'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
January 19, 2013
Guests: Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Rep. Lois Frankel, Rep. Rick Nolan, Ben Jealous, Julianne Malveaux, Donna Edwards, Bill Fletcher, Jr
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Just two days from the second inauguration
of President Barack Obama and preparations are under way to welcome an
estimated 600,000 people to the nation`s capital to witness the event.
Good morning from Washington, D.C. where we are doing the program this
weekend. Our first road trip. I`m Chris Hayes.
Algerian security forces are in the fourth day of a stand off with
Islamic extremists holding hostages at a gas plant there. At least 12
people, including one American have died.
And in an off camera interview last night with ESPN, Notre Dame
linebacker, Manti Te`o, strongly denied he had any part in a hoax involving
an online relationship with a person he considered his girlfriend who later
turned out not to exist.
Right now, I`m joined by four Democratic members of the freshmen class
of the House of Representatives, Congressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota,
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Congresswoman Lois
Frankel of Florida, and Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.
As President Obama prepares to be sworn in for a second term on
Monday, he may be confronting a fundamentally different political dynamic
in the new Congress. Just yesterday, House Republican leaders backed away
from threats to use the federal debt ceiling to force cuts in spending
agreeing to vote on a new debt limit increase that will last until mid
The House Republicans` new plan would give Congress time to pass a
budget for the next fiscal year. If no budget is passed, House Republicans
say they`ll withhold members` pay. In a statement, House majority leader,
Eric Cantor, said, quote, "We must pay our bills and responsibly budget for
our future. Next week, we will authorize a three-month temporary debt
limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass the budget."
Furthermore if the Senate or House fails to pass a budget, in that
time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for
failing to do their job. No budget no pay.
The president`s apparent victory in the debt ceiling skirmish comes
just three days after the House finally passed a $50 billion aid package
for victims of hurricane Sandy that the White House had proposed. The vote
on Tuesday was another show of weakness for Republicans as the GOP
leadership let the bill come to the floor despite the fact that only a
small fraction of Republicans supported it.
The bill passed the House with 241 votes, only 49 of which came from
the Republicans out of a total of 240 Republicans in the House. The
decision to bring the bill to the floor was a violation of the so-called
Hastert Rule named after former Republican House speaker, Dennis Hastert,
who says that a bill should never be brought to the floor unless a majority
of the majority can support it.
The apparent disunity within the Republican caucus offered House
Democrats the faint hope they might have a bigger role to play in the new
Congress, and they`ve had as the House minority over the past two years.
The House Democrats` new role, in fact, may prove crucial in the next major
legislative battle over gun control.
On Wednesday, the president proposed a package of gun law reforms in
response to the massacre in Newtown last month. The package is, by all
accounts, the most sweeping attempt to curb gun violence at the national
level since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was first passed in 1994.
The president took a number of executive actions immediately for the
most contentious members, including a proposed limit on ammunition
magazines, stronger background checks, and a reinstatement of the assault
weapons ban will be left for Congress to decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are few of the 23
executive actions that I`m announcing today, but as important as these
steps are, they are, in no way, a substitute for action from members of
Congress. To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act
and Congress must act soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. We have heard a lot about the political strength
of the NRA. There was a lot of discussion about whether the president
would follow up the speech, the very moving speech at the memorial with
some kind of both executive and legislative component. And so, I guess, my
first question to you is how -- what were you anticipating you would
achieve from the president? Was this more or less than you thought you
would get out of him?
REP. MARK POCAN, (D) WISCONSIN: Well, I was glad to see the executive
orders. You know, we needed to do something and Congress hasn`t exactly
been the best at acting on the last session, so, you know, I`m hopeful that
we can deal with some bigger, broader issues when we actually get to some
legislation, but I`m glad that president took the initiative and really
took the lead.
REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, (D) NEW MEXICO: Right and that
leadership effort, I think, is critical. So, if we can continue that kind
of relationship, you get the president, the executive branch saying this
has got to occur, this is what needs to occur, lay out a format giving
Congress then a renewed opportunity to pass reform legislation that`s going
to make a difference in the lives of all of our constituents.
REP. LOIS FRANKEL, (D) FLORIDA: Yes. I felt very proud of the
president, and now, it`s -- but the Congress has to step up to the plate
because you cannot just rely on executive orders. And I`ll tell you, I --
first, my son was a United States marine artillery officer. So, guns are
part of my family, but I was an urban mayor.
And I had to deal with gun violence all the time and I saw it on that
hap -- that it just doesn`t just shatter the lives of families, but it
completely disrupts neighborhoods. So, this is, to me, an important issue
for a lot of people.
HAYES: Is it something you want to see prioritized, though? I mean,
one of the things that`s interesting to me is the president right now is at
-- his approval rating to the highest they`ve been in a while, and this is
the natural kind of heaven flow of political capital. It builds up after
And, there`s a lot of things out there in the agenda space and you pay
off a limited budget, right? You can purchase certain things with that
political capital. The horror of Newtown is such that it has forced this
issue, I think, to the floor, particularly, in the wake of Aurora, right?
But if you were designing what the agenda would be in the absence of
that, and obviously, you can`t do that, is this congressman something that
you want to see prioritized or are there other things that you would put
ahead of it?
REP. RICK NOLAN, (D) MINNESOTA: No. This is something that needs to
be prioritized. Of course, the whole issue of sequestration and raising
the debt ceiling limit, getting the budget under control, are probably our
highest priority at this point in time. And we should be meeting four and
five days a week in committee, doing the job that we were elected to do,
and the Republican leadership has not set a schedule that we can do that.
But, the whole gun control issue has been on the front pages now for
decades and the Democrats, Republicans, none of us have really done
anything about it. So, I think the president is spot on. He`s right where
the American people are. People in this country want to see a ban on
They want to see a ban on these high capacity magazines. They want to
see background checks. They want to see better mental health care
services. And that`s where we need to go. That`s where the country, I
think, wants us to go.
FRANKEL: And I think -- we should be able to do expression chew gum
and walk at the same time. I believe the country is crying out for us to
take some action on making life safer here in this country and reducing gun
violence. I would like to see us prioritize getting people back to work.
I mean, I don`t think we`ve been talking enough about that.
GRISHAM: That`s right. And Lois is right. And I think the reality
is is that we can do all of it. We should be attending --
HAYES: That is not the reality, congresswoman.
GRISHAM: The reality is we should do it, not that we --
GRISHAM: And that`s what people want. They want us, Rick and Lois,
they want us to work on these issues. They`re expecting that we`re
spending real time and energy making a difference, moving the economy,
getting people back to work, and taking care of social issues that are
making a difference.
And the fact that we don`t is the reason in fact that we continue to
have the lowest approval ratings in the history of Congress.
HAYES: Yes. And I want to get to that, but I want to stay on guns
for a second because my sense is and I read the statement your office put
out, for instance, supporting say the assault weapons ban, and I believe
you`re all supportive of that right?
HAYES: You, congressman, have a district in which I don`t think
that`s going to give you much grief in your re-election. You represent the
great city Of Madison, Wisconsin. I think that`s -- but you both had very
contested races. And you know, Sam Stein (ph) wrote a great piece in the
Going back and talking to members who were around in the 1994 assault
weapons ban who really did get blindsided by what the cost of that vote was
in terms of the NRA coming after them. I want to play a little clip of Jim
Moran talking about the NRA`S political power. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM MORAN, (D) VIRGINIA: That this is going to happen, it`s
going to have to happen from the bottom up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said it must come from the bottom up,
congressman. What do you mean by that?
MORAN: Well what I mean is that, there are 300 of my colleagues in
the House who have an A rating from the NRA. I think there in -- most of
them are frankly intimidated by the NRA because they know that the NRA
responds not so much to its membership but to the manufacturers, the people
who pay the executives` salaries.
And, the reason they`re intimidaters that the NRA has shown that it
will spend unlimited amounts of money in their district whether to defeat
them in a primary or a general election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Are you worried about that?
GRISHAM: I`m concerned that we`re not doing enough to protect
families, not only in my district but across the country. And I -- it`s
clear to me that the platform today on doing something about gun violence
is making sure that we`re protecting gun owners` rights, that we`re clear
about all the outdoor activities and your personal public safety are not
being minimized but rather every aspect.
I was at that -- the steering and policy Democrats budget hearing for
-- on Newtown. And I don`t ever want to have to talk to a parent or a
family who is affected ever again about this kind of gun violence that we
didn`t do everything in our power to make a difference here.
And, this is the right balance of those two issues, law-abiding
responsible gun owners, their rights to protected and doing everything we
can to secure those weapons that are already out there and to do something
about preventing the access to weapons whose only purpose is to harm a
FRANKEL: Hey, you know --I was at that same meeting, and it was very,
very hard to keep composure because I -- we had sitting in front of us both
the families -- some of the families of Newtown who, as people spoke, were
basically hysterical, crying. And you know, most people think that gun
violence is never going to affect them.
I think what Newtown, you know, has a new awareness, but I will tell
you this because I said it, when I was mayor, you know, you would have gang
shootings. Well, I`m not a gang, and so, I`ve said going to affect me, but
here`s what happens. If a shooting occurs in a neighborhood, any
neighborhood, the whole neighborhood is in fear.
FRANKEL: Because -- and I could tell you the phone calls I would
receive, the visits to my office. So, gun violence does affect everybody.
HAYES: I want to ask you, though, about what -- whether the threat of
the NRA has been inflated, whether it is --
HAYES: -- because part of what`s interesting is that you`re all
coming to this new, right? You don`t have the scars of 1994. Let`s talk
about that after we take a quick break.
HAYES: Congressman Nolan, you were just saying during the break that
you`re already meeting the wrath of the NRA.
NOLAN: Well, I am. I grew up and represent Northern Minnesota.
That`s real gun country. Most people up there, you know, never get their
first chicken and roast beef until they`re, you know, 19 or 20. We grow up
on fish and venison, the deer hunting opener, the duck opener. Those are
Those are when families get together and everybody goes hunting and up
until me there never been a -- someone who supported any kind of gun
control that`s been elected to that district. But there`s been a big
change in national sentiment. Not only are people in urban areas
concerned, but people in rural areas are, too.
And they understand that you don`t need an assault rifle to shoot a
duck or to protect your home. So, the last three or four days of this last
campaign, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, was in my district going
from town to town with my opponent. Anybody in my district that had ever
gotten a hunting license got three or four calls saying Nolan is going to
take your guns away, which is not true.
I`m a big Second Amendment supporter. I hunt, I fish. We have guns.
Everybody in our family and our neighborhood has guns. And, so, I think
there`s been a big change in the national sentiment. Those who were timid
about maybe supporting gun control but were afraid politically, they need
to get over it.
I think people want some controls. You just can`t allow this kind of
gun violence to continue without trying to do something, Chris.
HAYES: Well but here--but let me say this, though. And I want to get
your reaction to this, right?
The story of the politics of guns, particularly, in the first term of
the president is a story that went back before the president, which is
basically Democrats after the assault weapon ban, particularly, after 2000
election in which it was the story that got told was there gun control
legislation cost them precious seats, cost Al Gore Tennessee, and he would
have been president if he`d won Tennessee, et cetera.
There was a kind of retreat. I mean, I--it just wasn`t a priority.
We weren`t legislating on this issue. And I remember doing shows where we
played, you know, the NRA convention where Wayne LaPierre and people are
saying Barack Obama`s got a secret plan to take your guns away, right?
NOLAN: Oh, yes.
HAYES: He`s just biding his time. Sure he`s not doing anything now,
but if you re-elect him -- how is it not the case that he -- that this new
initiative has now confirmed retroactively the worst kind of paranoid fears
of the gun folks at the NRA and the gun owners of America saying, look,
these Democrats, they may talk nice on guns, but they`re going to pounce as
soon as they get a chance.
POCAN: Look, the NRA (ph) is showing right now their secret agenda,
which is to help gun manufacturers, to help the Republican Party, not to
help the gun owners. And I think it`s really how we talk about it back in
our districts. I mean, in Wisconsin, the packers and hunting are like, you
know, extensions of family values.
POCAN: People, you know -- we`re not -- no one is going to take away
your hunting rifle. No one is trying to stop your personal protection.
FRANKEL: That`s right.
POCAN: But when you talk about the types of weapons and the types of
measures the president and Congress needs to do, it`s entirely different.
So, if we`re, I think, this frank enough with our constituents and we tell
them the truth, NRA is doing plenty to define themselves right now. I say
let them keep pushing.
HAYES: You guys sound genuinely unafraid of the NRA.
GRISHAM: I think that -- this is a class and a new era of having the
courage to stand by your convictions. Can there be repercussions? Of
course. But, that`s why we`re here, right, is to stand up for what we
believe in, to represent our constituents in the country in a way that`s
meaningful, and I`m excited about those kinds of opportunities.
And I think Mark is exactly right. Talk to your constituents about
what these actions really mean, and we`re going to have to do a much better
job about communicating those issues back home.
FRANKEL: Right, and I tell you what, I could not look at a
constituent in the eye just like I couldn`t those families in Newtown and
say to them, I can`t help you because I`m afraid of the NRA?
FRANKEL: That`s ridiculous.
NOLAN: Chris, I think it would be a mistake, however, to
underestimate the kind of toxic effect that the NRA is having. I have
never, ever in all my life feared for my security. And I`m not fearful of
it now, but I`m a little more than I ever had been before. We`ve been
getting a lot of not very thinly veiled threats and calls into my office.
You know, things like you tell Nolan he better watch his back. Nobody
has actually come out and suddenly they`re gunning for me, but the messages
are quite angry, vitriolic, and a little bit frightening to the people at
my front desk who have been taking the calls. I`m sorry, you know, I`m a
little nervous about it.
I`ve never been nervous before. But it`s had a very -- they`re very
toxic on the effect that they`re having on the American public.
HAYES: All of you may get a chance to vote on actual gun legislation
if the president that`s been set in the last two or three weeks in the
House continues, which is a remarkable president and augers -- well augers
well to be a member of the minority in the House which has not been a very
GRISHAM: Fair enough.
HAYES: For quite a while. We have seen in the last two weeks two
different votes that were brought to the floor that did not have a majority
of Republican support, the fiscal deal that was the last day of the last
Congress and the Sandy supplemental, which I talked about in the opening.
And this violates the so-called Hastert Rule. Dennis Hastert had this
idea that only bills of the majority of the majority support should come
even if you can get 300 votes for the thing. It shouldn`t come up to the
floor, because you`re the party that controls the House. And here`s
Hastert, himself, speaking about why that rule is important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF FMR. REP. DENNIS HASTERT, (R-IL) HOUSE SPEAKER: When you
start making deals where you have to get Democrats to pass the legislation,
you`re not in power anymore.
When you start passing stuff that your members aren`t in line with,
all of a sudden, your ability to lead is in jeopardy because somebody else
making the tune, the president is making a decision or Pelosi is making the
decision or they`re making the decision in the Senate. When you give up
that responsibility, you really give up your ability to govern and I think
that`s the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want to ask all of you what this means for the legislative
agenda of this House going forward right after we take a break.
HAYES: So, the first question is, are you hopeful that the -- we will
continue to see the demise of the Hastert Rule which is do you anticipate
you`re going to get to vote on items like the Sandy supplemental where
there is not majority Republican support but you can cast a yes vote and
get some legislation passed? Is that going to continue or is this a kind
of one off situation?
POCAN: Well, from the very first day, we watched when we were voting
for the speaker and when Allen West gets multiple votes on the Republican
side, you got a problem on that side of the aisle, and we saw that. But,
you know, if they need Democrats to help pass bills and that means you`re
not going to cut Social Security, you`re not going to cut Medicare, I mean
We`re signing us up. But when they want to come with a bunch of crazy
stuff or like last session get nothing done, that`s where our job is to try
to, you know, fight that along the way.
But, we`re more than willing to keep delivering the votes for things
like Sandy relief, but you know, watching that caucus in action, I mean, to
hear, you know, Allen West, get votes, I mean for the speaker to only get
220 votes with the majority he has, it was a fascinating first day of work.
FRANKEL: Well, to me, the Sandy vote is to me is the way Congress
should work, because I think -- you know, I ran for congress, probably most
of us here because we were disgusted. You know, I saw an institution like
I call it like stuck in the mud. And, I think what I`ve realized is we
really have real-- these real fundamental differences, sincere. That`s the
FRANKEL: These are sincere differences. So, when you have sincere
differences, if you just keep -- if you both pushing like this you that
car, you are never going to get the car out of the mud.
And so, you -- someone has got to be willing to compromise in a sense
the Sandy bill was a compromise, because some people wanted to do a lot
more relief and some didn`t want to do any relief. I think that`s an
example of how Congress should work.
GRISHAM: We have to stop trying because we`re not successful and we
shouldn`t be at legislating by ideology. Sandy, I think, is a recognition
that there are plenty of opportunities for us to focus on the people that
we serve and do it in a way that meaningful, whether it continues, Chris.
I don`t know where this -- or we hope that --
HAYES: I disagree with that. I think ideology seems -- ideology has
been made into this toxic word, but ideology is just what people believe in
some world to use when shares at the principles and --
GRISHAM: But if you don`t -- if that`s all you will do and that is a
narrow component for you and you are legislating and trying to figure out
policy, you -- you restrict the opportunities that you have to focus on
things that will actually make a difference and get them done.
So, when you use it as a vehicle not to pass legislation or not to
cooperate or have bipartisan support or engagement, you end up right where
HAYES: But if I -- if there is a bill in the House tomorrow to cut
Social Security to benefits by 50 percent --
HAYES: -- starting in a month, right? You say, well, this -- that`s
getting something done. We`re going to come together for the country and
do that and don`t be an ideologically intransigent and vote against that,
but the reason they`re going to vote against that, I assume, I don`t want
to put words on your mouth, the reason you would vote against for that the
hypothetical bill is because you believe its terrible legislation.
GRISHAM: It is a terrible legislation but --
NOLAN: You know, Chris has a good point.
NOLAN: We`re talking about how we should be voting on this and that
and everything else, and we`re missing the point. Sometimes, the solution
is a lot more simple than it might appear. And in this case, that 50
percent cut in Social Security, it ain`t going to come up for a vote Chris.
NOLAN: Because we don`t meet, we don`t work. If you`re not in
session, if you`re not in committee, if you`re not bringing bills forward,
if you`re not giving opportunities to make amendments, nothing comes up.
They kick the budget and sequestration down the road all last year.
And now, here we are, its coming up here again in March. And we`re
going to kick it down the road another three months and go home.
NOLAN: You know, we were supposed to meet -- three days this past
week and we met a day and a half. We went in Monday night and Tuesday, and
then, we go home again. And, you know, we got sworn in a few weeks ago and
took a couple votes and then we went home again. And you`re only scheduled
-- scheduled to meet a few days between now and sequestration, and the
Republicans, are really quite frankly, they`re doing it deliberately and
they`re engaging in all this gimmickry like Congress shouldn`t get their
pay if they don`t go to work.
Well guess who decides whether now we go to work? It`s Eric Cantor
and John Boehner put us to work for five days a week.
FRANKEL: I have a little different opinion. First of all, I like to
say this, I love going home because I live in paradise. I live in South
Florida. And right about now, I like to be there and I like to get with my
constituents and hear what they have to say.
HAYES: One of the rare Congress members that likes her district.
FRANKEL: I love being in Florida.
FRANKEL: But I also believe in first -- first, do no harm. So it
really sort of concerns me in the House the type of legislation that would
be brought forward. So, I`m not as disappointed that these people are not
bringing, you know, rushing with their bills. However --
NOLAN: Because you don`t think they`re going to be good bills.
FRANKEL: No. I don`t think they can be good bills.
POCAN: But this function goes even further, though. I mean, the fact
that last session for six weeks they didn`t have flood insurance in place.
47,000 people couldn`t close on their homes. That`s not even logical.
That`s just pure dysfunction in this Congress.
GRISHAM: But that`s the point isn`t it, Mark? Because look --
HAYES: That`s the point you`re making.
GRISHAM: Yes. I`m the caregiver for my mom. I spent 20 years
advocating for disadvantaged families and seniors. And you know what?
We`re going to have a lot of difficulty dealing with Medicare and Social
Security. I mean, the entitlement debate is the next big really difficult
set of circumstances that we have to deal with.
My mom can`t afford her co-pays. Most seniors can`t even with
Medicare Part D. They can`t navigate the health care system. They`re
disadvantaged (ph). They`re real trouble. We have to talk about what
we`re going to do with Medicare.
If nothing comes up, we never have an opportunity to require Medicare
to negotiate fair pharmaceutical drug prices. So, we have to get beyond
all of one and none of the other.
NOLAN: Michelle, my point is if we`re not in session, if we`re not
working, we can talk about it on talk shows.
HAYES: Right. And you`re welcome back anytime.
HAYES: Well, I want to talk about the kind of long-term fiscal
projections, and obviously, the budget, the long-term budgetary picture is
what has been teed up again and again and again through this weird set of
HAYES: And we`ve now done this again. We`re three-month pass of the
debt ceiling. So, I want to talk about how you see this playing out and
what you want to see prioritized and where you want to see the conversation
go in this next three months now that we`ve bought some time away from the
ticking -- ticking clock again right after this break.
HAYES: All right. The big conversation in Washington, I think,
basically since mid 2011 when we had the last debt ceiling showdown, has
been about the long-term budgetary projections of the United States and the
actuarial peril that we face in vis-a-vis particularly Medicare, right, in
the out years.
Now, a few things I would say is, first, the projections of Medicare
solvency where right now it should have been 11 years is right exactly at
the mean for the lifetime of the Medicare trust fund has always been around
11 or 12 years. So, it`s right in the middle. It`s not like it`s some
horrible look forward.
It was actually extended by the Affordable Care Act, right? But given
the fact that the Republicans seem intent on there is the Budget Control
Act, and now, they seem intent on trying to push changes to American social
insurance programs, my sense is what Republicans want to do is get you guys
to vote for cuts to these programs that are very popular.
NOLAN: Oh, yes.
HAYES: And then turn around and run to people in your districts
against you --
GRISHAM: That`s right.
HAYES: -- because you did that.
NOLAN: Spot on.
GRISHAM: I`m going to challenge you not just popular. These are
programs that are critical. Have people forgotten that the mainstay for
reimbursement for hospitals in this country is Medicare?
GRISHAM: You want (ph) hospitals to close in my state. We are under
bedded, under capacity. In rural areas, there aren`t any accesses. We
can`t erode that core component of the health care system. Do I want
people getting their care in emergency rooms? Of course not. Do I want to
figure out cost containment measures? Yes.
Do we need to do something about chronic care disease which in the
long term saves this country billions of dollars? Should we be reinvesting
in public health and community health? Absolutely. And to get there, we
have to have a productive debate about changes to Medicare that are cost
containment related and continue to support individuals to get the health
care that they need.
It`s not about restricting benefits, about being smart about
investments in the Medicare over the long haul. And so, I-- it`s more than
popular. This is a critical program in the United States.
FRANKEL: Right. And you know, I think, first of all, we have to
understand that Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security do not get us
into this financial mess.
GRISHAM: That`s right.
FRANKEL: All right. So, we won`t go into the wars, the home bust,
the Bush tax cuts. So, now, here`s the idea. Let`s wait until people get
oldest and sickest and the way we`re going to fix the budget -- the
deficit, is when they get oldest and sickest, we`re going to take away
their benefits. That is totally insane.
FRANKEL: So --
HAYES: You`re talking about something like, for instance, raising the
eligibility age which has been --
FRANKEL: Raising the eligibility age --
HAYES: How does the table feel about raising the eligibility age?
POCAN: I mean, you know, the Republicans want us to talk about the
budget, the debt ceiling as if that`s the only issue that`s out there. I
mean, the real, the biggest issue, in my opinion, is jobs in the economy.
GRISHAM: That`s right.
POCAN: And we still have to do everything we can because once we get
the economy back, you`ll have revenue coming in and you`ll take care of a
lot of those long-term, you know, shortfalls that you may have in different
areas, but instead, they have us just talk about -- I mean, and personally,
I support Congressman Nadler`s proposal to get rid of the debt ceiling
POCAN: I think it`s absolutely ridiculous that we still have this --
POCAN: -- stupid debate that they want to do three months at a time
just because they want to fight every three months.
HAYES: We should note that Dick Gephardt, when he was running -- when
he was speaker in the past, had created a rule that basically tied together
the appropriations vote with the debt ceiling rate so that the two things
were in the same you voted on them together --
FRANKEL: That`s right.
HAYES: -- because if you`re doing this, you`re authorizing the
spending and you`re authorizing the borrowing by authorizing the spending.
And we didn`t have this, right? That was -- that used to be the norm.
FRANKEL: And one of the things that I`m shocked about, really, I
think one of the most surprising things to me is nobody is talking about
GRISHAM: No one is talking about jobs.
FRANKEL: It still is --
GRISHAM: It`s critical.
FRANKEL: It`s the number one issue where I live the most people live.
GRISHAM: -- negative job growth.
GRISHAM: These three-month extensions, this is all about no
predictability in the private sector --
POCAN: But Michelle that`s why cockroaches and traffic jams are more
popular than Congress.
GRISHAM: That`s right.
POCAN: -- because we`re not talking about things that are relevant --
GRISHAM: -- get people back to work.
NOLAN: OK. So, the answer to your question, we need to really talk
with this -- there`s been a great fraud perpetuated on the American public.
Lois pointed it out here. Medicare, Social Security, have not gotten us
into the financial crisis that we are in. This is all about an attempt to
turn a Social Security over to Wall Street and to turn Medicare over to the
insurance industry and to privatize those two great programs and
characterize them as welfare.
They`re not welfare. They`re earned benefits. People started paying
for them the first day they ever went to work. And people are quite
comfortable with doing whatever we need to do to secure those benefits.
But they`re not what got us in trouble.
NOLAN: It`s, as Lois pointed out, the Bush tax cuts, endless wars of
choice, building a military empire with billion dollar bases in every nook
and cranny of the Earth, and they`re trying to do a little bait and switch
NOLAN: You know that`s where we need to be attacking the problems
that we`re facing today. And we do need to do some things in Social
Security and Medicare, but they`re not immediate. We got time to do that
and we will.
POCAN: Talk about the entitlements here, when we had the presentation
from the Congressional Research Service and non-partisan entity talked
about things they explained it as a transfer of payments. And if you think
about it, it`s their people`s money being transferred now to be able to use
for Social Security and Medicare.
And when you talk about that, it`s even stronger because you know --
they have all the spinmeister to say entitlement is a bad word, and pretty
soon, people will start to question the word. But it`s a transfer of
people`s own money for these programs. We need to talk about that in a
better way, I think.
FRANKEL: Well, you know, I want to pick up on something Michelle said
because listen, we can`t -- Medicare and Social Security, Medicaid, didn`t
get us into this problem. But, I mean, listen, we have to face up to the
fact that trying to keep health care costs from rising quickly, we have to
have some kind of containment.
However, I don`t think the containment should be cutting off, when
people are old and sick, cutting off their benefits. But, like Michelle
said, more efficient delivery of services, more focus on prevention,
getting more people insured so that when they get older, they`re healthier.
And, how about investing research and development, because, you know what?
There are cures out there. There are present jobs there. That`s it.
HAYES: Well, and the other thing that is so frustrating about this is
that, you know, Congress passed this very big bill. It was incredibly
contentious called the Affordable Care Act. It`s got a lot of stuff in
there or about exactly is. And rather than -- and none of it has been
I mean, something like 10 percent -- rather than sitting and waiting
to see if it works or not which if it doesn`t work, if it really doesn`t
work, if the cost containment things do, then you tip your cap to the
critics who said it wouldn`t, and then, you really have a problem and you
go back at it. Why don`t we just wait and see?
GRISHAM: It`s already working.
HAYES: Right. Yes.
GRISHAM: I mean, I would say that it`s already working. We`ve seen
the lowest increase in insurance rates in the history, all time low about
average of four percent after the Affordable Care Act was implemented.
We`ve got women in particular who were getting screening and lots of key
prevention services. It is already working.
HAYES: You said just a moment ago that cockroaches and traffic jams
are more popular than Congress.
POCAN: Any ball that`s catching up.
HAYES: Yes. And I think also Paris Hilton and the U.S. going
communist are also poll above Congress. I want to talk about why people
feel that way about Congress right after we take this break.
HAYES: So Congressman Nolan, you have an interesting story that I did
not know about until -- our booking producer brought your case to my
attention, which is that you served in United States Congress from 1975 to
1982. You were a member of that very famous class of so-called Watergate
HAYES: Largest freshmen class, I believe, in the history of the
United States Congress. You served for three terms. You left congress.
You were in the private sector more or less for 30 years.
HAYES: Thirty-two. A, what on Earth would possess you if you go back
into the Congress? What about watching Congress that made you think
yourself, man, that is where I need to be? And then, I want to -- what
your sense is, you have a very unique perspective then and now. What has
changed in the intervening years since you`ve been away?
NOLAN: Well, you know, I remained active in politics back home,
although, since in the private sector the entire time. And, you know, this
country has been very good to my generation. If you wanted to fail, you
had to have like a plan to do that. And that`s kind of what`s getting away
from us and not kind of it is getting away from us.
We were talking about the jobs and the opportunities and the income.
The rich are getting richer, the poor getting poorer. The middle class is
getting crushed. And I just felt compelled. In some respects, I did kind
of back into it. I started trying to recruit a candidate, the next thing
you know, they turned on me.
HAYES: The old Dick Cheney move. Remember when he was running the
vice presidential --
NOLAN: This was a genuine effort, and it failed. And I said I`d
consider it thinking my friends would do an intervention, you know, or
something that serious, but they all encouraged me. But I tell you what,
there`s a huge difference between now and then.
HAYES: Yes. What are the differences?
NOLAN: Well, first of all, my first term we worked 48 out of the 52
weeks. This last Congress worked 32 out of 52 weeks. I think we`re
scheduled 33. And those weeks that we worked back in the day were four and
five-day weeks. And the committees were all working and legislation was
coming to the floor of the House.
It was not uncommon to have 100, 200 amendments under consideration.
It was in some respects overwhelming, but if anybody had an idea or a
notion to make this country a better place to live in, you got your
HAYES: To get the amendment up.
HAYES: That`s very interesting.
NOLAN: And this Congress, you know, I think we`re scheduled to work
124 days. We already skipped one here last Wednesday the leadership
decided. And they`re very short days they`re not real days. We`ve been
here for sometime now, and our committee still haven`t met.
HAYES: But the argument -- the argument in favor of that, right, is
that you`re spending less time in the, you know, corrupting capital of
Washington beltway thinking where you go to cocktail parties and lose sense
HAYES: And more time back with the good people of your district who
keep you honest.
POCAN: But there is a Washington mentality. I mean, there`s no
question when you come out here, you start realizing, our first trainings
we had and this goes to Rick`s point, we had two weeks of training and they
separated Democrats from Republicans constantly.
So, the very first thing they taught us is dysfunction, right? Why
it`s been so dysfunctional the last Congress. And then, you start watching
just, you know, the issues they talk about that aren`t the real issues.
So, it really is a different world. Coming from Wisconsin, looking at
what`s happening in Washington, and I`m doing my best not to follow that.
HAYES: Yes. But Congressman Nolan is saying that he wants --he
thinks everybody should be spending more time in Washington.
NOLAN: We should. I tell you why. When you`re meeting in committee,
you`re meeting on the floor, you`re getting to know each other. And you`ll
find there is someone over here who you disagree with 95 percent of the
time. But you find out where that five percent is where you can
collaborate, cooperate, compromise, and get something done.
GRISHAM: He really does agree with me, Chris.
HAYES: I was just instigating. I was just instigating.
GRISHAM: I just want to point that out.
NOLAN: Yes. But every good legislator, in my case, everything that I
passed, I always had a Republican partner.
HAYES: Right, right.
NOLAN: Those opportunities don`t exist if you`re not working.
FRANKEL: And you know what, I respectfully disagree because Rick was
here when the Democrats had the majority. If we had the majority, I
actually would --
FRANKEL: But I served in a legislature in Florida where the
republicans had a very big majority.
HAYES: You were minority leader.
FRANKEL: I was minority leader. And as I said before, the less, the
merrier, because by the end of the session, I was ready to -- I mean, my
head was so banged up from hitting it against the wall, and there`s such
fundamental differences here. I think, Rick, to really believe that on
every single bill, we can make a difference. I really would rather be with
my constituents, helping them to learn how to navigate.
POCAN: But there`s something in common that they`re saying is, you
know, if this is the dysfunction, we don`t want it to continue if they`re
going to function like that, but we should be working towards what Rick is
HAYES: Let`s talk about -- I want to talk about the daily schedule of
a member of Congress and this polarization issue. There`s an interesting
data on this right after we take a break.
HAYES: All right. There`s a political scientist named Keith Poole
(ph) who has devised a metric for measuring polarization, and it`s called
DW Nominate. It`s a way of scoring vote to sort of figure out how
polarized a legislative body is.
Here`s -- polarization in the House of Representatives just to give a
sense of what this looks like the time serious over time, what you see
there is that we are extremely polarized, about the most polarized since
we`ve been since 1879. And, what`s interesting there is it`s asymmetric
polarization which is important, right?
The Republicans have much moved -- both sides have moved to their --
the Democrats have moved to left, Republicans move to the right --the slope
of that line is much higher than the Democrats so there`s been a sharper
veering up from the Republicans to the right. And also, interestingly,
Congressman Nolan, is that you see it begins right when you were in
It`s a plate -- I`m not you know, everyone can draw their own
conclusions, but it starts right around 1975 is when that -- that line goes
NOLAN: If you look, it really takes off in about 1990 -- early 1990s.
And I tell you when that happened. Newt Gingrich made a speech to the
Heritage Foundation and he said you don`t gain political capital. You
don`t win elections by compromising and collaborating. You do by --
assuming an uncompromising position and by confrontation.
And you know what, he was right. That`s what worked. That`s how they
won elections. And, you know this country tends to swing, you know, big
swings one way or the other. But we found now after a couple of decades of
that rampantly increasing polarization and confrontation and gridlock
people have had it.
They`ve come to realize you might win elections that way, but you
can`t govern the country that way.
HAYES: Sure, but then the question is how did you -- you know what
the problem is that compromise cannot be unilaterally imposed.
HAYES: This is the fundamental conundrum of the Obama era right?
NOLAN: But Chris, that was the message of the last election. We`ve
had an opportunity to meet with the Republicans. They got the message,
too. It`s time for collaboration, time for cooperation.
NOLAN: Their leadership has not gotten that --
POCAN: Political class, the elite and the political class, the
leadership on the Republican side that doesn`t want their members to do
what they need to do to stay, you know, really listening to their
HAYES: Well, congressman, wait, hold on one second. I know your
district. All right? I spent some time in Madison, Wisconsin.
POCAN: It`s a very strong, progressive district.
HAYES: It`s a very strong, progressive district. You replaced Tammy
Baldwin who is now amazingly a United States senator, a friend of yours,
right, a colleague. I know that district. OK?
If you are on a bill that you -- t his co-sponsored with Eric Cantor,
whatever it is, someone is going to come in and primary you or someone is
going to come in and threaten to primary you or run ads against you or
you`re going home to the folks of Madison, Wisconsin, who are going to be
really angry that you`re working with Eric Cantor.
POCAN: Again, it`s how you explain to people. In the legislature in
14 years, I was one of the people towards the end people that`d say you
break bread with Republicans. So, you found a way to find where you could
find that compromise. And I had someone run against me in my primary
basically saying, oh, he voted with Scott Walker twice out of like hundreds
of times. He must be a moderate --
HAYES: So, you were primary --
POCAN: When I first run, yes, to get into the primary, yet, I won by
50 points in that primary because people said, look, he still stand by his
progressive values, but, when you have to find compromise, you have to find
That`s all of our jobs, or else, we`re going to do the same thing that
did in the last Congress which you know makes cockroaches so popular. So,
you know, it`s just something that we have to really proactively do.
FRANKEL: It is really -- though, I have -- it`s something that I
really think a lot about because I`m socially very, very progressive person
under the certain things that I can tell you that I`m not going to
compromise on. For example on women`s health issues and choice, don`t look
at me to compromise. OK?
But I-- it would be naive and also I think a little arrogant to think
that the folks who have complete -- who have some very fundamental
different thinking that somehow they`re going to compromise, too.
FRANKEL: I mean, we`re dealing with, you know, two sides of a coin
that don`t want to --
HAYES: Incommensurable view. I think that`s a really interesting way
of viewing things. I think actually -- I think I`m on her side. There`s
something more fundamental here. Let`s talk about the daily life of the
U.S. member of Congress right after the break.
HAYES: You are looking at a live shot of the White House in the
nation`s capital on this fine Saturday morning, just one day before the
president and vice president will be sworn in for their second terms two
days before the inaugural celebration of that.
Hello from Washington, D.C. I`m Chris Hayes, here with: Congressman
Rick Nolan of Minnesota, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham of New
Mexico, Congresswoman Lois Frankel of Florida, and Congressman Mark Pocan
We are talking about Congress, why the American people are unenthused
about the institution. And I thought this little item, this artifact, had
a lot to do with it.
We`re talking about -- Congressman Nolan had served from `75 to `81
and had seen the changes and one thing you`ve said is Congress is in
session less, work weeks are shorter, you`re spending less time in the
capital, less with the people on committee and part of what`s driving that
is fundraising, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
HAYES: There is a lot of pressure to fund raise. You have to go back
to your district to do all of that fundraising.
And there`s a DCCC presentation made to members of Congress, I believe
possibly the freshman class, that was leaked to "The Huffington Post," and
this is a model daily schedule for a member of Congress from the DCCC.
Four hours call time. Call time for those who do not know what call
time is that you sit with a list of names and a telephone and you call
those people and you ask them for money. Four hours of call time.
One to two hours constituent visits. Two hours committee/floor. One
hour strategic outreach. One hour recharge time.
I think most people look at that model schedule and think to
themselves, wait a second. The number one thing, when you have your pie
chart you are supposed to be apportioning your time is call time, calling
people for dollars? That`s the thing? One to two hours constituent
services, four hours call time?
The second thing I think as a human being is what, it`s like Dante`s
ninth circle of hell to sit on the phone and ask people for money all day.
How -- why -- why do you decide to do this job if you have to do that?
REP. MARK POCAN (D), WISCONSIN: "Sesame Street" -- one of these
things does not belong with the other. I mean, call time has nothing to do
with our actual jobs yet it is the place that gets us here. I think not
this last election cycle, but 2010, it finally surpassed incumbency as the
greatest factor to getting re-elected.
I think the one of the reasons, the most money, was 97 percent I think
chance of getting elected. And it`s completely dysfunctional, because
what`s going to happen is you have more self-funded candidates come in, you
have more people who just come from where the special interest money come
from, and you won`t have people with real backgrounds in the legislatures
or private sector because --
REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D), NEW MEXICO: The real impact of
Citizens United. We`re just exacerbating the problem and it begs for
campaign finance reform. We`re not going to be able to develop
relationships with other members as Rick has suggested so we`re actually
legislating and creating effective policy. It is a component of this job
that I think most of us find difficult, distasteful and we`d prefer to be
doing the real work.
GRISHAM: Yes, I`m just trying to be kind.
HAYES: Hello. This is Congresswoman Frankel. This is distasteful.
REP. LOIS FRANKEL (D), FLORIDA: Chris, that may be a model day but
that`s not a real day.
You know, listen, when I go back to the district as much as I like to
be sunning on the beach, I mean I`ll have -- we`ll be back for 10 days.
Probably like the rest of us, we are booked appointment after appointment
FRANKEL: -- our districts span a district.
HAYES: I don`t think objects to that, like going to bingo halls and
chamber of --
REP. RICK NOLAN (D), MINNESOTA: But here`s the point -- here`s the
point. People are upset because it appears and I think it`s correct that
people in the Congress are busy campaigning and not governing.
GRISHAM: All the time. That`s right.
NOLAN: It is literally true.
But to your question, Chris, that`s why many of us have run. Gary and
I for example -- now, we`ve been working -- we need to change the way we do
GRISHAM: That`s right.
NOLAN: We need to reverse Citizens United.
GRISHAM: That`s right.
NOLAN: We need public funding for campaigns in election, so people
are beholden to the public. That`s the most well-financed special
This money is having a very, very toxic effect on our ability to
govern, on the results of what we ultimately do. We need to change the way
we do politics.
HAYES: And do you think --
GRISHAM: Public wants public servants. And that`s why we ran. And
this doesn`t allow us to do that job as effectively as we ought to be
FRANKEL: You know what? Listen, I absolutely, totally, completely
agree. I think most of the public agrees. It`s not the reality.
The reality is for some of us, I mean, some people are in very safe
districts, most are. If you`re in a competitive district, the fact of the
matter is you have to raise money or the way I look at it, someone pretty
crazy is going to take your place.
HAYES: You have one of the most expensive races in the country if I`m
HAYES: How much money did that race cost?
FRANKEL: Well, I personally had to raise $3.5 million.
NOLAN: Chris, mine was $20 million.
NOLAN: That is obscene.
POCAN: You have to raise money and we are trying to help our
colleagues come back.
POCAN: So it has become such a part of it.
But Rick and I were working on a bill, amendment on Citizens United,
trying to deal with that, working with a move to amend a group. But I was
always the author of a hundred percent public finance, I mean, until we
start having this conversation more we`re not addressing the public --
HAYES: Do you think -- because it`s -- I mean, one of the things
about campaign finance that is difficult, there is an array of things. One
is it is a procedural issue and it`s hard to get people motivated on
procedural issues. It`s not the thing people get flush in the cheeks
about. It`s not what they argue about over Thanksgiving dinner with
relatives. It`s not that place where you get people in their visceral,
HAYES: There is also the fact that by nature, by definition, sitting
members of Congress benefit from the current system because they`re the
people who got elected under it, right?
And there is the idea the interest groups that have a lot of power
benefit from it because they have relationships and they can game it. It
always seems to me the soft underbelly of the current regime, the place
where it is weakest is the fact that at the end of the day, all of you have
to do this horrible, dreary thing which is calling people and asking for
money. I don`t understand why you can`t motivate some kind of just like
personal rebellion against the prison of this phone in your hand. Like two
GRISHAM: You`ve seemed like call room.
HAYES: Yes, they`re bleak. I`ve been in call rooms, they`re
incredibly bleak. It`s like fluorescent lights and a little booth --
FRANKEL: Right. Terrible.
POCAN: In our Wisconsin legislature, one of the things we did to
start stopping when Democrats were in control was in our -- we put a
measure in there that you couldn`t fundraise during the budget process.
That took out a quarter of the time. And people start realizing that.
So, sometimes --
HAYES: That is interesting.
POCAN: The little steps we did.
GRISHAM: Some have a blackout period.
HAYES: There`s a blackout period?
HAYES: Well, that`s interesting. That seems like an interesting
first low hanging fruit.
FRANKEL: So, everybody has a job. There is a piece you probably
really don`t like.
HAYES: That`s why they call it a job, right?
FRANKEL: That`s right. That is one of the pieces.
HAYES: Congressman Nolan, you were there when this wasn`t as much of
an issue. I mean, when you were there in `75 and `81, how much time, how
much was fundraising part of --
NOLAN: I didn`t spend any time fundraising. My last election
contest, I spent I think $230,000. This election contest all the money
combined was over $20 million. And I forget who made the point here but I
think it was Gary. You know, the fact is that, you know, 97 percent of the
time the one with the most money gets the most votes.
So, unless you have enough money, don`t bother running. And on my
case, I got outspent but I had enough obviously or I wouldn`t be here.
GRISHAM: And think what we could do in our communities with that kind
of investment. You want to get the economy moving. You want to make a
difference in education. You want to reform health care? For me, I think
particularly in my district, that is a compelling message. Think about
what we could be doing.
POCAN: In our caucus, leader Pelosi has been great about trying to
reinforce this that we need these measures and I think as a caucus, that we
can find people on the other side who hate doing this as well.
HAYES: You know, the big question I have about this is that, you
know, I`ve known a lot of lawyers in my time and people that work at
corporate firms, whatever. Unless you are a sociopath, if you spend -- if
you spend 12, 13 hours a day making arguments you come to believe them,
right? At a certain point you can`t detach yourself anymore.
And part of the problem is at a certain point the detachment you may
have now as freshmen members from this -- the dreariness of raising money,
there is only so long you can keep that detachment and not go crazy. I
mean, if you`re going to do this for 10, 12, 26 years, you`ll have to kind
of come to like it in some perverse way. Once you do, that desire to get
rid of the current system is going to --
FRANKEL: Let me just say this. First of all, I don`t want to say, my
opponent was not crazy. However, what really did motivate me and it is
grueling and distasteful to ask people for money but I knew he had such a
different approach to solving problems. So that`s what motivated me. Yes.
Congressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan
Grisham of New Mexico, Congresswoman Lois Frankel of Florida, and
Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin -- thank you so much for your time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That was fantastic. I learned a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
HAYES: President Obama`s legacy going forward. Why his re-election
is perhaps more historic, that`s next.
HAYES: Four years ago, almost 2 million people crowded onto the
National Mall here in Washington to watch the first black man take the oath
of office, as the 44th president of the United States.
People came from all over the country and they brought their children,
and in their imaginations, they brought friends and family members who had
not lived long enough to see such an occasion. It was a transformative and
epochal moment in history, an undeniable point of racial progress.
But it wasn`t post racial. The president himself recognized this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never been so
naive as to believe we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single
election cycle, or with a single candidate, particularly --
Particularly, a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The satirical newspaper "The Onion" also recognizes, which is
why they ran this rather appropriate post election headline, "Black Man
Given Nation`s Worst Job."
So much about President Obama is seen through the prism of race, how
he won the White House, how he governed the past four years and the
conditions under which he won re-election. And there were quite a few
people who believe President Obama won the first election because of luck
and timing, because he succeeded George W. Bush, a two-term president who
left America in dire straits. And that just as Obama`s opponent John
McCain seemed to be getting momentum, the entire global economy crashed.
Precisely because Obama`s election the first time was and is viewed by
a sizable majority of Americans as a fluke or one off sentimental
indulgence, his re-election is all the more significant for what it says
about American politics and the ongoing trauma of race. By 2016, a child
born in the first hours of the 21st century will have lived half her life
and her most formative years with a black president.
Joining me at the table now are:
Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.
Julianne Malveaux, author of "Surviving and Thriving: 365 facts in
Black Economic History, also an economist and president emeritus of Bennett
Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat from Maryland.
And Bill Fletcher, Jr., author of "They`re Bankrupting Us and 20 other
Myths About Unions", editorial board member for blackcommentator.com and
senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies Here in Washington, D.C.
It`s wonderful to have you here.
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Thanks for inviting us.
HAYES: I want to start with my good friend and colleague Melissa
Harris-Perry who had her first "Lean Forward" ad which is put up online
yesterday shot down in New Orleans. I want to take a look because it
perfectly articulates this point about what the significance is sitting
here in Washington, D.C. on the weekend of the second inauguration, how
that compares to the overwhelming and sublime kind of rush of emotion a lot
of people felt on the first inauguration weekend. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: President Obama`s re-election is in
certain ways more important even though it`s less emotional, because it
says that African-Americans having a stake, a governing stake in this
country, is just normal, regular, maybe even unremarkable. And in a
certain way, that`s more valuable for understanding of equality than the
celebration of the first time it happened. It is really when it becomes
something you don`t talk about anymore that you know we`re moving toward
some kind of racial equality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That is a really interesting point. I am curious what you
make of that.
JULIANNE MALVEAUX, BENNETT COLLEGE: Well, I don`t think -- I agree
with Melissa that it is past the first one, in fact more historic at some
level to have a second election than the first, although I disagree that
the first election was a fluke.
MALVEAUX: But here is the deal. If you look at the metrics how after
American people are doing poverty, 27 percent for African-Americans, 13
percent for everyone, 8 percent for whites, unemployment 14 percent for
African-Americans, 6.9 percent for whites.
Business start-ups a third African-Americans then whites, African-
Americans owning 1 percent -- 2 percent, rather, of our nation`s wealth.
Now, no president has been able to really change the material conditions of
African-American people but expectations were so high when President Obama
was elected that you have folks who are saying, what did we get? How was
our community improved?
HAYES: But do -- yes, you do have that, right? But that`s not
reflected in the votes number. I mean, I think the president won nearly
100 percent of African-American voters, very close and at the margins, and
the sort of durability of the gap in wealth, income, social mobility,
incarceration rates, education, attainment levels that exist along the
(INAUDIBLE) line that have persisted through the first term have not it
seems to me dampened the electoral enthusiasm of African-Americans toward
EDWARDS: I mean, I look at my own congressional district and still
overwhelming support for the president. I think still overwhelming
hopefulness, even in the face of what Julianne has described. At the same
time, I think people are more pragmatic about this president and his
ability to accomplish those things in the current political environment,
with the kind of enormous pushback that he`s gotten from both Republicans
in Congress and from very intransigent right wing.
And I think that -- you know, people look at that and say let`s put
this into some context. And then you go back to that day in January in
2009 when the president was sworn in and you recognize we lost 750,000 jobs
that month and every single month and where this economy has come, and I
think this go around, folks are pragmatic but looking at that and saying,
well, now might be the time and the opportunity for the president to act in
a different way.
HAYES: But it seems like that persists. I mean, one of the things
about the Obama era is I think when we embarked upon it, there seemed to be
seemed to be -- there`s sort of two ways of reading the last four years.
One was, you know, electing a black president and the normalcy that would
bring, that that Melissa was just talking about, would be a net positive
for race relations in America and the struggle for equality. And then the
other aspect is the way electing a black president produced backlash and
sometimes very highly racialized backlash.
And I wonder which of those two stories seems the more compelling to
you or the one that you think is the dominant story of what`s happened.
BEN JEALOUS, NAACP: The first four years you have to divide into two
segments. You have the first two years, right? Where when we had a
protest it was to push for health care or was to push for jobs. You had
the second two years where when we had a protest, it was a pushback against
the Tea Party. It was the backlash against the backlash.
HAYES: Yes, right.
JEALOUS: It was about defending voting rights or the rights of our
brown -- brothers and sisters to stay in this country.
JEALOUS: Now, you know, what`s clear is that the aspirations for
every child in this country has gone up.
But what happens when a black man with a so-called foreign-sounding
last name becomes president in a year when everybody knew that a woman
would be president, thinking back to 2008, right?
JEALOUS: Is that every child knows that they can be president. And
so, their aspirations rise.
And the difference between a child`s aspirations and a family`s
situation is the exact measurement of that family`s level of frustration.
So frustrations have gone up. What you`ll see this Monday is that we
will have, you know, a lot of folks, not as many. Some of those folks who
won`t be here will be like our folks down in the state capital in South
Carolina, 8,000 will be out there in the cold protesting for jobs, the same
moment that he is sworn in, because folks understand this time we`ve got to
switch things. We`ve got to get more jobs.
We asked folks as they voted what job -- you know, sorry, what issue
is top for you? And 2/3 of them said jobs with no prompting.
HAYES: We just had four members of Congress here who were saying, why
aren`t we talking about -- these are members of Congress saying why --no
one talks about jobs.
JEALOUS: That will change literally within hours of him taking --
HAYES: Bill, I want your thoughts on this and what kind of economic
agenda, empowerment agenda we would like to see in the second term right
after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I recognize the times have changed since I first spoke to this
convention. Times have changed and so have I. I am no longer just a
candidate. I`m the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the president, of course, accepting the nomination at
the Democratic National Convention and that line got a lot of applause.
Julianne made this point in the show about -- and, Ben, you made this
point, too, about the sort of gap between your aspiration and situation is,
is what your level of frustration is. And that gap for I think Americans
across the racial divide because we remain mired in this frustrating kind
of economic situation.
What`s your feeling about how that has resonated through politics,
particularly black politics in the Obama era?
BILL FLETCHER, BLACKCOMMENTATOR.COM: Well, I think, Chris, though,
part of what we`re seeing and it goes back to your earlier question, is
that a lot of the vote for Obama is a vote for a block for progress. It is
not so much about Obama. It`s both -- it`s both a rejection of the racial
politics of the Republican Party and it`s also the sense that we simply
cannot go back. And that`s where there is a real basis for hope because
it`s not just depending on a president.
The second thing is that I feel in this administration the next four
years we need from this president not simply policies, you know, we`re
talking about before the program started, we need an urban agenda, we
desperately need an urban agenda, and a whole series of things.
One thing we really need is we need this president to say that
unionization is one of the best ways to guarantee a rising, living standard
for working people and that I am with the working person that wants to
MALVEAUX: You know, that is such an important point especially when
you look at the African-American community. A black man who belongs to a
union is likely to make 50 percent more than a black man who does not. A
black woman who belongs to a union is likely to make a third more than a
woman who does not.
And so, while unionization helps all workers, it has a
disproportionate impact on African-American workers.
JEALOUS: Quite frankly, there is an opportunity if the president and
others in his party speak up to actually slowly begin to bring back some
folks in Republican Party to this conversation. I was having a
conversation with a prominent Republican leader who said that his mom`s
biggest regret when she retired having worked a back breaking job for 40
years was that she kept the -- the folks on that job from joining the trade
union that showed up trying to organize. She said, I know I would have had
a retirement if we had joined.
FLETCHER: That`s right.
EDWARDS: This is a debate around -- that is upcoming around
protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. And I say that the
three of them together because it is really the social safety net for this
EDWARDS: Unions are a huge part of how we`re going to enable those
protections. I think it`s no accident that the union movement has been so
attacked because the other side recognizes that they are the key to
protecting these really important life lines.
And so, I think where the president comes out early and strong.
EDWARDS: And the lesson that I think he has learned from the last
four years is, he`s got to get out on the road.
EDWARDS: He cannot stay in this town to make this debate.
HAYES: Bill, what you said I thought was interesting because one of
the things I think that has been a hallmark of the president`s rhetorical
approach and I think largely in some ways because of the awareness of he
and his advisers about what it means to be a black president, black man
running for the nation`s highest office and holding the highest office is
that he really shies away from speaking in these kind of specific special
interest terms. I`m putting that in quotes, right?
HAYES: Speaking to unions right? Speaking to African-Americans, I`m
going to do this, an urban agenda for this specific group.
And instead he -- the approach he has taken in the beginning, for much
of the first term, is the idea of I am looking out for the median American,
whoever that person is. And if we deliver for them we deliver broadly,
right? That is the rhetorical argument.
Here he is making that case specifically to the Congressional Black
Caucus in the face of some criticism early on about the lack of a specific
agenda for black America. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The most important thing I can do for the African-American
community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period,
and that is get the economy going again and get people hired. I think it
is a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of
the United States rather than to think that we are all in this together and
we`re all going to get out of it together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, here is what I find fascinating. That was in 2009. If
you look at the political approach of the campaign in the election year, it
was very specifically targeted. In fact, the Republicans were shouting up
and down this was somehow unfair. But there was specific targeting --
JEALOUS: They were targeting too. They were just saying what
everybody didn`t want to hear.
HAYES: Exactly. Everybody they could possibly alienate. That`s
MALVEAUX: You know, what`s frustrating about that clip is the only
population not specifically addressed has been the African-American
population. Immigration is targeted partially towards the Latino
Marriage equality --
MALVEAUX: -- targeted toward the GBLT community.
We get proclamations. We don`t get policy that is targeted toward us.
And there are just a couple things he could do without, you know, raising
his fist and basically beating on his chest to say, let`s target, if there
was, Chris, a community, let`s say in Appalachia that had a 14 percent
unemployment rate while the country had 6.9 percent unemployment rate, it
might be reasonable for policies to say this community in Appalachia is
doing worse than everybody else, so we`ve got to do something about it.
Now when African-American people have a 14 percent unemployment rate
it is sort of la di da, la di da. No one sees it as an urgency.
HAYES: Congresswoman, I want you to respond after we take a break.
HAYES: Congresswoman Donna Edwards, I want you to respond to what
Julianne just said.
EDWARDS: Well, I mean, look, I think that what the president has
wrestled with is I don`t think it`s just rhetoric. I actually think the
president really does believe that when he creates a broad policy, that it
can have really specific impact. And so I think the notion that he somehow
just says it, he believes that. I think he`s tried to implement that
strategy from a governing perspective in an environment that simply won`t
Now, do I think there are things various agencies can do and ought to
do? I mean, there are always ways. The federal government has a vast
infrastructure of sort of in the absence of policy actually targeting
programs and grants and services and things than has not happened in the
kind of way we`d like to see. We`ll see what, you know, transpires over a
HAYES: Part of what you were saying before and I`ll let you in, in a
second is in re-election campaigns these kind of targeted policy moments,
around birth control, around LBGT marriage, etcetera, not specifically the
African-American community. I mean, the point I made is, look, the
political logic is, this constituency he`s going to win 95 percent, 96
HAYES: You know, what do you want the guy to do? He is running for
MALVEAUX: That after the 47 percent comment, that any African-
American or working class white person was going to vote for somebody who
said 47 percent of the -- you know, that just isn`t true. I mean, Mitt
Romney exactly imploded.
MALVEAUX: The president won this election and it wasn`t a fluke as
you mentioned about the first one but we have a candidate that even his own
MALVEAUX: -- didn`t want.
EDWARDS: But in the absence, there are specific policies for example.
I think the president in the face of a lot of opposition really stuck on
Pell Grant funding and education funding, and I think those are things that
have particular benefits and I heard them and those are important policy
And I think that`s important for us to actually, you know, be more
aggressive in a second term in making sure that we hold this administration
accountable for the needs of urban communities, of suburban communities
MALVEAUX: We certainly have to ask for what we want and one thing
that I think happened in the first term there is were so many euphoric
black people who are just so happy to have the president there they so
hesitated on being aggressive. So, I think this time, OK, we`ve got a
black president. Have him again.
I mean, you won`t get fed in your mother`s house unless you bring your
plate to the table. Other people brought their plates to the table.
JEALOUS: This president is somebody who worked on the south side as a
community organizer. What comes out of that is a few things. One of them
is a perspective like Donna talked about, somebody who truly understands
that if you increase jobs you decrease a bunch of other things, right, from
incarceration to teenage pregnancy and so forth. Basic Julius William
Wilson, kind of.
JEALOUS: That`s one.
Two is the notion that you got to organize in a democracy more than
one community. So you can say look. We all need jobs.
You know, the third is the job of the organizer is never to put a
politician in office to make change, rather, it`s the politicians in office
make a little bit easier for the movement that you`ve organized to make
change. And think this president demobilized in many ways after 2008 and
said what are you all doing?
JEALOUS: This time, that`s not going to happen.
FLETCHER: So, two things. One is that I think we actually focus too
much on Obama as a person as opposed to Obama the administration. And so
what happens, certainly in black America, is that people look at this guy
and they say, you know, we`re really proud. He`s under attack, whatever.
But we don`t look at that there is an administration. We`re not
dealing with Augustus Caesar.
FLETCHER: We`re dealing with an administration.
JEALOUS: Or Moses.
FLETCHER: And as such this administration as my colleagues pointing
out will be responsive to pressure --
HAYES: Right. Sure.
FLETCHER: -- within black America. We have to be self-critical,
because it wasn`t just Julianne, that people were reluctant.
People like Tavis Smiley and Cornell who raised criticisms, you can
take issue with how they raised it, were demonized. People that started
raising criticisms and pointing at the administration and saying this
administration can and should go further were demonized.
HAYES: Right. But let me --
EDWARDS: Well, the problem is that they weren`t pointing to the
administration as you rightfully point, they were pointing to the man.
This is where I think there is great confusion.
I mean, I don`t even think the president views himself as sort of
standing alone on some altar. I think he needs the pressure. In fact I
think he wants that pressure from the outside because he wants to have sort
of a stronger policy bent and you can`t do that if you don`t have --
HAYES: I want to ask about how four years of a black president has
altered politics of the civil rights movement as an institutional force in
America which has grown up outside of power and now positioned to power,
and is now existing with a black man as the face of power. I want to ask
you about that, Ben and Julianne, right after this break.
HAYES: 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. was asked in an interview about
black power, what the phrase meant. It was of course much on the minds of
white America at the time, terrified by the phrase.
And here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ICON: I think that a
strong, vigorous, determined movement can force the whole society to begin
the process of accepting the Negro as a fellow human being, a person, and
as a man.
INTERVIEWER: Is this not black power you`re talking about?
KING: I guess that is, in the sense that it is a psychological call
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Heaven forbid black power.
I mean, I think what`s so interesting --
JEALOUS: Heaven forbid we be men.
HAYES: Right. You`re the head of I think the oldest civil rights
organization in the country. Of course, the civil rights movement grew up
in opposition to power, what was radical and scary about the phrase "black
power", those two words adjoined to each other was precisely what a break
that symbolized with the entirety of American history.
And here we have the most powerful person in the country is a black
man. My question to you is: how does that change the politics of the civil
rights movement? That spent decades removed from and alien to power?
JEALOUS: Not much at the end of the day. The question would first
come when I got this job. You had the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People and they say the whole name slow like that
and they say, well, now there is a black man in the White House, how much
further do your people need to advance?
And at first, the reporter, I tried to be earnest. Then eventually I
said, look, the key word in NAACP is double A. We`re not triple A CP,
we`re not the national association of the advancement of a colored person.
We`re the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Colored means people of all colors and specifically brown people, black
people, Asian people, all of those pushed down by white supremacy
And second is people. And black people, brown people, are hurting
JEALOUS: And so, in this time we have to sometimes remind ourselves
that our job is to be oppositional.
And that`s why, you know, our folks, 8,000 of the South Carolina state
capital this Monday are going to be pushing for jobs. Great. There is a
big party happening in Washington. We need jobs here. We`ll be at the
state capital pushing for jobs.
MALVEAUX: You know, it`s interesting. I think that the civil rights
movement has to figure out how to be both proud and oppositional
simultaneously. And therefore, often, you get a schizophrenia. Everybody
wants the president to come speak at their convention and if they don`t,
MALVEAUX: If you have essentially dissed this man for a year and then
you say, gee, come to my convention because it makes me look better, ah,
sorry about that, it`s just not happening. So, it`s really kind of a
schizophrenic position. And I think that it alienates a lot of activists
to see the organizations we`ve supported all these years sort of wiggle and
wobble. It sort of -- the younger generation who doesn`t think the NAACP
has a lot of meaning, who actually don`t think, well, you get people under
30 and you can talk about how many members you have under 30.
JEALOUS: Our fastest growing segment.
MALVEAUX: I think -- I`ve been delighted to see campus NAACP
chapters. I was down at the College of William & Mary on, I don`t know
what day, maybe it was Thursday, I never know where I am. But the young
woman, a Delta, who was leading an NAACP chapter, we have a great chapter
at Bennett, but you also have a lot of young people who are like, what does
this have to do with me?
HAYES: And I think that, Ben, that tension between the two of
opposition and pride is kind of a big unresolved tension -- not just for
African-Americans, I think for everyone on the left frankly, the sort of
broad Obama coalition, right?
HAYES: Is that there is constantly that tension and I think -- I
think it`s going to play out very differently in the second term than the
first and that to the extent there is a deflation it happened in terms of
say the numbers between the first time around and now, that opens the space
to get that balance perhaps better, more right than the first time.
JEALOUS: Yes, certainly, and the sense that the Tea Party is on the
decline, starting to change their name.
HAYES: All right. So, what do we know now we didn`t know last week?
My answers after this.
HAYES: In just a moment, what we now know that we didn`t know last
week. First, a quick update on a story we did last Sunday.
After nearly a week-long silence United States attorney for the
district of Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, released a statement about
Internet activist Aaron Swartz, his suicide and what possible role she may
have had it. Swartz killed himself last week while facing federal charges
for using MIT`s network to download too many free academic articles from
the online database JSTOR.
If convicted, Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in
fines. Ortiz stated, quote, "I know that there is little I can say to
abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office`s prosecution of
Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him
taking his own life. At a no time did this office ever seek or ever tell
Mr. Swartz`s attorneys that it intended to seek maximum penalties under the
We can`t know whether Ortiz ultimately would have pursued the maximum,
but we do know that her office initially indicted Swartz on four charges
and then subsequently filed on nine more, putting maximum pressure on
Earlier this week, California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren proposed a
bill she would call Aaron`s Law to prevent what she calls an abuse of power
from happening to other Internet users. A memorial for Aaron will be held
this afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New
York City. If you knew Aaron or knew his work or just want to pay tribute,
go check it out. There will be some incredible people there celebrating a
really amazing life.
So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? We know that
whatever progress towards racial equality we achieved in America and the
nation remains deeply residentially segregated and that residential
segregation has real consequences.
A study published this week looked at lung cancer mortality rates for
African-American living in counties that were highly segregated and found
the mortality rates were 20 percent higher than for African-Americans
living in the least segregated counties. We don`t know what`s driving the
divergence but we do know that health has much to do with people`s
environment as their genetic inheritance. In the words of one of the
study`s authors, if you want to learn about someone`s health, follow him
We know that like all previous Congresses, the 113th will feature no
voting representation for the over 600,000 residents of Washington, D.C.
We know that the black majority is a site of ongoing and unjustifiable
disenfranchisement of our fellow citizens, and we know that in small but
significant, symbolic victory for D.C. voters, the president`s inaugural
limo will bear the D.C. license plate with the motto "taxation without
We know that George Bush famously had the D.C. plates with the motto
to reminding people of the city`s disenfranchisement removed from his
official limo for his own inauguration.
We know the Republican Party remains opposed to giving D.C. the same
level of congressional representation that citizens of all 50 states have.
We now know that the independent foreclosure review, what was to be
the government`s largest, most comprehensive efforts to sort through the
tangled web of abuse, fraud and malfeasance in foreclosures has been
declared a failure and shuttered. Ten banks have agreed to pay a total of
$3.3 billion in cash, plus some credit for past behavior to the 3.8 million
borrowers who have been eligible for the review, which works out to less
than $900 in cash payments per borrower.
We know there`s overwhelming evidence that banks and services have
systematically covered up their own malfeasance and legal errors with fraud
and a strung borrowers along, even foreclosed on the wrong families. And
we know that despite the record of abuse and the persistence of horror
stories from those caught in the grinding gears of the foreclosure machine,
there has been no real, legal accountability for the banks.
This latest elements come on the heel of a much celebrated earlier $25
billion settlement between state attorneys general and the biggest banks
over foreclosure abuse. But we know that most of the money which was paid
directly to the states was diverted by governors away from foreclosure
relief towards other priorities.
We know until there is genuine punishment and sanction for bank
malfeasances, the abuses will continue.
We know that housing policy has been the single, biggest failure of
the Obama administration`s first term domestic policy. We know the second
term provides an opportunity to finally get it right.
We want to find out what our guests know now they didn`t know when the
Bill Fletcher, I`ll begin with you.
FLETCHER: Yes. Well, we are reminded that we have an oops foreign
policy of the United States. That the United States engages in so many
activities without thinking through the consequences, and the NATO attack
on Libya, the hijacking of the Libyan uprising has led to the flooding of
northwest Africa with weapons that is now out of control. And the
uprising, and the subsequent uprising in Mali, which has now been taken
over by the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
FLETCHER: And further activities of the kidnappings are all of the
direct consequences of an action that in my opinion, the United States
should never have engaged in.
HAYES: I would say, as we watch, we`re going to cover this in the
future, as we watch the French intervention in Mali, the U.S. is not alone
in engaging in ad hoc French policy. I think a lot of French citizens are
asking themselves questions about that.
EDWARDS: Well, switching subjects, I think that we now know that the
president is willing to go big. We saw it in the statement that he made
about what is going to be done on guns. Both the 23 executive orders that
he signed, but as well as saying to the Congress, we`ve got to have an
assault weapons ban. We`ve got to have universal, 100 percent, background
checks and we`ve got to get rid of these large capacity magazines.
We know that he understands that that is about the little kid in
Chicago who`s killed as well as the students in Newtown.
HAYES: In Newtown.
MALVEAUX: Well, that note reminded my sorority celebrated its 100th
anniversary, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. We are 14,000 people
here in Washington, D.C. And it reminded me of the power of African-
American women have, especially the voting power.
And, Congresswoman Edwards, I`m hoping that our sorority, but also the
women of the CBC, and many others who work to make sure that the Violence
Against Women Act is reauthorized. It`s got caught in the slush pile of,
you know --
HAYES: Republican opposition is what it got caught in.
MALVEAUX: Well, also, the slush pile of the budget is the only thing
we want to talk about.
MALVEAUX: So, that`s what I know.
And on a personal note, I know I can`t live without my cell phone.
HAYES: Ben Jealous?
JEALOUS: We know that we can stem the tide of incarceration. Down in
South Carolina, they have 3,000 less prisoners that they thought they were
going to have because two years ago, folks got together, bipartisan, and
say, let`s move from tough on crime to smart on crime.
HAYES: We are starting to see prison population actually declined in
some places in this country. That`s a really big welcomed change.
I want to thank Ben Jealous of the NAACP, Julianne Malveaux; author of
"Surviving and Thriving: 365 Facts in Black Economic History";
Congresswoman Donna Edwards; and Bill Fletcher, Jr., author of "They`re
Bankrupting Us and 20 Other Myths about Unions". Thanks for getting UP.
All right. Thank you for joining us today for UP.
Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00. We`ll have Connecticut
Governor Dan Malloy on administration`s gun control proposals, Senators Tom
Udall and Sherrod Brown, and DNC executive director, Patrick Gaspard.
We`ll bring you live coverage of the Supreme Court Justice Sonia
Sotomayor administers the official oath of office of Vice President Joe
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY."
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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