UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
November 24, 2012
Guests: Douglas Rushkoff, Chrystia Freeland, Peter Suderman, Jessica Bagnulo, Tony Kushner, Claudia Fegan, Jacob Hacker, Josh Barro, Donald Berwick
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good morning from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s administration has estimated the
cost of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the state will be nearly
And protests continued in Tahrir Square this morning, following a
decree issued by President -- Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, granting
himself sweeping new powers. We`ll have more on continuing tensions in
Right now, I`m joined by Douglas Rushkoff, author of " Life Inc: How
Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back"; Chrystia
Freeland, author of "Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and
the Fall of Everyone Else"; also editor of Thomson Reuters Digital"; Peter
Suderman, senior editor at Reason.com and Jessica Bagnulo, co-owner of
Greenlight Bookstore , an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. Great to have
you all here.
Thanksgiving is a day set aside to celebrate family, community, your
neighbors, a day to give thanks. Only a few hours after most people ate
their big meal, this year came Black Friday, a decidedly different type of
holiday: a time to celebrate American consumption in its most potent form;
a time to elbow your neighbor in the eye socket for a steeply discounted
flat screen TV.
Yesterday tens of millions of people shopped in stores throughout
America. But Black Friday has become in many ways more of a cultural
symbol than an economic one, a beloved media story about the great lengths
Americans are willing to go to get a deal.
And there`s no store that captures the essence of American consumerism
and its costs more than Walmart. This year OUR Walmart, a group organizing
Walmart workers across the country disrupted the now-ritualized celebration
of consumption that defines Black Friday, reminding everyone that there are
workers involved in the equation.
We talked to two of these workers last weekend. And yesterday, they
were joined by hundreds of striking Walmart workers across 46 states,
according to organizers. Walmart, for its part, has said that fewer than
50 associates across the country participated in the strike and
triumphantly reported this Black Friday as their best yet.
But for the Walmart workers and labor organizations that have tried
for years to bring attention to the labor practices of Walmart and other
big box retailers, yesterday was undoubtedly a success. The strike
elevated the millions of all forgotten retail workers who work every day
for low wages and few benefits.
I want to bring in Greg Fletcher, a Walmart associate in Duarte,
California. He`s a member of the group OUR Walmart and was on strike
yesterday. He joined us last week; he`s back today to give us an update.
Greg, tell me how yesterday went.
GREG FLETCHER, WALMART ASSOCIATE: Yesterday went really, really well.
In my store, which is in the Los Angeles area, we ended our protests with
over 1,000 people. It started off small and, of course, as workers in the
stores that were around us who weren`t originally a part of it saw how big
it got, they came out and joined us. And we ended up with about 1,500
HAYES: Greg, I want to ask a question because I think there`s a
distinction here that`s important from the perspective of what kind of
threat this constitutes to Walmart, which is people that are joining the
protests who are from the community or sympathetic or even consumers and
folks who actually, like yourself, are Walmart associates who are putting
their necks on the line and risking possible retaliation -- although
Walmart claims they`ll never retaliate -- to take concerted labor action.
How many people are in that latter category? My sense is that it is a
relatively small number of people.
FLETCHER: Well, we had -- we`re still getting the numbers in as far
as nationwide because we had so many of these actions. But, you know, the
-- we had people in our -- in my particular demonstration, you know, coming
in who weren`t even signed up for it, who weren`t going to do it at first,
but were emboldened by what we were doing. So it`s larger than what I was
expecting. It was fantastic.
HAYES: You -- my understanding is that you were arrested yesterday,
along with your wife who is also a Walmart associate. How did that go
FLETCHER: Well, actually, let me correct you. It was actually my
brother and my wife. Because of my two young kids, I.
HAYES: You did not get arrested. I`m sorry. I`m sorry to say that
you got arrested on national television when, in fact, you were not
FLETCHER: That`s OK. People get my brother and me mixed up all the
time. It`s all right.
HAYES: So -- and this was a civil disobedience action to get
FLETCHER: Well, it wasn`t the intent. We didn`t go out there with
the idea that we were going to cause trouble and get arrested. But we --
they understood the risk. And it was something that to make a point about
what Walmart does to its workers, how it treats them. They were willing to
make that price, to risk it.
HAYES: Do you think -- I think the key thing here, the question in
terms of going forward -- I mean people who have organized it say this is
So my two questions for you are, do you worry about retaliation?
You`ve now been on our show twice; you`re going to go back to work
presumably. Labor law protects you from retaliation for concerted
activity, but It`s very easy to find other reasons that you might be
dismissed or penalized.
And number two, where does this go from here?
FLETCHER: Well, as far as retaliation against myself, it`s something
that -- I`ll be honest, it`s -- I know the law and I know the rights and
I`ve done everything in accordance to the law for that reason, for my own
protection. But it is something that I do.
I`m a little worried about it. But, you know, the importance of what
we`re saying is so important that I feel like risks have to be made. I
have to do this.
And I`m sorry, what was the other question?
HAYES: Where does this go from here? I mean, obviously, it`s been
something the labor movement and workers inside stores and a whole bunch of
people have been trying to build, worker power inside Walmart for a long
time. And Walmart has been very clever and deft at avoiding any kind of
concentrated labor power. And I wonder what you see as the next step.
FLETCHER: Well, just from the success of our actions yesterday -- and
we`re going to continue building this thing, continue the discussion with
other workers, other associates.
And, you know, again, we keep asking the company to just come to the
table and talk with us about problems. And if they continue to avoid
talking to us, dismissing their employees, dismissing those whose families
pay for their success, if they continue doing this, we`ll have -- you know,
we might have to do this again.
HAYES: Greg Fletcher, Walmart associate in California. I really
appreciate you joining us today and give your brother-in-law and your wife
FLETCHER: I will. Thank you.
HAYES: So this is something that labor`s been working out for a long
time. And yesterday, I think, was bigger than anything that has ever
happened in the labor actions against Walmart. So there`s two ways, I
think, to read what happened yesterday.
There`s one in the context of how many workers they have, which is 1.6
million associates -- and it`s a massive operation, and so even if 100 or
200 or 1,000 or 15,000 people walk out, that`s relatively small in the
grand scheme of things.
The other way, I think, to look at it is in the history of Walmart,
which has been remarkably resistant to any kind of concerted labor action.
Chrystia, I`m curious what your take-away is from yesterday.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS DIGITAL: Well, I think
it`s not big enough yet to see this as the turning point. I mean, I do
agree that in the history of Walmart, this is a bigger deal than we`ve seen
And I think the fact that it comes after the election and after Occupy
and Occupy Sandy, I think, was a big deal, too. I think there was a
little bit of a shift in how people are seeing labor and how people are
seeing some of these whole sort of set of progressive ideas that I think
some people said, you know, to quote Lenin (sic) here, we`re in the dustbin
I think people are saying, well, maybe take them out of the garbage
can and dust them off a bit, but I think it is far too early to proclaim
victory, and especially with Walmart.
You know, Greg was clearly a highly educated, highly motivated guy.
So many of the people who work there are really, I think, you know, much
more on the edge or not people who know labor law very well, are not people
who can afford in their personal lives to take that kind of a risk even if
they believe it. So I think it`s really, really hard.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, MEDIA THEORIST AND AUTHOR: But even as -- you know,
I didn`t think of it until now, but the idea just as a media story, to have
something that pictures Americans as some -- as people other than these
cows just storming in -- the thing I hate about the Black Friday is the way
the media uses it as proof, well, this is the American consumer. And
Walmart and these companies aren`t doing anything wrong because this is
what people want and look at --
FREELAND: It`s what we demand.
HAYES: In fact, we had an editorial debate yesterday up on the 8th
floor about whether we were going to play one of these videos. I think we
do have it cued up (inaudible) --
HAYES: The classic, like, stampede Black Friday video. And we
actually had this back-and-forth debate about like, at one level are we
allowing eight people to look at this video and sort of feel comfortably
smug and superior to like, oh, look at those animals who are going for flat
And at the same level, it`s like, well, this actually did happen and
there`s something --
FREELAND: (Inaudible) to be validated, by the way, in your own
consumerist desires. Right? Like you see that and you think, well, maybe
I should go buy something, too.
HAYES: Peter, what`s your thought on this?
RUSHKOFF: I mean, you called this a media event, and I think that`s a
much better way to look at this than as a real substantial, meaningful
labor uprising. I mean --
PETER SUDERMAN, SENIOR EDITOR AT REASON MAGAZINE: You`re talking
about the Walmart action as opposed to Black Friday?
SUDERMAN: They`re both kind of media events.
SUDERMAN: The Walmart action --and, you know, so Walmart says it was
about 50 employees. Let`s give them the benefit of the doubt and say it
was 10 times that, 500. I`ve seen them reporting in sympathetic outlets
that say low hundreds. So it`s the mid-hundreds, 500. That is less than a
thousandth of a percent of Walmart`s workforce.
I mean, when I worked in a restaurant with 200 people there on a busy,
stressful day, you`d have one or two people get mad at management, walk out
and throw a fit, and that`s a bigger percentage.
RUSHKOFF: But is that a bad or a good thing?
SUDERMAN: (Inaudible) that many people.
RUSHKOFF: Is it a bad -- so even if we accept, OK, organized labor is
dead and whatever, and we can`t get tens of thousands of people out to do
that. But instead, if the battle is now how do we change public perception
How do we change Americans from thinking of themselves as blind zombie
consumers and instead help them think of themselves as people with agency
who can make conscious choices, isn`t a media event the kind of event that
HAYES: One of the things I think that`s really interesting is when we
talk about the modern economy, we`ll talk -- you`ll hear something like the
following phrase. "Well, the last 30 years of American political economy
has been very good for consumers, but bad for workers."
And it`s like, well, it`s not like there`s two parts of me, right?
Like it`s just the same person who is doing both of those things. The
question is in total, are you better off.
And, Jennifer (sic), as someone who runs a small business and is in
the world of retail, I want to hear what your thoughts on all of this right
after we take this quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BLACK FRIDAY")
(END VIDEO CLIP, "BLACK FRIDAY")
HAYES: All right. So that`s the video of the Walmart in Georgia on
Black Friday that we were debating whether we wanted to show. So we
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We say voyeurism --
HAYES: Well, no, we said we`re only going to show it if we sort of
unpack a little bit rather than just kind of like throw it out and be like,
"Oh, look at those crazy people."
Jessica -- not Jennifer -- we`re 14 minutes into the show; I got one
person who wasn`t arrested who I`m calling arrested, and I`m calling you
Jennifer, not Jessica.
Jessica, what is your take-away from the Walmart action?
JESSICA BAGNULO, CO-OWNER, GREENLIGHT BOOKSTORE: I honestly think
it`s inspiring. I mean, we were talking about this just a moment ago. I
think, like the Occupy movement, even if it`s a sort of a symbolic moment,
it allows people to imagine a different kind of a world.
And I think that`s where all big things start. I mean, the idea of
opening an independent bookstore, a lot of people were like, oh, that`s a
nice, slightly crazy thing to do. You kind of have to be a cockeyed
optimist to make anything happen. And you sort of create the world that
you imagine. And now we`re a real, 3-year-old, $1.5-million-a-year
HAYES: So you have an independent bookstore in Brooklyn that you
opened. And when we talk about retail and the role it plays in America, I
think there`s this sort of trend toward consolidation and bigness.
And that has ways in which it affects workers, in terms of their labor
power; it has ways in which it affects independent retailers like yourself.
And so as you watch the spectacle of Black Friday and you think about
the big competitors in your field, Amazon being probably the biggest, like
why do you exist?
HAYES: I`m serious --
BAGNULO: It`s a good question.
HAYES: Why do you exist now and will you exist for years from now?
BAGNULO: Right. Obviously I`m kind of an optimist in general, but I
think there has been, in the last few years, kind of a backlash against
bigness and, you know, boxy, everything being gigantic. There`s been an
increase in buy local movements in cities and towns across America.
The American Booksellers Association, our bookstore is a member, has
been really instrumental in kind of helping to spread that word.
And I think it`s something that`s really catching on with people who
are getting that there`s more to buying things than getting the cheapest
There`s sort of having this communal, human scale experience, there`s
going into a store where you`re going to meet your neighbors, you`re going
to talk to people who know you, you`re going to be in a sort of like
environment that`s designed around people rather than around packing in as
much product as possible.
And we work on sort of creating this space that people want to be in.
That`s a big part of what we`re selling as well as the books on the
HAYES: But is that just -- you know, I`m sympathetic to that. But
then I also -- there was a part of me that sort of distrusts my like for
like shop local as this like (inaudible) affectation. But basically like,
you know, yes, the question when -- I guess when we`re thinking about where
our politics come from, right, like is the problem with Amazon the fact
that it`s big, bigness bought bigness?
Or is the fact that it is engaging in anti-competitive practices or
its warehouse workers are working -- are getting, you know, there`s so much
heatstroke in one warehouse in Pennsylvania that the emergency room doctor
had to call OSHA? Right? Like what`s -- I think it`s important to
distinguish like what is the content of this kind of sentimental affection
we have for smallness?
SUDERMAN: So the thing that hasn`t been brought up here that I think
you have to talk about in order to talk about Walmart as a cultural and
economic force is prices.
HAYES: Right. Sure.
SUDERMAN: And prices in local bookstores tend to be somewhat higher
than they are on Amazon -- this is why people go to Amazon rather than to
local books. I love local bookstores; I spend as much time as I can in
them. But I also buy from Amazon sometimes because they can get books to
my house, et cetera, et cetera.
And Walmart`s prices are not just a little bit lower, they`re
substantially (inaudible) 25 percent to 40 percent lower. And those
prices, it`s not just a sort of a, oh, well, this is good because prices
are lower. This is a huge boon to the lowest fifth of the American
consumers, to the people who are the least well off in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
RUSHKOFF: Also look at the costs of those prices, though. The cost
of those prices is that you end up with Walmart workers on welfare rolls,
that you look at towns and communities end up poorer, net poorer when the
Walmart is there because the Walmart is an extractive force rather than
what she`s got.
SUDERMAN: This isn`t quite true. This isn`t --
SUDERMAN: No, no, no -- I mean, there`s been pretty good research
that has shown that Walmart-style big-box retailing is responsible for
about 50 percent of the U.S. productivity gains between 1995 and 2005,
SUDERMAN: -- in that decade.
HAYES: The overwhelming majority of which had been captured by
capital as opposed to labor, right?
HAYES: I mean, the productivity is there, but the wages haven`t gone
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walmart --
FREELAND: But the prices have gone down. I mean, I think that Chris
framed it really well, and to say --
HAYES: Thank you, Chrystia.
FREELAND: -- you know, that -- well, no, but seriously like, you know
HAYES: Get people`s names wrong.
FREELAND: -- this pastoral notion that we`re all going to go back to
our lovely boutique stores, all of us, in all of our shopping, it`s not
going to happen, or, indeed, in all of our production, right? We`re not
also all going to buy all of our food from small-scale farmers.
My dad, by the way, is a farmer. He farms our family farm, which is
6,000 acres. Small is not viable in the modern --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m from The Bronx; that sounds huge to me.
FREELAND: That`s what I`m saying, is small isn`t viable in the modern
technologically powered economy. And that is a good thing because we enjoy
a lot -- no, no, no -- but wait a minute. Wait a minute. What -- there
are two problems. And they don`t have to be inevitable.
One is workers don`t have to be exploited and there are laws and
social movements; this happened in the 19th century with the Industrial
Revolution. We still have its products, but workers aren`t --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be big and unionized as (inaudible).
FREELAND: But you said, you know, what`s the problem with bigness?
Well, ultimately bigness is the network effect; it is monopolies. That`s
why you had trust busting, and that`s part of the reason you had publishers
HAYES: I wanted to hear your thoughts on this. And as the operator
of one of these dead-end boutique enterprises.
BAGNULO: Poor, sad, little -- I mean, I feel like people have been
saying for years bookstores are dead; isn`t it so sad; there`s no more
independent bookstores. And there`s actually been, in the last few years,
an increase in the number of independent bookstores.
But we`re not asking people to shop with us because it`s the right
thing to do. We`re bringing them in because what we do is good and it`s
what they want.
But at the same time, I don`t -- we`re not hoping to like take the
place of other kinds of buying books. I mean, we`re happy if people buy
books wherever they are. But we do want an equal playing field. We want
everyone to be able to pay their sales tax, we want everyone to be --
BAGNULO: I want to --
HAYES: I want to hear more about this level playing field, because I
think this actually gets to something pretty profound.
And I also want to hear about -- I want to think a little bit about
the American identity as consumer, right after we take this break.
HAYES: We are talking about Black Friday and its sort of cultural
significance in America and the role of retail and the future of retail.
And you made this interesting point, Jessica, as a small business
owner who runs an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, about -- you`re not,
you know, you`re fine with people -- with there being big options for
people and small options for people, like your own.
BAGNULO: Of course.
HAYES: You want a level playing field.
And this is one of my favorite phrases, actually, in American
politics, but what does that mean to you?
BAGNULO: I just think it means everyone being asked to follow the
same rules and a certain level of bigness not exempting you from rules,
like paying sales tax in your state, paying workers a living wage, you
know, undergoing the amount of scrutiny, the same standards, and having the
same deals from your vendors and offering the same deals to your customers.
I think all of that, you know, needs to be equal.
HAYES: Amazon is the elephant in the room here, obviously. Look at
its revenue growth. Amazon -- I think people -- people know that Amazon`s
huge, but you can`t get your head around how big Amazon is and also how
fast it`s growing.
And also the thing that`s really crazy about Amazon is that usually
enterprises are gaining market share in the beginning of their growth curve
and then they`re sort of holding on to it.
Amazon continues to grow and get bigger and to gain market share,
right? So it keeps getting bigger and bigger, and its price-to-earnings
ratio is massive. It`s bigger than a lot of other companies because
there`s projection that it has so much future growth.
Here`s Barack Obama in 2007, talking about how he sees -- he`s not
talking about Amazon here; he`s talking about Walmart -- but what he thinks
are the issues with bigness of an enterprise like that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there are workers
who can`t get the health care they need, who don`t receive the wages they
deserve, who are divided into two tiers even when they do the same work,
that`s a threat to workers everywhere. And that matters to all of us.
That`s why what you`re doing with Walmart is so important. And that`s
why I was proud to join you in this effort on a call a few months back. I
don`t mind standing up for workers and letting Walmart know they need to
pay a decent wage and let folks organize.
OBAMA: It isn`t about attacking Walmart, this is about demanding more
responsibility from an extraordinarily profitable and successful company.
It`s about reminding that company that they have a stake in the
communities where they set up shop, that the well-being of their workers
and other workers should matter to them, that opportunity and justice
should factor in to their bottom line. That`s not too much to ask for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s then- Senator Barack Obama, addressing the USN of U,
which is unions trying to organize Walmart. I think the question is, is --
are those two things possible to have together, which is bigness and also
the kinds of accountability he`s talking about?
Or is the problem that you get big enough, right, you say, well, it`s
fine if you`re big, but also play on a level playing field like Amazon.
But the point is, when Amazon gets big enough, it can muscle around
different state legislatures to make sure they don`t pay sales tax. I
mean, that`s precisely the issue here, it seems to me.
FREELAND: It can be tackled. I mean talk to -- think about Teddy
Roosevelt -- you can`t talk to him, but you can think about him, right? I
HAYES: I probably get his name wrong.
FREELAND: But (inaudible). Right? And that is why you do need anti-
monopoly law and that -- and that -- and the technology sector lends
itself, actually, to the creation of monopolies because you have the
HAYES: Network effects.
FREELAND: -- that inevitably happens.
Briefly explain what network effects means for people that don`t know
FREELAND: Essentially there`s this winner-take-all phenomenon where
particularly in technology -- and you see it with Google, you see it with
Facebook; I think we`re seeing it with Amazon here.
We saw it with Windows famously before that.
FREELAND: Right, where as one player becomes the dominant one, that
dominance feeds upon itself because, as more of us go there, it becomes a
better place for us to go. So we all --
HAYES: Right. So the question is, I`m going to choose an operating -
FREELAND: -- we all want to go there.
HAYES: Right. That`s right.
I`m going to choose an operating system and my choice is, well, what`s
going to be compatible with what other people have? So the more that other
people have Windows, the more inclined you are to get Windows. The
technical term in economics is called increasing returns as opposed to
diminishing returns and it flips a lot of our economic intuitions on their
RUSHKOFF: Plus, when we have a playing field where the larger
player`s cost of capital is lower than the smaller player, basically big
companies can get money cheaper than little companies. That`s when hacks
like her bookstore become really interesting. Because the real story of
her bookstore is not just that it`s little, but that it raised its capital
from its community.
So in some sense it`s owned -- I mean, they`re not investors in the
sense that they`re going to get money, but they`re going to get discounted
purchases for the rest of their natural lives. That makes the prices,
actually for me as a community member, lower buying a book from her than
buying it from Walmart.
HAYES: I want to hear that story and I want to hold your thought.
Peter, (inaudible) response. We`ll take a quick break and come back.
HAYES: So your bookstore raised capital in this very interesting way,
which Doug just brought up. Explain how that happened.
BAGNULO: Hey, thanks, Doug. I appreciate it.
So we`re -- we had a business plan and we weren`t actually able to get
start-up financing from banks. They were pretty reluctant to loan to a
small start-up, even though my business partner and I had years and years
of experience in our field.
So we went to people in our community, who were already kind of
excited about the potential for a bookstore in their neighborhood, and
said, look, can you loan us anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000?
If the bookstore gets off its feet, you get paid back, kind of at the
same rate as if you, you know, put your money in a CD or something like
that. But it`s kind of an act of faith because there was no guarantee that
we actually were going to make a success of it.
But people were willing to do that. And we raised about $75,000,
which then gave us enough that we could go to a bank and say, look, we`ve
got this beginning of it and we could get to where we needed to be.
And now they`re getting paid off, they get discounts in the bookstore,
they`re our strongest supporters and it`s been a great investment for them.
But it`s also something very tangible. It`s different from sort of putting
your money in some sort of abstract investment. They can see it, they can
walk into the store, they can talk to people who have jobs because our
FREELAND: Key question, if they write a book, do they get (inaudible)
HAYES: Asking for a friend? Asking for a friend?
HAYES: What I like about that, too, I mean, A, that highlights one
thing about the place in which -- the way that finance interacts with the
real economy, and we talk about the level playing field. There is no level
playing field in a too-big-to-fail world of finance. That`s one issue that
we talk about -- I mean, we talk about it a lot on the show, but just
bracket that for a moment.
The other thing about it is that, then people in the community are
both -- and I said this earlier a little bit, like we think about being a
consumer as the sum total of your identity, or we`re more on the left and
we talk about the labor movement; we talk about being a worker as the sum
total of your identify.
And in this case, people are investor and consumers and residents and
BAGNULO: Of course.
HAYES: And, Peter, you were -- I mean, the thing I think that rankles
from an esthetic, sentimental place, from my own kind of politics is the
idea of interpolating people from -- making people -- talking about people
as consumers and not citizens and not family members, whatever, on Black
Friday, and you wrote this piece, saying, actually, this was kind of why
Black Friday is my favorite holiday.
This is the title of your piece, "Why Black Friday Is My Favorite
Holiday," is because it embraces this, that you think this is -- there`s
something kind of beautiful about this.
SUDERMAN: I love the enthusiasm of commerce. It reminds me of a
sporting event. You played that video of shoppers in Georgia at a Walmart
earlier. That reminds me of a lot of rock concerts that I went to as a kid
and paid to be in the middle of that.
And people love this sort of thing, and it becomes a sort of sport, it
becomes entertainment, and they get enjoyment and pleasure just out of
that, just as there is an enjoyment and esthetic pleasure to going to a
small bookstore. There`s also a sort of a thrill to be in the crowd, to
wait in the line, to -- it`s just like -- it`s --
HAYES: That is a fair contrarian argument.
SUDERMAN: -- a "Star Wars" movie.
FREELAND: What I would take -- what I would say to Peter`s point, not
actually agreeing with my personal getting esthetic pleasure from that part
of consumerism, but I think America treats human beings better in our
manifestation as consumers than in our manifestation as citizens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a great point.
FREELAND: I feel really well treated as a consumer here, exceedingly
well treated. But I think as citizens -- and this is actually something
that I think progressives need to do with government. If government
treated you as well as Google and Amazon did, don`t you think that
Americans would have more faith in government?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
HAYES: My favorite -- one of my favorite people on Twitter,
pourmecoffee, made this point. He said, you see how they`re doing
everything they can to accommodate the rush at Black Friday stores? Maybe
we should do that with voting. Maybe we should be -- he`s like, actually
we make those provisions for voting.
RUSHKOFF: Right. And I think it`s funny. It`s like in Spain, they
let the bulls loose and people go running. And here we open the Walmart.
But what we`re also looking at, though, is the result of a suburban -- of a
national landscape that was really intentionally developed to promote this
kind of behavior.
You know, when FDR met with the Levitt brothers to build Levittown,
they were not thinking about how are we going to create better citizens,
we`re looking how are we going to create a reality that requires each
person to buy his own lawn mower, each person to get their own snow
blowers, so that we would grease the engines of corporate capitalism.
SUDERMAN: So we have talked an awful lot of esthetics here today.
But when we talk about esthetics, we`re paying -- we`re talking about
paying for a nicer esthetic. And a lot of people can`t afford --
HAYES: (Inaudible) Walmart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, because me, the progressive.
HAYES: But here`s the point, actually --
SUDERMAN: -- savings for the lowest fifth of --
HAYES: There`s a substantive point. There`s a substantive point
here, too, and I -- there are -- there`s -- there are benefits to low
prices for low-wage earners, agreed. I don`t think they sum out net
But let me say this --
SUDERMAN: (Inaudible) huge benefits.
HAYES: -- we are -- we have seen the share of GDP that comes from
consumption in America increase and increase and increase. It`s now at 70
percent. A place like Canada, it`s around 55 percent.
We`re growing, and 85 percent of GDP growth, I think, over the last 10
years came from consumption. At a certain point, you just hit the brick
wall where the economy cannot grow any more from consumption.
And I think that`s a question for another day, because I`d like to
come back to that topic, about just how much the American economy and then,
in turn, the global economy can continue to count on the American consumer
as the engine of growth globally.
FREELAND: Well, and we learned in 2008 -- that`s when the rubber hit
the road. And it was --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was all fueled by cheap credit.
FREELAND: -- it was driven by cheap credit, which, I think, quoting
Rangarajan, was the sort of social political response to income inequality.
Douglas Rushkoff, author of " Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the
World, and How We Can Take It Back"; Chrystia Freeland from Thomson Reuters
Digital; Peter Suderman from Reason.com and Jessica Bagnulo from the
Greenlight Bookstore, if you`re in (inaudible) Brooklyn, you should check
it out. Thank you all for being here.
The screenwriter of the new film, "Lincoln," Pulitzer Prize-winning
playwright Tony Kushner joins me -- I`m so excited -- right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LINCOLN")
DAVID STRATHAIRN, "WILLIAM SEWARD": We`ll win the war, sir. It`s
inevitable, isn`t it?
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, "ABRAHAM LINCOLN": Well, it ain`t won yet.
STRATHAIRN: You`ll begin your second term with semi-divine stature.
Imagine the possibilities peace will bring. Why tarnish your invaluable
luster with a battle in the House? It`s a rats` nest in there. It`s the
same gang of talentless hicks and hacks who rejected the amendment 10
months ago. We`ll lose.
DAY-LEWIS: I like our chances now.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "LINCOLN")
HAYES: That exchange between Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and
David Strathairn as his secretary of state and trusted confidant, William
Seward, sparks the plot of the new Steven Spielberg film, "Lincoln."
The movie is playing now in theaters across the country, garnering
tremendous critical acclaim, big box office numbers and a rush to hand
Daniel Day-Lewis the Oscar for Best Actor before anyone even announces next
The most remarkable thing about the film is to me is the choice by
Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner to focus not on the drama of war,
but rather on a relatively understudied legislative battle, the one kicked
off by that scene in which Lincoln attempts to beg, borrow and steal enough
votes to pass the 13th Amendment ending slavery through a skeptical and
recalcitrant House of Representatives during a lame-duck session.
The film is a legislative caper, a chronicle of counting votes in the
pursuit of a great moral cause through degraded means. It`s a movie about
what is most elevated and most corrupt about democratic politics, the
perfect and the good and the inescapable logic of compromise.
It is, to my mind, the greatest sustained artistic meditation on these
themes in the context of American politics that I have ever seen, one with
some very obvious resonance to our own current bitter political culture.
And it is my great, great pleasure to welcome to the table one of the
finest writers and artists of our time, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
and screenwriter, Tony Kushner.
Tony, it`s wonderful to have you here.
TONY KUSHNER, PLAYWRIGHT AND SCREENWRITER: It`s great to be here.
HAYES: Congratulations on all the film`s success.
KUSHNER: Thanks. Thanks.
HAYES: So, OK. You start out a project like this. I can`t help but
notice the evolution of the film "Lincoln" took twice as long, I think, as
the actual Civil War, if I`m not mistaken.
KUSHNER: Six years to write it and film it, so two years longer.
HAYES: Two years longer than the actual Civil War. OK. So you start
out and you said we`re going to do a movie about Lincoln. And this is
someone who more English words have been written about than anyone aside
from, I think, Jesus and William Shakespeare, something like that, right?
What do you -- I mean, how do you start out this project with that as
your sort of portfolio?
KUSHNER: Well, Steven was the one who decided -- I think he had a
conversation with Doris 12 years ago and she mentioned that she was writing
a book about Lincoln and he asked her if he could buy the rights then and
there. He`s been thinking about Lincoln since he was a little boy and
decided, I think, about 10 years ago that he was really going to try and
make a film of it.
So the original impetus was Steven`s. And when he hired me, my first
question to him was whether or not -- before I said yes, whether or not
we`d have to try and cover the whole war --
HAYES: All of it.
KUSHNER: -- and all four years of the administration, which I knew
before I`d started any serious research into Lincoln was going to be a
complete impossibility in a 21/2 hour film. And he immediately agreed that
we could focus on a specific segment, a portion of the administration.
And he already decided he didn`t want to do any of the big battles.
He felt he had done his big war film in "Private Ryan" and he didn`t need
to do that again. So and -- you know, he bought Doris` book, and Doris`
Lincoln is a very political Lincoln. So I think that the path was sort of
laid out before I even came in.
And then I tried for two years to figure out how to condense about
half of the -- I wanted to start in September of 1863 with Salmon Chase,
his Secretary of the Treasury sort of coming out of the closet as an
opponent, basically announcing that he was going to run against Lincoln for
the Republican nomination in `64.
And Chase is one of the great characters in American history and their
relationship is really genuinely Shakespearean.
But after two years of trying, I never got any farther than January of
1864; I got like three months in. It was just impossible to condense.
Then the Writers Guild went on strike and I had to stop writing, and then
after the strike was over in the spring of 2007, I had the idea of doing
just the last four months, which produced a 500-page screenplay, the first
quarter of which is basically --
HAYES: You write 500 pages about the last four months and then Steven
Spielberg says let`s focus on the 13th Amendment now.
KUSHNER: Yes. I really thought that he was going to go for the last
month, which was sort of March 18th to April 15th, because that`s when
Lincoln leaves Washington for the longest time that he was out of
Washington during the entire war and went down to City Point, Grant`s
headquarters on the James River and then was present, basically, for the
fall of Petersburg and then the conquest of Richmond, the capture of
Richmond, and then famously went to Richmond with his son and walked
through the streets of the city the day after the city had fallen.
And it was all very dramatic and very cinematic and I was certain that
that was going to be what attracted Steven the most. But when I sent him
this massive sort of phone book-sized script, it was the January stuff that
he immediately glommed on to, and.
HAYES: It`s this amazing kind of hand-to-hand combat to just get
enough votes to pass this.
HAYES: What did you learn about Lincoln in writing this? Because I
think one of the things I think is great about Daniel Day-Lewis is -- I
said this to you before -- is that he sort of captures Lincoln`s essential
HAYES: It`s this very thing that comes up time and time again in
contemporary accounts of him, that you never quite see really nailed. And
it seems like he`s such an odd figure. What else do you feel like you
learned about Lincoln in the context of writing this?
KUSHNER: Well, I mean, I was really happy when you said that after
you saw the movie, because I think he was a very strange man and you read
in every contemporary account this kind of divided reaction to him within
every person who meets him that he was kind of a lovely, warm, accessible
human being and also something else was going on that was uncanny and
And people didn`t find him an entirely comfortable presence ever. And
there are many, many, many accounts of his sort of vanishing in the middle
of a conversation and then coming back. And that was a bit of a surprise.
You know, I really didn`t know a lot about him. I mean, I`d read
about three books, I think, before I started doing the research.
So I don`t know that anything actually -- I think the only thing that
would`ve surprised me was that -- to learn that, you know, he hadn`t
written the second inaugural address or that he wasn`t the kind of great
president that I assumed that he was. But he really was astonishing.
HAYES: And one of the -- I think the most interesting relationship in
the movie, actually, is between him and Thaddeus Stevens. And I want to
talk about Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is a scene stealer
and a great moral beacon in American history, right after we take this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LINCOLN")
TOMMY LEE JONES, "THADDEUS STEVENS": How can I hold that all men are
created equal when here before me stands stinking the moral carcass of the
gentleman from Ohio, proof that some men are inferior, endowed by their
maker by dim wits, impermeable to reason, with cold, pallid slime in their
veins instead of hot, red blood?
You are more reptile than man, George, so low and flat that the foot
of man is incapable of crushing you.
PETER MCROBBIE, "GEORGE PENDLETON": How dare you.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "LINCOLN")
HAYES: That is Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, congressman from
Pennsylvania and probably the most prominent abolitionist in the United
States Congress during this period of time, and a real moral visionary. I
mean, I think one of the things that`s great about this film is Thaddeus
Stevens is one of the true moral beacons in American history. And I don`t
think we talk enough about him.
And his conception of equality, I mean genuine equality between the
races is ahead of even where we are today, I would even say. I mean --
KUSHNER: (Inaudible) it is.
HAYES: And -- what happens in the film is that we have this kind of -
- these sort of two elements of progress. We have the kind of purity as
channeled by Thaddeus Stevens and his sort of pristine moral vision and
uncompromising attitude toward his foes as we see there. And then we have
the eminently practical Lincoln.
What do you want viewers to take away from that, the kind of dance
between those two?
KUSHNER: Well, I mean, partly just to show Thaddeus Stevens to the
country, because he`s -- he had a very -- he appears in two films that I
know of. "Tennessee Johnson" and "Birth of a Nation," in both cases as a
kind of devil. And even among Lincoln historians, I think, he`s not really
not given his due because the radicals made life so difficult for Lincoln
for the entirety of his four years.
I mean, February right after the amendment passed, the coalition that
passed the amendment fell apart because Congress began to jockey to get
itself into position to take over Reconstruction. Part of Stevens` vision
of stripping all the Southern states of statehood and would give Congress
control because Congress readmits states. So they would, you know.
And I wanted -- I think that the guy was an astonishing figure, a
great hero. His attitudes towards race really are -- feel like completely
contemporary. He was an economic radical, which Lincoln wasn`t. He was
kind of a socialist. He opposed Wall Street and speculation on gold prices
and so on.
I mean, he was a visionary in many ways and, I think, you know, a very
skilled politician, not a starry-eyed guy but, like many of the people
around Lincoln at the time, somebody who didn`t really understand how to
pull off the trick of holding the country together, winning the war for the
Union, and slowly advancing towards the abolition of slavery.
I think it took Lincoln, actually, two years to realize that the Civil
War could only end when slavery was abolished. I mean, I think he
understood that as a principle as early as 1858, when he said the "house
divided against itself," et cetera, but.
HAYES: Do you think you end up -- I mean, I think what`s interesting
about the politics of this film is that in the -- if you have Thaddeus
Stevens as representing one kind of very pure, moral -- crusading moral
vision and Lincoln as this more practical, operating and calculating means
to achieve somewhat similar ends, the film seems to put a thumb on the
scale of Lincoln.
I mean, Thaddeus Stevens comes across as a great man, but also that
fundamentally when the chips are down and when you need -- you need
progress to be made, the person that you want isn`t the kind of --
HAYES: -- the prophet. You want this kind of calculating figure.
And I wonder, like, did writing this change your own politics? Did
you come out of this with different politics than you went into it with?
KUSHNER: I mean, the eight years of Bush preceding the -- I mean, I
started during the Bush administration, right, the miserable tail end. But
watching the Obama administration through a Lincoln lens has been a great
education for me.
And my policies had already begun to change. I mean, felt the kind of
usual Left impatience. And I think that that impatience is enormously
important. It`s an engine -- Lincoln said it.
I mean, he really preferred, he said, to deal with people of the Left
to people of the Right because he felt the people of the Left, as he said,
had their eyes facing (inaudible) and people of the Right, on a couple of
occasions, he said, were really primarily interested in their own -- in
aggregating their own power and that there wasn`t really a whole lot.
He said they were more susceptible to secession fever, for one thing,
because the main thing for them was to stay in power. And any kind of
ideology was acceptable and we`ve seen recent examples of this.
So, yes, I mean, I think that there`s such a thing, obviously, as too
much patience with oppression and too much -- and it`s easy to be patient
when you`re not the person immediately suffering.
But on the other hand, too much impatience can make it impossible for
anything to happen. I mean, you know, the crux of the Civil War was that
the border states had to stay with the Union or the war couldn`t
conceivably be won.
HAYES: And Lincoln very craftily sort of negotiated them staying
there, much to the chagrin of people like Thaddeus Stevens and the
KUSHNER: All the way --
HAYES: (Inaudible) thought it was a total --
KUSHNER: -- right, and all the way to 1864, the second election, they
were still looking for somebody to replace Lincoln.
HAYES: There are some interesting parallels with our own time,
particularly the signature piece of legislation with Obama, the Affordable
Care Act. I want you to stay at the table and talk a little bit about
Our panel joins Tony to talk about the obstacles still facing
President Obama, right after this.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes, here with "Lincoln"
screenwriter Tony Kushner, Josh Barro, columnist for "Bloomberg View",
Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer at John Stroger Hospital of Cook
County in Chicago, Illinois, and Jacob Hacker, professor of political
science at Yale University.
There was a whole lot of news this week about the Affordable Care Act.
And I think one of the things we can agree on about the election was it was
in many ways, it ended up being, whether explicitly or essentially
implicitly a referendum on the Affordable Care Act.
This was the signature domestic achievement of the president. It was
the precipitating event of the conservative backlash in the country as
embodied by the Tea Party. And it was -- its fate was determined on
Election Day in so far as whether it would stand or fall. And in
reelecting President Obama, we`re now going to have the act in some form.
And the reason I wanted to keep you around for this conversation,
Tony, is because your film changed the way that I think of the Affordable
Care Act. I`m a supporter of the Affordable Care Act and I think the
outcome is really going to increase the net -- like joy of human beings in
the country by -- I`m serious -- by a significant amount and reduce
suffering, right? Like that`s -- that`s what we`re all in the game for,
At the same time, there was part of me that felt that the corrupt --
the corrupt -- the process that produced it and the way the process was
tainted, you`re cutting this deal with pharma, you`re cutting this deal
with the device manufacturers, then you`ve got to go over and say to the
unions, OK, we`re going to keep -- don`t worry about the tax on the so-
called Cadillac plans. You`re like dealing everybody in because if you
don`t deal everybody in, the thing falls apart. That there was something
about the way in which that process unfolded that ultimately tainted my
judgment of the final product, right?
That like it`s the -- it`s the fruit of the poison tree. That you
can`t -- it can`t be an ideal piece of legislation. It can`t be something
I can really, really get behind because I know all the dirty details of how
it came about.
And watching the story of how the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in
which there are essentially just a bunch of hacks bribing congressmen made
me think -- well, I guess you can sort of separate means from ends.
JOHN KUSHNER, SCREENWRITER, "LINCOLN": Well, you know, I think one of
the interesting things about democracy is that I don`t think means and ends
are neatly divided. The means are the ends. I mean, the whole process of
haggling through one of these bills is democracy itself. I mean, you`re
sort of achieving your ends while you`re doing it.
I think the Affordable Care Act when we were working on the film,
during the health -- at one point, we were in Washington, I forget why, and
Obama was meeting with the Republicans at Blair House. So everything sort
of came together for us then.
You know, the moment was Bart Stupak and the public option. It felt
like history happening all over again. And it seems to me that it`s
essential, you know, accepting compromise is essential because it advances
us in terms of actually being able to cover more Americans and giving us
health care. It also shows that it`s possible to breakthrough barriers
that we thought were, you know -- I mean, the idea that this first-term
president, first-term African-American president was going to go to health
care which supposedly undone, was an astonishing thing, everybody said it
was a big mistake and he did it.
And I think the election was a referendum on --
HAYES: You`re both health care wonks who watched this unfold. I
mean, you`re an actual doctor, a provider, and you are someone who sort of
drew up the original plan for the public option. And now we have passed
the election, this around, to say like what is the way that you go back and
think about that process?
DR. CLAUDIA FEGAN, JOHN STROGER HOSPITAL: Well, you know, I guess the
-- you know, as politicians will tell you, being a pragmatist, a physician,
taking care of patients that I`m not a good judge. I feel that he
compromised in the wrong places. And, you know, I think he gave up too
much too soon.
My father was a labor union organizer, and he taught us that, you
know, you never compromise until you get the other side at the table and
you`re looking eye-to-eye. And I felt like he didn`t even consider single
payer. I think, you know, my daughter jokes that single payer was off the
table and on the floor.
FEGAN: But if it had been in the room, then the nature of the
compromise we got would`ve been quite different.
HAYES: But this is -- this conversation ends up being -- what you end
up happening, there`s this sort of two conversations, right? There`s the
conversation about like what are the best substantive outcomes? And then
there are conversations that are just basically, essentially our own
individual subjective judgment of the wisest political choices, right?
HAYES: And I think sometimes we can conflate those, right? We sort
of put a moral overlay on our own subjective judgments about what could`ve
happened at what period of time.
JACOB HACKER, PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: And I think it`s a mistake
to think that compromise only came after President Obama was elected. I
mean, the biggest shift in thinking about health care reform occurred prior
to the election. After all, they were pushing a proposal that had been,
you know, pushed by Romney in Massachusetts that had this public option,
which I had pushed, but, you know, alongside a competitive market exchange
structure. And that really structured the debate.
So, you know, we should be clear that the compromises that occurred
were really within the Democratic Party in a certain sense, because there
was hope to get Republicans onboard, but in the end, only one Republican in
the House that supported the legislation. They weren`t able to get any
Senate Republicans despite the fact they had adopted an approach that
borrowed heavily from Republicans.
HACKER: So that was the really crucial moment. And my own view about
it is that, you know, the public option was essential to kind of keeping
the debate focused overall on how consolidated the insurance industry had
become about the need to contain costs, about the fact that Medicare
actually does a good job controlling costs and covers people.
Now, I got a lot of flack from both sides, I mean, this is -- and I
don`t consider that a sign of virtue. I know that people are like -- if
both sides attack you, you must be in the right place. And I understood
why that was.
But I think the really sort of critical period in the debate occurred
in deciding what the initial approach would be.
HAYES: That`s interesting (ph).
HACKER: And then, of course, during that period that ran roughly from
late 2009 into 2010 when we went through four near-death experiences with
HAYES: Yes. That made me think also about -- let me just also say
for the record, the Thirteenth Amendment is a much, much, much bigger deal
than the Affordable Care Act. Just lest anyone think I`m equating the two.
Thirteenth Amendment is much bigger deal.
KUSHNER: Yes, absolutely. Ending slavery is a much bigger deal than
pretty much anything. But the Affordable Care Act is immensely
significant. I mean, I think the difficulty here is to, you know -- and I
think this is the difficulty.
It`s for progressive people. How do we develop a way -- this is,
again, you can borrow this from the history of Lincoln and his relationship
with the radicals and the House and the Senate. How do we continue to --
how do we keep a public discussion alive about the things that are being
compromised and what`s being lost?
And things like the public option, while at the same time not
undermining kind of a larger project, which is to rebuild politically
effective progressive community in the United States. That seems to me to
be in one sense what Obama has taken on as president. It`s going to be a
big issue in the second term because I don`t think he -- I think he`s a
builder. And I don`t think he`s going to immediately become everybody`s,
you know, dream left president this time around either.
So I think the question is how do we talk about this stuff without,
you know, undermining the attempts to build?
JOSH BARRO, BLOOMBERG.COM: I think I must have come at all of this
from a much more cynical angle than you, Chris, because I don`t expect any
big legislative debate, especially one that involves so much of the federal
budget like this one, not to look like this -- where you have to please all
the various financially interested groups or at least enough of them to
build a coalition to pass it.
So I think, you know, the --I think on net, the Affordable Care Act is
a good thing. I think there are a lot of problems with the way that it`s
structured and there aren`t enough measures to control costs. I think
that`s something that will get fixed in the future. But I don`t think it
was reasonable to expect, you know, a law that would have been a lot closer
to perfect to come out of the process. Especially given that I think the
Republican approach on health care for the last 15 years has basically
consisted entirely of concern (INAUDIBLE) -- with the exception of Mitt
Romney as governor of Massachusetts.
HAYES: The one person that delivered.
HAYES: I was also heartened, I remember, during the midst of it,
because I think the process of producing the bill. I mean, this is a fact.
People hated it. They hated watching this process unfold.
And it probably unfolded in some ways with more transparency than
other any similarly legislative battle in history. It was most covered.
There were more outlets. And I remember going back and reading about the
labor member -- the labor member of parliament, one of the sort of chief
architects of the National Health Service in Britain.
And, of course, if you dive into that story, the same interest groups
are fighting there, right? In that case, it`s the doctors, and at one
point, he declares the doctors won`t shut up because they hate this and he
says we shall stuff their mouths with gold. The way we`re going to get
them to shut up is we`re going to carve all sort of things in the
legislation that essentially pay them off, right? That it`s the same kind
of deal making that is in your film and that we saw on the Affordable Care
FEGAN: Yes, but I think he`s right that Obama -- he did frame the
discussion. You know, he could`ve framed the discussion around Medicare
and looking at an improved Medicare for all. But he decided to go with the
markets because he thought that would draw the Republicans in.
So he basically went to their side and failed in that regard because
he wasn`t able to --
HAYES: To draw any of them off. I mean, I think the interesting
lesson that I take away from Lincoln is that there`s some fantasy you have
that the dispute will be resolved, right, will declare the end, right?
Like, OK, well, that`s it. And we certainly saw this with the civil war,
right? The noble cause lives on and resistance, resistance, resistance.
And that`s just sort of all politics, right? The matter is never
settled, and that`s what I want to turn to next, because we have the
Affordable Care Act, but there are still a tremendous amount of interests
that are fighting it and fighting its implementation.
Tony Kushner, Lincoln screenwriter, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright,
it`s such a great joy and pleasure to have you this morning. Thanks for
Go see the movie, it`s really important. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Welcome now to the table, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, also
managing editor for our sister Web site thegrio.com.
We also have Dr. Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services. My personal favorite health care wonk.
Happy Thanksgiving, Don. It`s good to have you here.
DR. DONALD BERWICK, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Nice
to be here, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Some big news this week in the world of the
Affordable Care Act and the implementation, and one of the things I think
is important is, again, like I said, the matter is never settled, right?
There`s going to be battles at every step of the way in the implementation
and how the implementation goes is going to affect whether the
legislation`s successful. The regulations are promulgated, et cetera.
One place that we`ve seen a lot of resistance from the beginning is
the business community. And, of course, the National Federation of
Independent Businesses was the named plaintiff in the lawsuit against the
Affordable Care Act.
And the kind of person who`s become the figure head of this resistance
is the Papa John`s CEO, John Schnatter. And he basically was a big Romney
supporter and he was saying before -- he said both before the election and
actually in a conversation after the election that -- well, look, our
franchisees are going to reduce people`s hours so they fall under the 30
hours that`s covered by the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
He then kind of walked that back a little bit. He said in an op-ed,
he said, look -- what did he say? Here he says, he says, "Papa John`s,
like most businesses, is still researching what the Affordable Care Act
means to our operations. Regardless the conclusion of our analysis, we
will honor this law as we do all laws and continue to offer 100 percent of
Papa John`s corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores health
insurance as we have since the company was founded in 1984."
That`s the people that work directly for Papa John`s. The question
is, though, the franchises, right? And that is where he says, well, "The
average Papa John`s franchisee owns three to four stores. Since our
franchisees own the restaurants they operate and who they hire, how many
hours they give each employee and what they pay each employee is up to
them, not me or Papa John`s. Likely, any small business, like any small
business in these economic times, our franchisees are under tremendous
amount of pressure on cost."
I think the first big question is: are we going to see lots of
businesses dropping health care because of the Affordable Care Act, right?
That is the threat. And I want to hear from you guys how credible that
BARRO: Well, I mean -- there are two issues here, right? One is
dropping employees down to part-time such that under the law they don`t
have to pay a penalty if they don`t offer them health care.
BARRO: And then also those employees will lose income because they
don`t work as many hours. And the other issue which is not necessarily so
bad for the employees is companies saying it`s cheaper for me to pay this
$2,000 penalty than to offer health plan. So, I won`t offer health plan.
The employee can go buy in the exchange.
HAYES: And this is -- actually, just be clear, companies only over 50
employees this penalty applies to. And if you don`t, you either have to
offer them health insurance or they have to be making enough money that
they could buy it in the individual marketplace unsubsidized.
HAYES: If you don`t meet those criteria, you pay a $2,000 per
So, to the extent the companies decide I`m just going to pay the fine,
I think that`s a perfectly OK outcome for workers. Now, in the aggregate,
you`re going to have a problem where the Affordable Care Act will end up
being more expensive than it was projected to be if companies decide to go
that route because the government will pay more subsidies.
The real threat, I think, is this reduction to part-time for a lot of
employees. And I think, you know, I`d certainly expect some companies to
do it. They`re responding rationally to incentives that they can save
money and operate their business more profitably this way, they might well.
HACKER: Two quick points. I mean, one is that employers are already
dropping coverage. And so you ask --
HAYES: That`s been the trend.
HACKER: -- will there be employers dropping coverage and because of
the Affordable Care Act. Now, the first part I think it is almost true,
that we will continue to see decline in employment-based coverage. We`ve
seen over the course of the last decade, roughly a 10 percentage point
decline in the share of employers providing coverage.
But whether the Affordable Care Act will accelerate that is really an
open question. And it`s a difficult one to answer. And I would just say -
- the other thing is that if employers are required -- above 50 -- are
required to pay some modest amount, that could actually create a more level
playing field, particularly among these sort of service employees who are
not in international competition.
HAYES: Don, is this something that you have thought about when you
were thinking about how you design the regulations, how these decisions are
going to be made at the margin by particularly, I think, smaller employers?
BERWICK: Yes, at the margin. It was very hard to predict. There`ll
be some dust settling here. And we`ll see, perhaps, some shift in the
balance between public and private financing of health care.
But the real key point to me is that the Affordable Care Act isn`t
just about coverage, it`s about delivery system reform.
BERWICK: And the reason the employers are dropping back from coverage
is because the costs are out of control and the system needs to increase
its quality. The whole part of the Affordable Care Act that moves toward
changing the way care is given, that will benefit employers and I think in
the long run make it more possible for them to continue to offer the
HAYES: You`re saying if it uses the mechanisms that are in place in
the law, particularly using Medicare and Medicaid payments to reform the
ways that health care are delivered to put an emphasis on quality as
opposed to essentially quantity, that`s going to bring costs down and help
BERWICK: It should if we follow through with the implementation of
the Affordable Care Act on the delivery system reform side. The coverage
part of the Affordable Care Act is the charismatic, more visible part of
the law. People are debating who gets covered and who doesn`t.
But it`s actually really crucial for the future of the system is the
change of care delivery through the mechanisms of the Affordable Care Act.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: I think it`s interesting, when there`s a
surplus of labor, then you can sort of have people like the guy from Papa
John`s making this political calculation, I don`t like the law, so I`m not
going to provide my franchisees won`t provide their employees with health
care. But as the economy improves --
HAYES: If it tightens.
REID: Right. And now, if you have a more scarce supply of labor,
offering health insurance actually becomes an incentive for businesses to
hire and get quality employees. So I think this is an argument that we can
have now because of the surplus of labor. But as the economy improves,
which inevitably it will, there`s always a rebound from a recession, I
think the calculation will be less political and it will be more about your
HAYES: And there`s economic logic to why employers even before the
Affordable Care Act --
FEGAN: That`s where it came from in the first place, is the agenda
became during the World War II. The whole notion of linking your health
insurance to your, you know, the employment was a way to engender loyalty
and, you know, circumvent the wage and price freeze that the World War II
But make no mistake about it, the majority of people uninsured in this
country today are working people.
FEGAN: And so -- and that`s been a trend.
HAYES: I want to talk about the people uninsured, half of whom, 15
million approximately are going to be added to the rolls through Medicaid.
And some news this week about whether -- this is going a real, big open
question -- are we going to see states run by the Republican Party take the
federal government on its extremely generous deal to get people on the
Medicaid rolls right after this?
HAYES: So a huge part of the Affordable Care Act`s way of expanding
coverage, the big thing, right? We have travesty, moral travesty, economic
travesty in this country, that we have people uninsured and one of the
wealthiest countries ever existed in human history, and half of the people
are going to get that coverage through these exchanges and half are going
to get through expanded Medicaid.
Now, one of the sort of less noted parts of the Affordable Care Act
really came through the Supreme Court, was that essentially the federal
government could not force states to participate in the expansion. States
could opt out.
And we have seen a number of Republican governors say we`re opting
out. The latest is Governor Mary Fallin. She is rejecting Oklahoma`s
participation. This is what she has to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: I have also decided that Oklahoma
will not be pursuing the expansion of Medicaid. Such an expansion would be
unaffordable. It would also further Oklahoma`s reliance on federal money
that may or may not be available in future years out, especially given the
dire fiscal problems facing our federal government and certainly the
discussion about the fiscal cliff in Washington, D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, just so people are clear here, the federal government
will assume 93 percent of the costs of Medicaid expansion from 2014 to
2022, that share will decline slightly after that. But this is a pretty
good deal in terms of the amount of people you can get covered for the
amount of money that you as a state are going to have to pay.
Don, after the SCA decision, there was a lot of debate about basically
-- will Republican governors be that craven to turn away the money for the
sake of political posturing, and a lot of people said, no, way, obviously
they`re going to come in line. And I`m curious, as a person who ran CMS,
if you`re surprised by these decisions or this is more or less what you`re
BERWICK: I`m surprised. It did take six or seven years, I think,
when Medicaid was first passed for all the states to sign on and we may be
in some process like that.
But it just doesn`t make sense to leave this money on the table.
These patients don`t go away. A state that chooses not to participate in
the Medicaid expansion still has to somehow meet the needs of those people,
whether free care pools or some forms of -- will end up being bills to the
And as you said, Chris, for the Medicaid expansion portion of this,
it`s almost 100 percent federal dollars for the first few years and it goes
down to 90 percent federal dollars. It just doesn`t make economic sense
for a state to leave that money on the table and as I said, patients are
still there. They`re still going to come.
REID: Well, I submit to you that a state like Oklahoma may be able to
get away with that. They have low Medicaid rolls. States like Florida --
REID: -- they`re going to take the money, because what`s going to
happen is the hospital interest will demand they take the money.
HAYES: Now, we`re talking about the interest again, right?
REID: We`re going to stuff their mouths with gold.
REID: Hospitals will go bankrupt. I know in Miami.
FEGAN: It`s a lifeline.
REID: Right. There are hospitals on the brink of bankruptcy now,
without the federal money. If they don`t take the money, you`re going to
start -- and hospitals are now corporations, they`re huge bundled --
HAYES: You work at a hospital --
FEGAN: Right. And we actually just last month got a Medicaid waiver,
which will allow us to start in 2013 enrolling people and, you know, so --
HAYES: You mean ahead of schedule?
FEGAN: Ahead of schedule. You`re ahead of schedule. What people
don`t understand, you know, Medicaid, you can`t just be poor and -- poor
and blind, poor and pregnant, or, you know, poor and disabled. So, this
allows you to enroll people just on the basis of their income.
FEGAN: And for us, it is a lifeline. You know, 56 percent of the
people in our hospitals are uninsured. Eighty percent of our outpatients
are uninsured. And the idea we can begin to get paid for these people is
going to be about our survival, because the way in which this expansion is
being paid for is by decreasing the funds for disproportionate share
So, it`s sort of like, you know --
HAYES: Explain what that means.
FEGAN: OK. So hospitals that take care of a large portion of people
who are uninsured, indigent in this country, receive funding for the
government called disproportionate share. And so, you know, it`s not that
there`s new money or free money, they`re shifting the money from there.
So we`ve made a decision. We`ve made a decision -- instead of paying
the institutions, we`re going to put the money in the hands of the
individuals and then the individuals can make choices about where they want
to receive their care. And it`ll be up to these hospitals who take care of
these patients to continue to attract them, because now they`ll have
Medicaid and they can go have other options in terms of where they receive
FEGAN: And so, we really -- we`ve made a decision instead of funding
the institutions, we`re now funding the individuals and then going to see
if those individuals will continue to receive their care at those
institutions or at other places.
And I`m going to say that in a city like Chicago, which is highly
competitive health care market, you know, they may have other hospitals
other places that will take care of them. But we also have a lot of people
who won`t accept Medicaid.
FEGAN: And so, therefore, it`s sort of like I said before to you,
it`s like giving someone a debit card with no credit on it.
HAYES: Right, right.
FEGAN: It might be a library card where there`s no books in the
library, you know, where can you receive that care?
HACKER: I mean, I would say that this leads to another point. Not
only is this a very cost-effective way of expanding coverage for the
states, but it`s actually a very cost-effective way of expanding coverage
overall. It`s one of the biggest bang for the buck ways to get people
covered because Medicaid`s payments are relatively low.
There`s just some new studies, though, that suggest Medicaid
beneficiaries, although they have slightly higher -- slightly more
difficulty getting care than do privately insured patients do so much
better than people that don`t have coverage at all.
HACKER: So my hope this is a high-stakes game of chicken with the
states trying to extract more concession.
BERWICK: Yes, and it is the states that are talking about leafing
this money on the table this have the higher proportion of uninsured and
potentially Medicaid eligible people.
HAYES: And that`s one of the things that`s the strange aspect of the
politics of all this, right? Which is that it is the states and we have a
map of the states that are on the record saying it`s Oklahoma, Texas,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina -- speaking of the
BARRO: And I just think the politics of this are going to flip so
fast once the program comes into effect. I mean, as Don said, it was
actually -- Arizona did hold out for 17 years on Medicaid.
HAYES: I saw that, it was like 1990.
BARRO: 1982, or `83.
BARRO: But they were alone for a substantial period in that. And
that was -- the federal government only pays for 57 percent of Medicaid on
average. They`ll be paying for north of 90 percent of the expansion.
And these states will still be paying federal taxes to finance
Obamacare benefits in New York and California. And so, you`re going to be
able to say to people, basically, look, we`re paying for this, do you want
this nearly free money or not? And I think the mindset they have, right
now, it`s just, you know, this denial thing where you stick your head in
the sand and say, we can repeal it, we can repeal it, and they`re just
throwing as much at the law as possible and try to make the implementation
as bumpy as possible.
But eventually, the game is going to run out.
HAYES: But, Ron, is there a legitimate concern about unfunded
liabilities in the future? Which is that that like this is the way the
federal government drug dealer gets you hooked, is like they give you some
free samples of Medicaid and then, like then you start jonesing for it and
then they jack the price in the future?
BERWICK: There may be. There are two things going on. There`s a
subtle thing at the margin here if a state can be -- can figure out a way
to get a potential Medicaid beneficiary instead on to the premium tax
credit through exchanges that`s 100 percent federal dollars. I think
there`s a little bit of that arbitrage going on.
I think that -- I think -- on the whole, though, states will be far
better off if they get into this. And I think -- I think they will.
They`ll realize their own self-interest lies there. And if they don`t, the
hospitals and doctors are going to insist they do.
REID: Exactly. Dr. Berwick just hit on a really important point,
because what`s happening in Florida right now, and Rick Scott is the
ultimate Tea Party governor, but he`s engendering the rage of the Tea
Party, because he`s doing, he`s using this free money to bargain with the
federal government for ways to do sort of experimental public/private weird
sort of partnerships with the way that they cover people.
So they`re getting these waivers from Health and Human Services to
experiment with the way that they control coverage, which gives them more
control. But the one irony I`ll give you, a lot of these same states are
saying they don`t want to run their own exchanges. They`re anti-federal
government, but they`re going to hand over --
HAYES: Right, that`s the other thing. It`s a very federalist law in
certain ways, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HAYES: There`s a fair amount of room for implementation and latitude.
And, Josh, you mentioned this sort of idea it could be repealed. This
is -- the people calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is right
now at an all-time low.
BARRO: That`s right.
HAYES: It`s 33 percent. It`s the lowest it`s been. This is from the
Kaiser polling, which has been doing polling. And you see that line dips
I think that there was a conventional wisdom I think particularly on
the left, among Democrats, that was articulated by Bill Clinton, once this
thing passes, people are going to love it. And that wasn`t true. It took
a while, but it does seem the public opinion battle has sort of moved
HAYES: And I want to talk about the politics of continued resistance
right after we take this quick break.
HAYES: Tom Berwick, who used to run CMS, implementing the Affordable
Care Act. There was something you wanted to say right before we went to
BERWICK: Yes, you were talking about gaming, and I wanted to point
out one subtle thing around the fiscal cliff right now.
BERWICK: I think the states are watching right now very carefully to
see if this administration is going to stand behind the Medicaid portion of
the Affordable Care Act or signal it`s willing to back out the federal
share, because, I think they really need a strong signal if they can rely
on that federal match rate for a good long time.
HAYES: That`s a great point. We do have some reporting about the
last standoff around the debt ceiling, in which Jack Lew was the head of
OMB, who was at the time the head of OMB. He`s now the chief of staff.
During negotiations, the Republicans kept trying to chip away at the
Medicaid funding and he said, no, no, no, no means no. That (INAUDIBLE)
thing they`re going to defend.
But John Boehner is exactly making this point, John Boehner who after
the election basically said, look, guys, it`s the law of the land, and that
occasioned some histrionics from his caucus. He now has an op-ed saying,
"The president`s health care law adds a massive, expensive, unworkable
government program at a time when our national debt already exceeds the
size of our country`s entire economy. We can`t afford it we and can`t
afford to leave it intact. That`s why I`ve been clear the law has to stay
on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation`s massive
Boehner making exactly the point you just made, which is that the
Republicans want to keep this in play and it`s a real question about
whether it`s going to be in play.
BARRO: The nutty part of this is, is that, obviously, health care
entitlements on the whole need to be on the table, not in the fiscal cliff
discussion we`re going to have this month, but in the ultimate fiscal
adjustment we`re going to have within the next few years where we shrink
the federal deficit.
But Medicaid is basically the most cost effective part of our entire
health care entitlement structure. So, if you`re going to be cutting it,
you should be cutting Medicare, maybe you should be cutting the exchange
subsidies. Medicaid is the last place to go to look for those dollars.
The administration official after this op-ed from Boehner told "The
Huffington Post" on Wednesday the president would oppose involving the ACA
in the negotiations.
HACKER: Well, I mean, it`s also nutty because the ACA reduces the
deficit. So, I mean, if you look at the 10-year projections, ACA actually
brings down overall costs. So, the subsidies and the Medicaid expansion
are costly, but then there`s also the savings in Medicare and the new X
taxes that are going to be used to fund it. So, it actually on balance is
HAYES: Claudia, I`m curious, one of the things I think that`s
interesting is that the single payer people and the conservative people,
conservative opponents of ACA and singer payer skeptics have similar
critiques about cost control. You see these sort of mirror images, in
which the conservatives say the cost control is never going to materialize,
and single-payer people say, no, single-payer is the only way to get the
cost control you want.
I`m curious, as someone who is a single-payer advocate and works on
the ground in a hospital whether you think we`re going to see the cost
controls that materialize that are being projected?
FEGAN: Well, I`m very skeptical that the ACA cost controls are going
to be effective. I mean, you know, we could save $500 million if we did an
expanded Medicare for all, which would allow us to cover everyone including
the people we`re leaving out. The cost controls that we`re talking -- the
infrastructure isn`t in place with the ACA.
HAYES: You`re saying on the delivery side.
FEGAN: O the delivery side.
HAYES: And, Don, this is what you worked on, right. I mean, this is
what you`ve done your life`s work on, but also at CMS is making sure the
infrastructure is developed or in place to get the cost controls that are
BERWICK: Yes, yes, that`s right. I mean, there`s no question that a
simplified system of payment would save money right off the top. But,
politically, we don`t seem to be able to go there right now. The country`s
committed to a pluralistic system.
I think the good news in the ACA is the pluralism of state-by-state
approaches to cost that we`re seeing around the country. It`s rather
Oregon with community care organizations, Massachusetts is trying a
global cap. Arkansas is pushing bundled payment to the limit. It`s
exciting to see what they`re going to do if their new state legislature
lets them proceed.
Maryland has an all-payer system. They`re going to experiment more
with. Vermont may go single-payer.
BERWICK: So, we`re going to see quite a bit of learning in the next
few years as these states struggle with cost reduction.
HAYES: That is really interesting, right? There`s a lot of room for
experimentation at the state level to see what is going to get the cost
BARRO: I mean -- the one nice thing about having by far the highest
health care costs in the world is it seems there are a large number of
options you could pursue that would produce a better cost outcome than we
have now. There are lots of countries that do not have a single-payer
system that have significantly lower costs than we do.
FEGAN: Everyone has lower costs than we do.
REID: Well, one more reason Medicaid will survive more than people
think is that the biggest sort of pot of money where you think the cuts are
going to go, because no one wants to touch Social Security, is probably
BARRO: That`s right.
REID: And if you do things on like changing the amount of benefits
people get in Medicare, people forget that one of the big things Medicaid
does is that it helps poor seniors, and seniors are the most expensive to
care for. So you`re going to wind up having to have more Medicaid money to
cover those seniors who get caught in Medicare.
HAYES: I want to ask about where do you think the politics of this
will go as we start seeing implementation, because that`s the real
question, because that`s the real question, is like there`s this window
where we pass the law but it hadn`t been implemented. And so, people had
their feelings about the law basically based on the process that passed it
as opposed to the thing it was delivering.
And I`m curious to get your thoughts at the table about what is going
to happen once it starts actually being parts of people`s lives, right
after this break.
HAYES: One of the effects of the Affordable Care Act, I think, from
the political perspective is that as it begins to be implemented, the
Democratic Party, Barack Obama in the short-term and the Democratic Party,
I think, in the slightly -- in medium term, will own everything that
happens in health care, right?
It`s like you guys did this thing, you passed the Affordable Care Act
and then if you`re not liking your insurance company or your doctor or -- I
mean, there is a big risk that`s been taken politically here, which is that
-- you made this great point before, Jacob, which is that, look, employers
were shedding the trend of shedding coverage was happening before the act.
But after the act, people are going to say, well, that was the Affordable
Care Act, right? Like health care inflation was going up way above regular
inflation before the act. If that continues after the act, you passed the
act, it didn`t work.
And I wonder what you think the politics of this look like as it
begins to become implemented.
HACKER: Well, I think for the Democrats, they`ve been waiting to have
something to crow about. I mean, you know, there`s been small aspects of
the law that have gone into effect. But now, there`s going to be big
Now, it`s true, there are going to be messy moments, but there are
going to be people getting coverage, Medicaid will be expanding. You know,
there`s actually achievements to talk about.
And I would say that the irony is that everything made it hard to
passing the act may now shift to be favorable toward implementation. So
the gridlock, the difficulty of changing law works in favor of the
Affordable Care Act. The fact that all these -- you know, we had these
insurance companies spending millions and providers groups spending
millions. Now, they`re going to have a vested interest in certain key
elements of it coming to place.
So, I think the politics going forward is not going to be pretty, but
it`s going to be very different. And, you know, the fact that the
president was reelected means that there is a real change. I mean, this is
a momentous shift in the politics of ACA.
REID: I think, also, if you look at a state like let`s say South
Carolina, let`s say they don`t participate in the exchange and the federal
government directly runs them. If people have a positive experience of the
Affordable Care Act, they`re not going to say, well, my governor did a
great job. They are directly being aided by the federal government.
So I wonder if conservatives are not undermining their own argument
for small government conservatism by letting the federal government take
care of people.
HAYES: And, Don, this looks like one of those places where good
policies is good politics, in so far as if you set up the exchanges well
and people have a good experience of it, then they`re going to be popular,
and if you don`t, they won`t be.
BERWICK: Yes, there`s a lot of good for people in the law. Coverage
under age 26 for kids, the prevention benefits, I think over 30 million
people have used these now, insurance companies under much more
restrictions to reduce their overhead costs, this should be noticed.
But I`d say the biggest vulnerability should be what you said, Chris.
It has to do with the exchanges. These are really difficult to set up.
New information systems, complex enrollment procedures, and I think one of
the tax is going to be try to starve them whether they are federal or state
setting them up. And I hope that goes well because that`s going to be one
of the real tests about the Affordable Care Act.
HAYES: A really, really good point.
BARRO: I think one of the challenges on the cost side. I think that,
you know, this law takes even more of the responsibility within the economy
for health care costs on to the federal government`s books. And over time,
those costs are going to be unsustainable. And the least popular parts of
the law are the cost control parts and they`re going to become more and
more important over time.
So, I think, you know, as it goes forward, we`re going to be more and
more of the Don Berwick show. And I like the Don Berwick show. But I
think a lot of people don`t because that`s the part where they`re saying,
oh, we`re going to, you know, we`re not going to give you this test because
really, you know, the test isn`t useful for you --
HAYES: And, Don, there`s peer-reviewed evidence shows this test isn`t
useful, and you say, gosh, darn it, I want the test.
BARRO: Exactly. So I think that`s the change we`re going to have to
have. We would`ve needed it. Even if we didn`t take on a greater
government share this --
HAYES: We shouldn`t kid ourselves that`s necessarily going to be
politically popular in all moments.
BARRO: Oh, I think it`s going to be unpopular.
BERWICK: Of course --
HAYES: I want to thank Dr. Donald Berwick of the Don Berwick show.
The man who just said on air when he said they`re pushing bundled payments
to the max, that`s super exciting, about the Arkansas, also the former
administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, my pal
here, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, Josh Barro from "Bloomberg View", Dr.
Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer at John Stroger Hospital of Cook
County, and Jacob Hacker, professor at Yale University -- that was really
great conversation, thanks for getting up.
And a final thought on what I`m grateful for this Thanksgiving, up
HAYES: Just a moment, what I`m grateful for this Thanksgiving.
But, first, a correction on something I said during my story of the
week last Sunday. While detailing the growth of the surveillance state in
the context of former CIA Director David Petraeus` demise, I showed a graph
illustrating the rise in U.S. government request to Google for user
information. I said that the 7,969 requests Google received from January
to June of this year did not come with a warrant.
That is not entirely accurate. Google does not break out the number
of government requests it receives by type or by how many come with a
warrant and how many do not. It`s likely that several types of the
requests Google gets, such as court for wiretap orders would come with a
warrant while many others would not. I regret the error.
All right. Usually, we do now we know in this portion of the show.
But since we just celebrated Thanksgiving, which also happens to be my
favorite holiday, I thought I`d take a moment to observe the very important
ritual of expressing gratitude.
One of very favorite people on Twitter, Feminist Hulk, captured the
political potential of giving thanks this way, "Gratitude is first step in
recognizing privilege. Next step is battle oppression that prop it up for
Hulk`s country`s beginnings to now."
In other words, to say I`m thankful to have a job and health insurance
is to force us to question why that should be a blessing at all, why it is
that others don`t have a job and don`t have health insurance.
So that in mind, I am thankful for the opportunity to have spent
Thanksgiving with my wife and my child and my extended family -- a source
of joy unavailable to many of our troops, including 68,000 Americans
currently serving in Afghanistan and the families, both American and
Afghan, of those that have died in the 11 years of war.
I am thankful to live in a place where we have access to clean water
and electricity and we do not sleep away from the windows for worry of
stray bullets, and we do not worry about the rocket fire overhead or a
mortar shell or an airstrike that destroys the home we have fled.
I am thankful I can feel some measure of control over my life and my
future and not feel as though my fate is in the hands of a remote, powerful
sources armed to the teeth pursuing their own objectives and wreaking havoc
in my own life.
I`m thankful for all of the civil servants who day in and day out work
to provide the basic public goods that are the underpinning for other kinds
of human flourishing. From those at the Federal Aviation Administration
who oversee a commercial air travel regulatory system that keeps 25,000
flights a day safe and hasn`t had a fatality in three years. To the tax
processors of the Internal Revenue Service who quite literally make the
rest of governance possible. To the men and women who run our municipal
water treatment facilities and the unionized workers at the New York City
subway system who somewhat miraculously got the system back up and running
in astonishingly short order after Sandy flooded many of the stations and
I am thankful for this job which I love and the opportunity to do
this, would. I am inordinately grateful to the crew here at UP WITH CHRIS,
as well as the staff: Jonathan Larson (ph), Kim Harvey (ph), Todd Cole
(ph), Sal Genteel (ph), Allison Cope (ph), Tara Meltzer (ph), Diane Shamus
(ph), Amy Forline (ph), Maddy Fox (ph), Henry Meltzer (ph), Katy Guthrie
(ph), Christian Alsea (ph), and Scott Rokoe (ph), all of whom do
imaginative, rigorous, uncompromising journalism each and every week.
And, finally, all of us who work on the show are extremely grateful
that there are viewers out there like yourselves, people who watch this
show and argue with it and send me e-mail and tweets, both complimentary
and occasionally enraged. I am generally thankful to live in this strange
era in which technology puts us in close contact with our critics. And
their occasionally brutal criticism forces us to constantly think hard
about what we are doing on this show and whether we are living up to the
potential of this medium and the wonderful privilege of being able to talk
to you every weekend. So, thank you for being so engaged.
And thank you for joining us today for UP. Join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00.
We`ll have Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen. We`re also going to be
talking about the situation in Israel and Gaza, and the crazy news out of
Egypt. Mohamed Morsi, who is the new prime minister there emerging as one
of the most fascinating world figures in the world. One day, he helps
negotiate a cease-fire in Gaza, and the next declares himself essentially a
unilateral dictator. We are going to dive deep and look at the outcome and
the winners from losers from the Gaza situation and we`ll also be talking
about Susan Rice and the future of foreign policy in the second term.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP", the other
second term. With the reelection of President Obama comes a second chance
for the other Obama in the White House. So, what will the first lady do
with her second term? That and the definition of family when "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY" gets going next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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