'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, December 9, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
December 9, 2012
Guests: Laura Flanders, Neera Tanden, David Cay Johnston, Avik Roy, Stephen
Barton, Dave Cullen, Mike Pesca, Dan Savage
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Steve
Kornacki in for Chris Hayes who will appear later in the program
interviewing Dan Savage, the founder of "It Gets Better" project, about
Dan`s marriage today in Washington state. Dan and his partner are just one
of the couples getting married there today, the first day that same couples
can get married in Washington after voters extended marriage rights to
same-sex couples there by popular vote last month.
Right now, joining me today, we have David Cay Johnston, he is the author
of "The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use Plain English to Rob You Blind."
He`s formerly a Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter at "The New York Times"
and now a distinguished visiting lecturer at the Syracuse University
College of Law.
Plus, we have Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American
Progress, who served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, and was
policy director of Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign; Laura
Flanders, founder of GritTV.org; and MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh,
the editor-at-large of Salon.com and in full disclosure, the woman who
hired me at "Salon" about two years ago now. So, thanks, as always for
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Of course.
KORNACKI: Anyway, on Friday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner
attempted to paint a picture of White House intransigence in the ongoing
negotiations and how to avoid going over what Chris Hayes has been calling
the fiscal curb. I have been saying the fiscal slope. But now that I`m on
the show, I`ll go with curb. Here`s what Boehner said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This isn`t a progress
report because there`s no progress to report. Four days ago, we offered a
serious proposal based on testimony of President Clinton`s former chief of
staff. Since then, there`s been no counteroffer from the White House.
Instead, reports indicate that president has adopted a deliberate strategy
to slow walk our economy right to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Not surprisingly, the extremely vague Republican proposal did
not include an increase in tax rates, a position - a position Boehner
reiterated in a written statement on Friday making clear there has been no
official movement on the White House`s red line as described by Treasury
Secretary Tim Geithner when he was asked about it on CNBC this Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE LIESMAN, CNBC ANCHOR: I want to understand the administration`s
position when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthy making more than
$250,000. If Republicans do not agree to that, is the administration
prepared to go over the fiscal cliff?
TIM GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Oh, absolutely. Again, we see
there`s no prospect to an agreement that doesn`t involve those rates going
up on the top two percent of the wealthy - remember, it`s only two percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Republicans clinging to what little leverage they have to
maximize cuts in the potential deal, have zeroed in on the debt ceiling
apparently hoping for a repeat of the 2011 showdown, in which House
Republicans were able to extract over $2 trillion in cuts in a deal with
the president. $1 trillion to be cut from defense and domestic programs
over ten years and additional 1.2 trillion in cuts through the sequester.
Then, Wednesday, President Obama seemed to set another red line of sorts,
the Business Roundtable he warned against the repeat of last year`s debt
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to send a very clear
message to people here. We are not going to play that game next year. If
Congress in any way suggests that they are going to tie negotiations to
debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default, once again, as part
of a budget negotiation, which by the way, we have never done in our
history until we did it last year, I will not play that game. Because
we`ve got to - we`ve got to break that habit before it starts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Ezra Klein of "The Washington Post" made a point, I think,
on Friday where he basically said you`ve got two tracks here. You`ve got
the public posturing, you`ve got comments like that from Obama, you`ve got
comments like that from Boehner. But you also have, he says, inside
Washington, behind closed doors, he thinks the foundation of a deal may be
shaping up right now.
And what he laid out, and he is, I think, Ezra is a pretty reliable
(INAUDIBLE) because he`s pretty plugged into the administration. What he
laid out was a deal where Republicans would give in on tax rates, but not
to the 39.6 percent top level that Obama`s been demanding, maybe the 37
percent, about halfway. In exchange for that, he`s saying, the White House
would give in something on entitlements on Medicare, specifically,
potentially, at least, on the retirement, on the Medicare eligibility age,
raising that by two years.
David, I just - if that`s the framework, what is your response to something
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE FINE POINT": This is a total betrayal of
the people who voted for Obama, if they do it, which is what a lot of
people have been worried about.
First of all, on the top tax rate, people who make $100 million a year
salary, and there are about 80 of them in the country, pay the same rate as
somebody who makes $400,000 from two jobs for a whole year`s work. There
should be more tax rates on higher ones.
Secondly, raising the Medicare age, that`s a terrible thing to do. It
doesn`t save money, it probably costs money. And for people who don`t have
office jobs like we do, it`s a death sentence for some of them. This is
Obama won by 5 million votes. 3 million vote margin for Bush in 2008. And
a margin of 1 in 2000 where he lost the popular vote, and the Republicans
are saying the man has a mandate, we must give him what he wants. Well,
I`m sorry, the man has a mandate, we should see to it that what he does
what it is. I mean, we need to be calling - people need to be calling on
the phone and writing and saying absolutely stand firm, or we`ll put other
people in next time around.
KORNACKI: Well, Joan, you know, we were talking about this before on this
show a little bit. I wonder, is there a way of looking at this where this
is sort of part of the political process, part of the negotiating process
where something like this gets leaked, gets put out there and it may not
actually be the White House`s intent? Is there something?
WALSH: Well, I certainly hope so. And I think there`s reason to believe
that. But I agree - I agree with David, that people need to be making
noise about this. Look, Mitt Romney didn`t even run on raising the
eligibility age, let alone President Obama. Nobody ran on that because
it`s A, political poison and B, a terrible idea for all the reasons that
David stated. On the other hand -- there`s no other hand on that - on that
But, you know, this is a political negotiation. One day you`ve got Tim
Geithner saying they are absolutely going to go over the fiscal cliff, they
read -- or absolutely prepared to. This very same day, the White House is
meeting with Latino groups, the next day African-American groups to talk
about why it would be a terrible thing to go over the fiscal cliff. You`ve
got negotiations on many tracks.
KORNACKI: Or curb.
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Can I just add on this? I`d
just like to talk about specifically why raising the Medicare age is a very
bad idea. Just to add on to what David said. First of all, really, what
it is, it`s just a shift of cost from the federal government to employers,
seniors and states. And in fact, because Medicare is cheaper for
beneficiaries, it`s actually increasing costs.
So, a president who ran on lowering national health care cost, it was one
of the reasons why we have the Affordable Care Act. If he does this, it`s
actually going to increase the costs for everybody, we`ll raise the
national health expenditures, and we`ll cut out hundreds of thousands of
seniors. And those seniors are the hardest to ensure. So you are actually
raising costs of the Medicare program, you are shifting costs to employers
because they are going to have to cover some of these people. And it`s
actually making us less competitive. And I don`t actually understand why
KORNACKI: Well, here is -- here is ...
TANDEN: I don`t -- I don`t understand.
KORNACKI: What they are saying, what the signal the White House and its
sort of its, I guess, allies on this front would be sending out there, is
that they say there is - and I think Jonathan Chait wrote this, there`s
important symbolic value.
JOHNSTON: Oh, nonsense.
KORNACKI: Politically, but ...
KORNACKI: But - but right, but let me -- the point I want to make here is,
this is what they say. But I`m wondering how we got into this mess in the
LAURA FLANDERS, GRITTV.ORG: Well, I mean, I think we need to also talk -
If we are talking about political poise and efforts to kind of send out
messages and stimulate response, this will only create the kind of reaction
that we need to shoot this idea down. If people get put into this picture,
we are talking numbers, we are talking politics, we are talking power in
Washington -- we need to talk people.
JOHNSTON: But Laura, look.
FLANDERS: Let me - let me -- I am, right now, paying for both the mortgage
and the private health insurance of my sister-in-law who worked 20 years in
a metal factory in Michigan, one of the few remaining. She retired the
minute she could. She had worked her little fingers to the bone making
shelves for Wal-Mart. She retired after 20 years. Her wages had gone from
about $5 an hour to about $10 an hour. She was not able to get Medicare
yet, she was 62. She`s waited every month to get closer to 65 to get that
JOHNSTON: But Laura ...
JOHNSTON: Lower the age of Medicare to 55 and make that the bargaining
KORNACKI: But -- but (INAUDIBLE), and that`s - that`s my point. When I
was invoking the idea of the symbolic value, my question is, how did it get
to the point where the White House feels there`s such symbolic ....
JOHNSTON: Because they were reacting instead of pro-acting.
KORNACKI: What I think it is, is - there`s this term that Greg Sargent of
"The Washington Post" came up with -- we are talking about the federal
deficit. He calls this the deficit feedback loop." The idea is
Republicans have been making noise for the last few years about the
deficit. And Democrats have sort of mimicked that noise. They have played
along, they said yes, we have a huge deficit problem and here is how we
want to respond to it. And so, what you get in public opinion polling,
that is, that overwhelming majorities will say yes. The deficit is a big
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because both parties--
KORNACKI: And then parties look at the polls and they respond to it. And I
think something very similar has happened on Medicare here. What we hear -
we have this notion of there`s a Medicare crisis. There`s an entitlement
crisis. And nobody is out there making the point that this is a health
WALSH: I also really need to say about Jonathan Chait`s piece. I mean, I
am a liberal, but his argument is the worst example of liberal social
engineering I`ve ever heard. He`s basically saying, take people out of a
popular -- and I hope this is not the White House position. Take people
out of a popular program that works and that they love, put them into
Obamacare, which is not so popular yet, which they don`t necessarily love.
Take away something they like and give them something liberals think they
should like. If I`ve ever heard that ....
JOHNSTON: None are asking the right question. The right question is, the
Portuguese have an average income half of ours, they have universal health
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
JOHNSTON: The French have first class, maybe the best in the world
universal health care. It costs two-thirds of their economy compared to
what it costs of our economy. We are having the wrong discussion. We need
to stop reacting. We actually - and here is the program. Universal health
care start by lowering Medicare as an option to 55 or 40. And stop
reacting to what the ...
KORNACKI: All right, we`ll have to continue the next one because we have a
question here. Who is arguing to extend all the Bush tax cuts, that`s
KORNACKI: So, we have been talking about the latest in the fiscal curb
saga. And that includes, at this moment, talk of a potential compromise
that may or may not be in the works. But the basic framework would be an
increase in the top marginal tax rate, to 37 percent, that would be short
of what Obama has been asking for, but it would still be an increase and
there would be changes to Medicare specifically with the eligibility age,
sort of in exchange for that on the Democratic side. We were talking
about, from the Democratic standpoint, the Medicare issue.
But I want to talk about the rate issue, because there can`t be a deal,
unless Republicans, even on these terms there can`t be a deal unless
Republicans go along with increasing the marginal tax rate. And there
hasn`t been now for 22 years in the U.S. Congress a single Republican who
has been willing to vote to increase tax rates.
So, I want to bring in Avik Roy, he is a former member of Mitt Romney`s
health care policy advisory group, he is the senior fellow at the Manhattan
Institute and the author of "The Apothecary", Forbes blog on health care
and entitlement Reform." And Avik, I want to ask you about that piece of
it. We have been talking about these Republicans would actually vote for
that in Congress?
AVIK ROY, FMR. ROMNEY ADVISOR: Well, first of all, I`ve got to respond to
this interesting hyperbole about Medicare death sentences. And we have to
remember that if you raise the retirement age for Medicare, we now have the
Affordable Care Act as the backstop, right? So, everybody under 400
percent of federal poverty level is still covered with the Affordable Care
Act in place. So what we are really talking about here is actually means
testing Medicare in effect by raising the retirement age, because people
who are upper income, who are above 400 percent of the poverty level won`t
necessarily be subsidized if they`re younger retirees. And that`s -- and
that`s where entitlement reform should go, as it should be to expand the
Affordable Care Act into the retiree population.
KORNACKI: Well, we are not going to able to get into it until later. I
want to stick to the tax thing, but I would just make the point on
Medicare, you say we have Obama care in place. Well, one issue there is
that we don`t have Obamacare in place right now. And I think we are going
to talk about this a little later.
KORNACKI: You know, states have to set up these exchanges, and there are
lots of states out there right now refusing to do it. They have to expand
Medicaid eligibility. It hasn`t been done yet, but what we need
(INAUDIBLE) -- I want to ask you about this tax piece. Because again, it`s
been more than two decades since a single Republican in Congress who said
hey, I am willing to vote for a tax increase, even if we had to deal along
this perimeters. Republicans would have to do that. Can you see that
ROY: Well, I mean Speaker Boehner said that he`s willing to raise revenue.
His favorite method, of course, is to simplify the tax code by eliminating
some of the deductions that really wealthy people take advantage of.
President Obama, of course, is less interested in simplifying the tax code.
His main emphasis is raising rates. So, that`s been the debate. And, you
know, Republicans may or may not concede on that. But as you said, they
don`t have a lot of leverage, because if they do nothing, if no law passes,
then we go over the fiscal cliff.
KORNACKI: Well, and I think that just - that just raises the issue. And
Neera, and you are talking about what a disaster the Medicare eligibility
portion of this would be, do you look at the compromise of 37 percent, if
you could get something more favorable on Medicare, would you say that
going up to 37 percent instead of 39.6, that would be enough?
TANDEN: No, and I would say, look, you know, CAP did a tax plan recently,
and we looked at all these -- all these discussion around, keeping the
rates at the level and reforming the tax code and dealing with deductions.
And the truth is, if you want to have significant deficit reduction, which
Republicans are arguing for and you want to stabilize the debt to GDP
ratio, we need significant revenue. We cannot -- you know, we need to --
the real challenge we have in our economy right now and with our budget is
that we are not raising enough revenue. Our revenue is at the lowest
levels it`s been in decades. And so we need to raise revenue, and the
fairest and best way to do that is to move from 35 to 39.6 percent. Go
back to that Clinton levels.
TANDEN: And let me just say about this, we had this level in 2000, you
know, from `93 to 2000.
JOHNSTON: That`s right.
TANDEN: We had great growth. You know, we`ve looked at this issue. We
have Bob Rubin on our plan. And the reason why we have that is because we
recognize that this argument Republicans have made, which is that raising
the rates will hurt the economy has just not been proven true by the facts.
KORNACKI: And that`s - and to try to put this Republican intransigence we
are talking about into some perspective here, I want to say, I think this
story goes back - it really goes back about 30 years, but I think there`s a
key pivot point here. I just want to play a clip here from 1988. I think
that will - that will kind of be a good basis here. So, let`s just play
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The Congress will push me to
raise taxes and I`ll say no. And they`ll push and I`ll say no. And they`ll
push again and I`ll say to them, read my lips ...
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: ... no new taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: OK, so everybody remembers George - George Bush Sr. "Read my
lips, no new taxes." But the follow-up to that was two years later, he was
confronting with those sort of hold-over deficits from the Reagan years.
And he decided to cut a deal with Democrats and Congress to raise taxes to
go after the deficit. And there was a revolt in the Republican Party. It
was led by the number two Republican in the House, Newt Gingrich, who said
no, we are not going to ever raise rates. And he took three quarters of
the Republicans with them -- and Bush ended up having to get it through
basically with Democratic votes. And from that point forward, Republicans
have been terrified of being on the wrong side politically within their
party on this issue.
And in 1993, Neera, you pointed out, Bill Clinton raised the rate up to
39.6. There wasn`t a single Republican ...
TANDEN: ... who went along ...
KORNACKI: ... in there that went along with it. There were threats,
there`s video out there of Republicans in 1993 saying we`ll have a second
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Depression.
KORNACKI: We are going to lose 2 million jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KORNACKI: This is the worst thing that ever happened. And we had - we had
the roaring `90s. And, you know, over it -- I`ll come back to you on this
ROY: Steve ...
KORNACKI: ... because this is a question I`ve been looking for an answer
for - for Republicans for 20 years.
KORNACKI: How do you reckon with what happened when Bill Clinton raised
taxes to 39.6 and all the job growth in the 1990s and the deficit
ROY: Yeah, there`s a lot of points to make about that, right? So, first
of all, we don`t have Clinton levels of spending. And that`s the biggest
problem here. We have Obama levels of spending. And if we are going to
pay for Obama levels of spending, as some intellectually honest Democrats
are admitting, taxes have to go up not just on the top two percent, they
have to go up on everybody, right?
So, during the Bush years from 2000 to 2007, the top two percent - the top
one percent paid $84 billion more in revenue in 2007 than it did in 2000.
Their share of the overall tax burden went up from 37 to 40 percent. For
the bottom half of the country, their share of income tax revenue went down
from 3.9 to 2.9 percent.
ROY: And they paid 6 billion less in revenue.
TANDEN: And they made much money.
ROY: So, economic growth is important. And, you know, there`s a lot of
ways to get economic growth. Clinton benefited from the dotcom bubble as
well, right? So, there are a lot of things, and it was the fright of
equity restructurings of the early 1990s that led to a lot of that growth
in the 1990s. So, yes, it would be great to have the Clinton economy. And
if we had Clinton tax rates and we also had Clinton spending levels, I
think Republicans would be just fine with that.
KORNACKI: OK, there`s a lot to get to in that. And a lot of people want
to jump in here, and they are going to when we come back.
KORNACKI: So, I just asked Avik Roy to sort of grapple with the success of
the Clinton budget in 1993 in terms of bringing down the deficit and all of
the economic growth that we had in 1990s. And David Cay Johnston, I know
you were looking to say something about what ...
JOHNSTON: The average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans has
fallen back to the level of 1966 when Johnson was president. And the top
one percent - or the top one percent have gone in today`s dollars from 4
million to 22 million. In 2010, the first year of the recovery, 37 percent
of all the increased income in the entire country went to 15,600
households. We have created a privatized system to redistribute upwards
and the reason people at the top are paying a larger share of the income
taxes is because their incomes are growing at this enormous rate, but their
burden is falling. And to suggest that, you know, we don`t need to raise
more revenue by applying it to people, who -- success depends on this
government, on living in this society, with its rules that make it
possible to make that money, is just outrageous. It is arguing that we
should burden the poor to help the rich.
ROY: I never said that.
KORNACKI: Well, we are having this discussion where sort of the, you know,
President Obama`s bottom line demand here has been let`s raise the top
marginal rate for income over $250,000 to 39.6.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KORNACKI: And now, we are saying well, maybe it will be 37 and not 39.
But Laura, when you look at, you know, the aging population, you look at
the demands of the next, you know, fewer generations on a budget, and you
look at where the tax burden is right now, we need to be having a
conversation beyond that.
FLANDERS: No, you are absolutely right. I mean we have 50, 50, 5-0
million Americans living in poverty at this point with food stamp help for
many of them. You`ve got 9 million Americans over the age of 50 who are
food insecure. One in three of us have no savings whatsoever. I mean you
talked about the Johnson years. In that period, `65 to `73, the war on
poverty reduced poverty by 43 percent. We know how to do it. It works.
That is what we should be talking about. We are in a crisis where we are
going to see stimulus, we are going to see stimulus of poverty and hunger
in this country. And it`s simply shameful. I mean again, going back to
`63, you have more than 60 percent of Americans, I think even in 1983, 60
percent of Americans have private pension plans.
JOHNSTON: An explosion of ...
FLANDERS: Now, it`s under - under 20 percent. So, these oldest that you
are talking about, young people with greater unemployment than ever before.
I mean, this is the stuff that we want to be talking about after the last
JOHNSTON: Children in poverty are just exploding.
FLANDERS: 5 million.
WALSH: And also, I mean, you know, Neera raises this- I mean, and David as
well, we need higher tax rates for those tippy- top earners ...
FLANDERS: That`s right.
WALSH: Because, you know, everybody likes to talk about building the
middle class or rebuilding the middle class. Well, the top tax rate that
built the middle class in the `40s,` 50s and `60s, the top marginal rate
was in the `90s. I mean, I`m not saying we should go back to ...
KORNACKI: No one--
WALSH: No, but - but I `m just saying you can`t go - you can`t even say at
37 point ....
KORNACKI: But we`re talking so much, and I`m not saying, we shouldn`t be.
As we just established, it`s been impossible to get Republicans for the
last 20 years to sign off on any kind of tax increase. So, obviously, you
need to be talking about raising the rates on the wealthy. But are there
other sorts of taxation, other sort of creative taxes that maybe should be
in the mix? I`m thinking of like a carbon tax or a wealth tax or something
Instead of just looking at ...
JOHNSTON: Wall Street - Wall Street doesn`t want a carbon tax, which is if
you want to get less of something, tax it. That`s what they`ll tell you on
one hand. They want cap and trade because they can play games and not
improve the environment at all. But we need to have a fundamental
discussion about tax policy, but we need to follow the 2500-year old
principle that gave birth to democracy: the greater you gain, the greater
the burden you bear. And real conservatives believe that. It is the fake
radicals who call themselves conservatives who are running the debate and
who are totally ahistorical.
TANDEN: I actually think this is a really important point about what else
favors the wealthy in our tax system. And one of the really critical
issues is the whole system of deductions. So, today, the way deductions
work, the mortgage deduction or a charitable deduction is that if you give
$10,000, you get - you do $10,000 of a mortgage -- mortgage amount in a
Then, because of the way marginal rates work as a deduction, it`s $3500 if
you are in the marginal rate of 35 percent. And it`s $1500 if you are a
middle class family, and the 15 percent marginal rate. So that`s, you
know, it`s $10,000, the same amount for two families, and it`s much bigger
value to you the higher you are. That`s upside down.
So, in a tax plan we put forward, we addressed that issue when Center for
American Progress put forward a tax plan this week. And we transformed
everything into an 18 percent credit. So, it`s fair across the board.
And deductions are a way, a big way, in which the tax system really favors
the well-off and well-to-do.
TANDEN: And it`s one of the reasons why people are so cynical about taxes.
And so I say that conservatives who argue about making the system fair.
The one of the best ways to do it is to deal with the deductions in the
right way. But since it involves--
ROY: Mitt Romney ...
TANDEN: And the only way to do this, because there`s not - you know, we
looked at this.
ROY: Mitt Romney proposed just that kind of a plan.
TANDEN: No, no, I just want to be clear.
KORNACKI: I feel like -- I feel like when we start - when we start talking
about deductions, it becomes it`s like we are programmed to say there`s a
deficit crisis, we are programmed to say there`s a Medicare crisis. And we
say, we are programmed to say, you know, let`s go after -- let`s talk
about deductions here, let`s tackle deductions. And I think we absolutely
should. But we have to have a more specific conversation about, you know,
some of these deductions, the state income tax deduction encouraged states
to be a lot more generous in their social budget --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it`s not ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
KORNACKI: That`s the charitable deductions and still vitally (ph)
important, so ...
FLANDERS: Another program to talk about, about deficits and deductions
unless we accept being programmed that way.
FLANDERS: I mean this plan was co-authored by among others, Larry Summers
and Robert Rubin continues at this discussion about deficit reduction. One
of the things in it that we haven`t discussed is the $100 billion cuts to
defense spending, which, I think, is an important thing to mention. You
know, there are also tax plans, the tax plan, the proposal to tax
transactions on Wall Street would apparently generate something like $350
billion, new revenue. I mean this is the sort of conversation we need.
KORNACKI: That`s right. Well, and I want to - I want to talk a little bit
more about that and I want to talk a little bit more about the idea of
another debt ceiling show down which is possible here at the very least.
And we`ll talk about that when we come back.
KORNACKI: So, I want to talk about the dreaded debt ceiling. But first, I
know, Neera, you want to say something further about the deductions.
TANDEN: Yeah, I just - I think it`s, you know, Avik made the point that
Romney supported something, some level of deductions. And there could be
nothing further from the truth. I think just quickly, the fact is, that we
- the CAP plan has the 39.6 rate, and we reform deductions, but we do it in
a way that protects middle class families. But the Republican position
today is, and Mitt Romney`s position, really, was to address deductions in
a way that made middle class families pay a lot more. And I think that`s
the irony of their position, which is essentially to protect high income
wage earners. They want to have more taxes on middle class families. And
I think more people understand that`s what this debate is really about.
That kind of ...
ROY: That`s absolutely not true.
TANDEN: It is - it is ...
ROY: So, Mitt Romney explicitly promised that he would not raise taxes on
the middle class. And if he needed to, he would be less aggressive on rate
reduction in order to make sure that his plan paid for itself.
TANDEN: And that`s quite ...
ROY: He said that very clear - he said that very clearly. It was ...
KORNACKI: All right, and this conversation started to feel very October,
2012. So ...
KORNACKI: Let me try to bring it back to the present tense. The debt
ceiling. Speaking of past tense, this was the summer of 2011, but the
Republicans are talking about, you know, sort of staging another debt
ceiling showdown. I want to play a clip of Mitch McConnell talking about
this. Let`s maybe listen to him right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: By demanding the
power to raise the debt limit whenever he wants by as much as he wants, he
showed what he`s really after is assuming unprecedented power to spend
taxpayer dollars without any limit. I assure you it`s not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, the back story here is Republicans have no leverage in the
fiscal curb talks. If nothing happens, they don`t get anything that they
are looking for on January 1.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KORNACKI: But, they see a chance to get some leverage here about a month
later when we hit the debt ceiling again. And they are talking about
basically saying, look, if we don`t get the concessions right now in these
negotiations, we are going to hold that over your head again. And I`m
looking at this. In the way out, that sort of- - that some sort of
constitutional scholars have offered for the Obama administration, and this
is to cite the 14th Amendment, and they say there is -- the Congress just
can`t, you know, we can`t default like this. So, therefore, we are just
going to, we`re going to keep on like nothing happened. But the White
House has explicitly ruled that out. And one of the reasons they - I think
they put out there, is that it would unsettle the markets too much. And I
say, short of that, the Republicans really do have leverage here again,
WALSH: Sadly, it seems to me they do. And, you know, I was very happy to
hear the president say that this should not become part of the bargaining
and it should not become part of the game. But it became part of the game
because he indulged in it in 2011 and thought that he could perhaps cut a
grand bargain. We know that that fell apart. So, there`s been a precedent
set. And I think the White House is going to have to be very tough to get
around going back into the (INAUDIBLE) again.
JOHNSTON: And how about the chutzpah of this. The reason that our federal
debt has roughly tripled in the last 12 years, is tax cuts promoted by
Republicans that caused revenues to fall dramatically. A third per capita
adjusted for inflation for the income tax. Wars that were undeclared and
unpaid for and other policies. So, I`m sorry. I murdered my parents, and
I want the mercy of the court because I`m an orphan. They should be
ridiculed for this, as well as punished by voters for threatening the
country`s economic standing over a political gamesmanship. And by the way,
interest rates are at the lowest rates in 700 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
JOHNSTON: So their fear of borrowing is just unicorn.
KORNACKI: And let me -- I want to ask you about this, because look, it`s
true you can`t go back and, you know, Obama is frequently cited by
Republicans voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006. But he was
never - Democrats were never in the past and even Republicans in the past
were never trying to stage this kind of show down where it was anything
more than a symbolic vote, when they weren`t using it as leverage for
specific demands for deep spending cuts, for that sort of thing. When you
hear Mitch McConnell talking like that, really, is this healthy for the
system to be using the debt ceiling this way?
ROY: Yeah, you know, I mean I see, I understand the point that Congress
has the power of the purse under our constitutional system and it`s their
authority to raise the debt ceiling or not. But I`m also of the view that
you can`t have debt ceiling brinkmanship. It`s really -- it`s really
difficult for financial markets, it`s very turbulent. And we saw this the
summer before last, and we would see it again.
I mean if we were to ever default on our debt, it would do immense damage
to our borrowing ability, it would do immense damage to capital markets and
faith in the stability of capital markets. So, I`m not a fan of debt
ceiling brinkmanship. And I really advocate a way around - the way to do
fiscal negotiations doesn`t involve debt ceiling brinkmanship.
TANDEN: And just to be clear, you know, what the president is talking
about is Mitch McConnell`s idea from last year.
KORNACKI: Right. The idea that Mitch McConnell filibustered on the floor.
KORNACKI: That (INAUDIBLE) brought it up and the Democrats said great
TANDEN: But I do think -- I want to fill in on what Avik said, which is
that, you know, conservatives have been arguing about certainty in the
markets and uncertainty from regulations. There`s no greater uncertainty
to markets, to business, to confidence than the idea that the United States
could possibly default. And so, I think, you know, this is a real
opportunity for the business community. And I think that`s why the
president raised it with the business round table to make the case to
Republicans that, you know, when you talk about all these catastrophes in
Europe or things that are happening in other countries, to make the United
States a place ...
TANDEN: ... where people feel they can do business, we should take out
this kind of brinkmanship just for their political games.
TANDEN: And let me say- the president, there was an election on these
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
TANDEN: There was an election on rates. The president was very clear
about raising the rate, and he won. And Democrats expanded in the Senate.
So, it`s not like this is a new debate.
KORNACKI: Well, I mean, and we talk - we talk about how the business
community was sort of at odds with Obama during the campaign, but it`s true
- in terms of preventing another debt ceiling showdown, the business
community may be his ally at this point.
Anyway, Avik Roy, former health care adviser to the Romney campaign, David
Cay Johnston, author of "The Fine Print," MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh, thanks
for joining us.
Understanding the Jovan Belcher tragedy might be impossible. So why do we
try? After this.
KORNACKI: Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher spent some of his
final hours sleeping in his car outside the home of another woman. The
world came yesterday as the Kansas City police department had released dash
cam video of him sleeping, were speculation about whether it offered a
glimpse into Belcher state of mind, just before he took the life of
Kasandra Perkins, the mother of their three-months-old girl before taking
his own. The video seems to offer no hint of trouble to come.
This afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs will once again try to cope with the
suicide of their star linebacker by turning their attention back to
football, which is exactly what they did last Sunday, just over 24 hours
after Belcher, according to police reports, returned home, argued with
Perkins, then -- both his own mother, Cheryl Shepherd and daughter in the
house -- shot Perkins nine times, his mother then called 911. On
Wednesday, officials released tape of that call, where she`s heard trying
to save Perkins` life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DISPATCHER: OK, we are on the way. We have been on the way the whole
time. How hold is the patient?
CHERYL SHEPHERD: 22.
DISPATCHER: A male or female?
DISPATCHER: And is she breathing?
SHEPHERD: She is still breathing but barely. Please hurry. I don`t know
how many times he shot her. They were arguing.
DISPATCHER: OK, so, she`s been shot?
DISPATCHER: OK, right now, is she awake?
SHEPHERD: Kasandra, stay with me. The ambulance is on the way. You hear
me? You hear me? Kasandra! Hey! Stay with me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Belcher then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and in front
of his head coach and general manager, put a gun to his head and pulled the
trigger. The Chiefs were aware of issues between Belcher and Perkins and
have provided the couple counseling. No one flagged behavior that needed
to be addressed.
In a video posted on the Chiefs Web site about a week before the shooting,
Belcher actually appears carefree when reminiscing about what he loved
about Thanksgiving as a kid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOVAN BELCHER, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS LINEBACKER: It`s good to be waking up in
the morning, you know, just smelling all the great food. You know, mom and
grandma`s cooking, just that first smell, you jump up and, you know, you go
see, then they tell you it`s not ready yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Nine days later, the night before the shooting, in text messages
sent to former teammate Reggie Paramoure and obtained by "Sports
Illustrated," Belcher mocked both Perkins and the Chiefs. "Yeah,man,"
Belcher replies, "Our offense can`t even put seven on the board for us, but
everything good, bro, baby momma crazy, but I have a little girl almost
three months, man. She is a blessing. She makes me smile on the worst
In the same exchange, "Sports Illustrated" reports Paramoure suggested that
Belcher would need a gun to ward off his daughter`s future boyfriends.
"Yeah, man." Belcher responded. "I got about eight guns now, from hand
guns to assault rifles for her little BFs."
Between the Thanksgiving memories and the text messages and the shooting
itself, we have no answer right now for why Belcher did what he did and we
might not ever get one. Right now, I want to bring in Mike Pesca, sports
correspondent from National Public Radio, Stephen Barton, who was shot in
the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting this summer. He`s now an
outreach policy associate of the non-profit group, Mayors Against Illegal
Guns. Dave Cullen, the author of "Columbine.
Dave, I want to start with you, because we are sort of establishing here in
the intro and I think what we`ve kind of realized this week is, there`s no
obvious sort of answer here. We can -- we can talk about the gun aspect,
but, you know, legally purchased, we can talk about domestic violence.
This obviously was an act of domestic violence killing -- killing her, but
there was as far as we can see, no pattern before of domestic violence.
Talk about NFL head injuries, but we don`t really have a strong history of
concussions here. And I think, what you`ve written and said about
Columbine was that basically everything that came out in the days after
that ended up being wrong. Do you see any potential parallels here in a
situation like this?
DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, "COLUMBINE": Yes, I do. And this case is refreshing.
There`s a lot of recent cases out where we have sort of allowed ourselves,
collectively, the media and the country to be in this we don`t know stage.
Although some people have definitely their ideas. But it`s nice that no
single narrative has emerged, because in the past, particularly Columbine
with the last horrible version of this, I think, is within the first week,
we had it solved really well. The whole country knew exactly why it
happened, right? It was two outcast loners you know, kids from the
trenchcoat mafia, Goths, who had gone through the school on a rampage of
revenge against the jocks because they`ve been bullied relentlessly. And
now they were going to pay the jocks back. So, everybody understood that.
And most people still are pretty sure that`s what happened.
Not single -- no single one of those things I just said is true. Every
single one of those is wrong. And the problem is, we took little bits of
true information and constructed a narrative out of it and a motive out of
it. And if you consider, in this case, it will you know, I hadn`t heard
all of those - those tapes and exchanges which are incredibly emotional,
but I was also thinking, as we saw little bits of text messages. You know,
in the last week or two of his life, he might have said, you know, a few
thousand words or sentences, you know, exchanged with different people.
And if we consider it, you know, if you transcribe that all and you have,
you know, pages and pages of everything he said, and then you pulled up,
you know, four lines from that arbiter randomly and then try to -- and
that`s all you saw and try to extrapolate, chances are you`ll be completely
wrong. And, you know, random bits would be wrong. Yet that`s what we go
with. And when that`s all we have, we let ourselves believe that`s a
reasonable way of going about things. And it`s not. Usually we come up
with things, which are complete red herrings and we are off in that
KORNACKI: And yet, Mike, there are some broader issues here that are
raised by what we do know about this. We have those text messages, the
references to owning seven or eight guns. And there is, I think, a broader
issue that this raises about sort of the culture of gun ownership in the
NFL. Tony Dungy, the former Buccaneers and Colt coach and NBC analyst has
talked about talking to his team and finding out that like 75 percent of
them own guns. He was just startled by that. Can you talk a little bit
about what we know about gun ownership in the NFL, why that`s so prevalent?
MIKE PESCA, NPR.ORG: Yeah, in this case - and I will. And in this case,
context is really important and conclusions are important. So, as much as
we`ll talk about gun ownership, but we should look at the concussion issue
also. We should not jump to conclusions about that, but we should know
that there seems to be a higher rate of suicide among NFL players, and they
certainly, as much as we know, the football can wreck - wreck the body. It
could also wreck the mind.
Now as far as guns, Tony Dungy would do that in the meeting, in the
beginning of every training camp, because he tells his guys you have to
register those guns. That`s the only reason why he was bringing it up, he
was not bringing it up to dissuade them. You know, he was saying, they
have a Second Amendment right to do that, and they are adults.
Professional football players, professional athletes, but it seems very
prevalent among professional football players feel they are under assault.
Their salaries are published in the papers. Their names are known to
people, there are a lot of millionaires walking around in America, but how
many of them have that thrust upon them? They don`t grow up with wealth.
And they feel they have to defend themselves. And there are lots of
instances where - high profile instances were players have been subject to
robberies or home invasions and sometimes even killed.
But there seems to be a huge gap between this feeling of I have to arm
myself and what are the appropriate ways to do that. And a lot of team
security personnel will dissuade the player from owning a gun. But if
everyone in their circle owns guns, and many guns, and it seems the only
thing to do, and this is the mind set of a football player who knows about
violence and who knows about the idea of protecting my house or attacking
the quarterback. I mean, that bleeds into the personal life.
So, there`s definitely a huge culture of gun ownership, and also, another
thing, you know, there`s only four psychiatrists that the whole league uses
or, sorry, four teams even have psychologists - or psychiatrists on staff.
So, you know, the mental health aspect of the professional athlete who is
supposed to take care of themselves, that often gets lost in the job of the
professional athlete who is supposed to go and disrupt the past game, let`s
KORNACKI: And there`s a whole other question here, too, and it came up
this weekend. I want to get into this ahead about just the propriety of
having discussions like this in the immediate wake of the tragedy. I know
one of our guests has some strong feelings about that, and we will get to
that right after this.
KORNACKI: So we sort of had a national conversation about guns this week
in the wake of the Jovan Belcher tragedy. It was kicked off last Sunday
night during halftime of the NFL game by Bob Costas, who talked about his
view that if Belcher had not been -- hadn`t had access to guns, it would
not have happened. And Costas was sort all over the news this weekend.
Let`s play - let`s play a clip of Costas talking about that this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTSCASTER: Give me one example of an athlete, I know
it`s happened in society, but give me one example of a professional
athlete, who by virtue of his having a gun took a dangerous situation and
turned it around for the better? I can`t think of a single one. But
sadly, I can think of dozens where by virtue of having a gun, a
professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Bob Costas felt this was an appropriate week to be having a
conversation about gun control. I think we heard a lot of voices really
from sort of the NRA crowd, the pro-Second Amendment crowd that were out
there saying, this is, you know, terribly inappropriate, we should not be
talking about guns in the wake of a tragedy like this. This is domestic
violence. This is not gun -- we heard all those sorts of things.
And Steven, I know based on your own experience just summer in Aurora and
this sort of activism that you dove into in the wake of that, you probably
have a strong view about when the appropriate time to be having these
conversations is related to tragic things like this.
STEPHEN BARTON, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Yeah. And, of course. And
that`s the common argument of gun rights advocates. That, you know, it`s
always too soon after a tragedy to be speaking about this. And frankly,
it`s too late, you know, when these horrible events occur. We have to
start talking about it immediately. If we can`t talk about it at that
time, when can we talk about it?
And that`s why, I mean, I really commend Bob Costas for speaking out on
this. Because he`s doing something that most of our politicians are afraid
to do and won`t do. Even our president won`t show leadership on this
issue. So, I mean when you consider that most of -- the majority of women
who are killed by their partners in domestic violence disputes are killed
by guns. I mean, to say that guns have no bearing in this conversation is
KORNACKI: Well, Neera, how do you -- how do you balance that kind of
conversation? Because that -- the sort of NRA crowd is basically saying
this is just domestic violence, and guns are completely unrelated. It`s
obviously there are lots of statistics out there that argue guns make it
much more likely that domestic violence is going to turn deadly. But how
do you -- how should that conversation sort of be balanced, do you think?
TANDEN: Look, I think that -- I think you are absolutely right. When
these things happen, it`s too late. And what I think is interesting is
that the NRA`s hold on the political conversation. I think it`s actually
breaking a little bit. Obviously, the NRA spent a lot of money in the last
cycle. They went up (INAUDIBLE), they went up against a lot of candidates,
they lost across the board. I`m hoping that their control of the political
conversation -- and I want to commend Mayor Bloomberg. He`s investing a
lot of money in actually trying to balance out the NRA. He`s had some
victories. Howard Ralston (ph) is leading up that effort. And I think
that`s an important effort, because, I think, politics have become very
constrained, and our ability to talk about these issues has become
constrained, because there`s this club that the NRA wields. And the less
people fear that, politicians, political leaders, civic leaders, the more
we can actually engage in a conversation.
Maybe gun control wasn`t the issue here, per se. You know, background
check or other issues weren`t per se, but a broader conversation about it,
do we really need -- does anyone really need eight guns, ten guns, 12 guns,
are we dealing with an army? Some of these issues are cultural. And we
can change that culture as we have in other cases with drunk-driving and
KORNACKI: Right. And that seems to me to be the big question, because
right now we have the conversation about whether we should have the
conversation. And it takes place in the wake of a tragedy. But the
question is when can we get beyond that and just start having conversations
about guns. And we`ll go get into that after this.
KORNACKI: Hello from New York. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Hayes who
will be here later this hour interviewing Dan Savage, founder of the "It
Gets Better" project, after his marriage today. First day for legal same
sex marriage in Washington State.
Right now, we have with us Mike Pesca from National Public Radio; Neera
Tanden from the Center for American Progress; Stephen Barton, survivor of
the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, who is now a gun control
advocate; Dave Cullen, author of "Columbine."
So, we were talking before the break about this idea of the propriety of
talking about guns in the wake of a gun tragedy. And it seems that for the
last decade or so at least, that`s sort where the gun control debate has
sort of been stalled. Every once in awhile, there`s just a horrific
tragedy. Somebody says we should have gun control and then we have this
conversation about whether somebody should be saying we should have gun
And it just -- makes me remember that it really wasn`t that long ago when
gun control was just a - it was a legitimate political debate. Sort of at
times of the year, it featured prominently in national campaigns and
statewide campaigns. And I want to talk about what that was like back then
and how we can get best -- I think the best way to kick it off, is there`s
this -- what I think is almost an extraordinary clip in hind site, it`s
from 19 years ago almost to the day. There was this Long Island Railroad,
rampage, Colin Ferguson, maybe you remember it all. And the day after
that, Bill Clinton talked to the press. He`s President of the United
States, and I look at this and I say I can`t imagine Barack Obama or any
major Democrat or Republican talking this way today. Let`s look at Clinton
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The gun that was used contained
apparently two 15-round clips that were extended while this man in a manic
state was walking down the subway aisle, and one of the reasons we ought to
pass the crime bill is that Senator Feinstein`s amendment to limit assault
weapons would make those 15-round clips illegal. They are not necessary
for hunting or sports purposes. And it`s simply (INAUDIBLE) to shoot more
and more people more quickly. So, I hope that that -- that this will give
some more evidence to the need to act urgently to deal with the unnecessary
problems of gun violence in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, he`s making an explicit call for legislation in response to
a gun tragedy. And I think it`s just worth pointing out. Basically, the
only legislation -- the only thing that Barack Obama has done on guns has
been to make it easier to carry them in national parks. That is basically
his record on guns for the last four years. And Dave, when you look at
that, when you look at Clinton and you look at where we are right now. And
it`s been more than a decade since Columbine. Are you at all optimistic
about guns becoming an issue again in politics?
CULLEN: Well, my optimism comes and goes. It had been -- it had been
pretty low, although it`s starting to work its way up a little bit. That
makes me a little depressed saying that, saying things like -- 15 rounds.
You know, now -- he had 100 rounds?
CULLEN: When you are ....
BARTON: Yeah. The shooter in Aurora, yeah.
CULLEN: In Aurora. What really strikes me about that, too, is coming over
some reasonable ideas and reasonable sounding ideas that everyone can sort
of agree on and sort of maybe chipping away at this thing. I think one of
the problems, tactically, gun control people get into is after each tragedy
trying to make like one big push. Like, OK, because of this now, we had
Aurora. A bunch of people died. And it was horrible. We are going to get
And nothing can happen that quickly. It`s not going to happen in a couple
of weeks or months and there are legislative ways to stall it out, this is
not going to happen. We need a gradual slow steady build and things like
what Bloomberg`s project and these other things sort of working their way
up. And it`s not going to happen with one - because of one tragedy.
KORNACKI: And I want to talk about Bloomberg`s project in a minute. But
Mike, it occurs to me sort of from a media standpoint, because the media
plays such a key role in whatever the national conversation is or isn`t,
and from the media standpoint, the media needs major sort of national
figures out there making this case and making a part of the debate so the
media has something to report on. It seems to me that`s the biggest thing
that`s been missing. There are nobody out there just talking about it.
PESCA: Well, let`s talk about the conversation about the conversation.
First of all, Bob Costas got so much criticism because he`s a broadcaster
and there`s almost no broadcasting left. An NFL game is, maybe a
presidential debate, one of the two or three instances where someone can
speak to audiences who don`t normally get that point of view. So, there
are a lot of people watching the football games and saying what is this guy
talking about gun control? I never hear those thoughts. So, that was one
of the reasons people pushed back.
It also strikes me, that we need to talk about this less anecdotally,
right? So the conversation is, oh, let`s debate if Jovan Belcher would
have killed someone if he only had a knife. Or let`s debate the specifics
of Virginia Tech or Columbine or Aurora. Talk about it epidemiologically.
What about the suicide rates? Forget about each individual shooting. The
suicide is so much higher in this country because people do it with guns.
I mean that is -- one of these undebatable facts, and it does strike me, we
blame the power of the NRA.
You know, in the history of this country, there have been a lot of mass
movements with powerful opponents on both sides. Civil rights,
prohibition. In all of those instances, no one said well, we can`t have
this debate, the other side is just too powerful. The difference is, that
in those debates, it was an ongoing discussion. So, right now, when you
tell people, let`s talk about gun control, the people who are sort of for
gun control, it`s about -- it`s about even what people think.
But the people who are for gun control -- it strikes a chord in their head.
And they say, oh, yeah, we should do that. And it`s sort of an abstract
concept. When you say gun control to a gun owner, he thinks about the gun
in his drawer, he can access his emotions much more readily. It`s much
more of an emotional issue. It`s present and prevalent among the gun
owners and it`s abstract among the people who want ...
KORNACKI: Well, that`s right. I think the passion here is often
disproportionate. And obviously, the noise we hear in the media, Neera,
the date that always sticks out in my mind, the key date, the turning coin
in the gun control debate to me was 2000. It was -- look at that Clinton
clip and you look at the record of the Clinton administration on guns in
the 1990s. And now, what happened, they way I`ve always understood it was
in 2000, Al Gore lost the presidency. We all think about Florida, but what
Democrats really freaked out about was he lost these states that Clinton
have carried in `92 and `96 with rural gun owning populations, Kentucky,
West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, his home state.
How many jokes did Gore suffer about losing his home state? And Democrats
walked away from 2000 basically saying we don`t want to talk about guns as
a national issue anymore because we are going to alienate these people.
And you remember, four years later, there`s John Kerry, like a week before
the election, going goose hunting. 2000 always seemed like the turning
point to me. And we haven`t even been back to the same since then. Is
that about right?
TANDEN: Yeah, I agree. I agree with a lot of -- I think that, you know,
people, these things become folklore. And the one thing that is really
important to remember about this issue is that, you know, we did a -- we
did work this summer on polling national Right to Life -- NRA members
themselves. And, you know, NRA members, you know, they buck the NRA on
these issues. They believe in common sense gun control, gun safety and a
whole host of issues.
And so, I think, you know, there becomes this concern that there`s a group
that`s so powerful. My point is that it`s not as powerful as people think
it is. And that it`s really important for us to make that point, which is,
you know, the NRA went into conservative states and went after Democratic
senators and endorsed their opponents and those Democratic senators still
win. So we should live with that example. And make clear to people that
you can - you can take posture here and you can win. And I think that`s
what`s important about Bloomberg`s effort such as ...
TANDEN: ... to destroy that myth. And it`s -- he`s been successful. He
just started, but hopefully he`ll play a bigger role.
KORNACKI: Well, and now -- let`s talk about that, Stephen, because that`s
been an element that`s been missing from this, is what Bloomberg has done
here, he is a major national political figure who stood up and said "I want
to make this my issue and he`s decided I`m going to try to throw some money
behind this in the way that can counter (INAUDIBLE). Because the money is
so important in politics, and there hasn`t been pro-gun control, big pro-
gun control money out there for a while.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it is you guys are doing to try to
BARTON: I mean, I would say our biggest priority right now, and you spoke
about polling on gun control being, you know, evenly divided. Well, when
you ask more specifically, not abstractly about gun control, but specific
policies, for example, having a background check for every gun sale. I
mean 74 percent of NRA gun members support that measure. And it`s even
higher among the non-NRA gun owning population. And that speaks to your
I mean the leadership of the NRA is not in line with its membership. And
so, when, you know, you try to pursue opportunities like that where there
is common ground, so introducing bills like the fix gun checks bill that
essentially put that into place. You know, currently, 40 percent of guns
are sold privately in this country. And that means under federal law, they
don`t require a background check. And it`s practically like having two
lines in airport security, you know, one with a metal detector and one
So, that I would say is our biggest priority right now, is extending the
background check system. But beyond that, I mean, as you mentioned,
countering the NRA with financial resources. Basically, giving cover to
politicians who want to speak about this issue.
KORNACKI: Right. And that`s - that`s the other question. So, Bloomberg
is out there doing it. But can anybody think of an -- I`m asking because I
can`t think of any names out there. Who are the major names out there?
Are there any major names out there that you are looking to for leadership
on this who might step up and sort of join Bloomberg and make this more
than just a sort of a one-man band at this point? Anybody think of
TANDEN: Well, look, just look, I think - I think that the truth is, and
you spoke about movements. You do need to change the politics of this, and
then that will build support among political leaders. And I think, you
know, you just had an example where Bloomberg went into an election, he
defeated the NRA member out in California. You know, the Democrat beat
that. There was two Democrats, actually, but the person who is more in
favor of gun control won. You know, we live with those examples, more
political leaders. (INAUDIBLE) the president did speak more -- and
President Obama did speak more about these issues after and the need for
some common sense steps after Aurora. And we can look at and we should
look at, you know, pushing him on these issues in the second term.
KORNACKI: Right. I mean, the NRA has spent the last four years warning
about the second Obama term.
KORNACKI: We are going to see the real Obama gun control. I think there
are a lot of people out there saying yeah, let`s see that guy. So, he`s
got -- he`s got four years. We`ll find out any way.
Anyway, Stephen Barton from the group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns", thanks
so much for being here today.
From flocking to vote against gay marriage to voters making it legal in
less than a decade. How we got here, that`s after this.
KORNACKI: There are a lot of ways of understanding and interpreting this
year`s presidential race. My favorite is the idea that 2012 was really
just a mirror image of how we remember 2004, you know, an embattled
incumbent saddled with an ominous approval rating, challenged by a
Massachusetts politician, who was caricatured as a super wealthy, gaffe
prone flip-flopper who struggled to connect with the common man. All of
this set against the backdrop of widespread popular anxiety and hyper
The ebb and flow is similar, too. George W. Bush took a big September lead
in 2004, squandered it with a miserable debate performance, spent October
sweating, only to end up winning by a bigger margin than most people
expected. Sort of like Barack Obama this year.
The mirror image theory works on specific issues, too, probably none more
than gay marriage. It`s kind of amazing when you think about it. Back in
2004, marriage equality was treated like a fringe concept. It became an
issue in the Bush-Kerry race only after a Massachusetts State Supreme Court
ruling. There wasn`t much of a debate. And NBC News/Wall Street Journal
survey that March showed overwhelming opposition to gay marriage, 62 to 30
percent. Both sides could read the polls. Bush played up his devotion to
traditional marriage. The Republicans rushed to place gay marriage
referendums on as many state ballots as possible, and Democrats mostly just
tried to ignore the whole thing, hoping it would somehow go away.
You probably remember what it was like when Bush won that November. The
value voters, we were told, had shown themselves to be a formidable
majority. America was a fundamentally conservative country on cultural
issues, and anyone who didn`t share this moral consensus, gay marriage
supporters especially, would just have to deal with it.
All of this happened just eight years ago. It feels a lot more distant
after what played out this year in the mirror image campaign of 2012. The
incumbent president endorsed marriage equality. His Republican opponent
was left scrambling to change the subject, and gay marriage started winning
at the ballot box, four for four in state referendums last month. Polls
now show a plurality and often an outright majority support for gay
marriage. The trend isn`t slowing, the transformation - transformation of
the politics of gay marriage has been rapid. It`s also been profound.
It`s hard to think of a single issue where public opinion has shifted so
markedly in such a short period of time.
One of the people at the forefront of the issue has been author Dan Savage,
who founded the "It Gets Better" movement. He`s getting married in
Washington state today, the first day it`ll be legal there. And he sat
down with Chris Hayes on Friday night to talk about how we reached this
moment and what comes next. Their discussion, right after this.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Supreme Court has announced that it will
take its first serious look at the issue of marriage equality, agreeing to
review two lower court ruling that separately struck down both the federal
Defense of Marriage Act and California`s Proposition 8, both of which
barred same-sex couples from marrying. The Supreme Court`s announcement
comes just days after Washington Governor Christine Gregoire formally
certified the results of that state`s voter referendum, which legalized
same-sex marriage. Hundreds of Washington couples immediately rushed on
Thursday morning to apply for marriage licenses, which come with a required
three-day waiting period for everyone under state law.
So as you watch this right now, same-sex couples across the state will be
slipping on wedding dresses and pinning boutonnieres to their tuxes. And
for some, getting that last twinge of nervous doubt before standing at the
altar and entering a married life, for the first time in the eyes of the
One of those couples will be Dan Savage, founder of the "It Gets Better"
project and author of the syndicated sex advice column "Savage Love," and
his partner Terry Miller. Dan and Terry were one of the first couples in
line to apply for a marriage license in King County, Washington on
Thursday, and although when that -- this airs, Dan will be back in
Washington just hours from walking down the aisle, through the magic of TV
time travel, I have Dan with me here in New York right now.
Dan, thanks so much for being here. Congratulations on getting future
DAN SAVAGE, AUTHOR, "SAVAGE LOVE": Thank you. It`s my pleasure.
HAYES: It is -- it`s really wonderful to have you here. I guess I`ve got
to start with your reaction to the Supreme Court granting cert on this
case, because all eyes have been on this. And there`s a lot of, I think,
some tension and excitement in equal measure among equality activists over
SAVAGE: Yeah. I`m going to date myself by saying are we going to get
Romer v. Evans, or are we going to get Lawrence v. Texas. If we get Romer
v. Evans, which is the `96 Supreme Court decision upholding sodomy laws --
which, I remember that day very distinctly when that decision came down. I
remember poring over "The New York Times" with my friends, and all of us
being really devastated, how bigoted that decision was. I wanted -- I want
to reassure people that that decision and how bigoted it was kind of laid
the groundwork for Lawrence.
I believe that we are going to win this in the end. I hope the end comes
next June with the Supreme Court decision upholding marriage equality,
upholding the, you know, the radical idea that gays and lesbians are
entitled to equal protections under the law like everybody else. But if we
lose, and we could very well lose, we haven`t lost. This battle isn`t over
until we win. That`s what we saw in Maine.
SAVAGE: You know, two years ago in Maine, we lost at the ballot box. And
the state -- the marriage law that had been approved by the legislature,
signed by the governor, it was overturned by the voters. And we went back
to the ballot box two years later, and we won. The marriage fight is over
when we say it`s over, and it`s over when we win.
And so, even if we lose at the Supreme Court, there will be other Supreme
Court tests and cases, because we are going to keep living, existing,
coming out, marrying and suing ...
SAVAGE: Until we get justice.
HAYES: Lawrence, of course, is the case that struck down the sodomy law in
Texas as unconstitutional, it was written ...
SAVAGE: And 13 other states. And sodomy was -- it didn`t just apply to
gay couples alone.
SAVAGE: Sodomy laws also in I think three or four states applied to
heterosexuals, because heterosexuals, indeed, can commit sodomy. Basically
any sex act that isn`t procreatively appropriate.
SAVAGE: Is considered sodomy.
HAYES: Thank you --
SAVAGE: Or it used to be. We are all sodomites now.
HAYES: Right. So, here, we have a bottle of champagne. And the reason we
have a bottle of champagne, I believe, is that, well, you brought this
bottle of champagne.
SAVAGE: I did.
HAYES: And this is a celebratory bottle of champagne.
SAVAGE: It is. I am here in New York just for two days, and I think the
hotel heard that I was getting married and the hotel thought that I was
here with Terry for our honeymoon or something, so that was in our room.
But I`m here alone, so I thought I would bring it and share it with you.
HAYES: And this is one of the - and for me, it`s a rare opportunity to
consume champagne on set, which I generally don`t do from 8:00 to 10:00
SAVAGE: But thanks to the Maritime Hotel, and Chelsea, for those who
HAYES: So, you are going -- you are going to be getting married. Now, you
are already married, right?
SAVAGE: Terry and I married in Canada on our tenth anniversary. But we
are getting remarried, renewing our vows with a license. Washington State,
it asks if you are married to anyone else, it doesn`t ask if you have ever
been married before. So we are not breaking the law by obtaining the
second marriage license and renewing our vows.
We really, Terry and I both fought really hard with everyone else in
Washington to get this law passed, and we wanted to be a part of this day.
And on our first wedding, we didn`t have any guests, we didn`t have any
friends there. We kind of snuck off to Canada alone and eloped and
married, and then went to our tenth anniversary party without telling
anyone at our tenth anniversary party that they were actually at a wedding
SAVAGE: ... for people who knew it.
So we are doing it a bit more, really a bit more publicly this time and
HAYES: You have written about this quite a bit. But the thinking about
your conception of what marriage is and why - why it`s important to you and
why it`s just from a personal level, not here. Cheers, by the way and to
all the other couples.
SAVAGE: It`s for all the couples in Washington state who are marrying this
weekend, and to the couples in Maine and Maryland who will soon be
HAYES: Personally and also politically, what was the thinking process, or
the discussion process even with Terry about wanting to do it?
SAVAGE: Well, years ago, when we first started contemplating marriage, you
know, I came out in 1981, which was a difficult time to come out, as a
teenager, to your Catholic parents right into the AIDS buzzsaw, and also
right into the Reagan administration.
SAVAGE: Into those headwinds, it was hard. Telling your parents you were
gay, your Catholic parents you are gay in 1981 meant telling them that you
would never marry, you would never have children, you would never be a
Marine. And here we are just in the course of my adult life, and I
married, I have -- Terry and I have a child that we adopted at birth
together, and have raised, he`s almost 15. And now we can be Marines --
not that we want to, to the relief of the U.S. -- United States Marine
SAVAGE: But for a lot of gays and lesbians, I think, right at my age and
older, marriage was the trap that you could fall into before you came out.
If you didn`t - if come out by the time you are 18 or 20, when you family
is pressuring you to marry, you would get married, and then you could never
come out without, you know -- so, for a lot of older gays and lesbians,
myself included, it was sort of like marriage is something you thought
about it, and then all of a sudden you had to think about it and assess
what marriage meant.
And I know a lot of thoughtful straight people who have the same sort of
reservations, hesitations about marriage, and they think about what
marriage means. And how they could enter the institution on their own
terms. And so, we didn`t rush in. We really debated. Hilariously, Terry
said to my mother, which was a mistake, when she was saying we should get
married, that he didn`t want to act like straight people. And we already
had a child together.
SAVAGE: And my mother was like -- you can`t act more straight than that!
HAYES: That`s basically, like definitionally there.
SAVAGE: We had adopted. Like we were doing -- we were bringing the kid up
together. And -- but we eventually came around to, as I think, not just
gays and lesbians have, but so many people in the culture to the importance
of marriage. And one of the most important rights in marriage, it`s hugely
important, particularly a lot of lesbians and gays who may have families
unlike mine, that are hostile.
SAVAGE: Is when you marry, you declare your next of kin. You get to
choose. Very empowering to say this person is my next of kin, not my
parents, not my siblings, not my distant cousins who may still be alive if
I have no immediate surviving family members. But this person that I have
chosen makes medical decisions for me, is the first person the doctors turn
to in a crisis, is my ...
SAVAGE: ... most immediate family member. And to have that right,
particularly as a gay person, was hugely important.
HAYES: I want to talk about the remarkable shift in public opinion that`s
brought us to this morning. And where - and why it`s happened and where we
go from here right after we take a quick break.
HAYES: My great pleasure to be here with Dan Savage on what is his wedding
day, even though it`s not actually as we are speaking, his wedding day.
You know, I think, as someone who thinks a lot about politics and sort of
proudly a progressive and member of the left and think a lot about social
change, the evolution of American public opinion on marriage equality is
this like north star, right?
Every time that I get down in the dumps about the possibility of change and
every victory that is out of grasp, I think about how incredible -- here is
just some polling. In 1996, 68 percent opposed marriage equality, 27
percent supported. By November 2012, 53 percent supported, 46 percent
opposed. And there`s just not a lot of other things in American life that
changed that radically. I am curious, what is your theory for why that
SAVAGE: It`s our advantage as a minority group, our superpower. Our
special distinction, which is often for many of us are a special pain, is
that we are born into straight families. And so when gay people, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender people come out, they change their families, they
change their communities in ways that other people who are members of
minority groups don`t and can`t. And it`s a longer, harder slog I think
for other minority groups.
But when a gay person comes out to their parents, and perhaps the
acceptance initially is tentative and conditional, and as they become more
comfortable with having a gay child, when they see their gay child in a
relationship, when they see their gay child have a break-up and see that
the pain and the heartache is the same, and when they see their gay child
in a long-term successful relationship, basically the love and the
commitment is the same as their straight children. And that can really
radically transform a family.
And then that family turns around and they speak to extended family
members, colleagues, co-workers, friends, neighbors. And one gay person
coming out has this ripple effect of that can really turn a poll that
And it`s our super power. It`s our disadvantage. We are born into
straight families. Not all of the straight families are particularly
welcoming or accepting. Brian Brown and his wife have seven children. The
more children - he is the head of the National Organization of Marriage -
the more children someone has, the likelier they are to have a gay or
lesbian child. Particularly a gay male child. And to be a gay male child
born into that family would be a real nightmare and a struggle, but that is
often what happens and what changes a family.
HAYES: What I think is fascinating about this theory of it is from a very
early point in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights as a kind of social
movement, explicitly, right, because it`s a long struggle. The political
act of coming out was so central precisely for that reason. But there`s a
level at which, I think it`s almost to the point now where the public
opinion has happened so quickly, you can start to think that it was
inevitable, right? But it was also engineered. There was a lot of work
that went into this.
SAVAGE: A lot of work and thought. And it certainly didn`t seem
inevitable in the mid 80s, when you know, the "National Review" was
suggesting that gay people should be interned or have tattoos on their arms
and buttocks to stop the spread of AIDS and HIV. There were dark moments.
And in a way, though, AIDS, even, because it outed so many people, changed
the discussion and changed the dialogue. And it outed people not as, like,
partying gay, young hedonists in assless chaps at the pride parade, but as
human beings with relationships who suffered and died, and needed to have
those relationships protected and recognized, particularly in those crisis
A lot of mid-20s, 30s gay couples went from mid-20s, mid-30s, not a lot of
responsibility or pressures life to end-of-life decisions and end-of-life
crises. And the whole country was watching, eventually, and saw that we,
you know - if you prick us, do we not bleed. And we bled. And that
brought people around.
HAYES: One of the -- you are very closely associated with the "it gets
better" project, which is really an awesome undertaking. And I want to
play a clip of the - I think this is the first "it gets better" video.
SAVAGE: Yes, we are closely associated with it, because we started it.
HAYES: You started it.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s the reason. This is you and Terry recording the first
"It Gets Better" video, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVAGE: When I first came out to my folks, they were not thrilled. My
mother said she never wanted to meet any of my boyfriends or boyfriend.
And I was never to bring a man around that I was dating to the house, ever.
And my mother recently passed away. And she told me to let Terry know she
loved him like a daughter.
I didn`t think when I came out to my parents in the very early 1980s when
AIDS was slamming into the gay community that I would ever be a dad, that I
would ever give my mom or dad another grandchild or make uncles of my
brothers and an aunt of my sister. There really is a place for us. There
really is a place for you. And one day you will have friends who love and
support you. You will find love. You will find a community. And then
life gets better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Why did you make that video?
SAVAGE: I was heartbroken by the suicide of Justin Aaberg. And another
child, and I was sick of feeling like I wish I could have talked to that
kid for five minutes before he killed himself. And it occurred to me, you
know, as a gay person, as a gay adult, there are these kids out there, who,
not all LGBT kids are miserable or suicidal or bullied. We`re living
through the best of times, worst of times for queer kids. If you are a
queer kid and you`re out and your parents love and support you, and you go
to school with an anti-bullying program and a GSA, and you have some
friends who got your back, never a better time in history to be a queer kid
than right now.
HAYES: What`s a GSA?
SAVAGE: Gay-Straight Student Alliance.
SAVAGE: If you are a queer kid whose family is hostile, which doubles your
already quadruple risk of suicide, you are being bullied at school, never
really a worse time to be a queer kid than right now. And there were a
couple of suicides in the news. And I wrote about them. And I started to
obsess about these kids who need an LGBT support group but live somewhere
where there isn`t one or any, or have parents who would never give them
permission to attend one.
And it occurred to me that I was waiting for permission, that in the
YouTube era I no longer required. I could speak to these kids. We could
deliver the LGBT support group to the kid who didn`t have a family or a
community that would bring it to them, by using YouTube, and sharing our
And I think when a kid kills himself for being queer, part of what they`re
saying is, I can`t picture a future that I could join to compensate for the
pain I`m in now. And they know there are happy, successful gay adults out
there. That`s changed. People used to grow up thinking they are the only
gay person on the planet, but they don`t know how you get to be one. And
we are able to illuminate that path by sharing our stories.
HAYES: And what I love about the project is, both, the sort of empathetic
thrust of it, but also in some ways, it has two audiences. It`s part of
reconfiguring our social norms. It`s talking to the kid but it`s also
talking to everyone else about like, this is all normal. And there are
people on the other end of your politics who are genuine human beings. I
think that gets back to what has been so successful.
I want to talk about the possibility, basically what comes after what
Andrew Sullivan calls the end of gay culture. Once you win, once we win,
as you said, what does that look like, right after this.
HAYES: We`re here with Dan Savage. I want to talk about, you know, we
just talked about public opinion, the sea change in public opinion about
marriage equality. And I think that is the tip of the iceberg of a broader
sea change in public opinion about gay, lesbian, transgender, although less
on transgender folks.
HAYES: And what I think is really interesting is thinking about, you know,
gay culture as a kind of subculture. And Andrew Sullivan has written about
this and other people have, too, right? It`s born of oppression, it`s born
in the shadows from necessarily (ph), right, and it produces a very intense
subculture. And there`s something about, and this is, I have been reading
"Strange Love" forever.
SAVAGE: "Savage Love."
HAYES: I`m sorry, "Savage Love."
SAVAGE: Although much of it is strange. I`ll concede that point.
HAYES: You`re right. I`ve been reading "Savage Love" forever, and there
is a way in which gay culture as an institution has existed in an
incredible way as a critique of much that is stultifying and difficult and
oppressive about heterosexual culture, about heteronormativity, about
expectations of what relationships look like. And I do wonder if there`s a
degree to which if the marriage equality fight is successful, and I think
that`s (INAUDIBLE) good, so I don`t want anyone to get the misimpression.
If everyone is now in the same tent, does that just mean that we have lost
this kind of crucial, critical voice?
SAVAGE: No, there`s been a wonderful cross-pollination. When you look at
the way young straight people live now, they are living the gay lifestyle.
What is hooking up but tricking, which is what gay people used to call it.
What`s a friend with benefits but a buddy, which is what I bleep myself
right there, which is what gay people used to call it. What is like piling
into an urban area and living sort of a hedonistic party lifestyle in your
late teens, 20s and your 30s, and then settling down.
HAYES: You are making Christian right`s heads explode right now. This is
precisely their worst fear, right?
SAVAGE: There has been -- gay people have reinvented what sex means, what
love means, what young adult life means, and straight people adopted a lot
of what used to be markers of gay culture for themselves. And it`s made
straight life better. And what you see are gay people returning the
compliment by adopting some things that straight people did better than we
did, like long-term and commitment.
Why are straight people delaying marriage more and more? Because they want
to have fun like gay people used to or did in their early 20s. Why are gay
people settling down and marrying at roughly the same age as the straight
people are? Because you reach a stage of life where you are kind of done
with the party and the fun and you want more stability and more commitment,
and you go for that, then.
I don`t think we are going to see the end of gay culture. I think we are
seeing gay culture transform straight culture, and straight culture
transform gay culture. And I think we are seeing the emergence of a new
kind of sexual demimonde subculture, which is pansexual, which is gay and
straight, and bi and lesbian and trans and gender and queer. Where you
know, somebody who has a dungeon in his or her basement and is sort of
dedicated to the BDSM lifestyle who`s straight has more in common with a
gay person who is dedicated to the BDSM lifestyle who is gay than that gay
person has in common with Neil Patrick Harris or somebody else who`s
married and boring, like me. Not to insult Neil Patrick Harris.
HAYES: One of the things that -- one of the things that is great about
"Savage Love" is the way in which it`s so explicitly says, look, people
have sex, they think about sex, and they worry about sex, and they have
shed tears over sex, and they obsess over sex. And let`s not pretend that
that`s not the case, which is basically most of public life takes place
with us pretending that`s not the case, except when there`s these little
fractures, right, in that.
And I wonder, like, the image of the married, settled down gay couple is in
some senses engineered from a public opinion standpoint to be safe, right?
SAVAGE: But it is and isn`t safe. You know, one of the arguments really
(INAUDIBLE) constantly making is gay male couples are much less likely to
be monogamous than straight couples. And therefore, we should not be
allowed to be married, because monogamy is the defining characteristic of
marriage, except when you`re straight. Because if you`re straight and
married and not monogamous, nobody tells you you are not married. We only
hear that monogamy or children or religion are defining characteristics of
marriage when same-sex couples want to marry.
Straight couples write their own ticket. That`s why they can`t craft an
argument to justify excluding same-sex couples from the institution of
marriage. It`s not because we want to redefine it. It`s because straight
people redefined it to an extent where there`s no argument that can be made
to exclude same-sex couples.
It is the legal, romantic, hopefully sexual union of two legally autonomous
individuals, period, the end. They get to write their own ticket, they get
to write their own vows. They can, you know, assume all in their
relationship and their marriage, all the typical things people might expect
a marriage to be.
HAYES: Or not.
SAVAGE: Or they can write -- they can be something very different.
Marriage is very subjective and interesting and new. And redefined by
HAYES: Do you think that our political culture and social life and our
media have -- in the same way that we have moved toward enlightenment, I
think, specially on this question of equality, it always strikes me when we
have moments like the Petraeus scandal, for instance, that there seems no
movement in certain ways about the way that we think about sex in public
life, particularly in those moments when you have sex scandals.
SAVAGE: I wish we would get more French more fast. You read about the
Petraeus scandal, and there is really no there there. The appalling thing
about it is the FBI without warrants just digging through people`s e-mails
and taking computers out of people`s houses.
HAYES: My position as well. Although, well, let me stop you there. There
is a there there, in a sense that if you are in a monogamous relationship
in which there is a mutual understanding of monogamy, and the other person
is not monogamous, that is -- it`s a bad thing to do.
SAVAGE: It is a bad thing to do, but it is a very common thing. And if
the FBI can kick in your front door if you do that, then a lot of people
should be very nervous. 40 percent of women, 50-60 percent of men in long-
term relationships have cheated. We talk, you know, monogamy, we are
socially monogamous animals. We do pair bond. We are not sexually
monogamous animals. We are monkeys in shoes, like Tim (ph) mentions.
And the pressures of monogamy over 30, 40, 50, 60 years, the life
potentially of a marriage, that is unsustainable. And a lot of people are
unsuccessful at that. And we should have not like it`s a OK, free to
cheat, do whatever you want, you can violate somebody, betray them, we
shouldn`t - people don`t get a get-out-of-jail-free card on violating a
monogamous commitment, but we should have a more subtle and French (ph)
understanding that that`s hard to sustain over a life.
Some things are more important than sex in a marriage. Love, commitment,
the life you built together, your partnership. And maybe sex happens once
or twice outside of the marriage later in life or over its life. We should
turn a blind eye to that. To honor the more important thing, which is the
commitment to the marriage itself.
HAYES: And also the high dungeon of hypocrisy. I mean, having lived in
Washington, D.C., a place that is rife with people cheating, I can tell you
in the press corps that is condemning the same public figures, that is
really hard for me to take.
Dan Savage, author of the syndicated sex column "Savage Love" and the
founder of the It Gets Better Project. What an awesome time. Please come
back anytime you are in New York.
SAVAGE: I will. And Terry, I`m going to marry you. When this interview
is airing, we`re going to be married.
HAYES: I want to thank Steve Kornacki for filling in for me today. He`s
got what you should know for the news week ahead right after this.
KORNACKI: So what should you know for the week coming up?
You should know that there is much we will never know about the deaths of
Javon Belcher and Kasandra Perkins, mother of their three-month-old
daughter Zoe. But you should know that what we don`t know shouldn`t keep
us from trying to understand and respond to the major factors that can
contribute to tragedies like this.
A study published in a scientific journal "Brain" this week finds that
concussions are not the only things in football that lead to the
degenerative brain disease known as CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
So do routine hits on the field. The examinations of brains from dead
veterans, NFL players and boxers found CTE at various stages not just in
former NFLers and soldiers caught in explosions, but also in amateur
football players. In other words, concussions weren`t the problem,
You should know that Friday is the deadline for states to say whether
they`ll set up their own exchanges where people can buy health insurance,
or if they will let the federal government do it for them. Exchanges are
one of the major components of Obamacare yet to come online, and you should
know that some Republican governors see the decision on exchanges not as an
opportunity to make health care available to the most vulnerable of their
constituents, but as an opportunity to injure the president politically.
You should know that when the new Senate is seated next month, Senator
Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, will take her place as a
member of the Banking Committee. Warren`s commitment to reforming Wall
Street, especially after deregulation led to a credit bubble based on
mortgage derivatives, which gave us the great recession, made her private
enemy number one for Wall Street, which poured millions of dollars into the
campaign of her opponent, Scott Brown. You should know that passage of
Dodd-Frank was just the start of the battle to reclaim our economy, and
that Warren will now have enhanced power and visibility to wage that fight.
Finally, you should know that unnamed U.S. officials told NBC News this
week the Syrian military has loaded nerve gas into bombs that can be
dropped by fighter bombers onto the Syrian population. The Syrian
President Bashar Assad continues to cling to power amid civil war there.
You should also know that while Syria has admitted possessing nerve gas,
government officials denied the new report and said such weapons would
never be used against Syrians.
You should know by now that fear can and has and likely will continue to
drive military decisions here and aboard even in the absence of willful
Want to find out what my guests think we should know for the week coming
up? Back with me at the table, we have Laura Flanders from GritTV.org.
Dave Cullen, the author of "Columbine", Mike Pesca from National Public
Radio, Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress. Let`s start
with you, Mike.
PESCA: We do know that the University of Tennessee fired its football
coach Derek Dooley. And you should know, don`t worry about Mr. Dooley.
He`s getting paid $102,000 a month for the next four years. Don`t worry,
his $5 million buyout means he`ll still be the highest paid employee of the
state until they hire a new coach and spend a lot of money on him.
The last coach of Tennessee was the feckless Lane Kiffin, who jumped
schools. This would be in the minds of Tennessee volunteers. The ineptly
named volunteers, because the coach before him was Phil Fulmer (ph), who
was being paid $120,000. Those payments end this month. He was being paid
that since 2008. They had to fire Phil Fulmer so quickly only because he
won a national championship, only because he was a great, great coach. One
losing season, he was out.
I think this issue of paying state employees so much money not to coach is
going to be an area where Republicans and Democrats come together. Like
they have on funding stadia, which everyone has come to realize is not a
good use of public funds. The last thing I want to note, the athletic
department of the University of Tennessee used to give the academic
department a $6 million gift. Sorry, we don`t have the money for your gift
this year. We have to pay our coach not to coach.
KORNACKI: We talk about Powerball last week. But I guess, you know, maybe
it`s just coaching football at a major state university in the South.
Maybe that`s the real Powerball. Neera, how about you?
TANDEN: You should know, I think you should know that the Center for
American Progress put out a tax reform proposal this week that actually had
Bob Rubin, Larry Summers, Roger Altman, luminaries from what`s considered
centrist luminaries, uniting with progressives at the center to put forward
a plan that had $1.8 trillion in additional revenue, more than what the
president asked for, in a way that`s very progressive, doing tax rates as
well as reforming deductions, really asking wealthy to pay their fair
share. And why that`s important is that we think this debate has been too
constrained, and we should be having more of a conversation about
additional revenues, because that`s what`s really at stake, and what`s
really going to help deficit reduction.
FLANDERS: Well, Don Savage has my gay pride up, so I want people to know
that my beloved of 20 years has the most extraordinary show right now
running in Williamsburg. It`s called "Forces." Her name is Elizabeth
The other thing I think people should know is if they want to do something,
we talked about this earlier in the show, to speak out against austerity
and cuts, the National Nurses United, NNU, is holding demonstrations in 20
cities next Monday, tomorrow, and people can find out more and get active
in favor of the transaction tax or the Robin Hood tax where they live. Get
involved in this fight now.
CULLEN: You should know that gay soldiers are still hurting, particularly
in their relationships. I`ve been following two officers in hiding for 12
years now. And it`s really, really hard to have a boyfriend. And when I
see Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden doing this great work with military
families, it`s incredible the outreach they`re doing and having that
importance of the entire family unit. With gay people, even after Don`t
Ask Don`t Tell, usually they are still excluded from that. And legally,
they are still excluded from all of that. There are a thousand different
other reasons that make it really hard.
But when I did my piece that I am expanding now for a book, in 2000, we
called it "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell, Don`t Fall in Love". Because that turned
out to be the hard part. And they can ask now and they can tell, but it`s
still really hard to fall in love.
KORNACKI: A lot of unresolved issues in sort of the post don`t ask-don`t
Anyway, I want to thank my guests today: Mike Pesca from National Public
Radio. Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress. Laura Flanders
from GritTV.org, and Dave Cullen, the author of "Columbine."
Thank you to all of you, and I also want to thank Chris Hayes for having me
in his seat today, and to thank you for joining us. You can catch me at
weekdays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on "THE CYCLE" here on MSNBC.
Chris will be back here at the desk next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at
8:00 Eastern Time.
And coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. On today`s "MHP," it may be
the law of the land, but Republican governors are still lining up to do
what they can to obstruct the implementation of the president`s Affordable
Care Act. Melissa has the former Obama administration official responsible
for putting the ACA into practice.
That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY", and that is coming up next. We`ll see you
next week here on UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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