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PoliticsNation, Friday, December 28th, 2012

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POLITICS NATION
December 28, 2012

Guests: Ryan Grim; Clarence Page; James Peterson; Keith Ellison


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Richard. And thanks to
you for tuning in.

Breaking news, President Obama urges Congress to make a deal to overt
the fiscal cliff. He announces no deal, but progress may be in sight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that would be the
wrong thing to do for our economy. It would be bad for middle class
families and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending.

Fortunately, Congress can prevent it from happening if they act right
now. I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House
with the Senate and House leaderships about how to prevent this tax hike on
the middle class. And I`m optimistic we may still be able to reach an
agreement that can pass both houses in time. Senators Reid and McConnell
are working on such an agreement as we speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It comes after speaker Boehner left the White House after
attending a last ditch meeting to avoid the fiscal cliff. He didn`t say
anything to reporters and neither did anyone else who was seen leaving the
meeting.

Here`s what we do know. In just four days, taxes will go up on
millions. And millions more will have their vital unemployment benefits
run out. That`s why President Obama organized the meeting with vice
president Biden, speaker Boehner, congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi and senators,
Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.

He urged the congressional leaders to protect tax breaks for those
making under $250,000 while letting them go up on the wealthy. He also
urge him extend jobless benefits. We can deal with cuts to defense and
domestic programs later. But let`s take care of the middle and working
class right now. Give them assurance right now.

Joining me is Congressman Keith Ellison, Democrat from Minnesota.
He`s co-chair of the progressive caucus and Melissa Harris-Perry, host of
the "Melissa Harris-Perry show" here on MSNBC.

Thank you both for coming on the show.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Thank you, Al.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me go to you first. This deal comes down
to taxing the rich. How can they not realize this is what the country
wants?

ELLISON: I don`t think that the Republican leadership cares what the
country wants. I think they care about what their biggest donors want and
their big donors want to reorganize America so -- because they believe that
the rich don`t have enough money and the poor have too much. So, what
we`re hearing here is an expression of an ideological idea that we need to
re-order American society to be cost competitive with places like China.
That means cutting the social safety net and that means giving rich people
even more money. And we`re not going to standby.

SHARPTON: As I was listening to the president`s statement, when he
said that he appealed to them, he brought them together, there was some
progress. But he also says if it goes over the deadline, he`s calling only
senator Reid to call for an up and down vote.

Explain the significance of that. Because isn`t that really based on
the fact that the public has said in numerous polls their support of this
isn`t that really a roll call to the American public on who stands where if
there is an up and down vote in the senate?

ELLISON: Yes, as a matter of fact, what the president is saying is he
needs the American people to communicate with their elected representatives
and let those elected representatives know that the people want to see a
deal that is fair to the working and middle class people. That`s what the
president is saying. I think the president is correct to do so. And I
think that the -- you know, that senator Reid has been really clear. We
have no business as the members of the House who represented not in
Washington while we are four days away from this fiscal deadline. We
should be there working hard to get a fair bargain for the American people.
And I`m glad the president is basically turning up the temperature in
calling on public opinion.

SHARPTON: See, that`s what I read, Melissa. I think that one was to
update the public. But another is to say if they play passed the deadline,
you get in touch with your senator because I`m going to have them call the
roll.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW: Well,
so, part of it is about that public pressure. But the other part of it,
when the president calls on speaker Boehner to do that, what he`s saying is
speaker Boehner, put the good of the country before your job. Because what
he knows is that there really is a majority that is capable of passing
this. And the majority is all of the Democrats and a few Republicans,
enough to get it through.

But Boehner, as a speaker, does not want to bring anything to the
house floor for a vote that does not have a majority support of the
Republican Party. He doesn`t want that because he knows that that means
the end of his speaker ship. Right?

SHARPTON: But I think that`s why he`s calling on Reid to do it in the
Senate because Reid in the Senate could win an up and down vote and those
senators that have to be -- that want to have it both ways would have to
have a real problem with an up and down vote.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And we know that the Senate, unlike the
house, the senate has this sort of history of being a gentlemen`s club, a
place where people are supposed to be able to work it out. It`s suppose to
be more of a deliberative body because they have six years instead of two
years to re-election. So, by asking the Senate to do it, he`s also calling
on them. He`s saying you have a longer time horizon. This is the place
where you can take more risk.

SHARPTON: Now Congressman, I think people need to understand how
serious this is because there are those that are saying if we go over the
cliff, it won`t matter. While if you`re on unemployment insurance that
will be cut off on the 31st and that was your income, that you invested in,
by the way, it`s very serious. If you don`t have a lot of savings, which
most Americans don`t, it`s easy to say oh, we can deal with it retroactive.
You cannot go back and give money to people that can`t survive the
adjustment by government. This is very serious for working people and
lower middle class people.

ELLISON: You`re absolutely right. This is a very serious matter. We
need to work earnestly. We should be in Washington, I`m talking about the
House members should be in Washington. No reason we have to wait until
Sunday night to be there. We should have been there last week.

But I do want to say up thing, Al, and I think this is very important.
One of the things that the House leadership is counting on is that we are
so attuned to how serious this is that they`re going to try to ram anything
down our throat.

Now, let me tell you, we need a deal. We need a good deal. We need a
fair deal. But we can`t take any deal simply because we need to - because
this is a serious matter. We need to make sure that they don`t make the
poorest, vulnerable people pay for this thing.

SHARPTON: Right.

ELLISON: And when they`re talking about cu cutting Social Security,
I`m not with that program. We are need to have a fair deal, a decent deal.
But you are absolutely right, two million people`s unemployment and a lot
of other things -- Sandy, help for Sandy victims is all on the line here.
We`ve got to get something done, but it needs to be fair.

SHARPTON: I keep hearing this sad sacrifice like we had shared
prosperity. There is no shared when I`ve never shared the prosperity and
I`m going to help pay for a tab for a meal I wasn`t invited to less known
and get any of the meal.

HARRIS-PERRY: Rev, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth
in this country. But the problem is, the story line from the right that
that redistribution is somehow from the wealthy to the poor, exactly the
opposite. Over the course of the path, 30 years, we have seen massive re-
distributions from the poorest, from those who have beliefs, to those who
have the most.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: This is actually not a time for shared sacrifice
because the burdens of this economic downturn have fallen so much more
disproportionately on communities that has the least to begin with. This
is actually a time for patriotism. And by patriotism, I mean, those who
have the most and who have reaped the most benefits from this nation over
the past 30 years, now, in order to keep this nation on the credit rating
that it has, in order to keep us moving forward so that workers actually
have enough to feed themselves and their families to go work, the patriotic
thing for them to do is to pay their fair share.

SHARPTON: When you look at the fact, congressman, this president has
repeatedly tried to be bipartisan, point of Republicans to key
administration, it corporate a Republican ideas in the healthcare foreign
policy, energy and immigration. When he`s done all of that, and no matter
what he has done, they`ve still tried in any way they could to undermine
him.

I`m looking at Grover Norquist who says today in a tweet quote "we had
an election." Boehner was elected speaker. Now lame duck Obama should get
over it. I mean, first of all, Boehner wasn`t elected speaker. And he`s
also implying that the president doesn`t have a mandate. It`s the
president and the Democrats who won the election. The president won by
five million votes. Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate and
the house Democrats earned 1.4 million more votes than the GOP candidates.
Boehner is elected by the Republican caucus. He is not elected by the
people. But this kind of nastiness and ugliness is what makes me not know
what they`ll do and how they will operate when they come back in.

ELLISON: Now, when I said in the top of the show that what is
(INAUDIBLE) strings are the big donors. But is also the chief ideological
thinkers like Grover Norquist.

SHARPTON: Right.

ELLISON: But also like the Koch brother. They don`t care -- these
people don`t care if we go over the fiscal deadline. That`s why they`re so
cavalier about it. And they are trying to redistribute this country`s
wealth along the lines of more fuel for the wealthy. They want to create
fuel state in my view. And I think we`ve got to resist this because what
they`re trying to do is really make it so that the average American worker
is cost competitive with the average Chinese worker. We can`t have that.
We`ve got to have a society that really reflects the true wealth of the
whole nation, which working class people produced. So, my point is, you
know, this is a time for us to be earnest. It is the time to be serious.
But it`s also a time for us to insist on fairness and to try push and stand
up. And I think the president sent the right signal to the average
American person.

SHARPTON: He did that.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Let me show you this. Let me show you this tough stance he
did right here. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I just have to repeat. You know, outside of Washington,
nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over
and over again. Ordinary folks who do their jobs, they meet deadlines.
They sit down and they discuss things and then things happen. If there are
disagreements, they sort through the disagreements. The notion that our
elected leadership can`t do the same thing is mind boggling to them. It
needs to stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the real point, Melissa. It`s mind boggling. And I
think people in the beltway and frankly, some people in media are so busy
talking to each other, they don`t understand. When you`re dealing with
millions of people`s unemployment insurance, millions of people`s checks
going up in terms of taxes and down in terms of income, this is serious.
And everybody is sitting around comfortable saying if it goes over the
cliff it won`t be that bad. It won`t be ha bad for you, but it will be
disastrous for many Americans.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, and this is why the approval rating for Congress is
at historic lows. It is down below 20 percent approval ratings because
just as the president said, the Americans just can`t figure out why when
you`re in a circumstance when I, as a taxpayer, and paying for your health
insurance. And I know, you don`t have to worry about retirement, Mr.
Congressman, because I know what you have on the back end, and your job is
secure even though you take a holiday break. But I had to work on
Christmas day because I am a worker who earns, you know, five or six or
seven dollars an hour as a domestic worker.

So, ordinary people, at their kitchen tables, understand not only what
this fiscal cliff is. But I think part of what the representative is
telling us here that we have to be really clear about is what Republicans
would like to do is hold the country`s long term hostage on the short term.
And it`s critical the Democrats, no matter how important it is to get a
deal done, don`t get the wrong deal done. They`ve get the wrong deal and
they got to make sure that a fair deal happens.

SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to keep talking about this. But,
thank you. I`m going to let you guys keep going on this because I really
want to help bring this home.

ELLISON: Thank you, Reverend Al. Thank you, professor.

SHARPTON: Congressman Keith Ellison, thank you. Melissa Harris-
Perry, thank you both for your time this evening. And happy new year to
both of you.

But don`t forget to tune in to Melissa Harry-Perry Saturdays and
Sundays at the 10:00 a.m. hour, here, Eastern Time on MSNBC.

Coming up, more on the president`s comments on the fiscal cliff
negotiations and politics over people. Republicans bring the country to
the brink again. And millions of unemployed Americans are nervously
waiting.

And what a year it`s been. The votes are in. We have the "Politics
Nation" picture of the year coming up.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama gets tough and there`s progress. But why
should it come to this? Two million unemployed are nervous for their
futures. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The unemployment rate is the lowest that`s been since 2008.
But already, you are seeing business and consumers starting to hold back
because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington. The economists,
business leaders, all think that we are poised to grow in 2013 as long as
politics in Washington don`t get in the way of America`s progress. So, we
got to get this done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ve got to get this done. President Obama driving home
just how serious this cliff could be for real Americans. This isn`t is a
political game. It`s real life. Nearly everyone will feel the impact if
we go over. But none more than the poor and middle class. A family of
four earning about $33,000 a year will see their taxes go up $3,700. This
is real. It`s money they need to feed their families. And money used to
get to work. Maybe to save for college.

And what about the Americans struggling the find work? Two million
people will lose unemployment benefits. Two million Americans will be left
to suffer. And why? Because speaker Boehner can`t get his caucus in line?
And then refuse to raise taxes on the top earners? Republicans want to
play politics, but this isn`t a game. And they`re playing with people`s
lives.

Joining me now, Dr. James Peterson, professor at Lehigh University and
contributor to thegrio.com and Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of
Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor.

Thank you both for being here.

JAMES PETERSON, PROFESSOR, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Rev.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, CEO, VOTO LATINO: Thank you, Reverend.

James, let me start with you. Raising taxes on the middle class and
letting unemployment insurance expire, does the GOP get that real people
will be genuinely hurt?

PETERSON: I`m not sure if the GOP understands what the impact of the
fiscal cliff and what these discussions are going to be. You can tell by
what they`re focused on. You know, we have had so much, and maybe even the
media a little bit, we talk so much about what the tax cuts are going to be
for the top rate on the top earners because that`s what the GOP is so much
invested in defending. We really have to have the proper and what
thoroughly flushed out conversation about all these other taxes that once
they refilled, and all of these super enhancements that President Obama has
put in place for small businesses and for working class folks and those
folks, and those tax cuts go away, that is going to have a really, really
negative effect on our economy.

And here`s how, Rev. You know, one of the things we don`t talk enough
about is this whole consumer behavior and how consumption is some two-
thirds of our economy.

SHARPTON: Right.

PETERSON: And once we start to directly impact consumer`s confidence
and people`s capacity to go out and buy the things they normally buy every
day, that is going to have a severe effect on our economy.

SHARPTON: Well, we have seen consumer confidence start to go down
already.

PETERSON: There`s right.

SHARPTON: But, let me ask you, Maria. I was on "Morning Joe" this
morning and something that was said by Jean Chatzky, that really, really
startled me. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEAN CHATZKY, NBC NEWS TODAY FINANCIAL EDITOR: Half of the Americans
are what they`ve taken to calling financially fragile. They couldn`t come
up with $2,000 if they needed to come up with it, without selling
belongings, without taking out a payday loan, without going to some sort of
rather desperate measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Jean Chatzky says two -- half of the American people
couldn`t put their hands on $2,000 without reaching out. Which mean, when
we are hearing people talk about people can go over the cliff and people
can hold on and once they make the deal, they are paid, I mean, how did you
hold on if all you can put your hands on is $1500, $2,000, half of America?

KUMAR: Reverend, I could have scratched my head and wonder what are
Republicans doing when they went back home? Do they sit out their front
door and actually talk to their constituency? These are real issues.
These are -- you`re talking about head start programs, you`re talking about
unemployment benefits. You`re talking basically a self inflicting wound
that can be very well, you know, sidestepped by basically coming together
and working as adults.

This is something that is, you know, as we enter the New Year, we are
trying -- everybody is trying to make New Year`s resolutions, one shouldn`t
be worried if they`re going to put food on the table or whether they are
going to basically buy new supplies for their kids. I mean, it`s that
simple and it is not something that - something that we, you know, we kind
of laugh at sometimes or we scratch our heads and say, what are they doing?

This is very serious. And people are getting hurt. The fact that the
Republican Party can`t put their act together, I applaud the president when
he says Harry Reid, if you can`t get this done, make sure that you do an up
or down vote to make sure that you get them on record so that we can come
back and say look, American people, these are the folks who are not working
for you.

SHARPTON: Yes. Now James, watch this. Where the president said, and
I really took note of this, if they don`t meet deadline, I`m going to call
on Senator Reid to call an up or down vote.

KUMAR: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If an agreement isn`t reached in time between Senator Reid and
Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a
basic package for an up or down vote. One that protects the middle class
from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment
insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the ground
work for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that`s a little different. The president is saying
he`s going to urge the Senate majority leader to go in an up or down vote
which really rallies the country to call on their senators. And when he
referred to unemployment insurance and unemployed people looking for work,
the benefits that are set to expire, expire, now, are lifelines for people
who work, two million people we`re talking about.

Average check they receive is $320 per week. Benefits goes to those
who have been unemployed more than six months. According to the
congressional budget office, every dollar in unemployment benefit
translates to $1.10 in additional economic activity.

These people have been out of work. These are people that invested in
unemployment insurance, been out of work over six months. Depend on this
$320 a week. It expires unless a deal is made. That`s why this is
significant. And the president is saying let`s make this happen or call
the roll.

PETERSON: That`s right. It`s time for a reckoning, Rev. The
president is saying, you are saying, a lot of folks are saying as well and
the reckoning has to occur in a couple of different ways. Maria is right,
representatives need to connect with their constituents to understand what
these kitchen table problems are. But then, two, the president is going to
use his bully pulpit as he did just a few moments ago to continue to apply
pressure both to the Senate and the House to try to get a deal done that
acknowledges the pain the people live.

When you talk about 40 percent of the five million unemployed folks
losing their long term unemployment benefits, we`re talking about people
going hungry. So, while we`ve been focused so much on these tax rates and
tax in the richest and so forth, we have to also remember there are people
in the country, poor folk, unemployed folk, working class folk that are
struggling right now. And to remove some of the disposable income at this
critical juncture is not going to affect consumer confidence. It actually
affects the actual domestic stability of people who live in this country.

SHARPTON: You know when you look, Maria, at the fact that they turn
down speaker Boehner`s plan, a plan that would raise taxes on just 0.3
percent of households. Grover Norquist even said, it did not violent his
tax pledge and it cut from food stamps, Medicaid and health care. They
voted that down. How do these people -- I`m talking about members of
congress, that are on the right wing, far right to vote this down and they
go home to Christmas singing all kinds of a carols, how do you do that and
vote this to the people that are the most vulnerable to protect people that
it wouldn`t bother at all to pay their fair share.

KUMAR: And that is the thing. When you start looking at the American
people, regardless of political stripes, they actually want something to
happen between congress so they pass and prevent the fiscal cliff because
they -- you`re talking, I guess, about the working public, you are also
talking about working class families. You`re talking about middle class
families that, all of the sudden, are going to get stuck in the sense that
they`re not getting redistributed the wealth that the one percent did so
well.

The fact that Republican Party right is digging in their heels and
going in to Congress and saying we represent the one percent, not the
people that actually voted me into office. That`s unheard of. And
unfortunately, we need a party that actually comes together and say we, as
republicans, recognize that we`re here for all Americans. And how do we do
that? By coming together and preventing the fiscal cliff. The idea that
Americans who go hungry is unacceptable.

PETERSON: That`s right. And Rev, listen. The Republicans need to
represent the red states. If you look at the demographics of the red
states, there is tremendous concentration of poverty in those red states.
Represent the state that is you`re from.

SHARPTON: No, and I think that that is why if it comes to that, and I
hope it does not, the roll call is in order because people in those red
states need to understand what is at stake and who stood where. You know,
it`s an old civil rights song. What side are you on.

If it comes to that, that`s exactly what the American people need to
say, not to Democrats, not to Republicans, but to American people. That`s
who`s going to be impacted by this. When you don`t give your unemployment
check, when your payroll tax goes up, when your paycheck is not what it
was, they are not going to market to Republicans or Democrats, that`s going
to be to the American people. We will then have the bipartisanship because
everybody is going to suffer together.

PETERSON: You better believe it.

KUMAR: That`s right. And, I mean, if the Republicans keep saying
that they`re worried for the 2014 vote. Well, let`s get a vote and
actually let`s think of what`s going to happen in 2014, if you actually
allow the fiscal cliff to go over.

SHARPTON: Dr. James Peterson and Maria Teresa Kumar, thanks for your
time tonight. And both of you have a happy new year:

ELLISON: Thanks, Reverend. Happy new year to you, too.

KUMAR: Happy New Year, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, whoever said the Republicans haven`t accomplished
anything, they are finishing something in first place today.

And "Politics Nation" has voted and we have the top political picture
of the year. It`s a good one. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" on facebook yet? We
hope you will. Today, we polled all of our fans to find out the most
popular political photo of 2012.

There was this classic shot of vice president Biden making friends
with a female biker in Ohio. I love that one.

And who can forget this one of Romney posing at burrito restaurant.
One employee sure looks surprised.

This was the one heartwarming Gabby Giffords on the stage at the DNC.
What a moment.

And here`s another classic. The picture of President Obama posing
with U.S. gymnast Michaela Marony (ph) making the not-impressed-face.

But the hour of "Politics Nation" family voted for this one the best.
Who can forget President Obama getting a great big bear hug from a one-time
Republican pizza shop owner in Florida. Look at that.

Josie says it`s the best of the year. It shows how Republicans can
reach across the aisle.

And Shelly says I met the owner of the pizza shop. Great guy. Great
pizza.

We want to hear what you think, too. Please head over to facebook and
search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps
going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Just a short time ago, the president slammed Congress for
consistently taking us to the brink.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The American people are watching what we do here. Obviously,
their patience is already thinned. This is deja vu all over again.
America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you can`t get
stuff done in organized timetable. Why everything always has to wait until
the last minute. We`re at the last minute. The American people are not
going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound. Nobody
understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over and over
again.

Ordinary folks, they do their jobs. They meet deadlines. They sit
down and they discuss things and then things happen. If there are
disagreements, they sort through the disagreements. The notion that our
elected leadership can`t do the same thing is mind boggling to them. It
needs to stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It must stop. But unfortunately, we`re used to the
Republicans in Congress taking us to the edge. Their number one goal was
to defeat President Obama. They can`t say the word compromise.

For two years, they`ve held the middle class hostage. It`s been
nothing but obstruction, blocking, filibustering. Pretty much the worse
Congress ever. Literally. Check this out. Amanda at "the Huffington
Post" ran the numbers and found the current Congress is on track to be the
most unproductive since the 1940s.

So, whoever said the Republicans haven`t accomplished anything. Take
a look at the record. The do-nothing Congress Truman talked about? They
got over 906 bills signed into law. And how about speaker Newt Gingrich`s
congress, 333 bills signed into law and that`s where the government shut
down for crying out loud, so congratulations speaker John Boehner and Mitch
McConnell. Your Congress has just 219 bills signed into law.

You would think this election thought them something. But with hours
to go, they are still playing political game and American people are sick
of it.

Joining me now is Clarence Page, columnist for the "Chicago Tribune"
and Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau chief of "the Huffington Post."

Thank you both for being here.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I`m glad to be here.

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for
having me.

SHARPTON: Ryan, this "Huffington Post" story got a lot of attention
today. You have coverage this congress. Just how dysfunctional is it?

GRIM: Well, it`s as dysfunctional as anything we had in the modern
era. You know, it`s great that Amanda ran the traps on that. And you know
what, she also found is dozens of these bills that they managed in the past
simply renamed federal buildings or post offices. So, in some ways, their
accomplishments are even overstated.

So, you know, it`s just -- it`s just been an awful two years from
Congress and the American people`s opinion of it is right. I think it has
an eight or nine or ten percent approval rating and that`s probably
generous.

SHARPTON: Yes. Gallup says 68 percent say they won`t compromise on
the fiscal cliff, but once again, the Republicans are not listening.

Clarence Page, you covered congress. You covered the hill in
Washington for some time better than --

PAGE: Long time, yes.

SHARPTON: Better than most that I`ve known. Have you ever seen a
Congress like this? And do you think that it is that they are so
ideological or is it that they are incompetent or both?

PAGE: We have really a form of ideological anarchy going on. On the
Republican side, you`ll have a lot of tea party folks and others who are
worried about being challenged in primaries coming up in 2014. And they
don`t produce anything, that`s fine. The more they block things, the
better. And especially when it comes to anything involving raising taxes.
They don`t want to raise any taxes because they can see the attack ads
already. And they`re districts, I`m talking about in the house, in
particular Al. Because you`ve got districts that have been carved.
(INAUDIBLE) does so well. But there`s only half a dozen Republicans in the
house. I think that`s mentioned in the article. There`s only about six
Republicans in the house that are in districts that are friendly to
Democrats at all. The rest are in pretty solidly Republican districts and
they don`t lose any points by holding the line on taxes.

And what hasn`t been talked about enough is the effect on Wall Street,
the 401 (k)s that a lot of those Republicans voters have, the social
security and other programs that are affected by government cutbacks.
That`s the side that voters like. The government services that they get.
And those are going to be cut back, too. I don`t think the fiscal cliff
problem hit Social Security or Medicare right away. They kind of sealed
that off from see questions ration.

But you mentioned unemployment before. There are a variety of other
government programs that will be drastically cut back on Tuesday morning if
we don`t get some kind of a deal by Monday night.

SHARPTON: You know, Ryan, when you look at -- when Clarence was
talking, I was looking and I think I have it, bills that Republicans and
Congress have blocked this year. A bill that would have increased the
minimum wage, a buffet rule bill that would have set minimum tax on
millionaires, the employment, nondiscrimination act that would have
prohibited hiring people on the basis of sexual orientation. A U.N. treaty
to protect the rights of disabled people around the world and the paycheck
fairness act so that women don`t get paid less than men for doing the same
job.

I mean, there`s been a variety of bills that they have seen not go
passed. They have actually stopped in a variety of ways that would have
helped the American people.

GRIM: Yes, and you can throw the violence against women act,
reauthorization onto that list. They`re letting that one languish. It`s
not that they don`t know how to pass bills or they don`t like passing laws.
They voted to repeal Obama care more than 30 times.

SHARPTON: Yes, 33 times.

GRIM: Thirty three times, as if there`s some type of rule that if the
House passes a bill more than two dozen times that the senate doesn`t pass
then, it is still law. So, you know, they know how to bring a bill to
Florida and they know how to vote on it.

But I think Clarence is right. That some of this is ideological. And
it is not a coincidence that the second least productive Congress since the
1940s was Gingrich`s right after the `94 revolution. You know, they came
in. They don`t think government works and then they set about and they
prove it.

SHARPTON: Now, Clarence, despite all of this, the president is saying
he`s optimistic. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`m modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved.
Nobody is going to get a hundred percent of what they want. But let`s make
sure that middle class families and the American economy and, in fact, the
world economy aren`t adversely impacted because people can`t do their jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Are you optimistic, Clarence?

PAGE: Well, at this point, Reverend, I`m so pessimistic about getting
a deal on Monday, it`s just too short of a time. We`re probably going to
go over the cliff and then start bargaining back which means then
Republicans, Democrats alike can go back to their districts and say hey, I
tried to stop the tax cuts or I tried to get -- or save the tax cuts. But
this is what we could get. I was out there fighting for you. That`s how
you win re-election. Winning re-election is the main thing members of
congress care about.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, if, in fact, we go over the cliff, they go back
home, they make these political statements to their constituents, they come
back and pass something in the interim, some people are damaged, the most
vulnerable damaged, will there be, do you feel, a political price to pay or
do they think by the time 14 comes around, it will be all forgotten?

GRIM: I mean, that`s a good question. It`s so hard to know, you
know, what the landscape is going to be like in 14. But there`s no
question that Republicans are going to take a hit and they know that
they`re going to take a hit if this goes over the cliff. In fact, they`ve
already taken a hit just for dragging it up this long. You know, polls
show that overwhelmingly, people will blame Republicans for the negative
consequences of this. And actually, the unemployed are already getting
hit. It inspires today. They don`t get until January 1st. So for them,
the cliff came early.

So at this point, they`re over. Now it`s up to the rest of the
things, the tax cuts, the sequestration, et cetera. You know, the
president has been the most optimistic person about getting a deal this
entire time. And if even he`s describing himself as modestly optimistic,
you know, that`s trouble.

SHARPTON: Well, Clarence, and Ryan, thank you for your time tonight
and Happy New Year. You almost don`t want to say happy, but have a healthy
new year given these circumstances. It`s quite an end to a year.

PAGE: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Coming up, 2012 was a year full of wins for progressives.
It was the year the rich couldn`t buy. We`re looking back on a year of
progress. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: What a year it was for liberals in America. The right came
and came but progressive came stronger and tougher. We look back on all of
the winnings ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: How are you spending your new year`s eve? Hopefully, with
us. Join us for the Revvie awards. A year end show where we give out
awards for the high and low points in politics for the year. It was a lot
of fun. And I can promise you surprises. We even dressed up for the
occasion. Join us Monday night at 6:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, what a year it has been. 2012 brought us
many challenges. But it also as was a remarkable year for progress. It
was the year liberals fought back and won. The big one defeating right
wing voter suppression. Thirty one states considered voter ID laws. Some
lawmakers were brazen about their real intent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voter id, which is going to allow Governor Romney
to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No, sir, not done. President Obama took Pennsylvania. And
with each new attempt at suppression, we fought back, rallying, educating
and registering people to vote across the country on Election Day.

These were the striking pictures. Lines as long as seven hours. But
voters made sure to have their voices heard. The resolve of the American
people determined the direction we wanted this nation to go. Not everyone
had an easy time accepting the news though.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you believe that Ohio has been
settled?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don`t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So you`re not saying that Obama isn`t
going to win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is premature. We`ve got a quarter of
the vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We won`t forget Karl Roves epic on-air melt down. I guess
that`s what happens when you blow $300 million trying to win an election, a
massive liberal ground game over came the billionaires` voice club. The
Republicans money machine, 2012 was simply the year the rich couldn`t buy.
And it was a year full of wins, none bigger than this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line here is the Supreme Court has
upheld the health care case. Well, we have a health care law intact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Obama care upheld, a day to remember. And on issue after
issue, progressives fought back. After 32 straight defeats at the ballot
box, marriage equality won in reign, won in Maryland, won in Washington.
2012 was the year we waved good-bye to some tea party radicals. Allen
West, Joe Walsh and Richard Mourdock was sent packing. And so was this
guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female
body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: As a country, we stood up for women and women`s rights. A
record 20 women were sent to the Senate, including this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Wall Street CEOs, the same
ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs, still strut
around congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank
them. Does anyone here have a problem with that? Well, I do, too. I do,
too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes, look out guys. Here comes Elizabeth Warren. And then
this happened on live TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can`t
tell him. He can`t do that to himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sorry, Clint. The empty chair won.

But more than anything, 2012 was about fairness. It was the year of
the great American debate of what kind of country we should be. What role
government should play. Americans voted for compassionate, hopeful and
fair view. It was the year of the fights of for unions, for immigrants and
for the middle class and the poor. And it was an honor to be there to
bring it to you, our "Politics Nation" family all year long.

From reenacting Dr. Martin Luther King`s march from Selma to
Montgomery for voter rights, to broadcasting from Dexter avenue king
memorial Baptist church in Montgomery when Dr. King preached during the
civil rights movement, to fighting for justice in Florida, for young teen
gunned down named Travon Martin, to our live show from the Democratic
National convention.

This year, Americans showed the desire that people must be heard. And
that is progress. No matter how much the resources were, if I were
marching in Florida or rallying in Ohio or standing in Maryland, I saw an
enthusiasm of people saying we can`t be bought, we can`t be bossed.
Whether you agree with my opinion, I agree with yours. It is time for
people to stand up by what they believe. And we all find common ground to
make this a bet ere country. Not because we have more, but because we all
want to make the country great together.

There are no better people than others. There`s no one in this
country that has the right of entitlement other than we`re entitled to
equal protection under the law and equal opportunity. That`s an
entitlement for all Americans, no matter your income, no matter your
background, no matter your ethnic group, religion or sexual orientation.
That`s what we fought for in 2012. And that`s what we`re determined to
keep the fight on in 2013.

I`ll be there and I hope you`re there with us as we go forward.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Please join us Monday, New
Year`s Eve, at 6:00 p.m. for the Second Annual Revvie Awards.

On behalf of everyone here at POLITICS NATION, have a safe and happy new
year. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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