. And, we are looking at,
you know, in the out years, the lowest amount of federal spending, you
know, the share of our economy in about 50 years. And that just doesn`t
make any sense if you look at what`s actually going on with the working
middle class in this country.
HAYES: And one way --
NADLER: That`s before any spending cuts that they`re out to
MCGHEE: Exactly. So, we`ve already done it.
HAYES: One of the ways to look at it is, I mean, I think one of the
ways to look at it is like elections have consequences, right? And like
they won the midterms (ph) and they whooped up real bad on the Democrats in
the midterms, and they provoked the debt ceiling crisis, and we got the
Budget Control Act.
And that was a bill that reflected their priorities and the mandate
they interpreted as having when they ran and those are locked in 1.5
trillion cuts, now we just had another election. And the Democrats whooped
up on them. And so, it`s like the, the, the centerpiece of the
conversation should be shifting, but joy as someone who covers this, I
don`t feel like the centerpiece has shifted except on the one issue the
president mentioned, which is taxes at the top.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. It`s interesting, because I
think that it is a beltway fetish, this idea of a tax -- of tackling the
deficit. And I think that is both, in Washington, on Capitol Hill, but
also in the media. The media -- the beltway prep, I think, has bought into
this idea that deficits are the primary conversation we should be having.
But if you look at it as a historic matter, you know, what did FDR do
wrong after injecting a huge amount of stimulus into the economy he gave
into this temptation to attack deficits than he did austerity --
REID: -- which plunged the country back into a recession. What did
Europe do wrong? They responded to this huge economic crisis with
austerity, and in the case of Great Britain, they went into a double-dip
recession. Their economy is flat-lined because of austerity. So, you
know, President Obama has a great opportunity to not make the mistakes of
history and not make the mistakes of Europe. Austerity doesn`t work.
And the other issues and we talk about that budget fight, what you`re
saying accurately that after 2010, we`re going to try austerity, we`re
going to do what the Republicans want, which is cuts, we found out how
difficult it is to find things to shave off the budget. There are only a
few things to cut. There`s defense, there`s Social Security, what are the
big items in the budget? There isn`t a lot out there.
HAYES: Well, particularly when you talk about non-defense
discretionary spending which is basically the lowest level of spending in a
generation. But congressman, I want to hear about what the -- how the
politics of this can -- I think there`s some consensus at the table about
what broadly division went ahead towards so the big question is how to get
from here to there right after this break.
HAYES: So, we have a conversation that`s happening in Washington
D.C., the center of which to me seems wrong, the focus of which seems
wrong. Not on mass unemployment and the massive waste of resources and
livelihoods and just human happiness that is represented by that. Just
emotional level, just like, it`s like causing psyching destruction amongst
our fellow citizens and depression for no good reason like we can`t fix it.
That`s not the conversation. Conversation is about what are the
projections of the balanced payments in 2026. OK, fine. So, then, the
question is, as member of the United States Congress and as a member of the
minority in the United States Congress in the House of Representatives,
what can be done? What are the actual political points of leverage to
change this or do we just sit here on my show and go like oh, they`re
saying the wrong thing --
NADLER: The main point of leverage is the so-called fiscal cliff,
which isn`t really a cliff, but, the fact is that come January 1st or so,
all the Bush taxes including those on people below $250,000 expire when the
payroll tax cut expires, the alternative minimum tax hikes up,
sequestration of $1.2 trillion dollars kicks in and various other tax
breaks for moderate income people go away, that will hit the economy hard.
And everyone wants to avoid that. Now, we don`t have to avoid it on
NADLER: If we make an agreement on February 1st or March 1st, you can
make it retroactive instead of people get nervous, but we can do that.
There`s no hard deadline, really.
NADLER: But, the -- the one leverage we really have, I guess, pure
Republicans, saying what they`ve been saying, is that all the leverage
changes on January 1st.
NADLER: Because right now, you`ve got to vote to extend taxes, and
they`re saying we`re not going to vote to extend the tax cuts without
everybody`s tax cuts not just for people under $250,000.
NADLER: After January 1st, the tax cuts expire.
NADLER: They`re gone. Everybody`s taxes have gone up. And now, you
come in to the building (ph) and you say, let`s reduce the following taxes,
and there are the Republicans who vote (ph) again.
HAYES: So, that is that. I`ve heard that -- is that what you want to
see happen or --
GOEHL: Well, I guess I think the one thing it seems like we all agree
on is that we have the wrong starting point, and deficits are the frame and
that`s where we`re starting and so we need to break that up. And then, at
least I feel like the election created some opening, so we have this kind
of fairness moment in America.
And actually occupy, play a big role in that. I think people were
feeling something wasn`t working, feeling a lack of fairness in their lives
and then somebody named it.
GOEHL: And then it became real and get credence to what people were
feeling and then the election, I think, was about many things, but I think
it was about fairness. So, I think to actually -- I mean, an insider
strategy will only get us so far and a fight that`s starting up on such a
bad place. So, what are we going to do? You`ve got to go out and engage
constituents all across the country to get into this.
And I think with the fiscal cliff frame also is like I was in a cab on
my way to the airport yesterday to get here and the cabbie is like they`ve
got to fix this fiscal cliff, because like the world is going to come to
the end. And it`s like -- and we started saying no it`s the inequality
GOEHL: Like, we actually could go off --
NADLER: But that`s very deliberate. That frame is very deliberate to
frighten people and to set up the political nature to which people will do
things they never would, otherwise, do such as voting to cut Social
Security and Medicare and Medicaid, which would normally be unthinkable.
Now, you`ve got to do it to have a balanced solution to prevent it from
going over the fiscal cliff.
REID: And it`s also a Wall Street frame. I mean, I think it`s
amazing the extent to which despite the fact that we`ve had occupy, despite
the fact that the Wall Street, their ultimate candidate Mitt Romney who
with them embody, right, lost the election, we still frame everything in
terms of what will hit the street.
What will happen to Wall Street, which made tremendous profits over
the last four years. They haven`t been hurt at all, but they`re so
terrified of this fiscal cliff, it`s their frame.
HAYES: And you know what, the irony of this -- and we had Ed Conard
on last week, he`s former partner of Bain Capital -- the irony of this is
two things are happening simultaneously and the cognizant (ph) distance
here is amazing. The one hand, as actors in the political sphere, people
in the one percent and in finance and Wall Street are saying, oh, my God,
Our deficits are going to be too big, and it`s going to mean huge
interest rates and a run on U.S. treasuries, right? This is how they talk
when they`re in the sphere of politics. Then, during their day job when
they`re trading bonds, right, the actual yields on the bond prices which is
a market reflection.
These are people who believe that market prices convey the right
information, the price that in, when they`re in their day job trading the
bonds, it`s historically low yields. All -- everyone cannot give the U.S.
government money fast enough and then they leave their job and then they
take, sell it down to Washington and they say oh, my God, it`s a total
disaster. The whole thing is going to blow up and go back to trading their
NADLER: And by the way, I saw some of the news mentioned the other
day 448 days or something like that since the U.S. was downgraded by one of
the rating agencies. What are we going to do about it? What it shows is
nothing happen. The rating agency was dumped. That`s all --
HAYES: I want you to talk out this, you know, this idea of like
direct action or educate -- like, I want you to talk me through where that
goes, because it seems to me like, you know, people are going to say,
look, sorry, there`s a Republican -- the Republican House of
Representatives and like we`ve got to deal with them. So, I want to hear
more on that when we come back.
HAYES: All right. So, you go to a senator`s office and you get
arrested or you have a group of people -- and I don`t want to minimize
that. It`s a lot of work to, like, do that, and like, it`s not fun to be
arrested. But what is -- you know, there is this disconnect. And I think
we all agree on that. There`s this conversation that`s very insider (ph)
conversation that`s happening.
There`s a fear, I think, on some people that because of the
president`s -- that the president`s resounding victory is, in some ways, a
double-edged sword, because on one level it shows that, you know, he
campaigned on some of the progressive priorities, particularly, on taxes at
the high end, but also that, you know, he doesn`t have anyone to worry
That he is, like, free-range, you know, to make this deal. What is
your theory of action here about how you exert some real kind of grassroots
accountability on this conversation which is happening at a very insider
baseball kind of way?
GOEHL: Well, let`s just take the Senator Durbin action which was last
Friday. I mean, what would have happened if people had moved into the
streets, and then occupied the building and get arrested, we would have a
sign-on letter from all the organizations in Illinois saying, like, don`t
do a bad deal. Like, that`s not going to get it done.
And so -- and Senator Durbin is not used to having progressive people,
and communities of color, and labor activists come to his office and do a
demonstration. He definitely shakes up the way he thinks about this debate
and makes him react. And the Senate is a key firewall in ensuring we don`t
have a bad deal. And so, Democratic senators need to be held accountable.
So, that`s part of the theory. I think, secondly, this is difficult
stuff to understand like, I mean, this is, like, you know, turn -- if you
want -- I don`t know -- we`re probably killing ratings right now talking
about the fiscal cliff.
GOEHL: So, I think these demonstrations and the level of people
putting their bodies on the line, these were like students, clergy. I was
in the holding tank with a senior who was 75, who was trembling, and you
know, barely able to even stand up with his face against the wall cuffed
for three hours, basically saying, hey, you all need to wake up because
this is a big deal.
You voted for fairness, but you`re not going to get fairness just
because you voted. So, I think, that`s a key. And then, I think on the
Republican side, we know that a lot of people that voted Republican are
actually with us on this issue. And so, how do we get in there and
actually start to organize people and build a wedge there.
HAYES: In one issue, I just want to show this, because I think that`s
a really key point, like, here`s Bill Kristol last week saying basically,
you know, do we really need to protect these tax cuts at the top? And one
of the most consistent poling results as probably the campaign was that
raising taxes on people at the top is incredibly popular. It`s a majority
position among Republicans often at these polls.
NADLER: And the other very popular position is don`t cut benefits on
Medicare, Medicaid, or social security. And that`s a majority position
against -- among Republican voters, too. What is amazing to me right now
is you open up the paper, you watch on television, there`s Boehner,
McConnell, all the Republicans insisting you`ve got to have major
What does that mean? Cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Right after the Republicans just got finished beating up on the Democrats
for allegedly taking $716 billion for Medicare, that`s terrible, now,
they`re going to insist we got to take -- we have to take more money for
Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.
And this -- the Democrats are stupid enough to go along with that.
They will criticize the Democrats the next election for agreeing with them.
HAYES: That`s a great point. Heather, you were in Washington. You
and I wrote (ph) there at the same time and watched the kind of sausage
making happen. Like how much leverage do you think there is?
MCGHEE: I think that`s a really good question. I think,
unfortunately, we may have to get through this period of time of complete
detachment from reality. And then, the conversation will shift as it will
as people start to gear up for the midterms. People start looking out into
the country again and saying, hey, we`re still at about eight percent
unemployment out here.
Jobs are still the number one concern of voters, not on the donor
class, but of voters. Until then, there`s going to be a whole, OK, we`ve
got all these recessionary spending caps, but what can we actually do to
get people back to work. And then, we will have to --
HAYES: But the problem of, though, is that a bad deal can get baked
in the interim. And I wonder like, is it possible to create -- I mean,
when you`re talking about social insurance, about Medicare, Medicaid,
Social Security, you know, there`s some reporting suggesting that Jack Lew
who was at OMB and is now the president`s chief of staff, that in the last
round of these basically said Medicaid, no, no, no. No means no. Can`t
touch Medicaid. And partly that`s because --
NADLER: The Medicare, I assume?
HAYES: Well, this is on Medicaid. No, because when Medicare is much
more open. On Medicaid, that`s a huge part of how the Affordable Care Act
is going to get its expansion of people covered. Medicare, they`ve already
done some stuff, as we know, as we found out from the campaign. They`ve
done some stuff in terms of the payments providers.
And in the president`s own proposal right now, there are some
additional changes to payment formulas, right? So, that`s already on the
table. But are there red lines for you, Congressman, because here`s an
interesting way this is going to come down. If there`s any revenue at all
in this deal, if there is a deal, they`re going to lose a lot of people on
the House Republican caucus.
They might lose 30, they might lose 40, they might lose 50, they might
lose 60, they might lose 70, depending on how much revenue is on the table
which means in order for it to pass, Nancy Pelosi is going to have to come
over and come knock on your door. And so, what are your red lines on this?
NADLER: I suppose I`ll have a number of red lines. Number one, not a
nickel in reductions and cost of living increases, Social Security, not a
nickel in reductions to benefits to Medicare and Medicaid. Those are
probably the most primary red lines. And then, I`d want to see --
HAYES: That`s interesting.
NADLER: I`d want to see -- where you draw the red line, I don`t know,
but I don`t want to see more cuts in discretionary spending. I don`t want
to see increases to the military. I don`t want to see revenue -- revenues,
so-called, that will impact the middle class, like eliminating state and
local taxes. That`s a very important one.
NADLER: Some of the proposals that are on the table now, they came
from Romney. There are some Democrats now saying great idea. Let`s cap
deductions at 35,000 or $40,000. That will, in a high tax rate like you
are, that will really almost eliminate to a large extent, deductibility,
state and local taxes, which, in turn, will put tremendous more pressure on
state and local governments not to provide social services, not to do
social spending, and to cut their spending. So, it would ratchet it right
down. I wouldn`t go along --
HAYES: It`d be amazing -- it would be amazing if the losing
candidates, sort of signature policy, which itself was kind of ad hoc
reverse engineered around the things he didn`t want to say was what ended
up being --
NADLER: We see people like Kent Conrad now saying it`s a good idea.
Now, let me very clear, you can start reducing upper income deductions as
you used to do. That`s one thing, but hard caps deductibility, impact the
state local and tax deductibility, out of the question.
HAYES: I want to get your sense of where do you think the president
is on this right after we take this break.
HAYES: Joy, the president had a meeting yesterday with Congressional
leadership. What smoke signals do you think are coming out from the White
House about all of this?
REID: You know what, it`s interesting, because I think that
functionally, Barack Obama has been probably the most progressive president
that we`ve had, you know, in my lifetime certainly. But, I do think that
he, to a certain extent, believes in this idea of deficit reduction.
REID: And I think that confounds a lot of people on the left, because
he does seem to genuinely believe that he needs to tackle deficits partly
because of the Bill Clinton example, that that is part of -- it`s a legacy
thing. And I think he generally believes it. So, I think the concern for
people on the left has to be that he`s coming from a place of he does want
to go at the deficit now.
He would do a grand bargain. I have to be honest with you. I think
part of the grand bargain the last time was a little bit of -- it was a
little bit of saying, if I give you this, everything you should want and
you still say no, because they know you`re going to say no --
HAYES: Then it shows you`re --
REID: -- shown that you`re unreasonable. So, I think that the bottom
(ph) would work all those -- little of that. We need to take that with a
grain of salt. But I do think he does subscribe --
HAYES: This point, I think, is really important, and I`m not huge for
psychoanalyzing about our public figures, but I do think just all the
reporting, people that have been in meeting with the press, everything
suggests that this isn`t some fabricated thing. It`s not something out of
convenience. It`s not out of political pressure.
He genuinely believes that we need to get our fiscal House in order,
that we need to reduce the projections, we need to stabilize debt to GDP.
That is actually a genuine priority of the president of the United States.
MCGHEE: Here`s what I would love, though, for him to just add to the
conversation is let`s do it with a trigger of our own, which is let`s say
let`s put all this -- bake this all in the cake and say it doesn`t come
into play until we get down to six percent unemployment --
MCGHEE: -- because then you`re actually teasing out what we know by
the fiscal cliff which is that if you go to austerity, it`s going to cost
HAYES: And this -- now, -- because Boehner is now floating some other
-- Boehner saying yesterday was, OK, well, I think we have the architecture
for a deal here is that we come up with some other thing -- some other like
time detonated device in the future. I keep thinking it`s just going to
get worse and worse. Like, six months if we don`t have a deal, we`ll have
to stab ourselves in the eye.
HAYES: and then after that, like, then we -- like run around naked
for a month in January. Like, just actually do the thing and stop saying
you`re going to do something --
NADLER: But everybody believes, everybody believes that ultimately we
have to get our fiscal House in order and we have to deal with the deficit.
The divide is how do you deal with it? You don`t do it by austerity, by
cutting spending, by driving your economy worse into a recession or
depression, throwing more people out of work, and having a bigger deficit
which is what`s happening in Europe.
NADLER: You do it by spending the money to invest in people, in
infrastructure, by putting people to work and by reducing the deficit, by
having more tax revenues as a result of --
GOEHL: I think the sequencing key -- point here is key, and that`s
what we`re talking about. But I -- what you said and when you opened the
show, this really struck me. We talk a lot, we want to put people back to
work. We`ve got a big gap between people who want to go to work and work
that needs to be done.
And people want to be able to put, you know, money in the bank and pay
for the costs and takes as (ph) a family, but this gap between people
wanting to contribute and not being able to contribute in this country,
that`s a moral crisis. And that`s got to be dealt with first.
HAYES: That`s a deficit. There`s mismatch --
MCGHEE: There`s a trillion dollar demand deficit --
MCGHEE: -- right? And there`s also a generational deficit. We`re
talking about young people who, if they`re lucky enough to be able to
graduate from college have graduated into an economy that basically says we
don`t want your labor. And you know --
NADLER: But we do want your debt paid --
MCGHEE: Exactly. We want your checks to the bank, but we don`t want
your labor. We don`t want your ideas. We don`t want your contribution.
And there is another way to go. I mean, we crunched the numbers and put
out a proposal that, you know, John Chikalski (ph) actually took up which
is the idea that we could actually do the most economically efficient thing
to get people back to work which is put people back to work.
We could have a million public service jobs, people from all over the
country, young people going to, you know, flying to Arizona, to Nevada,
wherever, working side by side to build this country back up, not just hard
infrastructure, but working in, you know, day care centers and child care
This could be like a generation-defining thing that would be more
economically efficient to put people back to work and practically anything
else that --
REID: -- just to take all the toy out of the idea of us thinking of a
progressive future. Look, the reality is is that the last time that we did
an attack on the economic problem, on the economic crisis, governors were
given money, right, in the stimulus. But what did most of them do? They
reduced their public sector work forces. Most of the job decline has been
because governors, states directly and deliberately --
NADLER: But wait, wait, wait. That was after the stimulus money wore
out. The stimulus money that was given to states and local governments,
about $240 billion kept local -- public servants at work, kept governments
from laying off people, kept governments from not giving the contract to
the private guy to fix the potholes.
REID: Right. That was initially.
NADLER: and that wore out, and we didn`t replace it. Then, they
REID: Right. But I mean, but on the federal level, we had also
reductions in the federal workforce. We`re now going after the post office
at the federal level because guys in Congress want to get rid of the post
office and privatize it, which is another --
HAYES: We`ve been basically throwing the car in reverse.
HAYES: George Goehl, executive director of National People`s Action,
Heather McGhee from the progressive think-tank, Demos. Thanks for joining
us this morning. When you`re arrested outside Congressman Nadler`s office,
we`ll have you both back on --
HAYES: We`ll see you tomorrow, right?
HAYES: All right. While Washington obsesses (ph) over the non-
pressing issue of national debt, Occupy Wall Street goes after debt that is
destroying lives as we speak. That`s up next.
HAYES: All right. We`ve been talking about Washington`s
preoccupation to an irrational degree with debts and deficits.
On Thursday, AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, expressed frustration
with Washington`s debt obsession saying, quote, "What we`re facing is an
obstacle course within a manufactured crisis that hastily thrown together
in response to inflated rhetoric about our federal deficit. All the
deficit chatter has distracted us from a real crisis, the immediate crisis
of 23 million unemployed or underemployed workers."
Trumka`s lament points to something fairly insidious about
Washington`s debt obsession. Not only has it eclipsed the reality of a
lagging recovery, it has also obscured another much more dire debt crisis
in America, one that continues to suppress economic growth and cause mass
suffering for millions of Americans.
That`s the overhang of household debt, left from the bursting of the
housing bubble. Americans remain massively overleveraged with more than
$11 trillion in household debt, most of which is mortgage debt. There
seems to be essentially no political will to deal with this, which is why
an ingenious new plan by organizers associated with Occupy Wall Street is
so fascinating and potentially game-changing.
The occupy offshoot called strike debt is raising money to buy debt
for pennies on the dollar. Usually, that debt is bought by third parties
looking to collect on the amount owed by the borrower, but strike debt is
doing something incredible. They`re buying the debt and then canceling it.
Period. No questions asked.
They`re calling it a rolling jubilee after the biblical tradition of
forgiving debt (ph) periodically. Since their online telethon on Thursday
night, they`ve raised nearly $300,000 to buy and forgive nearly $6 million
worth of debt.
Joining me at the table are Astra Taylor, an organizer of the "Rolling
Jubilee" and co-editor of "Occupy Scenes from Occupied America," Amin
Husain returning us, editor of "Title" magazine, who`s also an organizer of
"Rolling Jubilee," Sarah Ludwig, founder and co-director of the
Neighborhood Economic Development Project, which advocates for poor and
underrepresented communities, and Doug Henwood, editor and publisher of the
legendary "left business review," author of fantastic book called "Wall
Street" which you could ever find anywhere. You should absolutely read and
a colleague of (INAUDIBLE).
All right. So, why debt? Why has -- have you guys come around
organizing on debt as this sort of singular issue?
ASTRA TAYLOR, ROLLINGJUBILEE.ORG: Well, we are part of an offshoot of
Occupy Wall Street that`s called "Strike Debt." And "Strike Debt" emerged
out of the recognition that debt was sort of the way many people attracted
to Occupy Wall Street early on. They identified as debtors, right? So,
thinking back to an early day at the park, a young man was saying step
right up and write down what you`re worth to the one percent.
And people were putting down these incredible numbers. I remember a
moment of hesitation in myself when I got nervous before writing down the
$45,000 I owed in students loans. The girl behind me wrote down 120,000.
An older woman wrote down, you know, a large, I think it was $50,000 of
medical debt, you know?
And people were naming this and coming out. So, people involved in
occupy from the beginning identified as debtors. It`s something that moves
them to action. And, strike debt emerged this summer, earlier this summer
partly in solidarity with international movements against austerity and
they get back protest in Montreal where students were protesting tuition
hikes and wearing red square that I`m wearing which symbolized squarely in
If you cut education, we`ll all be in debt, narrow pointing to bigger
social problems, the privatization of all sorts of social services. So,
strike debt has come out of that.
HAYES: Why do you think it has the emotional resonance it does?
Like, why was that the thing? Because I remember like in the -- I am the
99 percent, like those -- that website, right, and people were writing down
kind of their story, and a lot of them were around debt, revolved around
debt. I mean, why do you think debt has the emotional resonance it does?
AMIN HUSAIN, ROLLINGJUBILEE.ORG: Because debt is isolating. And it`s
individualizing. And we live in a society right now where it`s -- we`re
under so much burden of debt that it just -- it makes sense when you look
at the 99 percent and 77 percent of Americans have debt. And those that
don`t have debt are affected by it.
That the choices that we make in our lives, for example, are based on
whether we can pay back or not and what type of jobs we`ll accept, and who
we become, and what do we choose to study when we go to school, and what
choices we make as a parent, as mothers and as fathers in terms of our
I have a friend who used to work at a law firm. He still works at a
law firm, and he never liked his job, but he stayed in it because he didn`t
want his children to take out loans to go to school. So, it`s very
HAYES: It`s funny -- because I was at the telethon on Thursday night.
And, I was struck by this thing Rev. Jacqueline Lewis said. She was there.
They did a gospel song, and she talked about the biblical tradition of
jubilee and about the way in which debt and freedom are intentioned. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JACQUELINE J. LEWIS, MIDDLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH: A whole lot of
our population is in shackles. Amen?
LEWIS: Absolutely overwhelmed, can`t get out of it. Credit card
debt, paying, you know, 16 percent interest. Something you buy for $100
ends up costing you 2,000 before you pay it off. Education debt, can`t get
out,. can`t get a job, can`t get free. Hospital, health care debt.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Jesus who was a rabbi and who often many of us think of as the child
of God was saying this is the way to freedom. This is the way to
liberation. Debt needs to be canceled. And all of that cancellation is
called a year of jubilee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want to talk about the way debt shapes the lives of people
in the communities that you work with and the role that debt plays in
American capitalism right after we take this break.
HAYES: Here`s a chart that gives you a little bit of a sense of the
trends in debt. And I always find this char really interesting. It`s
historical private debt to GDP ratio. It`s a private debt to GDP ratio.
And what you see is basically it peaks on the eve of the great crash that
precipitates the great depression, then there`s a massive period of
deleveraging, and then it goes up again and peaks on the eve in 2007 at the
end of the housing bubble on the eve of the second great crash.
And, you see, it started to come down, but there`s a very long way to
go. And Sarah, I want you to tell me about the communities you work in,
how the role that debt plays in peoples live there`s, how it structures
peoples behavior and the decisions they make.
SARAH LUDWIG, NEDAP.ORG: Yes. I mean, you asked before why debt
resonates so much with people, and it`s because there`s been this explosion
in credit and indebtedness. And we work with mostly low-income people and
people of color in New York City, and what`s really plaguing them is
abusive debt collection practices.
So, they`re wildly indebted, over half of households making less than
$50,000 now use credit for basic expenses. So, to cover, you know, food,
medicine, utility bills, and so forth, because we don`t have -- you know,
we`ve had stagnant wages, we don`t have a living wage. People are
You have one unforeseen, you know, visit to the emergency room and
you`re just not (ph) wiped out financially. And so, you have, you know,
the fact that people don`t have access to affordable health care,
insurance, and so forth. So, we work with people who actually are being
pulled into the world of harassing -- relentlessly, aggressively harassing
debt buyers and debt collectors.
LUDWIG: And people -- anyone who`s gotten those phone calls knows
that it`s a plague and is really, really, focused on low-income people in
HAYES: Debt collection -- the debt buying industry has exploded,
right? So, the idea is, you know, there`s someone who can`t pay back their
debts, and you`ve tried to extract from them, and you think, you know what,
I`m just going to get out of this while I can.
I`ll sell it to someone at five cents on the dollar, and then that
person now has an incentive to hound the person, to see if they can cut a
deal to get six cents on the dollar, seven cents on the dollar, right,
because that`s their margin of profit. This is -- in 1995, the debt buying
industry was at $12 billion.
By 2008, it was up to $215 billion. It`s been the explosion in this.
And the average amount owed for debt collection rose from under $900 in
2003 to $1,600 in 2012. So, we`ve seen both a rise in the industry of
buying this debt, and we`ve also seen a rise in the amount that people owe.
Doug, you`ve written, I think, sort of both affectionately and critically
about what strike debt is doing.
And one of the points you made is, look, debt in and of itself plays a
very important role. And you say, well, debt is entrapping or something.
But, you know, if you take out debt and you get a good education and that`s
a good investment in building up your skills, and then you can pay it off,
there`s certain debt that debt in and of itself is not bad and actually
plays a really vital role.
DOUG HENWOOD, THENATION.COM: Well, that chart you had of the private
debt to GDP ratio falls off at the end. It`s been -- and what we`ve been
going through at the last year (ph) is people have been deleveraging.
That`s why the economy is so stagnant. The economy is very dependent on
high levels of debt to keep going.
HAYES: Explain what deleveraging is.
HENWOOD: Just people paying off debt, not paying debt.
HENWOOD: Not taking up new debt.
HAYES: Getting rid of the amount they owe.
HENWOOD: Getting down the debt to income ratio.
HENWOOD: And we`ve been going through that for four, five years. A
lot of countries around the world have been doing something very similar,
but we`re actually further along than just about anybody else is. But
debt, I think, is also a symptom. I mean, if we go back to the late 1970s,
early 1980s when we first saw the Volcker-Reagan crackdown, the end of
inflation in the 1970s, a real assault on the living standards and the
working class, union busting, all that, all the outsourcing, everything
that has become familiar since.
We have an economy that`s very dependent on mass purchasing power.
And if you`re -- if people`s wages and living standards are under attack,
how do you sustain the mass purchasing power? It`s through borrowing.
HENWOOD: And most of the borrowing that`s come through mortgages
directly or indirectly. So, the economy -- the macro (ph) economy has
become very dependent on that. But, you know, the number of people who are
really seriously debt distressed, it`s a minority of the population. It`s
a suffering minority, and I don`t want to minimize their suffering, but
it`s 10, 15 percent of the population.
But it`s also a symptom of something that`s much larger is that the
real stress on living standards, the stress on incomes, the inability for
people to make ends meet. So, if we`re talking specific medical debt, we
have a crazy health care finance system, education debt, education should
HAYES: I want to talk about what produces this debt and also get into
the nitty-gritty of how you`re going to forgive it right after we take a
HAYES: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes, here with writer
Astra Taylor, Occupy Wall Street activist Amin Husain, Sarah Ludwig of the
Neighborhood Economic Development Project, and Doug Henwood of "The Nation"
We are talking about debt, the role debt plays in peoples lives and
also strike debt, the initiative from an Occupy Wall Street offshoot, if
that`s a fair term, to essentially purchase distressed debt and forgive it.
Sarah, you work with communities whose lives are structured by debt
and hounded by collection agencies.
SARAH LUDWIG, NEIGHBORHOOD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT: Yes. And I
think we have to understand this debt buying and debt collection in the
context of financial systems that is really predicated on inequality and
exploitation. So, the way we understand the debt buying industry, it`s one
more stop on the spectrum of exploited practices.
So we know that credits exploded, but what kinds of credit? We have
seen the banks that just made an absolute killing. We think about Chase
and Bank of America, that have really targeted struggling people for very
LUDWIG: They`ve charged very high interest rates, jacked in fees. I
mean, that`s the business model. They know full well that in their high-
volume of credit they`re issuing, that there`s going to be a percentage of
people that aren`t going to be able to pay the debt.
So lots of people are struggling to pay, so they make tons of money on
that. And then they write off the debt that they don`t collect after a
certain number of days. They get a tax benefit from that. Then they also
have spun off this whole debt buying industry.
HAYES: Can I play devil`s advocate?
So people who support this system, right, will broadly say: (a),
there`s long periods of time in which communities had no access to credit.
It was economically -- it was an economic stranglehold, right?
HAYES: I mean, if you don`t have any access to credit, you can`t take
loans to start a small business or buy a house, that`s massively
problematic and it was something that progressives fought against, right,
when you have the Community Reinvestment Act and redlining practices, et
And second of all, look, if you`re going to lend to someone, you know,
and you`re going to say, well, we`re going to make credit available, and
when someone -- you make $20,000 a year, you`re a high risk to not repay
the loan. So, the market prices your interest higher and I charge you a
rate on it. What`s wrong with that?
LUDWIG: Well, you don`t say people don`t have access to credit, so
let`s fill that need by exploiting people and charging, you know, usurious
rates and having payday loans at 400 percent APR, which is really -- in
communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, that is our financial
system. We have a separate and unequal financial system.
And so in this debt that gets sold, a huge percentage of it is medical
LUDWIG: -- and credit card debt, and so, you`ve got people who are
actually -- don`t even know the way this is sold. It`s so shoddy and
flimsy, the banks, what they sell are spreadsheets. They don`t even have
So there`s absolute due process violations and so forth in the pursuit
of this debt, because increasingly, what they`re doing is actually using
the courts to go after people overwhelmingly low income people and people
AMIN HUSAIN, ROLLINGJUBILEE.ORG: You know, our focus on debt has to
be considered in a continuum of analysis that we`ve done since September 17
of last year and what we`ve done in Occupy Wall Street. When you look at
the 99 percent Tumblr, you see what`s aching people, but it`s missing the
To us, debt -- the focus on debt -- is both personal and structural.
And it opens up space for imagining new ways, a set of social relations.
It`s not about whether debt is bad or good. That`s actually a red
herring. The thing about it is where is the socially useful good debt and
how do we produce that?
HAYES: What I like, what is interesting, I think, about the
telephone, right, is that in some ways -- there`s a conservative on
"Forbes" who wrote this trolling piece about you guys, like, finally,
something a conservative can get behind.
DOUG HENWOOD, THE NATION: It`s perky.
HAYES: Yes, right. It`s perky and it`s not making any claims on the
state. It`s just some people helping people, you know? And, you know,
Catholic charities basically more or less, but with hipper music, whatever.
And, you know, there`s something actually both kind of amazing about
that, right? It`s reclaiming this tradition of mutual aid, which is a very
long tradition in the left organizing, but also, just in the American civic
But also, there`s something -- is it -- are you guys just running
basically a charity here and people give money, donate it, and then you
forgive the debt and then people will say, well, the people that whose debt
is being sold 5 cents from a dollar, collectors have basically given up on
it anyway and can you even find the people whose debt you`re forgiving?
ASTRA TAYLOR, ROLLINGJUBILEE.ORG: I mean, one of the beautiful things
about this project is that it actually has concrete effects. It will --
the money raised will go to abolishing people`s medical debt, and, you
know, often, the credit card bills that they have to -- they have to incur
because they can`t pay their medical bills, right? So it will be this very
concrete effect on people as a consequence.
But I think an equally important part of this project is the public
education campaign and that`s where it is more radical, because our
analysis is deeper. I agree with Doug that is a symptom and our job is to
get people to take that step. Our -- one of our phrases is "you are not a
loan", right? The situation you`re in is not just you as an individual
having made a mistake.
HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) on television, you are not a l-o-a-n.
TAYLOR: Right. This is not -- you know, this is political and
personal. And if you are the -- the driver who came and picked me up today
bringing me to the show told me he had to get his appendix out and ended up
with $40,000 in medical debt. We`re saying, OK, this debt exists because
we don`t have a system in place where there`s health care, because health
care is a commodity, and your debt is illegitimate. We want to do that
public education. So the project is twofold.
HUSAIN: A year ago, we started saying that the banks got bailed out,
people got sold out.
HUSAIN: Right? This is our answer. But it`s just the beginning, to
highlight that no one should go into debt for basic needs.
And if you look at the analysis from the 1930s -- I mean, they were
pushing debt on us, right? And these bubbles were created and what have
you. And from the 1930s up until this point, we have gone from having
social welfare type stuff for people that in need to a debt fare state,
where our most basic necessities of existence, right, we have to go into
TAYLOR: The American dream is getting out of debt now. I mean, the
young people, right? These people --
HAYES: It`s the key aspiration.
TAYLOR: This is also something -- if we`re talking about organizing
for the next generation, young people are so weighted down by student debt
and other types of debt.
And so, I just want to say that part of our project before Rolling
Jubilee was this debt resisters operation manual that lays out our bigger
analysis. And, you know, I think you have to understand all of our
projects in tandem.
HAYES: Doug, debt forgiveness is something that sounds, you know,
either sort of spiritually inflicted or hippie-dippie or impractical. But
there`s been a strong economic case that actually the technical term for
this, particularly in the case of the mortgage market, which is principal
write-downs, right? Which is basically saying, look, the lender is just
going to write off some portion of the principal on the loan, right? Not
recalibrate the interest rate, but actually just take a haircut on that
chunk of the loan.
That would actually be good economic policy, it would make good sense.
HENWOOD: The IMF even agrees with this.
HAYES: The IMF even agrees with this. But we have not seen --
HENWOOD: Now, it`s pressing Europeans not to be so hard on Greece and
Spain. The Germans don`t want to hear this. But the IMF actually supports
HAYES: But could -- wouldn`t it be possible to have some policy
version of this that would be some kind of broad definition?
HENWOOD: Absolutely. I mean, we look at the example of Iceland,
which is a very tiny place, a few hundred thousand people. But one of the
ways they got under economic crisis was that the government went through
all the loans. They went through all the business and personal loans and
decided -- well, we`re we write this down by 10 percent, we`ll write that
down by 20 percent.
It was a very orderly process. They stiffed their foreign creditors,
too, which is a nice to do. We don`t have the luxury to do that here.
But, on the other hand, going through the debts and running things
down, it`s orthodox capitalist practice and corporate restructurings, they
do it all the time. And we didn`t do that here.
And part of the problem -- there is a political issue where people who
are paying their debts resent it, when people who they see as irresponsible
get a break. So, we do have -- you know, this is a very -- solidarity is
sometimes lacking in this country.
HAYES: Well, and also, we should all remember, right, the launching
moment for the Tea Party, right? It was -- people say oh, it angered the
banks. No, it was on CNBC --
HAYES: Right, Rick Santelli was yelling about the losers getting
bailed out, right? It was actually a very sort of, small, marginal
reformist initiative announced by the Obama that was going to sort of help
people a little bit with their interest payments and Rick Santelli went
crazy about it and it was precisely this sort of thing.
LUDWIG: They called that moral hazard, and you have to ask, where is
the true moral hazard in our financial system?
And, you know, it`s really interesting, because with these debt
buyers, what they do is they use the courts, as I was saying before, to go
after people, and there are hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed in New
York City alone each year to go after people in debt collection.
And the thing that`s interesting is they get judgments through
fraudulent means and they go on people`s credit report. So you start to
spin out the focus on debt collection. You say, well, if these judgments
are going on people`s credit reports and they might be ill-gotten, then
that impedes people`s access to jobs, people`s access to housing.
HAYES: Renting an apartment, and credit report.
I mean, one of the things I want to say here is you hear a lot from
conservatives about freedom and freedom is a word that`s been appropriated
by one side of political spectrum. But I think one of the things that`s
profound about this is that, you know, being in deep debt and having a bad
credit report and having that hang over you is a shackling thing. It does
limit freedom, and if we want to maximize freedom, that`s something we have
to go head of on.
If people want to contribute, they can go to rollingjubilee.org.
From the Rolling Jubilee, I want to thank Astra Taylor and Amin
Husain, as well Sarah Ludwig from the Neighborhood Economic Development
Project, and my colleague Doug Henwood from "The Nation" magazine.
All right. Will the president tackle climate change in his second
term? That`s next.
HAYES: The first time in what seems like a long while, the reality of
climate change is back on the political agenda. Like many of you, I spent
this election season increasingly depressed about the climate`s near total
absence from the conversation. And 19 days ago, the arrival of Sandy and
the death and destruction it left its wakes made silence on the issue
impossible to maintain.
Since then, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who`s talked about climate
change and so has President Obama, both when he was asked about it on his
news conference and in his own initiative in his victory night victory
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want our children to
live in America that isn`t burdened by debt, that isn`t weakened by
inequality, that isn`t threatened by the destructive power of the warming
MARK LANDLER, NEW YORK TIMES: What specifically do you plan to do in
a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the
political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include
some kind of a tax on carbon?
OBAMA: I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is
impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions. And as a consequence I
think we`ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We must rethink and redesign for the
long-term because extreme weather, as we have learned, is the new normal.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: And if this week`s settlement with BP for the Deepwater
Horizon disaster wasn`t a reminder enough of the environmental hazards of
pursuing fossil fuels, there are new pictures today of Black Elk oil rig
just 20 miles where an oil explosion and fire yesterday injured at least
nine people. But the Coast Guard yesterday saying two more are missing.
But even as the conversation has shifted, the stakes made more
dramatically apparent and polling shows Americans increasingly focused on
climate peril, the basic political physics are almost as clear as the
planetary physics. Making, as the president said, a, quote, "serious dent"
in climate change, requires taking action that will cost huge, almost
incomprehensible amounts of money to the wealthiest and arguably most
corporate interests in the history of the world.
The main challenge climate hawks face isn`t absence of policy but
building sufficient political power to make those policies a possibility.
Joining me now is Bill McKibben, author of "Earth: Making Life in
Tough New Planet" and founder of 350.org which has launched a Do the Math
tour, focusing on the hard numbers behind climate change, an advocate to
new strategy to create political leverage for a solution.
Elana Schor, Capitol Hill reporter for the environmental news Web site
"Greenwire" and a night science journalism fellow at MIT.
And back at the table are: Democratic New York Congressman Jerry
Nadler, and MSNBC contributor Joy Reid.
Well, Bill McKibben, I slightly facetiously created you as a rock star
because you`re selling out big venues across the country. I`ve been seeing
people tweeting about it.
People watching right now that are not familiar with the math that you
were talking about, what is the math? What are you trying to communicate
on this tour?
BILL MCKIBBEN, 350.ORG: This came out of this piece I wrote for
"Rolling Stone" this summer that became one of their most shared pieces,
and it`s because it laid out finally the rock and the hard place.
MCKIBBEN: We`ve got -- if we`re going to keep the temperature from
going up past two degrees, which is what everybody in the world, including
the U.S. government has said is too high, that`s the red line.
HAYES: Right. We want to keep it below two degrees. Even two
degrees is going to cause a lot of dislocation and problems.
MCKIBBEN: Well, already one degree and that melted the Arctic.
MCKIBBEN: So, if we were smart, we`d stop way short of two.
MCKIBBEN: But that`s the best at this point that any one government
will commit to.
If we`re going to do that, the scientists tell us we can burn about
550 gigatons more carbon, 550 billion tons more carbon -- which sounds like
a hell of a lot but. We`re burning 30 some billion tons a year. We get
about 15 years at current rates before we shoot past that threshold, and
that`s the good news.
The bad news, the third number, the really scary one is that last
year, a group of financial analysts added up how much carbon the fossil
fuel industry had in its reserves. That number`s about 2,800 gigatons or
five times as much, and they`re going to burn it. I mean, unless we figure
out how to stop them, that`s what Exxon`s share price is based on when
Peabody Coal borrows money, that`s their collateral. There`s no longer any
room for doubt about where this story goes.
HAYES: We have this graphic to illustrate it.
So the total amount of fossil fuel reserves, if you guys can put that
up, right? That`s $27 trillion. And then the amount that we can safely
burn is about $5.4 trillion, right?
MCKIBBEN: Exactly, right. And safely in quotes.
HAYES: Safely in quotes. That little orange slice, that`s what we
got. That`s the budget, right? That`s the budget for here until whenever,
as long as we can kind of --
MCKIBBEN: One hundred fifty (ph) anyway.
HAYES: -- keep this thing going we call civilization.
HAYES: And the blue part is the part that`s got to be left in the
MCKIBBEN: Exactly right. What that means since the oil industry and
the coal industrial are intent on burning the blue part, what it means is,
there and what the point we`re trying to communicate with this Do the Math
tour is that they`re the equivalent now to the safety of the planet that
the tobacco industry became to individual health. OK?
These are outlaw companies. They`re not outlawing against the laws of
the nation. They get to write those. But they are outlawing against the
laws of physics.
ELANA SCHOR, REPORTER, GREENWIRE: I want to jump in and actually
deliver even worse news.
HAYES: Awesome, great.
SCHOR: Sorry to bum folks out. But PricewaterhouseCooper is one of
the biggest insurance firms in the world, five days before the election,
came out with a report and the cover said "Too late for 2 degrees".
SCHOR: Now, I don`t mean to contradict Bill here -- Bill`s been doing
this for longer than I have. But PricewaterhouseCooper, they crunched the
numbers. Never since World War II have we gone above 1 percent in our
total de-carbonization in terms of how much carbon we`re able to actually
stop burning, take out of the atmosphere, et cetera.
SCHOR: Never above one. Pricewaterhouse calculated for the next 39
years, we`d have to go above 5 percent. We`re currently averaging 0.7 to
0.8 decarbonization a year.
So, with all due respect, I mean, two degrees, serious benchmark,
global agreement, but is it even possible?
MCKIBBEN: Unless we change -- unless we change very fast. We`re
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And then think about the gargantuan sums
of money those same industries spent to attempt to elect Mitt Romney and
defeat President Barack Obama. I mean, these were the people -- if you
think about the Koch brothers, we think of them as sort of this amorphous
evil. They are not amorphous. They are these industries.
HAYES: But they`re pikers compared to the biggest fossil fuel
HAYES: I mean, the biggest fossil fuel companies -- I don`t know if
the biggest companies care that much who is in office because I feel like
SCHOR: I agree.
HAYES: -- they genuinely feel they could basically work their magic
on both sides.
MCKIBBEN: You know, we`re going to have a really interesting early
test case. And that`s this Keystone Pipeline thing that went away for a
while because the president said we`re going to spend a year studying it.
Well, you know, in the course of that year, Mother Nature filed her
public comments. We had the hottest year in American history. We had epic
drought. We melted the Arctic and then we had this small storm that filled
the New York City subway system with water.
That aside, the oil industry is still pretty sure. I mean, the head
of the American Petroleum Institute said last week, "We had implicit
promises from the Obama administration that we would approve this pipeline.
We`re going back to D.C. on Sunday to -- thousands of us -- to remind the
White House we haven`t forgotten."
HAYES: I want to talk about the pipeline. And I want to talk about -
- I do think there`s some good news on the horizon and there`s some kind of
breakup in some of the political stalemate that we`ve seen right after this
HAYES: The Keystone Pipeline is a pipeline that would bring tar sands
oil from Canada down into the U.S. And tar sands oil is particularly toxic
-- carbon intensive stuff, right? It`s not the easy light sweet crude.
MCKIBBEN: Disgusting -- I think is the technical term.
HAYES: It`s disgusting stuff but it`s valuable, right? That`s why
they`re pulling it out and bring it down. And it has -- it turned into a
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: They`re bringing it to the Gulf
Coast to export a lot of it.
HAYES: To export it.
So it became this issue. And I think Republicans thought they had a
real issue when some effective activism by 350.org and other climate
activists managed to essentially put pause on it. The State Department had
to give it its seal of approval and didn`t before the election. And
immediately, I think the next day, you already saw the American Petroleum
Institute starting to move on this.
Congressman, as someone who has to get elected and work with other
people, get elected and some of them have to get elected in swing
districts, the Republicans I think thought they had the upper hand on the
story around the Keystone Pipeline. And I wonder what you think the
political terrain looks like for blocking it or for talking about the fact
that ripping every cell of carbon out of the earth is a problematic
NADLER: I think a lot of this depends, frankly on presidential
leadership. He`s got the bully pulpit. And we`re not going to get very
far if he doesn`t use it. It really comes back to the administration.
We just had election in which Democratic -- the Keystone Pipeline
wasn`t that huge an issue. But --
HAYES: No, they thought it was going to be.
NADLER: Because the president put it off and said we`re going to do
it or make a decision, et cetera, it sort of got taken out of the election.
On the other hand, a lot of Democratic candidates got pretty badly
bashed in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Appalachians by
the administration`s war on coal.
NADLER: What is the war on coal? It`s saying, hey, we`ve got to be
careful about how much coal we`re taking, how we use it, about the carbon
footprint, et cetera. And so, you`ve got a part of the Democratic Party,
not to mention the Republican Party which does not want any limitations and
certainly not carbon tax or anything because they get killed at home.
HAYES: The war on coal is basically being waged by something called
natural gas prices. Much more than it`s being waged by the Obama
NADLER: That`s the reality, but the --
NADLER: But it was used as a political weapon.
HAYES: It was. And this -- I guess I don`t want to linger too much
on doom and gloom, but we have reduced -- there has been a sort of
remarkable reduction in carbon emissions in the U.S. I mean, we`re down to
1990 levels, right?
Do you we have -- I mean, you know, it going down is going in the
right direction, right? I mean --
NADLER: There are two things happening that might go in the right
direction. One which the administration deserves a lot of credit on is
energy conservation, higher CAFE standards, mileage --
HAYES: Fuel efficiency.
NADLER: Fuel efficiency. And the other which hopefully, which
actually is part of this whole budget discussion -- although people aren`t
really focusing on it -- do we renew the tax credits for wind and other
alternative energy sources? The Republicans don`t want to renew that at
all. They want to renew the tax credits for coal and oil as if the coal
and oil companies aren`t profitable enough already. But -- so that`s the
first step even before the Keystone.
SCHOR: Absolutely. I think a real untold story agreed that natural
gas prices have helped drive coal share down to, I think it`s now 34
percent of generated electricity in America, which is huge. It used to be
SCHOR: But a huge portion is actually renewables. September, 100
percent of the new electricity generated in America was renewable, 100
REID: Right. But I mean -- I think you also have the attention the
other way. And I think Congressman Nadler got to it, is that you do have a
lot of people sort of day to day livelihood in places like West Virginia,
REID: So while their environment is being destroyed, if you think
about Louisiana as a state that is being literally destroyed by the
industry that employs a good number of the people there. So every
mechanism in that state is designed to protect an industry that`s
destroying the state for environmental standpoint. But people`s real lives
are tied to it.
So, even Democrats, somebody like Jay Rockefeller who is considered a
great prerogative -- when it comes to coal, he`s with the Republicans.
HAYES: I mean, anyone who is going to be elected -- I mean, there are
certain places where it`s the geographic interests override the ideological
MCKIBBEN: That`s why, you know, as the congressman said, we need some
actually leadership from the president, and others on the really central
issues. I mean, look --
HAYES: But the leadership --
MCKIBBEN: -- climate change is the legacy issue of all legacy issues.
It`s -- you know, 100 years from now, the only thing that people are going
to look back on 2012 and care about. The fiscal cliff or the -- it`s like,
you guys, the Arctic melted and you didn`t do anything about it? Why is
SCHOR: I got to say, though -- I got to say, though, Bill, I mean,
Keystone is one pipeline, Enbridge, the Canadian company that spilled that
oil in Michigan in 2010, is planning to double the same pipeline that
So, let`s say even Obama rejects Keystone. A lot of that oil is going
to come down a pipeline double the size of Michigan. They`re looking to a
pipeline now to the east because of what happened in the west.
Bill is right, victory in the western Canada. But now, they`re trying
to ship it east. So --
HAYES: Right. I also want to talk about -- my question here is, you
know, the presidential leadership aside and I think the bully pulpit could
be a little overrated, like, you still got the House Republican Caucus at
the end of the day. The question is, like, what is -- I want to hear from
you the theory of change here that is like attacking this problem that
isn`t just more speeches from Barack Obama -- after we take this break.
MCKIBBEN: All right. I`m sorry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There`s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a
serious way would involve making some tough political choices. And you
know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so
focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth
that, you know, if the message is somehow we`re going to ignore jobs and
growth simply to address climate change, I don`t think anybody`s going to
go for that. I won`t go for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President answering the question on climate change in the
press conference on Wednesday.
So, Bill, I mean, presidential leadership -- sure, important. I
guess. But given the obstacles that you have laid out so convincingly, it
seems to me like there`s something much bigger that has to happen.
MCKIBBEN: You all are deeply focused on Washington all the time. But
maybe it`s time to move our gaze a little bit. The reason we set out on
this Do the Math tour, 350.org, was to say after 20 years of sending is the
world`s greatest scientists up on the Hill and nothing happening, maybe
it`s time to rethink the game plan a little bit.
The problem here in the end is the fossil fuel industry, OK? They`ve
made -- Exxon made more money last year than any company in the history of
money, OK? These guys have more money than God.
And that means that we`re going to need to put a little hurt on them
if we`re going to have any chance of changing politics in Washington or in
Beijing or in a lot of other places.
We set out on this tour, which has been drawing huge crowds across the
country to spark a campaign -- a campaign that looks in part like the one
that helped bring down apartheid South Africa. We`re getting colleges to
huge pressure on them to divest.
In fact, the first college in America -- last week, we were in
Portland, Maine, in a huge packed out theater and the president of little
unity college stood up and said our board of trustees just voted to sell
all our stock in the fossil fuel industry.
We`re going to turn these guys into the tobacco industry if we
possibly can. And if we do, maybe it will open up a little more room for
people like Barack Obama to be a little more courageous than they`ve been.
SCHOR: I think another piece of good news, too -- you`re seeing the
media kind of get rid of that false balance where they were giving climate
skeptics equal air time to believers. I don`t think that`s happening as
much as it used to.
HAYES: Yes. No, I think that has changed a lot. The problem is it`s
been replaced by lack of coverage. I mean, it`s like -- when there`s a
controversy, you can cover controversy. When there was a bill on climate
on Capitol Hill, you can cover the bill on Capitol Hill. Waxman-Markey, is
it going to pass, it`s not.
MCKIBBEN: Here`s the good/bad news. Mother Nature is going to
continue to give us ample opportunity to talk about this issue because --
this is going to be the hottest year in American history. It`s fought
trails only last year as the year with the most expensive disasters in
You know, we`re getting hit hard all the time. When the cover of that
radical rag "Businessweek" says "It`s Global Warming, Stupid", you know
things are starting to shift.
REID: You know, you also have to break the right`s stranglehold on
the base of the Republican Party. I mean, we were talking a little bit on
the break how it`s become almost an evangelical meme that you mustn`t
believe in climate change. They`ve evangelized this because you`ve married
the religious right to the corporate right in a way that is unseemly if
you`re a religious person but that really has gotten the base of the
Republican Party which in turn informs their politicians. They are not
permitted in a lot of ways to believe or accept the idea of climate change
as a matter of faith.
So, I think now you`ve kind of broken, calling it a terrarium glass,
REID: The right has finally seen wait a minute, baby our media isn`t
being honest with us, right, about polls and things like that. This might
be an opportunity to start to get at the base of the Republican Party,
because there is an almost religious skepticism -- as a matter of faith,
they don`t believe in climate change.
NADLER: I think several things are the case here.
And number one, Bill is entirely right. Mother Nature is going to hit
us over the head repeatedly. We`re going to see more and more tremendous
storms, more and more huge wildfires, droughts, and so forth. And the
information is going to get out there that this is related to global
warming -- number one.
Number two, you have this tremendous interest in the status quo.
These huge companies that have tremendous resources and money and can
control politics through money -- regions of the country, you know, working
people depend on coal and oil and so forth.
You probably have to do two things simultaneously. One is do what you
can, divestment, to demonize, to point out bad things. The other thing is
NADLER: You probably --
HAYES: Says the congressman.
NADLER: Yes -- well, you probably have to show both people in West
Virginia and Appalachia and Louisiana and companies how you can continue to
be employed on changing things.
How we can -- we should have programs -- we used to talk about
military conversion. We should have programs --
NADLER: -- to say: take -- Mr. Oil Company, take your resources and
get into wind, get into geothermal, get into something else, and employ
these people in West Virginia.
MCKIBBEN: The really good news the last couple weeks has been coming
not out of the United States, but coming out of Europe.
The German energy minister in the conservative government of Angela
Merkel said last week, we`re going to scream past our targets of renewable
energy. We`re going to be at 50 percent renewable energy by 2020 or 2022
or something. And we may be at 66 percent. Where it`s coming -- there
were days this summer when Germany generated more than half the power it
used from solar panels within its borders.
MCKIBBEN: This is Germany. I mean, you know, Munich`s north of
MCKIBBEN: They don`t have Texas, California, Nevada, Arizona.
NADLER: The biggest immediate battle which is not getting the
attention it should, in fact, it`s getting very little attention is part of
this whole fiscal mess coming up is the existing tax credits for renewables
NADLER: And you see Republican senators saying above all else, don`t
SCHOR: I think that position though, Congressman, it`s going to have
to break. You see more and more Republican governors, for instance, in the
middle of the country, from red states.
NADLER: What I`m saying is we have to insist on that.
NADLER: That`s the most immediate thing.
HAYES: One big question I think is when you get on a path, if there`s
going to be a sort of virtuous cycle that can be kicked in with renewables
in which things start to beat their expectations and I want to sort of hear
a little biot about what that future might look like, after this break.
HAYES: Here`s an International Energy Agency report about emissions.
And this is the conversation you hear.
There`s this kind of stages of denial, this kind of like stages of
climate denial and it`s like -- well, no, the Earth isn`t warming. Well,
it`s warming. Well, it`s not humans. Well, it is humans. Well, we can`t
do anything about it. Well, we can do anything.
Well, if we do do something about it, then China and India aren`t
going to do something about it and it`s all a wash. Those are basically
And so, you know, this is the IEA report, "Global demand energy grows
by more than one-third over the period 2035," in our scenario. China,
India and Middle East accounting for 60 percent of that increase.
So, people will say, look, even if we get our house in order, and I
hear this all the time from people not in the denialist camp who are just
like, you know, what are you going to do?
HAYES: And you Joy had a question during the break.
REID: Well, you know, absolutely, because we`re talking about what`s
happening in Germany and we`re talking about Europe. We`re saying there`s
some advances here in North America as well as Europe.
But what about China? I mean, if China is the big, you know, sort of,
elephant in the room in terms of emissions. What are they doing?
MCKIBBEN: I did a big piece last year for the National Geographic on
China and energy. And it`s incredibly interesting and complicated.
The Chinese are starting -- you know, they`re emulating us. They`re
burning a lot of coal. They`ll never catch up in per capita emission, but
they`re putting a lot of carbon out in the atmosphere.
At the same time, they`re leading the world in the installation of
renewable technology, 250 million Chinese when they take a shower at night,
the hot water comes off the roof. That`s 25 percent of that population.
In this country, solar hot water accounts for less than 1 percent of
our homes and most of that is for swimming pools.
Here`s the thing -- if you go to the guy who runs the biggest of these
solar hot water companies, (INAUDIBLE), in his private museum --
HAYES: His private museum.
MCKIBBEN: -- the pride of place goes to an old rusting solar panel.
Do you know what that is? No. That`s my best possession. That was one of
the solar panels that Jimmy Carter put on the White House in 1979 and
Ronald Reagan took down in 1985 because he wanted manlier forms of energy.
It`s not that we lack --
MCKIBBEN: It`s not that Germany and China have better technology.
HAYES: That and put it in his private museum in China? I love that
MCKIBBEN: We have the technology. We have the entrepreneurs. We
just don`t have the political will to do anything with it because we`ve got
the Koch brothers and Exxon and everybody else in the way, which is why
we`re going hard after them.
SCHOR: What we also have, I think, is a reflexive ideological
resistance to government playing a big role in this. I mean, I hear that
China and India lines from Republicans all the time. I actually talked to
Mitt Romney`s policy director a few weeks before the election. I asked
him, you know, what do you think government can do to make coal cleaner,
carbon capturing sequestration? Which currently doesn`t exist on a usable
SCHOR: He said I don`t think government should play a role at all.
SCHOR: So, there you go. I mean, there`s the barrier.
MCKIBBEN: The government should play no role except tonight provide
massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry decade after decade.
HAYES: Well, this is where the tax exempt --
NADLER: So why not provide subsidy for cleaner coal?
HAYES: Right. So, this is where the tax extenders issue which I
think it brings us nicely full circle because we started out talking about
the fiscal curve. The tax extenders issue has gotten very much lost,
right, when you stack up the issues, it`s down at the bottom. In fact,
whether you pass all the taxes or not defines the baseline that you then
calculate your savings on. So, it actually matters a tremendous amount.
Even those tax extenders, right, are these renewable energy tax credits.
Now, the problem for renewable tax energy credits is that they`re
constantly sunsetting. And so, I know people who work in solar, I`ve been
reporting on this and you go out and you say, I want to raise capital
investment on a program that`s going to have this rate of return on
investment if and only if the tax cuts get extended. And they sunset every
seven days or whatever the heck they are. I mean, it`s like every yea,
So when you can`t build in any long-term projection, you can`t count
on it, this hurts investment, right?
NADLER: Absolutely. And we ought to -- when we extend that, we ought
to extend it for a good long period of time.
HAYES: That`s my point.
NADLER: What is -- I don`t know the answer to the question, but what
is the length of the various subsidies for coal and oil if they`re going to
rid of? But they`re not annual.
HAYES: They`re part of the tax code. They`re not specific provisions
that are part of extenders. They`re basically -- the depletion allowance,
for instance. The depletion allowance, it`s just part of the IRS code.
REID: When you try to have this conversation with Republicans, they
yell, Solyndra! And then they walk away.
SCHOR: That`s something, Joy. And I want to put in a plug on this.
You rarely hear a bipartisan bill in energy. Congressman Nadler`s
colleague, Mike Thompson, a Democrat, and Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas,
are sponsoring a bill right now that would renewables companies to have
access to what`s called a master limited partnership.
This is the way you structure a company that oil, gas, pipelines have
had for years, but renewables don`t get to have it. I think it`s a
perpetual way that can be built into the law to allow them to raise easier
Ted Poe, Republican from Texas. But, you don`t hear about these
HAYES: That`s fascinating.
Bill McKibben, people can find where 350.org Do the Math tour is going
to be at the Web site --
MCKIBBEN: At 350.org or Math.350.org. And I`ll say this.
MCKIBBEN: It`s been really exciting. It`s sort of a new moment.
Look, the environmental movement went dormant for a while. But starting
with Keystone and now people are really waking up. They`re understanding
that this is the question of a lifetime.
HAYES: So what do we know we didn`t know last week? My answers after
HAYES: So what do we know now we didn`t know last week?
We now know that Democrats cannot count on New York`s supposedly
Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo as an ally. And every Democratic primary
voter in the entire country should know that, too. We already knew in the
run-up to the election, Andrew Cuomo, whose aspirations for national office
are well-known, did essentially nothing to aid the party in its quest to
take back the state senate from Republicans.
We know that while his putative reason for not endorsing Democrats in
contested races with Republican incumbents was he did not want to wound
those Republicans who`ve voted for the successful marriage equality
legislation. That explanation does not address, for example, his refusal
to endorse the Democratic candidate in one race where the incumbent
Republican had been defeated in the primary by a Tea Party challenger.
We know we never got an explanation from Cuomo for his lack of
endorsement in that race and we now know that even without Cuomo`s help,
Democrats managed to win an apparent majority in the state senate with the
two seats still being recounted.
But just as it looked like Democrats would win back the Senate
majority, Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder elected as a Democrat with a D
next to his name announced just a few days after he ran and won as a
Democrat that he would caucus with the Republicans, putting the Republicans
then just one seat away from a majority pending the outcome of those two
Despite the facts he`s the leader of the Democratic Party in the state
and wishes some day to be the Democratic nominee for president it, Cuomo
has refused to intervene with Felder saying he won`t insert himself into
And watching all this unfold, one can`t help suspect that Andrew Cuomo
actually does not want a Democratic majority in the state senate because a
Republican majority gives him more of an opportunity to burnish his
bipartisan compromise or bona fides before launching his presidential
And much, much more insidiously, we suspect he doesn`t want a
Democratic majority because the said majority stands ready to past a whole
rack of incredibly, groundbreaking progressive legislation, including
public financing for elections, marijuana decriminalization and a minimum
wage hike among others. The governor says he favors all those policies but
in this case, he sure is not acting like it.
We are almost entirely sure that very soon, Andrew Cuomo will be
coming before many of the people watching this show asking for your support
in a Democratic primary race to be the next president. And you should
remember this remarkably cynical display when he does.
Governor Cuomo`s office did not respond to our request for comment on
some of the specifics we just discussed, but we invite the governor to come
I want to find out what my guests now know when didn`t know when the
Mr. Bill McKibben?
MCKIBBEN: Well, the thing -- the thing that`s become very clear over
the last -- since the election is that we`re really going to find out now
when it comes to energy and climate what the president is all about. He no
longer has to worry about ever again about the fossil fuel industry coming
down on him in election. We`re going to have really stark pure tests like
Keystone where he`ll get to find out whether or not he`s thinking about the
future or not.
HAYES: Elana Schor?
SCHOR: The Army Corps of Engineers -- we knocked them for being anti-
environment and for good reason.
HAYES: Yes, for very good reason.
SCHOR: But what blew my mind, after hurricane Sandy, the Army Corps
sent some hydrologic specialists to New York. They removed enough water
from our subway system and our port to fill Central Park two feet above the
HAYES: The recovery -- "The New York Times" did this amazing piece,
one of these pieces you read as a journalist, you`re like I wish I had that
assignment, I wish I could have written that piece. They did a piece about
how the tunnels in New York got drained and how the MTA got -- the subway
system got back working in a miraculous fashion. You had even the
Straphangers Campaign which is this advocacy group that beat up on the MTA
all the time. And, you got again, for good reason, you know, trying to get
better service for folks, saying this is close to magic what`s happened.
It`s a good reminder in the climate discussion: we are capable of
amazing things. We are capable of amazing things. And the New York City
subway system is a miracle of civilization and a good reminder that we can
do big things.
MCKIBBEN: But don`t forget for a minute that there are still people
out in the Rockaways and on the Jersey Shore.
HAYES: Yes, absolutely.
MCKIBBEN: And one of the great things that happened this week is that
the Occupy Movement turned into a kind of relief movement and Occupy Sandy
has been doing remarkable stuff.
HAYES: Congressman Nadler?
NADLER: Well, we were reminded of one thing that we knew which is the
utter hypocrisy of the U.N. and the nonaligned movement when it comes to
Israel and the Middle East that said nothing when Hamas fired over 500 or
600 missiles at Israeli civilians, each missile being a war crime. And
when Israel finally hit back by attacking a leader of the militants and
started attacking launch sites, suddenly there`s a U.N. Security Council
meeting and the nonaligned movement condemns Israel.
We also learned that despite the ravings of Governor Romney about
Obama throwing Israel under the bus and the ravings of the Republican
Jewish coalition and some other elements of the Jewish community -- when
push comes to shove, the Obama administration stood by Israel.
HAYES: We`re going to discuss this Gaza tomorrow. And I just want to
respond quickly, where there`s been asymmetry in the moral intent, which is
the stated aim of the many of the militants has been to go after civilians
stated aim of the IDF is to avoid civilians. But in the actual death toll,
we`re seeing more civilian lives in Gaza -- this is just empirical fact --
dead than Israelis. I want to make sure people are aware of that.
We`re going to talk about this much more tomorrow.
REID: We now know that the beltway sort of meme that there was a lack
of African-American enthusiasm to re-elect the president was, in fact, a
myth. African-Americans voted in the same or larger numbers in `08 in
almost every one of the key swing states. We also know of this week that
more of the destructive dangerous technology tied to the extractive
energies, power plant, et cetera, are actually built in African-American
The community is very energized to continue its activism into the
second term. I think the African-American community, especially
evangelical black churches, should be brought into the movement on climate
HAYES: My thanks to Bill McKibben of 350.org, Elana Schor from the
Greenwire Web site, New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, and MSNBC
contributor Joy Reid -- thank you for getting UP.
And thank you for joining us today for UP.
Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning. We`ll talk -- take on the Petraeus
scandal with Tom Ricks, author of "The Generals". We`re also going to be
talking about Gaza.
Coming up next, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP", the power
of deja vu -- why this year`s fiscal curb debate has a whole dynamic.
Also, why does Abe Lincoln suddenly seem to be everywhere we look?
That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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