'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, December 16th, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
December 16, 2012
Guests: John Larson, Mark Alexander, Sudhi Venkatesh, Bob King, Ed Ott, Josh Eidelson, James Perry, Sheila Crowley, Deborah Parker, Chloe Angyal
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question, what`s the
real reason Susan Rice is no longer under consideration for Secretary of
Plus, the money behind Michigan`s anti-labor law.
And, the housing crisis is not over.
But first, the latest details on the school shooting in Newtown,
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This morning in Washington, D.C.,
flags remain at half mass to recognize the loss of 27 murdered in
Connecticut on Friday. President Obama will head to Newtown today to meet
with the families of the victims. He`s also expected to speak at an inter-
faith vigil tonight. The tributes to those lives lost in Newtown are
growing even as details in the school shooting continue to emerge.
But what we know now is suspected shooter, Adam Lanza, is believed to have
forced his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary school. That he carried four
handguns and having an assault-style rifle in his car. The names of the
victims have now been released. The 20 children killed, 12 were girls and
eight were boys, all of them ages six and seven. All six of the adults
killed were women. Last night, Connecticut governor Dan Malloy paid
tribute to the victims in an address to those in his state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Those educators and those innocent lives
of boys and girls were taken from their families far too soon. Let us all
hope and pray those children are in a place where the innocence will
forever be protected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: MSNBC`s Chris Jansing has been on the scene in Newtown and
reporting nonstop since Friday.
Chris what kind of new information is emerging this morning?
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: We are getting some details, Melissa,
on the service being held tonight. Once again, President Obama will be
called on to be consoler and chief as he was in Aurora, Colorado and as he
was in Tucson, Arizona. It is a big task, one, that local pastors have
been taking on with a heavy cart.
I can tell you that at the local Catholic Church, there will be eight
funerals this week. And this morning, at the local synagogue, the rabbi
there are going focus since last night will be talking with the parents of
a 6-year-old, Noah Pozner, to plan his funeral service. As you can imagine
this is a community that is continuing to come together in its devastation.
Local church services have been absolutely overflowing. In some cases,
people having to stands outside or standing within those churches and
synagogues in places of worship. At the same time, we are learning more
about the shooter, Adam, Lanzas, more descriptions about him as a loner,
intelligent, somebody who played a lot of computer games, like in some
reports, many violent computer games.
We also learned from the (INAUDIBLE) reporting, citing several sources,
that there was a definite method how he went into Sandy Hook Elementary on
Friday morning. He shot his way in, which was confirmed by authorities
yesterday. The principal and school psychologist, were in a meeting. And
when they heard those shots, they rushed toward the front door and that is
when they were shot down.
And then, there were two first grade classrooms. At the first one,
apparently Adam Lanza went in. But, the teacher, hearing those shot, have
got the children into a bathroom and hid them there. He has that classroom
waiting to expect at once and there, the teacher had hidden the children
inside and 14 children there who were huddled all of them were killed as
well as the teacher.
Going into the next classroom, we are told that the students were all in a
closet and that he confronted the teacher there, Victoria Soto, who was one
of the victims and trying to divert him, she said, they are down the hall.
They are in another place. But six of those children tried to escape
hearing that conversation and all of them were killed as well.
And so, it is a horrifying scene, the details of which are starting to
emerge and those things in this community that is already so heartbroken.
Again, the president coming here tonight to try to help to heal some of
those wounds that are so deep and broad, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. The details are making it worse in so many ways.
And I so appreciate your professionalism being there to report for us.
JANSING: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining us now from Washington, D.C., is Connecticut
Congressman John Larson who has issued a powerful calling on his colleagues
to pass tougher gun control laws. He said to do nothing in the face of
continuous assaults on our children is to be complicit in those assaults.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Good morning, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: First, let me offer my condolences in the tragedy in your
state. You know yesterday, obviously, all we knew was the name of the
murder. Now we know the names of the victims. I`m happy to shift our
focus to them, but it`s also so hard to hear their names, to hear how they
died. Is it now, finally the moment when Congress and the president will
act on gun control?
LARSON: You certainly have to hope so. And I know in talking to friends
and family and as you just reported, the more you hear these details, the
more horrific it gets. The innocence of these kids and to see the pictures
and there`s just -- we are broken hearted in Connecticut. But, there`s a
point where you have to say enough.
This is -- listen, I said in that release, I`m not sure that all the
measures that we would hope to enact would ever be able to prevent an
incident like this. And I know, certainly, there`s a strong need for us to
be supportive of mental health. Bobby Scott has bills out there about
youth and violence. This is a comprehensive problem. But, how many more
of these are we going to witness from my standpoint, we ought to just
simply lay it out there and vote. And I do believe we know, we know, that
this will happen again. And so, if we don`t take action and I`m not saying
we have a panacea, but we do have a responsibility to act and not to act is
to be complicit.
And you know, my heart breaks, but I`m here with the responsibility as our
other members of Congress and we have a responsibility to take action as
well. And I`m certainly heartened by what the president has had to say and
I know he`ll do an extraordinary job this evening and throughout the day
with the families and then this evening at the ceremony in Sandy Hook.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman Larson, stay with us. I want to bring in two
people who are at the table to continue this conversation. They are Seton
Hall University law professor Mark Alexander, who is a former adviser to
President Obama, who also worked with Senator Bill Bradley on the gun
control policy. And also to Sudhir Venkatesh, professor of sociology at the
Mark, I want to start with you because you know President Obama. And one
of the things you know he`s had to deal with this an extraordinary number
of times in his first term as president. Do you think this is the fire lit
for him that will ultimately take him to the hill on the gun control
MARK ALEXANDER, LAW PROFESSOR, SETON HALL UNIVERSITY: I certainly hope so.
I mean, first and foremost, of course, I look at this as many of us do,
you, too and some dearest talking about his family. As a parent, we are
heartbroken. It`s just devastating. It`s hard to even talk about this.
But, what we know is that we have to take action. And I think about what`s
happened. I know we`ll talk about it later in the show. But all the time
spent on trying to discredit somebody who is going to be our Secretary of
If we spent that time this week seriously talking about gun violence in
this country, if the senators wasted time on this mission, if they talk
about the serious problems and gun violence who wouldn`t -- Congressman
Larson is right on, we would have naturally have no problems. It will be
different conversation today. And we need to take that serious action now
on this problem which is a devastating to all of us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sudhir, I want to bring you in on this with you. Because
you wrote a piece back in October about sort of how guns end up on the
streets. And what was so compelling to me in this New York times article
is understanding kids, gangs and guns, is you say that we don`t seem to
understand how so many guns end up on the streets. Many of them actually
borrowed from friends and family, which it turns out is the case in this
shooting where it`s his mother`s guns that end up killing these children.
SUDHIR VENKATESH, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: That`s right.
We have a belief that people are going to stores and either buying them at
stores and bringing them back whether these straw purchasers and buying in
bulk, getting them to the hands of kids. That does happen. And our gun
laws are usually targeted toward those with problems.
But, more than 40 percent of guns come from friends and family into the
hands of shooters. It`s an extraordinary figure. So, how are we going to
stop that? we need public awareness, we need social services. I mean, I
just read a statistic that said less than one percent of our philanthropy
goes for criminal justice and law enforcement. That is extraordinarily
woeful. And you need a comprehensive package which you are absolutely
targeting gun laws and for using gun laws to target access. But, you have
to raise awareness. You have to get to kids young and help them understand
what are the consequences of what they are going to do.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman, I want to bring you in on to ask about this
notion of kind of the comprehensive, almost wraparound way to thinking
about this. So, you talked about the mental health system. We are talking
here about various ways in which people access guns.
Is there maybe, a pitch that you can make that can get bipartisan support
that is a about a wraparound, a kind of (INAUDIBLE) way of managing the gun
LARSON: You know, I think there is, Melissa., because this isn`t an
assault against people who own and possess guns and hunt and use it for
recreation. This is not against the NRA. This is trying to prevent
another massacre. And as we syndicated, both in terms of not only the
mental health, but Bobby Scott from Virginia has written and worked on a
comprehensive proposal about violence in general. I mean, the president
pointed out the shootings in Chicago. I could point to shootings in
(INAUDIBLE) and New Haven and Bridgeport.
There is a culture of violence and there needs to be a comprehensive
community response, not a piecemeal response. And that seems, also, to be
the way we respond to this. We pass an act or some segment of a remedy and
pat ourselves on the back as though we have solved the problem. We
This needs comprehensive reform. It`s going to need a long term
conversation throughout the country and it just, as everybody, our hearts
are broken that seeing those little faces, again, perhaps that will be the
thing that gets everybody to move.
If this was an act of terrorism against the country, we would be moving on
several fronts right now to make sure that we left no stone unturned and we
were doing everything we could in a comprehensive way. That`s what`s
happened. This continues to be a problem. And whether you go back to
columbine, and you know, whether it`s the event that is happened in
Portland or Aurora, and what happened to our colleague, Gabrielle Giffords,
you know, what happened in Wisconsin. It keeps going on. And as the
president indicated, it happens in our cities almost daily.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman Larson, thank you so much. And also thank you
for that - for that phrase. Because this of course, is an act of terrorism
and by the definition of all of us, are now terrified. And so, it is time
to move on this. Thank you.
Also thank you to Sudhi Venkatesh here in New York. Mark, stick around
for a bit longer.
And up next, we are going to switch gears. We are going to talk about
another big story this week. Susan Rice and the real reason she is not
going to be the next Secretary of State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: I made the decision that it
was the best thing for our country, for the American people that I not
continue to be considered by the president for nomination of Secretary of
State because I didn`t want to see a confirmation process that was very
prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive. Because
there are so many things we need to get done as a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, Susan Rice remains the American ambassador the United
Nations. She will no longer be considered for the soon to be vacant,
Secretary of State seat. Known to be a close (INAUDIBLE) of President
Obama, Susan Rice is in the picture of the president`s team since his days
in the Senate and has long been a foreign policy adviser. Her resume is
stacked with international affairs bonafidays (ph), a road scholar,
educated at Stanford University. She was a national security council
staffer and served as youngest Secretary of State to Madeleine Albright.
And in 2009, when she was post to the United Nations, she was unanimously
But politics being what they are, Rice was compelled to put pen to paper
this week, officially removing herself for consideration for the country`s
top diplomatic job. Writing, the position of Secretary of State should not
be politicized. As someone who grew up in an era of comparative
bipartisanship and as sitting U.S. national security official who served in
two U.S. administrations, I am saddened we have reached this point even
before you decided whom to nominate.
But as qualified as ambassador Rice is for her work in foreign policy, this
is one area where she may be wrong because, in fact, all administration
positions are inheritably political and politicized.
Well, before President Obama had been reelected, the fight over his cabinet
nominations began on TV and on the halls of Congress. The Republican
opposition to Rice was led early and often by Senator John McCain who
claimed that she was not only unqualified for job of Secretary of State,
but also quote, "not very bright."
Rice`s Sunday talk show round up after the September 11th attacks in
Benghazi, Libya put her in front as one of the first administration
officials to provide information. As it turns out, Rice had not written
the material she delivered that day. As it also turns out, she was not
dishonest about her understanding of the attacks. Funny thing about
politics, they don`t have to be there to play the game. Less, we forget,
the biggest there that wasn`t there in 21st century politics, another
presidential adviser dispatch to the Sunday talk show with talking points.
Another Secretary of State hopeful making the case for her administration`s
national security strategy.
This time, those talking points led to a war that killed thousands and had
has a decade long lasting effect. In 2003, when Condoleezza Rice made the
rounds, she was in no uncertain terms paving the path to war in Iraq. Two
years later when Condoleezza Rice was going through confirmation hearings,
her role eventual posting as the state department, her role in selling them
war was not lost of Senate Democrats. And yet, she still made it through
the nomination process because her side, the Republicans chose to fight the
Somehow, the fight this time around, despite the troubling thin reasons for
opposition became not worth having. Perhaps because that fight about
nothing raging in Washington right now is the self-imposed doomsday
scenario called the fiscal cliff. Maybe it`s the one President Obama is
most concerned about winning. But, I`m left wondering, if you back down
from a fight about nothing, how can you expect to win when it`s a fight
At my table today is MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capeheart of "the
Washington Post," Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, NBC Latino contributor and
community director of Latino decisions. She is also a fellow at the women.
Also Mark Alexander, a professor after law at Seton Hall University and
former adviser to President Obama and Chloe Angyal, editor at feminist.com.
Man, you are all qualified. It took a long time to introduce you.
Mark, I want to start with the idea of the personal relationship because it
does seems to me that there`s a parallelism between Condo Rice and George
W. Bush and the close personal relationship between Susan Rice and
President Barack Obama. And yet, we don`t -- I so wanted President Obama to
show up and say I don`t care what you say, this is my nominee for Secretary
ALEXANDER: Well, the president depended on her advice for a long time.
When I was a policy director in the campaign, she and I worked hand in
hand. And when we were making foreign policy decisions, the last call then
senator, now President Obama was to Susan Rice. She`s somebody to depend
on. And as you talk about her credentials are amazing. She`s very sworn.
There is no one I know more dedicated to foreign policy and diplomacy than
she is. Extraordinary qualification and he depended on her from the
beginning of the campaign through now. So absolutely, she`s a perfectly
well qualified person to do the job. There is no doubt about it.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, NBC LATINO CONTRIBUTOR: I think there`s another
personal angle though and it comes back to McCain. Remember, back in 2008
campaign, she was the hawk. She was the hawk going after McCain, not just
criticizing his policy, but criticizing his temperament and his judgment.
And he took it --
HARRIS-PERRY: Strolling around the markets in a jacket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
SOTO: He can say it`s not personal, but there is a deep seeded personal
resentment there and it`s finding the manifestation in the blocking of this
ALEXANDER: And that`s key. Because he`s taking his personal disagreements
and getting in the way of the president getting advice from somebody who he
can rely on. The president depends on individuals to give them the best
advice possible. McCain puts it his personal fate on this ahead of the
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, tell me, if this is why I know then, why not fight?
It`s like they think political capital is a gas tank. And if you spend it
here, then, you reduce (INAUDIBLE) it. But, isn`t it more like a muscle,
flex it and you are stronger for the next fight?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, sure. But
look, because of the personal nature of McCain`s attacks on Susan Rice and
by proxy, President Obama, we leave off the table the legitimate questions
that should be asked about Benghazi.
The security questions that require John McCain to go after Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, go after then, head of the CIA, David Petraeus, go
after Tom Donilon, the national security adviser. There`s a whole lot
going on here. But, in terms of the question of fighting, President Bush,
George W. Bush could go to the mat for Condoleezza Rice because he knew,
ultimately, he had the votes to get her through.
I wonder if folks on the hill, Democrats on the hill told President Obama
we know you like Susan Rice, we know you want her, but we cannot guarantee
you will get the votes. President Obama, as we know around this table, is
very strategic president. He`s a very calculating president, not in a
But, if you are looking at the fiscal cliff, you are looking at a debt
ceiling fight. You are looking at other nomination that is you are about
to make that could be as controversial, maybe even more controversial and
more as equally important, you have to pick and choose your battles.
And my personal thing, and I tried to tell you this on Friday, (INAUDIBLE)
if you know you have at least one, maybe two Supreme Court nominations to
make, do you want to have the fight over a Secretary of State who will
serve at your pleasure or do you want to have a fight over a Supreme Court
justice who could change the tie of the Supreme Court for generations?
HARRIS-PERRY: I hear you. But, I feel like if that it`s based on an
assumption like I have ten chips to play. And if I play two on Rice, then.
I only have eight left to play. And I just wonder, if there is something -
- I want to listen quickly to the president. Back on November 14th, right
after the election, he was still flexing about his support for Susan Rice.
I want to listen to that for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If senator McCain and
senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after
me. I`m happy to have that discussion with them. But, for them to go
after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was
simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received and to
hurt her reputation is outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Chloe, this moment, he seems to recognize, this is a
fight about nothing. She hasn`t done anything wrong.
CHLOE ANGYAL, EDITOR, FEMINISTING.COM: Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, I want to fight this not because it won`t take
capital, but because maybe it will build a little.
ANGYAL: So, the question is what happened between now and then, right?
And I think what is frustrating about this narrative is the idea she
removed herself from the situation. That she made the decision that she
doesn`t want to be considered Secretary of State, which, you know, I`m not
a friend of Susan Rice, I`m not inside her head, but I think that`s
I mean, she said it to Brian Williams early this week, of course you want
this job, of course, if you have been doing this work for, you know, your
whole career, you want to serve at the highest level. And the idea that
she decided to remove herself from the situation that she, you know, jumped
and was not pushed is ludicrous. And so, most of the time, apart from this
conversation, we are having a conversation about why did Susan Rice remove
herself rather than why did President Obama choose not to.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And so, we are going to stay on this issue because I
think I also -- I want to come back also to not only was it personal, but
also political and strategic why the senators wanted Rice out and somebody
else in, specifically why Secretary John Kerry may be just what Republicans
were looking for, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I want to say thank you obviously to
the people of Massachusetts. As I said many times before, temporary
victory and defeat is temporary. You know, depending on what happens and
where we go, all of us, we may, obviously, meet again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was the recently unseated Massachusetts Senator Scott
Brown giving his farewell speech to his soon to be former colleagues in the
Senate. Though senator-elect Elizabeth Warren beat Brown by a hefty eight-
point margin, she might not heard the last from this congressional pin-up
boy. Massachusetts may soon have an open Senate seat, if the state, senior
senator John Kerry becomes Secretary of State.
Massachusetts`s rule states in the event of a Senate vacancy, the governor
may appoint an interim replacement but a special election must be held
within a 145 and 160 days from the time of the vacancy to fill the seat for
the remainder of the term. It is how Scott Brown won his seat in the first
And if senator John Kerry is indeed appointed Secretary of State as he`s
expected to be, Scott Brown could seek to have history repeat itself. It`s
been a long time, not since Warren Christopher, 1997 in fact, since the
U.S. had a white man as Secretary of State. Whether or not that matters,
HARRIS-PERRY: Minutes after the news broke that ambassador Susan Rice
decided to stand down for Secretary of State, reporters of "The New York
Times" were already typing away for the morning`s front page by lines
providing context to Rice`s decision, this is what one report had to say.
Quote, "she had made personal tradeoffs living in New York most of the
week, though her family is in Washington. She has been known to fly to New
York at 6:00 one morning, return to the capital that evening for
parent/teacher conference s, gash back to New York for meeting and then
race back to Washing on Thursday night for a school play. Another article
explained, the hardest part they said was explaining to her two children
why she decided to bow out."
I`m sorry to read it in that voice. But seriously, it`s like a cautionary
tale to all those working mother who think they can do the hard work and
make the sacrifices and still get to the top unless you think the end of
Susan Rice`s bid to be Secretary of State was about internal D.C. politics.
It is not. It`s the tried and not so true tale that you just can`t have it
Back to my panel. Chloe?
ANGYAL: Look, I think we are kidding ourselves if we didn`t talk about the
giant elephant in the room which is that the American right has a problem
with ambitious and competent black women. I think --
HARRIS-PERRY: Unless they are named Condoleezza Rice.
ANGYAL: Well, so, here is the thing. And Condoleezza Rice is a phenomenal
woman. And she is the one who has always wheeled as evidence against the
claim that I just made. And that is going to be driving twitter crazy for
the next 24 hours.
But, she`s the exception, not the rule. I mean, I think if you look at
larger patterns, if you think what happened hypothetically would happen, if
John Kerry had gone on "Meet the Press" and said what Susan Rice had said,
he wouldn`t be considered disqualified for the position.
SOTO: But, I don`t think it`s just black women. I think the GOP does not
look upon women in general, even in their own party in favorable terms.
So, let`s think a couple weeks ago when they were --.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
SOTO: Well, when they were thinking about chairmanships for the new
Congress. Not one chairmanship went to a woman. And then, they bowed to
pressure and named Candace Miller to the administrative committee, which is
essentially the clerical committee.
ANGYAL: The housewife.
SOTO: Within the GOP. So, when I`m breaking down what happened with Susan
Rice, I think it was personal. I think it was John McCain. I think it was
impersonal. She can`t take it too personally. So, there is no silver
bullet regrettably. And she was the victims of all of these factors.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask you about this, Mark. Because part of it is,
I actually don`t - I don`t don`t think its race in gender in the sense that
they looked to the right one. We can`t have another person of color,
another woman in this position. It despite the fact there`s not one living
white man who has been Secretary of State at this point.
I do think, though that when it gets framed, when we watch it happen that
for other women and particularly, for women of color, it nonetheless sends
that message. It feels like the (INAUDIBLE) moment that I experienced in
college when Clinton walked away and you were like, oh, I see. If you are
going to be a woman of color, you may just be out there by yourself.
ALEXANDER: Right. And that I think the thing is Susan Rice, absolutely,
she is so extraordinarily well qualified. And the point was made perfectly
if someone else was saying the same thing.
A man gets up and it is very direct. Susan Rice is very direct. She is
very smart and very prepared. So, when she says something, she is like
this is what I know to be true and she`s crystal clear about it. She
doesn`t mince her words. Put it out of a man`s mouth, they say, well,
that`s a blunt, direct, tough talking man. We need that convict.
Somehow with Susan Rice, that doesn`t fly for the Republicans. And the
reality is, again, it`s personal. It`s such a personal fight that I just
think it`s, again, putting their own interests ahead of the interest of the
country. Not to get back to the top of the hour, but the reality had the
spent some time this week talking about gun violence instead of wasting
their time, wasting it, discrediting a perfectly well qualified person, it
is a different conversation and shame on them for that.
CAPEHART: But, let`s keep in mind here. Susan Rice withdrew her name from
consideration for a promotion. She`s not going anywhere. It`s possible
she will get a bump up somewhere within the administration, maybe national
ANGYAL: The irony, right?
CAPEHART: She`s still advising the president.
ANGYAL: A more powerful position if she is named national security
CAPEHART: Let`s not play, you know, too much on she`s a victim here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. In fact, you know, this is my point. That the
reason the politics of it is, you put John Kerry in there in order to make
room - which if I`m Elizabeth Warren makes me spitfire and throw things at
the television, right? I mean, can you imagine you defeat this guy and
then he becomes your colleague. Yes, I know. But I would still spit and
ANGYAL: With all due respect, I do have to say, I think if you look at the
patent of the way the Republicans have gone off on high level African-
Americans in Obama`s administration and then you combine that with the
Republicans attitude toward women. This is about race and gender. This is
about Susan Rice being an African-American woman. I think if Sonia
Sotomayor had been a black woman, if Elena Cagan had been a black woman,
they would not have been confirmed. I think this is about her being a
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, then the thing that Sotomayor had a pretty rough.
ANGYAL: And they did.
ANGYAL: I`m not denying that. Imagine how bad it would have been if she
would have been African-American.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I think, you know, there clearly is a piece about race
in gender. Bit, it`s undoubtedly the intersection of ideology and the
intersection of support for the president.
Mark, thank you for being here. I hope you come back and hang out again.
And everybody else is going to be back for more a little later.
But up next, Michigan`s new anti-labor law. The people and money that made
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s been one tough week in Michigan. Birthplace to one of
the nation`s largest unions, united auto workers. Despite thousands of
union supporters descending on the state`s capital and protests, right to
work was signed into law, making Michigan the 24th state that bans
employees having to pay union dues as condition of their employment.
But, contrary to popular opinion, it wasn`t solely the evil plan of
Michigan`s self-proclaimed, tough nerd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick Snyder for Michigan. He`s one tough nerd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, while Governor Rick Snyder may consider himself one
tough nerd, to others, it`s not the case. Instead, he`s one of the
compliant puppets with big money donors pulling his strings. This is a
part of the process politics that backroom deal that goes on at local,
state and federal levels of government.
Let`s a step back. To understand the story, we need to follow the bills.
Oh, no, sorry, yes, two bills, yes, and the dollar bills. The dollar,
dollar bills, you all.
When it comes to legislation, Snyder truly took everyone by surprise even
before he became governor Snyder. He said that right to work was divisive
and not on his agenda. Then, he flipped the switch, but why. That`s where
the all mighty dollar bill comes in to play.
According to "The Nation`s" Lee Fang, once Snyder changed his position
money supporting the bill poured in from groups like the Mack Knack Center
or right wing think tank and the Michigan based chapter of American for
prosperity, the group founded by the Koch brothers. So, the green bills
needed to fund this conservative back effort were readily available.
But back to the legislative bill. Enter Michigan state senator Patrick
Colbeck and fellow freshman state representative Mike Sherkey. They didn`t
think of this scheme overnight. They carefully plotted and built alliances
since March of 2011. And in what was the best chess move? The $1 billion
provision was added to the law, making them spending bills. And thus
harder to overturn by referendum based on Michigan constitution.
This is nothing new. This is how process politics work. Secret deals,
alliance building and if you scratch my back, I`ll scratch yours mentality.
Politics is big business. Instead of going oh, where is labor. Let`s look
at why labor was not prepared to how they can`t get prepared going forward.
At the table, Josh Eidelson, contributor of "the Nation" magazine and Ed
Ott, former political director of the central labor council of New York
City. And in Detroit Michigan is the president of the united auto workers
Nice to see you, Bob.
BOB KING, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Great to be
with you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So Bob, was this effort to get right to work
passed in Michigan a complete surprise?
KING: No. Not at all. It`s been talked about for a number of years in
Michigan. And we knew, we heard quite a bit more recently in the last
eight months, nine months that there was going to be a major effort in lame
duck to try to get it passed.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I know that the proposal two which you would have put
collective bargaining in to the state constitution, with the "prop 2"
failed, how is it that in Michigan, right, home of united auto worker, how
does it fail and that does it open the door to right to work legislation?
KING: Well, we think if the right to work legislation it was coming
anyways, we tried to do a preemptive block of that by doing "proposition
2.: We didn`t do a good enough job on proposition 2. A lot of reasons,
maybe. Three were six ballot proposals. There were three bills were
dealing with labor issues, strategically, maybe there are some thing could
have - should have done differently. And I would, you know, advocate very
strongly, we should have done "proposition 2." It was the right thing to
do. We could have done it better. I wish we won "proposition 2." But, if
we didn`t, we would be sitting here now passing right to work and saying
why didn`t we try to stop this before it came down.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. And I want to look at the effects of right to
work. Sort of, what happens when you compare right to work states versus
states with unions. And it`s very clear for all workers, whether there are
unions or not, you have workers making $1500 less per year, median
household income more than $6,000 less. Almost a third of people lacking
health insurance. A higher average of poverty and the rate of workplace
death. And I think this is really like, not to miss this, that the rate of
workplace death in states that have right to work is more than a third
higher than unionized states.
ED OTT, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR, THE CENTRAL LABOR COUNCIL, NEW YORK
CITY: Right. And the president made a point the other, it`s really about
the right to work for less. But, it`s not just less money. It`s about
less right. The workplace is a coercive place.
Workers don`t have the right to stand-up, shout their opinion. Their job
is always at risk. Ad we have seen in this country, when work is trying to
organized, he even under current law in states where there are no right to
work laws, it`s extremely difficult. People are fired with impunity.
Health and safety is one of those issues with the less power you have in
the workplace, the worse the work is going to be. I`ll give you an
example. At the turn of the 20th century, industrial work was dirty,
dangerous, insecure, low paying. What happens? Workers organize. They
assert their right to organize. They get some protections and we take
industrial work and make that among the best work in the world, not just in
the nation. And was about power.
A lot of people talk about the political aspects of the right to work law.
It`s about lowering the wage bill and getting control. This is about them
asserting class power. If you sat here and called for a tax increase, they
accuse you of class warfare. Well, folks, this is what (INAUDIBLE) looks
HARRIS-PERRY: And Josh, exactly, what I want to ask you. S, I mean, if
what we know is unions raise the standard of living for everybody, raise
standards for all workers, not only why kill unions but why believe you can
do it with political impunity? That they said, you will not be held
accountable in the state legislature or come election time.
JOSH EIDELSON, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NATION: Well, we are talking a governor,
Rick Snyder, who would be to worry about being held accountable by the
right if had he not done it. And this is someone who certainly spent a lot
of his own money in 2010 to get elected. If it a huge a sense from a
spinoff The not very interestingly named RGA Michigan 2010. The top donors
to that group had ties to ALEC, the group that connected right wing
legislatures, corporations and model bills like right to work.
We are talking people like Paul Singer who used a controlling interest in
Delphi to make a lot of money off the auto bailout and eliminate the union.
We are talking the Michigan chamber of commerce, about David Koch himself,
about the Amway family with (INAUDIBLE) for basically the coax of Michigan.
EIDELSON: And we had the head of this family, not only publicly
threatening to get this on the ballot, but according to MSNBC, Democrats
say, he was privately threatening Republicans than would primary.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I fell like, I mean, you know, every time we have
outrage , right. where we read something in the paper, on the news, and we
feel just like in Nerdland, which is outraged by it. We start digging,
doing investigative work and over and over and over again, there`s the Koch
brothers standing back there with their dollar bills or there is ALEC. And
ALEC is back vying the legislation.
Bob, let me ask you thins. How do you engage in a public fight when so
much of what`s occurring is occurring outside of the public consciousness
KING: Well, I think it`s really important to frame it correctly as you are
doing on the show now. This is part of a national attack on labor. It`s
part of national voter suppression, democracy suppression. Really, income
suppression for working families. So, it`s building broad coalitions, I
think, with civil rights groups, environmental groups, LGBT community.
It`s talking about what kind of America we want. These folks just lost
2012 because they were so extreme and they come back being the more
extreme. It`s important to know in Michigan, right to work is minor
compared to women`s reproductive rights, what they are doing in the
education, what they are doing in taxation. This is a very right wing
ideology taking over the Republican agenda in Michigan.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bob, stay with me. Coming up, we are going to talk more
But at this point you, did you make it is so critical. When we look at the
lame duck session in Michigan, it`s stunning what is happening. When we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a plan to protect our freedom in Michigan.
It`s called freedom to work. Because joining a union or not, should be
your choice. And choosing not to join shouldn`t cost you your job. It
will mean more jobs making Michigan more attractive to new businesses.
What won`t change? Collective bargaining remains a federally protected
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We are back with our guests. I`m talking about right to
work laws and how they are affecting unions across the country. Respond to
that for me.
KING: It`s remarkable the same people advocating that workers should work
for less are the same people -- think everybody should have an m-16 assault
rifle. When talking freedom, they are talking something different than
normal, everyday people are. They are talking the freedom to do what they
want when they want to in the workplace to anybody they wish. And the
constitution does not extend to the workplace. It`s the reality of every
working person. They know it. They want control back and unions are in
EIDELSON: And it would be great to see them worry about the fact that
American workers, unless they are in a union can be fired for things like
having a bumper sticker, a political candidate, their boss doesn`t like
what they post on facebook at home. The aids clinic that they might
volunteer with outside of work. These firings are illegal.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just nothing.
EIDELSON: Having a bad haircut.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that`s right.
EIDELSON: And yet, in this case -
HARRIS-PERRY: Or an ethnic one.
EIDELSON: Right. You can be fired for that. Now, these guys are lying.
Because no one in the United States can be fired for not being part of a
union. No one can be forced to join the union. The only issue here is
whether of you If you benefit from union representation, you can be
required to pay for union representation and required not just by your
boss, buy required because the majority of workers vote in union, the
majority of the vote in union leadership, and the majority of wokers vote
in a contract that union chose for people bug . The majored voters
leadership and vote in a contract that chooses for people to bind each
other to make that contribution.
HARRIS-PERRY: It sounds like democracy. I`m going to give you the last
words in the last few seconds here. What is UAWs plan next? What will you
KING: We are going to build a broad alliance across Michigan and across
the United States and really make sure people know what this id logical
agenda is, that it`s suppression of women`s rights, labor rights, immigrant
rights. It`s about what kind of America do we want. And we think the only
way to win is rebuild a new social justice movement in the United States.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much, Bob King in Michigan. Also, thank you
Josh Eidelson and Ed Ott here with me.
Thank you to josh. Coming up, we are going to go back live to Newtown,
Connecticut, for the latest on the school shooting and President Obama`s
visit later today.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This hour, we have
a lot to get to including an important look at the truth behind the housing
rebound headlines you have been seeing as well as the renewal for the
balance of woman act and why it remains sell in Congress.
But, first, we want to make sure you have the latest information on Friday
school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. President Obama will visit the
shaken community later today.
And for more on the group, let me got to MSNBC`s Chris Jansing, who has
been in Newtown since the news broke on Friday.
Chris, what`s the latest?
JANSING: Well, good morning to you, Melissa. And we are learning this
morning more about the shooter who was increasingly described by people who
knew him well as a loner. We do know now, for the first time, that for a
time he went to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where, of course, he opened
fire killing 20 students and six adults. He`s described as someone who he
walked down the hall, he would be grasping his computer, walk along the
walls and very rarely interacted with anyone.
But this really is a day to remember the victims and President Obama will
be here later today at 7:00 Eastern Time. He will be addressing an
ecumenical service that was planned by local clergy. They have obviously
been deeply affected by this. And they have been spending every waking
hour and many of them are barely sleeping at all trying to tend to their
We saw huge crowds just as we were driving in this morning going into the
local Catholic Church. They will have at least eight funerals there.
We are told this morning that the local rabbi is meeting with the parents
of Noah Pozner, one of the 6-year-old`s who lost his life in this.
Now, in terms of the investigation, you can see the microphones set up
behind me. It is possible that we will get a briefing here today. We
don`t know absolutely for sure. But the state police, which have been in
charge of the investigation indicated it`s possible they will come to the
But I think a new sense, a new feeling, has fallen over this community of
coming together. The makeshift memorials, Melissa, are growing. More and
more people are coming out.
If you go to the local diner, you see people leaving their tables and going
to other tables and holding hands and hugging other people in this tightly
knit community because they know that in the coming week, that there will
be 20 funerals and tonight it will be to the president to try to begin to
comfort them and heal some of those wounds that are so raw and so deep --
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Chris Jansing for your reporting
throughout this tragic story. The idea of those 20 funerals with those
tiny caskets is pretty hard to imagine.
Throughout the day, you can get updates on the latest developments on the
shooting in Sandy Hook right here on MSNBC, also online at MSNBC.com.
But, for now, as hard as it is, we are going to switch gears. So, we want
to talk about another issue that plays a role in all of our lives: housing.
OK, take a look at these headlines. It looks like after slogging going
through the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, America`s
housing market is finally bouncing back. Home sales, prices and the demand
for new homes are on the upswing, defying Wall Street`s economic
Of course, if this is America`s present for the holidays, the name tag on
the biggest gift box reads "big banks". And that box is full of cash,
because the home mortgage lending business is booming. Banks are once
again lining their pockets with financing to purchasing of all those new
homes. They`re also riding high on a wave of low interest homes refinanced
Wells Fargo reported double digit earnings growth in October. In fact,
Wells Fargo survived the economic downturn to become one of the strongest
banks in the country and posted an overall profit of nearly $4 billion in
this year`s third quarter alone.
But not so fast, because not everyone is calling it a comeback. You can
subtract from those fat profits the $175 million that Wells Fargo had to
dish out this summer to settle accusations of discrimination against black
and Latino borrowers.
A Department of Justice investigation found that Wells Fargo charged more
than 30,000 black and Latino borrowers higher rate and fees than white
borrowers with equal credit risk. DOJ also found that Wells Fargo steered
more than 4,000 borrowers of color into expensive subprime mortgages even
if they qualified for a less expensive loans, while their white
counterparts with similar credit profiles were given regular loans.
So, this summer`s settlement was a big win, only not for everyone, because
a home foreclosed due to predatory lending isn`t just a loss for the
individual homeowner, a vacant home is full of costs for the community.
Cities are left holding the bill for the fire and police resources to
secure it and the maintenance to keep it from falling into blight and
While it sits empty, a vacant home is siphoning off badly needed property
taxes from budget strapped cities and neighboring homeowners can only watch
as their own property values plummet.
At my table: MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart of "The Washington Post",
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, NBC Latino contributor and community director
for Latino Decisions, also a fellow at the University of Texas, also,
Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing
Coalition, and James Perry, who`s executive of the Greater New Orleans Fair
Housing Action Center. And in the interest of full disclosure, he`s my
James, I want to start with you on this, because this is -- this is the
work that you have been doing as Americans are reading the headlines saying
housing is back, what do we need to know underneath that?
JAMES PERRY, GREATER NEW ORLEANS FAIR HOUSIGN ACTION CTR.: You have to
step back for a second and think about what you said, right? That in the
fourth quarter, Wells Fargo, third quarters, made $4 billion. This
monumental settlement was only $175 million. They still made $4 billion
with a B, right?
And so, the problem here is that consistently, we have seen them rewarded
for bad action, right? And what`s so heinous about how they act is they
use people in minority communities in order to build their own ability to
make profit. They network with pastors. They network with community
They networked with Tavis Smiley, for instance, and they gave him millions
of dollars to hold wealth building seminars in black communities. So, he
attracted black folks to get them to use Wells Fargo to buy homes.
So, the end result is wealth is stripped from communities, from cities,
from black and Latino homes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. The model, as we were going through it and saying how
they were using folks like Tavis Smiley and others is like the Tuskegee
experiments, where they had an African-American nurse who is, of course,
was sort of the mouthpiece for it. Then it was actually stripping the
wealth out of those communities.
And, Victoria, part of what we see in the Wells Fargo settlement case is
this idea that it`s not just the individual homeowner who loses here. But
it`s the big question of whole communities being lost when these homes are
SOTO: You know, I think the bulk of attention has been on the homeowners.
And we definitely have to keep in mind the communities, but another group
that I like to pay attention to is renters. Because we have this vicious,
trickle down cycle, where middle class homeowners get bumped out of their
homes because of foreclosure, or they can`t afford homes.
So, then, they have to rent. And then rent is tight because there`s so
much occupancy. And those people who have traditionally been renters,
those that are poor, the extreme poor are squeezed out of being able to
rent affordable housing.
So, this isn`t just a problem about homeowners. This is a problem about
renters in our communities.
And the only way I think we can start to tackle it, at least at this level
is also using the tax code. This is the time to do it. We can`t just be
giving subsidies to homeowners, what about the renters?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Sheila, this is very much the core of your work, is to
think of how low income folks who are not even thinking about being in this
home ownership are squeezed out of fundamental rights of housing.
SHEILA CROWLEY, NATIONAL LOW INCOME HOUSING COALITION: Absolutely. We
have spent a lot of time and energy thinking of home ownership in this
country. A third of all households are renters. And it`s an important
part of the housing market.
What is clear, though, is that the problems of renters are getting much
worse than they have been for some time, and in particular, for the lowest
income renters. In housing, we measure things by household income.
There`s 10 million households with incomes in the bottom 30 percent of the
income who -- there`s only 5 million that rent in prices they can afford.
So, almost two-thirds of them are paying 50 percent of their income for
their housing, which means that they are very strapped. They can`t do
other normal things that they need to do. They are one emergency away from
So, we have overinvested in home ownership in many levels, not necessarily
to the benefit of low and moderate homeowners -- income homeowners, but we
have, we have overinvested in that and we dramatically under-invested in
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, this feels like the 1 percent/99 percent like in its
most clear policy form. Wells Fargo with billions in profits and ordinary
families unable to find a place to live.
CAPEHART: Well, Wells Fargo and others are playing on the American
mythology of you must own a home.
CAPEHART: For the longest time, all I heard from my mother was, you have
to -- you have to buy a home. You have to buy a house. You have to buy an
Renting -- you are not an adult until you own a home. And so, all the
focus is on buying that home.
And so, of course, you are going to buy a home that maybe you can`t afford,
take out a loan that you really probably shouldn`t take out because America
tells you this is what it means.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s the American dream.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, but part of what we learned from the Wells Fargo,
James, is that also that -- I mean, because I think sometimes we say, oh,
the individual just did something they weren`t supposed to do. What we get
is they were actively marketed these things.
PERRY: You know, in the Latino community, some folks call it "jails
Fargo", right? And the reason is that in addition to going out and
targeting Latinos and then giving people and Latino communities loans that
they couldn`t afford so that they would lose their homes, at the same time,
subsidizing immigrant detention centers. Three of the largest immigrant
detention centers companies in the nation made $5 billion worth of profit.
And for one of them, Wells Fargo owned 20 percent of the company.
So, they were stripping, on one hand, stripping wealth out of Latino
communities out of their homes. And then at the same time, they were
jailing them and sending them back to their own countries. Jails Fargo.
CAPEHART: The other point I want to make was that because we spend so much
time on the American dream of owning a home, we`re not building up the,
sort of, acceptability of renting. It`s OK to rent a home.
CAPEHART: You can be an adult, not a little kid and rent your home. It`s
fine to rent a home. You don`t have to buy a home. I think that gets to
something you talked about.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay right there. We`re going to come right back and talk
exactly on these issues as soon as we get back, because this issue of race
and real estate and of class and real estate is fundamental to our country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break, we were in part talking about the
community crisis brought on by the foreclosure crisis.
According to the results of an investigation by the National Fair Housing
Alliance, not all crises are created equal. This organization looked into
the maintenance of real estate owned assets or REOs. These are properties
repossessed by banks after foreclosure. What they found is a world of
different between how banks maintained vacant homes in white neighborhoods
versus in communities of color.
A report detailing the findings said that, quote, "REO properties in
communities of color generally appeared vacant, abandoned, blighted, and
unappealing to real estate agents who might market the unit to homebuyers.
On the other hand, REOs in white communities generally appeared inhabited,
well-maintained and attractive to real estate agents and homebuyers."
The affect here is on whole communities.
PERRY: Sure. You know, the real issue, question here is: how do you
respond when there`s been a crisis? How do you fix that crisis?
And so -- but what`s happened here is that the lenders who oftentimes cause
the crisis, instead of taking steps to maintain these properties and keep
them in fair condition, they let them rot. The Fair Housing Center found
that oftentimes there were properties in black neighborhoods that had been
burned, sometimes even completely destroyed. And the companies didn`t
So, the communities that had been destroyed, that were suffering, could not
rebuild themselves because they had no access to the properties.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, there`s like this multi-layered sense of what you the
Sheila, before the break you were saying that you suspected this is going
to be this reduction of housing values particularly in black and Latino
communities. This is going to be the lasting impact of this economic
CROWLEY: Absolutely. The whole dream of home ownership, as bad as the
avenue for building wealth, was something that was pushed on all Americans.
But in particular, in minority neighborhoods and minority communities and
the unfortunate effect of the housing bust is that I believe -- that
history will show -- that this is going to be the biggest transfer of
wealth out of black and Latino households and communities in the history of
the country, because at the end of the day, they will have put all their
money into something that, in many cases, they couldn`t afford and they`re
walking away with nothing.
And even those families, especially older women who still own their homes -
CROWLEY: They had owned their homes for a long time but they got caught up
in a predatory, you know, loan to refinance, they lost that wealth. So,
it`s a very insidious thing that is going to reverberate for a long time.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan -- sorry, yes.
CROWLEY: I wanted to say when we talk about how the foreclosure crisis, we
have to remember that not everybody who lives in a home that is foreclosed
is a homeowner.
CROWLEY: And, in fact, 40 percent of family that is lost their homes due
to foreclosure are renters.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, if I`m a private homeowner who`s renting this
space and I`m foreclosed upon, then the family renting, despite the fact
that they maybe paying their rent on time, is nonetheless vacated.
CROWLEY: That`s right.
In 2009, we passed federal legislation to protect tenants in foreclosure,
which means that you have to have at least 90 days notice or the lease has
to be honored by whoever takes over the house, the bank or whoever. And
that was a huge step forward, but it is self-executing.
CROWLEY: And so, it requires that banks and lenders and everybody else
actually know what the law is and that the people living in them know what
their rights are.
We are trying to get legislation passed that will actually make the
protecting tenants in foreclosure act permanent and will give the tenants
private right of action, so that, in fact, they will be able to be much
more aggressive in defending themselves against the housing cost of their
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels like accountability is the big issue here. I`m
going to bring you in on the government side of this, as soon as we get
But, just before we go, James, I want you to talk to me about what are the
mechanisms for accountability, for the banks and for communities,
particularly the banks who are making these choices.
PERRY: Right. So, what happens when a community is left to trust people
who they cannot actually trust?
PERRY: So, the most important thing that can happen -- for instance, with
Wells Fargo, right now, they are applying to get certified under the
Community Reinvestment Act. And what people can do is go to the office of
comptroller and say, don`t certify them. Don`t -- they failed us.
The whole point of this act is you have to invest in minority communities
and poor communities. And what they`ve shown is that either they won`t do
it or when they do, they will do it to that community`s detriment. So,
don`t allow them to do it anymore.
So, the Office of Comptroller who controls that, right to the president who
appoints the Office the Comptroller, and say, don`t approve CRA standards.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, there are more policy questions I want to talk
about, particularly between your point about using the tax code. When we
come back, the fight for more affordable housing.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back with a look at another part of the continuing
house crisis, the need to build, decent, affordable housing for low income
One of my guests today is at the forefront of that effort.
Sheila, tell me about what you are spearheading right now.
CROWLEY: We have been working on getting the National Housing Trust Fund
started for some time. It was enacted into law in 2008 but has no money
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s like my trust fund.
CROWLEY: The goal is to expand the supply of real housing that`s
affordable to the lowest income housing to fill that gap that I talked
about earlier, 5.5 million units. If you do that, we can end homelessness
very quickly in the United States, and we can create much more housing
stability for low income people, which has lots of good benefits that
reverberate schools and health care.
HARRIS-PERRY: I would like to not lose that point. So, I just want to
push on that for a second.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because what you said was, if we do this, if we pass the
National Housing Trust Fund, we can end homelessness fairly quickly in the
CROWLEY: If we fund it.
HARRIS-PERRY: If we fund --
CROWLEY: If we put money in it.
PERRY: How much money is that?
CROWLEY: Well --
PERRY: To do it the right way to --
HARRIS-PERRY: I feel a column coming on, my friend.
CAPEHART: You might get a column, not cash. But how much is that?
CROWLEY: Well, we think it`s about $30 billion a year for 10 years, which
is a lot of money. But we have a suggestion about where to get it. We
have examined several housing subsidies for home ownership and there are a
lot. It`s almost $200 billion in the tax code that goes to home ownership
in various forms. One of which is the mortgage interest deduction, which
is about $100 billion.
And it is an extremely popular program. We have done polling on it. The
public believes in it. It`s a very important thing.
But the public also is ready for modernizing it. It`s been in existence
for 100 years. It`s been amended once. And it is time to look at whether
or not it makes sense to continue to subsidize million dollar homes when we
have such a shortage at the low end.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Vicki, this feels like this is -- I mean, this is the
question. This is a 47 percent question. This is a 99 percent, like here
is an actual policy that we can begin to put on an agenda to enact.
What do you think is the sort of the political taste for this?
SOTO: There are two strategies in place that benefit wealthier folks, or
at least folks who are not in poverty. The first is a mortgage interest
deduction. And the second is itemized deductions.
Who are the folks with itemize deductions? Those who are higher up on the
SCH (ph) scale. So, the proposal on the table that I`ve also seen is
bringing down the mortgage interest cap from $1.1 million to $500,000.
So, it`s still a lot of money, but would help the middle class home
ownership and also getting rid of that itemized tax deduction and allowing
that, say, 15 percent tax credit toward low income homeowners.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it feels like, Jonathan, here is -- like when I hear you
say that, I`m like OK. That sounds like potentially the kind of thing to
get bipartisan support for, because it`s also about simplification of the
tax code. I mean, things that you hear Republicans at least give lip
CAPEHART: Yes, but it`s all in the way this idea is sold. I mean, you
have to -- I think sometimes, you know, when -- I`m going to generalize
here -- when Republicans hear that you want to simplify the tax code and do
something that will benefit someone else, it`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s communist.
CAPEHART: It`s a problem as opposed to saying this is something that will
help the entire country, because when you have neighborhoods that aren`t
blighted, when you have neighborhoods living in homes that they`re renting
and can afford to rent and that they own and can`t afford to own, that
that`s something that nurses the benefit of everyone.
SOTO: It`s technically a loophole. So, in an ideal world we could package
it and say we won`t be raising taxes, because you can`t go home and tell
your constituents you are raising taxes, but you are closing loopholes.
CROWLEY: If you go to the proposal that Victoria talked about, which is
lowering it to $500,000 and converting the deduction into a tax credit, you
also expand the pool of moderate and low income homeowners who are going to
get a tax benefit, because there`s a lot of homeowners who pay interest --
CROWLEY: -- who don`t get a benefit because they don`t have enough income
So, if you went to 15 percent tax credit, you expand the poll of homeowners
who get a tax break, 37 million to 52 million. And 95 percent of them have
incomes below $100,000. So, it`s a much fairer way of subsidizing home
ownership and the bonus is that you get $30 billion a year to put into the
National Housing Trust Fund. So, it doesn`t cost a dime.
Now, the problem is, mortgage interest deduction is finally on the table --
CROWLEY: -- for consideration. But for guess what?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But for the wrong --
CROWLEY: Deficit reduction, not reinvesting in housing.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, it feels like, James, this moment, though, the one
group of people I can imagine right away ought to have their personal
interest in this are mayors and governors, because we would begin to see
revenue back into the cities. It`s what the Wells Fargo case was about was
the impact of this foreclosure crisis on cities.
PERRY: It brings us back to the very beginning of the conversation. The
mayors of Baltimore and Memphis said, you know what? We can`t have this
happening in our communities.
They stood up and were the plaintiffs in the suit against Wells Fargo. And
so, the same is true here. We need them to take a stand here and say we
need funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, because these are
communities that are right with homelessness.
And we said that in such nonchalant way. But the truth is, we can end
CROWLEY: Of course we can.
PERRY: This is the path, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just to say this morning we can end homelessness, we have a
way to do it, it feels like to not do it is a violation of who we are as
I thank you both for joining us, both Sheila Crowley and James Perry.
Up next, we are going to switch gears and talk about a new setback in the
effort to protect women from violence and why a critical bill is in danger.
HARRIS-PERRY: If there was anything that sounds like it would be a cinch
to pass by name alone, you`d think it would be something called the
Violence Against Women Act. But you would be wrong.
The Senate version of the act`s reauthorization has been collecting dust
since the spring. That there`s even a need for negotiations to reauthorize
the bill is amazing. But those negotiations have been happening largely
between these two men, Vice President Joe Biden who drafted and led the
passage of the first Violence Against Women Act back in 1994, and House
Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
In their talks, there has been principal issue for Cantor and his fellow
Republicans. Reports indicate that Cantor and his fellow Republicans are
willing to talk about including LGBT women and undocumented immigrants in
the revised bill, but the House approach would effectively deny American
Indian women equal access to justice, because it prevents tribal
authorities from having jurisdiction over crimes committed on their
territory by male abusers who aren`t American Indians.
According to "The Huffington Post" report, Cantor is refusing to accept any
added protections for American Indian women that would give expanded
jurisdiction to tribes, and is pressuring Democrats to concede on that
Meanwhile, the bill to protect all women remains in limbo.
Along with Jonathan Capehart and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, we are joined
by Chloe Angyal, editor of Feministing.com, and also, Deborah Parker, vice
chairwoman of Tulalip Tribe at Washington state.
Very nice to see you, Deborah.
DEBORAH PARKER, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, TULALIP TRIBE: Thank you very having me
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you just met with Eric Cantor`s staff, what do you think
is motivating the Congressman at this point?
PARKER: Well, hopefully, he`s listening to some of the discussions from
other House members and really taking notice of the Issa-Cole bill that
includes tribal jurisdictions. So, we are really hoping that he`s
listening and that he`s understanding the issue better. So, that`s where
we are right now.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, break this down for me a little bit. I mean, I think
there are folks who live in some parts of the country out West, who really
understand sort of what goes on vis-a-vis tribal lands and U.S. lands and
that sort of thing.
But if you live in the Northeast and you sort of don`t quite get it,
explain why this reauthorization is so important to address this issue for
American Indian women.
PARKER: Well, it`s very critical because this time, it includes key
provision that help native Americans to prosecute non-Indians who come on
the reservation lands and commit crimes against Native Americans, whether
it`s domestic violence, sexual assault. So, this allows us protection over
our Native Americans on reservation.
It`s a narrow set of laws that would protect our women and our children and
our community. And it deals with those who come on to the reservation and
not only that are visitors but connected to our community.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, this, to me, Chloe, feels like someone missed
the memo that the war on women is part of why the Republican Party lost in
2012. And even to the extent they maintained House control, they actually
lost a popular vote of a half million Americans who preferred Democrats
over Republicans, they just had already gerrymandered.
Under what circumstances are they now willing to go without reauthorization
ANGYAL: I have yet to hear a compelling argument from those who opposed
this provision about why Native American women should not be extended the
same rights and protections that women in the rest of the country until
now, at least, have enjoyed. When they talk about it, I feel like I`m
Charlie Brown and they are the teacher. And instead of wa-wa-wa, all I
hear is, we don`t give a damn about Native American women and their health
I think we like to talk about America`s mistreatment of American Indians as
though it`s done. It`s a regrettable part of our past. It`s not. It`s a
reprehensible part of our future. One in three Native American women will
be raped in our lifetime. And over 80 percent of those rapes are committed
by non-Indian men, is that right?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And this is the one place where almost every other
community, rape and domestic violence is intra-ethic or intra-racial. So,
African-American women most likely to be victimized by African-American
men, white women by white men, Latinas by Latinos.
But in this one case, actually, indigenous women are mostly to be
victimized by men who are not, in fact, Indian men.
PARKER: Well, perpetrators know there`s a jurisdictional gap that they can
come on the reservation and that they`ll be limited resources to prosecute
and they know they will get away with it. And that`s the issue here.
SOTO: To my disbelief, how could you not reauthorize VAWA, I went on and I
read Phyllis Schlafly`s column. And in her column, what she does,
interestingly enough, she dehumanizes women and she makes it more of a
fiscal matter. She calls it feminist pork and this is a drain on the
It`s interesting to see those are the troops that are being used. But
shifting gears and also talking also about Native American women, another
big hole that would be left in the Republican version of this legislation
is with undocumented women.
SOTO: Because what tends to happen is if you have a woman who`s
undocumented who is married to or is the partner of somebody who is a
legal, permanent resident or citizen, they can dangle that citizen in front
of them in order to keep them from reporting them. And they would roll
back the self-petitioning process, which allows them to circumvent their
abuse and petition without their knowledge and without the risk of being
HARRIS-PERRY: This is critical.
ANGYAL: This is about vulnerable populations. This is about kicking
already vulnerable populations when they are down.
And I think to answer your earlier question, what we saw this year in the
election outcome is an outpouring of outrage and anger at -- for attacks on
mostly white, privileged women, right, and uprising of those women for the
most part and what gets left out. So, often, it`s already -- women in
already vulnerable population.
CAPEHART: I`m just mystified from where we begin this conversation about
Eric Cantor and what started this conversation which is they want to make
it possible for non-Indian men to basically get away with prosecution for
crimes against Native American women. Why is that?
HARRIS-PERRY: How is that --
CAPEHART: Because the issue is they don`t want the authority to rest.
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels like the Americans with Disabilities international
extension, right, we just don`t want the U.N. in here in our business.
CAPEHART: Right. That`s what I find so repugnant about this. If they are
-- if they are protecting white men from prosecution --
ANGYAL: No, no, it`s not what if.
PARKER: They are protecting perpetrators. It`s not only Native American
women, but last night, I received a call from a non-native woman who had
the perpetrator drag her to what he thought was a reservation land.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, God.
PARKER: And you know what? He missed the mark. It wasn`t reservation
land. He raped her, he abused her, he left her for dead.
And guess what? She survived. He got a long sentence. She told me last
night that on reservation land --
CAPEHART: He would have gotten away with it.
PARKER: He would have gotten away with it.
CAPEHART: And what does Eric Cantor say when you met with his staff and
lay it out. What does the staff say about why they are allowing this --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s making it easier for white men to rape women --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tribal rights. It`s the shield they use.
CAPEHART: That`s outrageous.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is. We are going to take a quick break, we`re going to
come right back on exactly this topic, because it`s outrageous and we`re
HARRIS-PERRY: Written into the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, Section
202 are chilling statistics -- 34 percent of American Indian and Alaskan
Native women will be raped in their lifetime, and 39 percent of them will
be subjected to domestic violence, almost four of every 10.
Yet, as we`ve been discussing Republicans like Eric Cantor stand to block
legal protection for these women in negotiations over renewal of the
Violence Against Women Act.
Victoria, as you were pointing, as you were talking undocumented women as
well, when we were talking lesbian and transwomen as well, the notion that
this is the most vulnerable women. And in certain ways, therefore, the
most politically vulnerable, right, with the most difficulty in fighting
back against it.
SOTO: No, they are the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable. Let`s
check for example, a woman who`s picking cabbage in Bakersfield. She is
there undocumented, so she`s at the mercy of an exploitive employer --
But then on top of that, she`s in the unique content to be domestically
abused, sexually abused. You are in remote areas, you are surrounded by
men, but yet you have no recourse because under the VAWA that the
Republicans want to block, you cannot seek out the authorities because you
are afraid of getting reported.
SOTO: And what VAWA wants to do is provide a revision of temporary
residents. They`re not giving you citizenship. They`re not giving you
amnesty. They`re saying, if you come forward, we will allow you to stay
here while this takes its course.
So, you add that on to the retracting of the self-petitioning, and you are
making Latinas or all immigrant women in extremely vulnerable positions.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, there`s a kind of coalition that I can see being able to
emerge here, Deborah. So, for Native American women, Greg Kaufmann, my
colleague at "The Nation" wrote this. He wrote, "If the final bill isn`t
approved, Native American groups who have pushed for this for 10 years and
steadily worked on this reauthorization for three years will be forced to
start over from scratch."
Is that right? Like this is the critical moment? If it doesn`t pass, you
start over again?
PARKER: This is it. We are looking to the House leadership to come to
some sort of agreement to pass these much needed provisions. It looks like
we have maybe a week and a couple days left. So, it`s a very short time
I have been here, I`ve been in D.C. for the last couple weeks trying to
push this issue, trying to educate, trying to inform. It`s been a
difficult process. For me, I want to get home to my family and I just
can`t seem to get home until this passes and that people all over the
country understand the importance of protection of all women, including
Native American women.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it feels like this is one of those call your congressman
moments, right? We have Gwen Moore, the Congresswoman, having written a
letter on December 11th to Congressional leaders in which she says, "We
strongly urge you to move past politics to send a VAWA reauthorization bill
to the president that he can sign immediately," right?
So Congresswoman Gwen Moore sent that. She actually had some Republicans
signed on to it. Is this a moment where we publicize the names of the
Congressmen who are doing it?
Oh, I`m sorry. I need to interrupt here for just one second. We`ve to go
to Newtown, Connecticut, where police are holding a news conference with
the latest updates from Friday`s shooting.
LT. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: We`ve been working through the
night. Crime detectives are still at the scenes of the school and at the
secondary scene. We`re still actively working those areas. There`s
nothing new to report relative to the investigation. Suffice to say that
it is moving forward.
As I said yesterday and I will not and cannot detail pieces of the
investigation, but I can tell you that we have recovered evidence, contrary
to some of the news reports that have been out there. We have recovered
some evidence. It is being analyzed and it is being processed.
The weaponry involved, we are tracing them historically all the way back to
when they were on the work bench being assembled and every bit of ancillary
information regarding every weapon is also being examined and looked at
with our federal partners. In addition, the postmortem examination by the
chief medical examiner is ongoing.
Hopefully earlier this afternoon we`ll be able to release factual
information on the last two deceased in this case. As you know, there is
presidential business scheduled this afternoon. I don`t have details on
that. I know that`s being put out via Washington, so, we`ll leave that as
We are in the process, I`m sure you`ve seen, as I explained to you, we have
multiple crime scenes but sticking specifically with the school, the school
crime scene, the building itself is still being worked on.
Remember I told you we had a secondary crime scene and that was all the
vehicles on the exterior of the school. Our detectives have examined each
and every one of them, searched each and every one of them and we`re
beginning to release those back to their owners.
So, slowly but surely we`re beginning to complete the exterior part of the
crime scene. The governor and lieutenant governor are on site and have
been actively involved today.
One thing that`s becoming somewhat of a concern and that is misinformation
is being posted on social media sites. There has been misinformation
coming from people posing as the shooter in this case, posing using other
IDs, mimicking this crime and crime scene and criminal activity that took
place in this community. There`s been some things and somewhat of a
It is important to note that we have discussed with federal authorities
that these, these issues are crimes, they will be investigated statewide
and federally, and prosecution will take place when people perpetrating
this information are identified.
Again, all information relative to this case is coming from these
microphones and any information coming from other sources cannot be
confirmed and, in many cases, it has been found as inaccurate.
So, I simply -- that`s the newest twist today that we want to make sure
that`s perfectly clear that social media web sites that contain information
relative to this case are not being posted by the Connecticut State Police,
are not being posted by the Newtown police, are not being posted by any
authorities in this case.
So, any of that information and people that are that are putting that
information up there in any manner all right, can be construed as a
violation of state or federal law will be prosecuted, will be investigated
Questions, I can take a few, and again, understanding that we still are
active in this case, OK.
REPORTER: Has a very specific timeline of how this event happened. I`m
wondering if you can, in fact, confirm that timeline that is being reported
in great detail by the "Hartford Courant."
VANCE: Very good question. I`m the only one speaking about this case to
every member of the media. I cannot restate or state heavily enough, I
have not and will not put out a timeline in this criminal investigation as
it is under way. It is inappropriate. We will not do that.
Any sources that are putting out any kind of information like that does not
come from the official investigating agency, the Connecticut State Police
assisted by the Newtown Police Department. OK? We will not put that out
as the investigation is ongoing.
I have not read it. So I can tell you that. We have not put out any
REPORTER: You have said there were two places inside the school. Can you
confirm that the principal and the psychologist were shot near the front
door and the children and the teachers and other workers were in
VANCE: Again, what I stated relative to the interior crime scene was that
the shooting took place in a singular section of the school that involved
two classrooms and a hallway. That`s as much as we said about that. We
cannot and will not describe the location of the deceased in this
investigation. We won`t do that.
REPORTER: Said your investigation of firearms.
VANCE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shooter was taken by his family member to a
shooting range (INAUDIBLE) gone shooting with his mother?
VANCE: I don`t know that, quite frankly. And that`s what I`m trying to
get people to understand is that we can`t take segments of an investigation
and discuss that publicly because something taken out of context could be
misinterpreted, it could be misinterpreted and not factual once it`s
Therefore, I don`t -- number one, I don`t know anything about that
particular statement you just made and number two, even if I did, I would
say let us put it into the contents of the investigation so that we can
manage it and you can get a whole complete picture of exactly what`s going
Do I know anything more? Just the four firearms working with our federal
partners and we -- as I said in my statement -- we are analyzing,
examining, we`ll trace them back to their origin.
We`ll trace every step of the way, and every time that we can, where they
were used, how they were used will be examined forensically. A great deal
of work must be done on those weapons.
REPORTER: Any evidence that any of the other weapons --
VANCE: I can`t answer that question. I do not know. Our detectives will
in fact be able to answer that question at the conclusion of the
REPORTER: I know you can`t go into detail about what you`re finding, but
how confident do you feel you will eventually get a good picture?
VANCE: I am confident that we will put every single resource that we have
into this investigation and that we will answer every single question that
is humanly possible at the conclusion of this case. We`ll examine every
piece of evidence, we`ll speak to every single witness that can have any
impact whatsoever on this case and our goal, our goal is to answer every
REPORTER: Do you think no note, no alive shooter, how confident do you
feel that you`ll eventually be able it to put together something people
would consider --
VANCE: Just to say, we have not stated what evidence we have and have not
collected. I want to make that perfectly clear.
How confident am I? We have the best of the best working on this case. We
have our major crime detectives. We have federal authorities. We have
We have everything and everybody focusing on this case. As everyone knows
it`s a huge case, it`s a huge case. We`re using every single resource and
our goal is to paint a complete picture so that we all know and the public
knows exactly what happened here.
Couple more folks.
REPORTER: -- magazines ever used on the gun?
VANCE: I`m sorry. I cannot. I cannot.
REPORTER: -- social media, what do you make of that?
VANCE: Well, I -- best I can explain, I`m not a social media expert, I`m
not going to claim to be. But there have been indications that there have
been quotes by people who are posing as the shooter. You can go on
different Facebook pages and find this information out.
I know members of the press have. And suffice it to say that the
information can, in fact, be -- has, in fact, been deemed as threatening.
It`s been inaccurate, it`s been people posing as other people, and
discussing with federal authorities.
They believe it`s a violation of state and/or federal law and warrants an
investigation. Anyone perpetrating that information, could, in fact, be
subject to arrest and be prosecuted federally.
REPORTER: Has anyone been identified, questioned?
VANCE: They`re working on that right now. This is brand new information.
We got it as we were coming to this press conference.
Couple more quick questions and then we`ve got to go. Yes, ma`am?
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) any more information on the other two bodies?
VANCE: The minute I have that, we`ll reduce it to writing and bring it up
to you, bring more copies of the names from yesterday if anyone needs it.
But, certainly, the minute we have that we`ll bring that up to you.
REPORTER: Do you know when the bodies will be released to the families?
VANCE: They have already started that process.
REPORTER: Is there any idea of when the students can return to class? And
what can you say to parents about safety in schools?
VANCE: What`s important to note about safety in school is from the
educational commissioner in the state of Connecticut working with the
governor`s office, it`s being examined on a local and statewide basis.
There are many plans in place for emergency purposes in all the schools in
Connecticut. All of them are being re-examined and certainly parents
should, in fact, be confident that law enforcement in every community,
state police, local police, the educators, the leaders of the school
systems are doing everything they can to make sure that the schools in
Connecticut are safe.
I would like the lieutenant to talk about the schools in Newtown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We`ve been working closely with the
superintendent of schools here. Obviously we`re still very sensitive to
the family in this situation. We want -- we want to move forward very
slowly and respectfully. They do have some tentative plans as far as
moving forward with the school and the school system will be putting those
out in the near future.
REPORTER: Do you imagine that children will ever return to class in that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, at this time it`s too early to say. But I
would find it very difficult for them to do that. But certainly that`s one
of the things that they`re going to have to look into, yes.
REPORTER: They are going to transport kids to Monroe starting later this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s one of the plans that we`re looking into. It`s
tentative plans right now. But as we said, you know, we`re trying to be as
respectful as we can. We want to keep these kids together. They need
support of each other.
VANCE: Couple more quick questions. Yes, sir.
REPORTER: Without revealing a timeline can you say more about (INAUDIBLE)
breaks a window, turns left, right? Give us a general sense of his
movements and how --
VANCE: The most general I could be is it has to be very general was that
the school was -- forcibly entered the school facility itself. OK,
encountered -- just encountered staff, students and the tragedy occurred.
That`s as much as I want to go. I`m sorry, but that`s all --
REPORTER: Can you tell us --
REPORTER: -- survivors, been able to talk to them?
VANCE: Our people are talking with everybody, slowly but surely but
methodically too. This is not something that -- this is something where
people`s hearts are broken and as we all well know and we have to be
sensitive and we are moving as quickly and efficiently as we can.
The people we can talk to, yes, we have. We have spoken to many, many
witnesses. There are many more witnesses to speak to, including and not
limited to maybe even speaking with youngsters.
REPORTER: What about the wounded?
VANCE: We have spoken, yes, with the wounded.
REPORTER: Lieutenant, can you tell us what --
VANCE: We won`t discuss what witnesses have put forth. Again, taking out
of context, we`ll include that in the report and final summary of what took
All right. One more, yes, sir?
VANCE: Everyone keeps asking that question and I have to say to you, that
for us to be able to give you a summary of the motive, we have to complete
the investigation. We have to have the whole picture before we can say
hopefully how and why this occurred. That`s not going to come very
REPORTER: -- left any writings or notes behind?
VANCE: Again, I can`t -- I cannot detail evidence. We don`t do that.
It`s simply stated we have a great deal of evidence that we`re analyzing
and that`s as much as I can say about what we seized.
REPORTER: Without elaborating can you say are there pieces of the puzzle
missing that will make this more difficult to tell?
VANCE: Are there pieces -- yes, there are pieces missing that we haven`t
had a chance to finish yet. The forensic part is an important part.
That`s not done yet. That`s being worked on, but it`s not done yet.
The witnesses that need to be interviewed, there`s an immense number of
witnesses that need to be interviewed. That`s not completed there. You
know, there are week`s worth of work we have left in order to complete
What I would like to do is say that we will come back in a couple hours. I
apologize for having you out here in the inclement weather. We are also.
But I want to get the information from the medical examiner`s office and
I want to get -- see if I get more detail relative to the presidential
visit and what the logistics of that are going to be this afternoon, and if
there`s any updates that I get from the major crime commanders of the
department, I will bring that back to you, OK.
REPORTER: Can you say what federal crime is being broken by those posting
on social media (INAUDIBLE)
VANCE: Federal authorities, sir, I`d have to consult with the U.S.
attorney on that. I simply don`t know, OK?
We`ll be back in a couple of hours, folks. Please stay dry.
HARRIS-PERRY: That was an update from the Connecticut State Police on the
tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
Coverage continues live with Alex Witt, next.
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