UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
February 23, 2013
Guests: Bishop Harry Jones, Julie Fernandes, Ari Berman, Ryan Haygood,
Horace Cooper, Tia Mitchell, Joy Reid, Avik Roy, Valerie Arkoosh, John
McWhorter, John Nichols, Michelle Goldberg
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
The Obama justice department filed a brief last night with the United
States Supreme Court urging justices to strike down the defense of marriage
act which the court will rule on later this year. We`re going to be
talking about another big Supreme Court case in just a second.
And the president announced last night that American troops have been sent
to Niger to help build a new base for American drone operations there.
Right now, I`m joined by my colleague, Ari Berman, contributing writer for
"The Nation" magazine who wrote the February cover story, "Conservatives
Take Aim At Voting Rights," your Investigative Journalism Fellow at the
Nation Institute, Julie Fernandes, former deputy assistant attorney general
in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, Ryan Haygood,
director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and a member of the
litigation team arguing Shelby V. Holder before the Supreme Court this
week, and Bishop Harry Jones, a pastor at the New Mount Moriah Missionary
Baptist church in Calera Alabama and a party to lawsuit in support of the
Voting Rights Act.
In 1965, over a century after the emancipation proclamation, President
Lynden Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which finally ended
decades of systemic and routine exclusion of people of color from their
exercise the right to vote. It is one of the greatest most transformative
pieces of legislation in the nation`s entire history.
The heart of the Voting Rights Act is Section Five which subjects any
voting changes in the south and some other covered jurisdictions with a
history of racial discrimination to a process known as preclearance.
Meaning, these states must first clear any changes that affect voting with
the justice department or federal court to make sure they don`t have a
racially biased effect.
But next Wednesday, it could spell the end of Section Five. That`s because
when the Supreme Court will hear argument, Shelby versus Holder, a lawsuit
that originated in Alabama, that essentially says things have changed in
the south. The Section Five of the Voting Rights Act is now antiquated,
unnecessary, and therefore, unconstitutional.
Undeniably, the south is a different place today than it was in 1965, and
yet, not one African-American has been elected to state wide office in
Mississippi, Louisiana, or South Carolina. In the last few months, states
that are both covered under Section Five and some that are not covered try
to pass laws to shut down voter registration drives and cut back on early
voting, measures that disproportionately affect people of color.
Then of course, there are the voter I.D. laws. Last October, a panel of
federal judges blocked South Carolina`s proposed voter I.D. law from taking
effect, because it violated the Voting Rights Act. And U.S. district
judge, John Bates, a George W. Bush appointee wrote, "One cannot doubt the
vital function that Section Five of the Voting Rights Act has played here."
The United States Supreme Court under chief justice, John Roberts, has
already hinted that Section Five has run its course. A few months after
President Obama`s first inauguration, the court approved a local exemption
from Section Five. In the oral arguments, Justice Roberts questions
whether Section Five was still necessary and why it burdened separate
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: So, is
it your position that today, Southerners are more likely to discriminate
VOICE OF DEBO ADEGBILE, NAACP: I wouldn`t frame it in that way, Chief
ROBERTS: So, your answer is yes?
ADEGBILE: I think that it`s fair to say that the pattern has been more
repetitious violations in the covered jurisdictions and more one off
discrimination in other places.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, it`s remarkable that the case before the court now is at its
outcome more or less hinges on the U.S. Supreme Court. Five justices
deciding whether or not to strike down while passed (ph) and reauthorized
four times by massive overwhelming by partisan majorities of Congress and
presidents of -- well, only Republican presidents, because of whether the
court decides the south is no longer racist.
It`s great to have all of you all here. I think this case, we`ve covered a
bit on the network, but I think you cannot overstate the importance of this
case. It`s probably one of the biggest cases the court has had in a long
time. And bishop, I want to begin with you. The reason -- and thank you
for traveling up here in New York from Shelby County, Alabama.
I have a good friend -- one of my best friends lives in Alabama. I love
the state of Alabama. I want to go to you first, because the basic
argument here when you clear away the constitutional arguments there being
-- the legal arguments, part of what`s so strange about the case is it`s
going to come down to a determination of a basic sociological fact which is
how imbedded is racism in the areas that are covered?
How much is this law still justified by the fact that there is still the
wielding of power and an instant towards exclusion on the part of people
that wield power in the south in this long history. So, my question to you
is, what`s your sense of that? What would your answer to the -- you could
talk to the justices about what it`s like in Shelby County in Alabama.
What would you tell them?
BISHOP HARRY JONES, SHELBY COUNTRY RESIDENT: Well, I would definitely
reassure them that racism is still alive. You know, that, it hasn`t gone
anywhere. I think that racism has taken a different face where in the
earlier days, it was just blatant. I mean, they didn`t hide it. But now,
it`s, you know, kind of concealed. It travels in a different vehicle now.
And, so, I`ve lived in Alabama all of my life.
And, I`m kind of a bloodhound when it comes down to racism. I sniff it
out, you know? And it is still alive. And I think that, sometimes, we
paint a picture on the surface, but I think that being a resident of Shelby
County, I look beneath the surface.
HAYES: So, I mean, the bloodhound metaphor is great, right, because what
the weird thing is that we`re going to unleash these nine justices on
sniffing this out. You know, not from Shelby County, not from maybe the
covered jurisdictions. So, what would you -- I mean, how would you
convince me, how would you convince Chief Justice Roberts or Justice
Kennedy that things will go very badly if they strike this down?
JONES: Well, I mean, you know, we`ve already seen some things. You know,
we`ve had one of our councilmen, Mr. Earnest Montgomery (ph), who, because
of the way that the district was divided, lost an election. And even on
top of that, when the DOJ told them or advised them not to have the
election, they went on with the election anyway.
HAYES: This is a Black elected member of the city council in Calera, is
JONES: That`s correct. Yes, sir. And because of that, he lost his seat.
And the DOJ came back, and you know, deemed it, I guess, unconstitutional,
and they had to redo it and had an at-large vote, and he was the top vote-
getter. So, I think that it was designed to dilute the Black community and
HAYES: Is this what this case ultimately rest on? Is this -- I mean,
prepping for this, just remarkable -- you know, (INAUDIBLE) from the court.
I`ve spent some time around the court. How fact down this case seems? It
really seems like the court is going to make this determination about this
basically sociological fact about the covered jurisdictions which is how
much racism is there? How imbedded are these practices? It seems a
strange thing for the court to be doing.
JULIE FERNANDES, FMR. DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is a strange
thing, Chris. And what`s interesting is that Congress asked all these
questions about whether or not racial discrimination is prevalent in the
covered jurisdictions. They analyzed looking at the covered jurisdictions
versus the uncovered. I know there`s been some rhetoric that they didn`t
do that, but they did do that. There was lots of stuff in the record very
much along this question. And Congress looked at it. You know, we`ve
talked about --
FERNANDES: Right. But it`s sort of this huge process exactly what
Congress is supposed to do. And it is, I think, important in what you`re
getting at that the court, itself, defined for Congress what the parameters
are of how it can act. So, the court has said in an old case from the nine
(ph), he`s not that old, I guess from the ninth (ph) and Bernie said, look,
here`s the world where you can act. Here`s unconstitutional conduct and
you can act in this world.
FERNANDES: And they actually held up the Voting Rights Act to
authorization of 1982 as the gold standard for how Congress should act.
And Congress acted in that way in this instance. So, what`s the problem?
HAYES: Right. Right.
FERNANDES: How do we lose?
ARI BERMAN, THENATION.COM: Can I just say -- sorry. Chris, can I just
say, it`s not racism like it was in 1965, right? I mean, the George
Wallaces (ph) of the world are gone. But it`s political racism in the
sense that you look in the south, the southern GOP is 88 percent White.
The Southern Democratic Party is 50 percent white, 36 percent African-
American, and the rest are minority groups.
So, when Blacks and Hispanics which are growing in the south like in the
rest of the country are aligning themselves in the Democratic Party, the
GOP is passing voter suppression laws in response to that. It doesn`t
matter if it`s outright racism. It has the same intended effect to try
suppress and dilute the growing minority community.
FERNANDES: I would like to push back for a second, not completely, but I
actually think that the power of Section Five is not on the national level
or not on the Congressional level. It`s important there, but sort of what
we just heard about what`s happening in Calera and in Shelby County is that
we`re talking about water districts, county commissions, police juries,
really local stuff where party doesn`t matter.
FERNANDES: It`s not partisan.
RYAN HAYGOOD, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: I think it was really important to
take away from what Pastor Jones shared is that the discrimination we`re
seeing manifested in places covered by Sections Five is synonymous with the
original discrimination that we saw in 1965. So, this really is an
unbroken line of discrimination that dates back to the beginning in
Alabama? And I think --
HAYES: What do you mean by that?
HAYGOOD: So, I think, for example, in the city of Calera, in 2008, the
problem of justice rejected, there was passage (INAUDIBLE) discriminatory
redistricting plan and submitted by the city of Calera that sought to
eliminate the sole African-American district by reducing the Black
population there from 70 percent to 29 percent.
HAYGOOD: Though, the Department of Justice rejected as discriminatory
redistricting plan. The city of Calera, nevertheless, held an election in
which the sole African-American city councilman who`s also a party, in this
case, lost his seat.
HAYGOOD: This is after the DOJ rejects their plan. Now, thankfully, under
Section Five, the Department of Justice required the city of Calera to both
redraw the electoral (ph) ballots in a nondiscriminatory way and hold
another election in which the sole African-American, because of the votes
of the African-Americans in that district in Calera, regain his seat.
And this practice is exactly what voters in Alabama saw when the Voting
Rights Act was passed in 1965.
HAYES: I want to read -- the iconic example of this is the --
HAYES: -- Kilmichael, Mississippi, which coincided a lot in the briefs in
2001 and just read a letter -- the DOJ civil rights division letter to
attorney for the town that says, "According to the 2000 consensus, the town
of Kilmichael has a population of 830 of whom 52.4 percent are Black.
Currently, the mayor and all five board members are White. On May 15th,
2001, with no notice to the community, the board unanimously voted to
cancel the general election."
HAYES: "A significant factor in our analysis is the context of which the
town reached the decision. First, the decision to cancel election came
only after Black persons had become a majority of the registered voters and
the release of census data indicated that Black persons were now a majority
of the population of the town and basically --
FERNANDES: You see this all the time. You see all the time sort of like
weird election changes being promoted just when the Latino or the African-
American community is able to realize some electoral power.
HAYES: But you see it all the time. I want to talk about what the numbers
HAYES: And the argument that people in favor of striking down Section Five
are making which is that basically the act should be a victim of its own
success. The fact that those numbers are good enough --
JONES: One very important point that needs to be brought to the table,
also, as Mr. Montgomery -- you know, he served -- you have all the
councilmen who are aware of the fact that the DOJ canceled the election.
JONES: And all of the councilmen knew except Mr. Montgomery who was the
Black councilman. OK.
JONES: He didn`t even find out about it until after, you know, the
HAYGOOD: And this is a little --
HAYES: I want to talk about -- I want to talk more about that right after
we take a quick break.
HAYES: All right. So from 2010 and 2011, the justice department`s
objected to only 29 of nearly 20,000 proposed voting changes. Now, so one
level, you can say actually this isn`t imposing some huge burden. This
isn`t an overreach. But I think people who think the law should no longer
be in effect say, look, it`s the problem is solved, right?
HAYES: Why do you want to keep insulting the sovereign dignity of the
great state of Alabama if it turns out that -- what is that, 99 percent,
more than 99 percent are getting --
HAYGOOD: The number, Chris, has always been less than one percent of the
number of objection -- the number of proposed changes are objected to. So,
the number has always been small, but the actual -- each objection protects
many, many, many voters. And so, for example, in the state of Texas, for
example, we recently saw the Department of Justice rejected Texas` photo
They later litigated that case and loss again before three judge federal
court. In the state of Texas, there were 600,000 people who didn`t have
the type of I.D. that Texas was requiring, a 170,000 of whom were people of
color. So, each objection protects many, many voters, and the number of
objections has always been small.
HAYES: I want to bring in Horace Cooper, adjunct fellow with the National
Center for Public Policy Research, co-chairman of the Project 21 National
Advisory Board. A group of Blacks and conservatives had filed an amicus
brief to strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.
And Horace, what I think is interesting here is, you know, the Voting
Rights Act is in an American political landscape that is remarkably
polarized is incredibly unanimously or near unanimously supported. I mean,
the margin, it`s been reauthorized four times. Huge margins in 2006.
I don`t think there`s a single descending vote in the Senate was 98 to
zero. And I want to play for you just a little bit of sound from three
Republican presidents who signed reauthorization of the law. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There must be no question whatsoever about the right of
each eligible American, each eligible citizen to participate in our
elective process. The extension of this act will help to ensure that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right to vote is the crown jewel of American
liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, we renew a bill that helped bring a community on
the margins into the life of American democracy. My administration will
vigorously enforce the provisions of this law and we will defend it in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And my question to you, Horace, is given this bipartisan support,
given the extensive Congressional record, given all of this, shouldn`t
there be a lot of deference afforded to the executive and to Congress that
has made these determinations? Why should we be overturning something that
has such broad support in the American public?
HORACE COOPER, NATIONAL CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH: Well,
naturally, of course, the Supreme Court will give the great degree of
deference to the Congress and the president as they should. That is the
natural process for all of this, but the problem is that much of the
discussion that`s occurred this morning is failing to appreciate that there
are certain legal principles that are at stake.
The Supreme Court is not going to be making a diagnoses of whether or not
the south has made progress in terms of racial lines or not. They`re going
to be addressing specific, factual issues, and the legal arguments that are
associated with those. Much of that has been missed in this morning`s
HAYES: No, but the factual issue is you`re right. They are going to be
addressing factual issues. Let me read you from the last time that the
court talked about this issue with the 815 413 North (INAUDIBLE) municipal
district. I can never say --
HAYES: It said -- this is Chief Justice Roberts saying "More than 40 years
ago, this court concluded that exceptional conditions prevailing in certain
parts of the country justified extraordinary legislation, otherwise,
unfamiliar to our federal system," right, which is this idea of covered
jurisdiction. Some places get this certain amount of federal interference,
other places don`t.
"In part due to the success of that legislation, we are now a very
different nation. Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation
is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today." The test
that the chief justice, himself, enunciates in that section of his previous
opinion is about whether the conditions continue to justify such
legislation. The conditions are a matter of fact. And so, the court is
going to be mitigating a factual determination about those conditions,
COOPER: I`m sorry. You`re looking at the rhetoric portion of the ruling
and assuming that that`s going to be the basis for the actual
determination. And the fact of the matter is that the actual serious
constitutional challenge of separating some states out and treating them
one way challenges the notion of state sovereignty. And equal --
COOPER: Equal sovereignty is a serious issue that`s going to have to be
HAYES: Yes. This is the argument -- this is -- in oral arguments, Justice
Kennedy enunciated this quite famously basically saying you are implying
sovereign dignity of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio.
FERNANDES: I think Justice Kennedy is seriously looking at the question of
whether or not he thinks that what Congress did in 2006 was within that
circle, that I sort of talked about a minute ago, of where Congress is
allowed to act to stop unconstitutional conduct. He`s looking at that
But I think that the evidence that Ryan was talking about, the pastor was
talking about, answers the question. We`re so in the circle. Like, I
don`t know what the debate is about.
BERMAN: In 2006, this was before the Congress, and they found that states
that are subject to Section Five made of about 25 percent of the U.S.
population. But they accounted for 52 percent of violations of other parts
of the Voting Rights Act. You look at the 2012 election.
FERNANDES: That`s right.
BERMAN: States covered in full by Section Five. Two-thirds of them passed
voting restrictions compared to one-third of the non-covered jurisdictions.
So, it`s not like there isn`t a parliament Ohio or Michigan, but the
problem is worse still in places like Alabama and Mississippi.
HAYES: Horace, I want to talk to you -- I want to litigate a little more
of this differentiation question, because it`s sort of the core of much of
the case right after we take this break.
HAYES: So, Horace, you raised the state sovereignty question and the fact
that there is -- I don`t think it`s disputed that the Voting Rights Act is
a kind of novel approach to dealing with different states and the notion of
covered jurisdictions. And one of the arguments that folks who want to
strike down the Section Five have made is that this differentiation is a
threat to a basis constitution that rocked principal of state sovereignty.
And the people who say, well, that`s justified by the differential
conditions. My question to you is, it seems like a strangely perverse
argument to say, well, discrimination is happening in places like Michigan
and Ohio, and therefore, we should get rid of the stuff that`s working in
the other places.
And then, the second question is, would you be OK with a Voting Rights Act
that extended to the whole country if that`s the constitutional principle
that is the thing that you think is threatened by the current makeup of the
COOPER: All right. Let`s take that latter question first.
COOPER: A statute that covered the entire state would have less
constitutional hurdles to clear and would make a better policy. It is a
second problem, however, that has led to the situation of the litigation
today. It is the enforcement in the name of the preclearance standard that
is the subject of the problem.
If we were struck with or saddled with or given circumstances of the
straightforward evidences of discrimination, you wouldn`t see an argument
like the one that Shelby County is making succeed. The problem has become
that the justice department is becoming much more interested in racism
prevention than racism punishment.
The police officer goes to the bank and arrests the guy who robs the bank.
He doesn`t go to the bank and set up standards to prevent bank robberies.
The police officer also doesn`t get to decide, are there more bank
robberies happening now or less bank robberies happening? He simply
enforces the law.
My final point is, the justice department has decided that the number of
Black elected officials is a proxy for the degree of racism or not that`s
going on. That`s an untested premise. And that is the reason why when you
are addressing the sovereignty issue, you can`t take untested premises and
use them to offset the sovereignty of everybody.
BERMAN: The whole point of Section Five was to be preemptive, because what
was happening is that before 1965, the Congress -- or the courts would
strike down voter suppression laws and a new voter suppression law in
Alabama which is going to effect. So, what Section Five did, the beauty of
it, was to shift that burden. The other beauty of Section Five, it was
That`s why it`s been upheld so many times. It`s supposed to be narrow and
deep instead of shallow and wide. That`s why it so effective.
FERNANDES: Justice Kennedy, in fact -- just to say one thing in response.
Justice Kennedy in the oral argument in what we all called the mud case,
the Northwest Austin case, he said, i know Section Five is effective. I
know Section Five works. And I know the other parts of the Voting Rights
Act are not a substitute for it. So, the whole argument about this being a
bad mechanism is sort of spurious. There`s not --
HAYES: But what about this argument that has some in truth (ph) of appeal
which is why not just make it the whole -- that`s the objection, right?
And Alito, actually, in last time around, the oral argument, sort of
suggested as much. And Horace just said there it will be less
constitutionally problematic. Why is that not a good solution?
HAYGOOD: Well, the truth is the genius of what Congress did in 2006 is
that it surveyed discrimination across the country to Ari`s earlier point.
And it looked at those places where discrimination against voters of color
was most concentrated and found that the highest concentration, the places
where discrimination was most intense, was most adapted, was most
persistent was in the existing covered jurisdictions under Section Five.
There is a record that Congress developed which we`ve talked about earlier
which spans 15,000 pages, which curiously Horace`s brief submitted an
opposition to the Voting Rights Act doesn`t grapple with at all which
justifies Congress` continued coverage of the existing jurisdictions under
JONES: -- run for office and see if he can win and I think that one of the
things that we have to also look at the fact is that Section Five has been
the one thing that has leveled the playing field, you know?
FERNANDES: That`s right.
JONES: And I think that if had not been for Section Five, and I`m not so
much concerned as about what`s going on right now, I`m concerned about what
will happen if Section Five is lifted.
HAYES: Can I ask you that question, Horace, because I think -- you would
agree -- I mean, I don`t know where you stand on this, that the Voting
Rights Act, at some point, was justified and has been a successful piece of
COOPER: I don`t disagree with that, but I disagree with the idea as the
bishop just pointed out that the test is how many elected officials of the
given race are ultimately successful.
COOPER: That is what the justice department has been pursuing.
FERNANDES: No, no.
COOPER: And in fact, and in fact, the justice department, when they
analyze the amount of racism and discrimination, one of their indices is
the lack of elected officials. So, you can`t say that that`s not the
HAYES: Hold on one second.
HAYES: Hold on one second. Got to take a quick commercial break.
HAYES: And then you can respond. Horace, stick around.
HAYES: Talking about what indices of racial discriminations were used, and
Horace thinks it`s very problematic to use this just basic index of how
many African-Americans were elected.
HAYGOOD: The truth -- Horace`s argument is wholly meritless, and it`s
because in Pastor Jones` point, in Alabama and other covered jurisdictions,
one expression of people of color`s vote is the ability to elect their
candidate of choice who at times may look like them if their African-
Americans. And what we saw in the city of Calera, in particular, is that
we`re voters of color.
They`re African-American voters sought to elect their preferred candidate
choice who is African-American. The cities ought (ph) to take that away
through enacting a discriminatory redistricting plan. And this is a
significant feature of Section Five as it acts as our discriminatory check
point for our democracy.
HAYES: And someone who work at the justice department and forcing this is
FERNANDES: The focus of the inquiry is always what does the minority
community want, so Latino voters, African-American voters, who`s their
candidate of choice. That`s what we look at. So, you look to see what do
the voters want. This is not some kind of patronizing or sort of
determination that of course Black folks want to elect Black people,
Latinos, Latino people.
It really looks at actual voting patterns. And the thing that`s true and
often true in many of the Section Five jurisdictions, a level that`s not
true in other places, is that the minority communities are trying to elect
candidates that the majority community will systematically reject. And so,
you have to find some place for them to have a political voice --
BERMAN: Can I just make one larger point, which is this is not a
grassroots uprising and against the Voting Rights Act. It`s not like
suddenly all the people at Alabama and Mississippi wanted to challenge the
Voting Rights Act.
BERMAN: This is a product of the conservative industrial complex, right?
The fact that you have the largest funders in the conservative movement the
same field that were pushing discriminatory voting changes, they want this
challenge to happen. That`s why it`s before the court. So, there`s really
no constituency for this challenge other than the biggest names in the
COOPER: The things that what people may be looking at is the fact that it
seems as though they think that we`re just -- you to give us something.
We`re not asking you to give us anything.
COOPER: All we want is the opportunity to make the playing field level.
Give the opportunity to the citizens to make this thing --
HAYES: Horace, are you a constituency less as Ari charged (ph)?
COOPER: You know, it feels good while we`re drinking coffee and having a
conversation this morning to make those kind of denounced statements, but
the truth of the matter is, whether it is lawsuits against the Vietnam War,
whether it is the right of men to marry men or women to marry women,
whether it is any claim, if we left litigation only to circumstances where
it was popular, most of the landmark litigation that we see and we
appreciate today would never take place.
COOPER: That`s a species standard that is not popular. The point is,
there are legal principles that are at work.
Now, if this justice department would have remembered that the Voting
Rights Act was intended to stop the number of fire burnings, the number of
lynchings, the number of shootings, and actual voter intimidation
techniques that were occurring, that were predominant in those areas,
instead of deciding that a new modern approach is this holistic idea of
what does the voting population want, they would be on much stronger
HAYES: Was the voting --
COOPER: You can be Black, White, or Brown and ask a poll about, say, voter
I.D., and you`ll see that number in the high 60 percent. Every one of your
panelists is opposed to voter I.D.
COOPER: The right to be able to carry it out, it raises those fundamental
HAYGOOD: Chris, I would say there`s nothing insistent about what Congress
did in 2006 when it consider whether re-authorized Section Five, which was
when they looked at the tremendous progress that we`ve made in this country
in our democracy in reading at racial discrimination and then recognizing
the need for more.
HAYGOOD: And Section Five, in particular, has occasioned the type of
progress we`ve seen since 1965. But it, itself, the strong antibiotic that
it is, seeks to continue the work that it began in 1965. The record
Congress developed, showed that there were more than 1,000 discriminatory
changes that were blocked --
HAYGOOD: -- as a result of Section Five, and those discriminatory changes
would have gone into effect but for Section Five. Section Five, in a very
real way to Pastor Jones` point protects real voters from real
discrimination in real places.
JONES: And we`re where we are because of Section Five. You know, the
sophomores paint a picture that we`re all holding hands singing "Kumbaya"
in the south. That`s not the truth. There are still issues that need to
HAYES: Horace, can I ask you this, a little bit of time, just this final
question. If the challenges were successful, if the court were to strike
down Section Five and ten years from now in some bizarre future which I
still have a television show and you come back on the program and say the
number of Black elected officials in the south have dropped 80 percent in
the wake of Section Five being struck down. Will you view it as a mistake
if all these metrics go down or if the principle here the point?
COOPER: The principle is the point, and by the way, once we get to this
question of racial voting and that being the test, where does it end? Are
you going to invalidate the presidential election of 2012 because over 90
percent of Blacks voted for a candidate of their same color? Where does
that quest stop? You absolutely ought to stick with what the law says and
what the underlying principals are associated with it.
HAYES: Horace Cooper with the Project 21 National Advisory Board, thanks
for joining us this morning.
COOPER: Thank you.
HAYES: Ari Berman from "The Nation" magazine, Julie Hernandez, former
deputy assistant, Attorney General Ryan Haygood of the NAACP Legal Defense
and Education Fund, and Bishop Harry Jones, a party to the lawsuit
Supporting Voting Rights Acts. Thank you all for joining --
HAYES: Republican governors put millions of lives on the line. That`s
HAYES: Florida Republican governor, Rick Scott, announced his support this
week for expanding Medicare making Florida -- yes, I lost my breath because
it was so shocking -- making Florida only the seventh state with a
Republican governor to opt into the expansion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: While the federal government is committed to
paying 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny
Floridians that needed access to health care. We will support a three-year
expansion of our Medicaid program under the new health care law as long as
the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the
cost during that time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Scott`s announcement as seen there in that hostage video is, in
many ways, a shocking development because Rick Scott who once led the
country`s largest for-profit hospital chain has been one of the, if not,
the most vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, including the Medicaid
He spent millions of dollars of his own money out of nowhere to fight the
Affordable Care Act before running for governing and Florida led the 26
states that fought the Affordable Care Act all the way to the Supreme Court
only to lose. In June, Scott responded to the court`s decision upholding
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: It was so disappointing. This is going to be devastating for
patients, devastating for taxpayers. It`s going to be the biggest job
killer ever. We`re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida. We`re not
going to expand Medicaid because we`re going to do the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The practical and moral victory of the Affordable Care Act was that
it would provide coverage to an estimated additional 30 million people
around 12 million of whom would get covered through the Medicaid expansion.
Rick Scott aside, 14 Republican governors to date have said they will not
participate, putting millions of lives on the line.
The Urban Institute, an economic social policy research organization,
estimates the Medicaid expansion will provide coverage to almost six
million people in just those working states that have opted out. The
implementation of Medicaid expansion in the state level is now the front
line of the health care battle in this country will ultimately determine
whether the new clauses in the social contract uniformly apply across the
Joining us now are Valerie Arkoosh, former president of the National
Physicians Alliance, professor at Perelman School of Medicine, University
of Pennsylvania, friend of the show, Avik Roy, former member of Mitt
Romney`s health care policy advisory group, a senior fellow at the
"Manhattan Institute, author of the "Apothecary," the Forbes blog on health
care and entitlement reform, Tia Mitchell, staff writer at "Tampa Bay
Time," "Miami Herald" Tallahassee bureau, and MSNBC contributor, Joy Reid,
managing editor of sister website, TheGrio.com. Great to have you all
Tia, you broke this story. What change -- I mean, flip-flop is a term that
gets overused in politics, but this is a flip-flop.
TIA MITCHELL, TAMPABAY.COM: This is. And what happened is Governor Rick
Scott took the practical -- the words you used, practical, he said. It
just doesn`t make sense for Florida to leave 100 percent federal match on
HAYES: But the weird thing about it is like it seemed like he just -- like
that was in the bill back in June when he said it was terrible. It wasn`t
like he was just rooting around through desk and saw, oh, they`re going to
cover 100 percent. Maybe we should get on this, like, he knew that.
MITCHELL: Well, a couple points I want to make. Number one, he is not
saying Florida will, Florida should.
MITCHELL: He`s been very careful to say if the legislature does this, this
is what I would sign.
MITCHELL: And that`s an important distinction because he`s kind of getting
the best of both worlds. He gets to look pragmatic in -- you know, that
he`s moderating himself. He is running for re-election in about a year.
However, he`s not saying he`s going to advocate for this or that is even
going to make it more likely that it actually happens in Florida.
HAYES: That`s a really good point. What do you think changed his mind on
the politics of it? I mean, like I said, it can`t be the fact that 100
percent of the cost can be picked (ph) of the federal government. He knew
that to begin with.
MITCHELL: I think moderating himself for re-election is a factor. Also,
he pointed out his mother passed away in November. He said it gave him
quote/unquote "new perspective" about, you know, the law, and its impacts
and the needs of families to have health care. So, I mean, I do think some
of it was a personal decision, but it`s also political and it`s also, you
know, the bottom line is money.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I`m a little bit less convinced of the
alters in the Rick Scott. I feel badly for him that his mother passed
away, but what happened in Florida, and Tia well know this, the insurance
industry -- when the gun industry is not running Florida, the insurance
industry takes it up and they run Florida. And insurance companies and
hospital entities came to the Florida legislature and they said you`re
going to take this money.
And the hospital industry was first in line. And the reason for that is
that public hospitals will essentially go bankrupt if this money is not
taken. Florida has 1.3 million uninsured.
HAYES: Second highest number.
REID: Second highest, right. Out of that 12 million -- 1.3 million
another (ph) in Florida. 995,000 approximately of those people would not
qualify for the exchanges and still have Medicaid.
REID: So that means these people can come to hospitals, get treated. And
when the whole Affordable Care Act passed, hospitals, the hospital
industry, by and large, and listen, we will forego billions, hundreds of
billions of dollars in federal money to treat the indigent in exchange with
these millions of newly ensured customers who are going to come to us.
HAYES: There was a trade just so that`s clear. There`s federal fund that
funds essentially free care from the hospitals that can`t turn people away.
So, when they show to the emergency room, they`re bleeding, they`re poor,
we take them, right? There`s something like $50 billion a year spent,
right, by hospitals treating people like that.
HAYES: And there`s a federal fund that reimburses some of that.
HAYES: That federal fund was cut by the Affordable Care Act. The trade
was, we cut that, we do Medicaid expansion, right?
HAYES: So, what the hospitals are looking at, if Medicaid expansion
doesn`t happen is, we no longer get the federal funds, but we don`t get the
Medicaid expansion, and we`re screwed both ways.
REID: Right. And so, you had hospitals like University of Miami Hospital
that it`s treated a lot of indigent people that literally were facing
literal bankruptcy, not figurative. And this is a former hospital
executive in the governor`s mansion. Essentially, the hospital lobby came
to him and said you`ve got to take the money because we`re losing all this
The insurance industry came to him and said we want privatization on this.
So, he made a deal with the federal government to put people in HMOs.
REID: And then, the hospitals are getting about $33.6 billion in
compensated care in exchange.
HAYES: I want to show Mark Robitaille, incoming president of the Florida
Hospital Association basically coming to the Florida State House. When we
come back, you can take a look at him basically coming to the State House
and saying, please, give us the money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ROBITAILLE, INCOMING PRES. FLORIDA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: Where
there`s federal dollars being available for three years fully at 90 percent
for the following term. You know, we believe that, you know, that`s just
too much money on the table. It`s $26 billion over ten years, $7 billion
in the first three years for Floridians to pass up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s, like I said, Mark Robitaille, incoming president of Florida
Hospital Association testifying before the Florida State House on this
Medicaid expansion which the government pays the first 100 percent of the
expansion for the first three years and ultimately goes down 90 percent.
Avik, as a Republican health policy, did Rick Scott do the right thing?
AVIK ROY, FORBES.COM: well, you know, one of the things that we talk a lot
about in health policy circles is coverage. We`re expanding coverage.
We`re doing this for coverage. There`s a lot less emphasis on the quality
of coverage. And this is a problem with Medicaid. So, in Florida, for
example, for every dollar that a private insurer pays a physician to care
for a patient, Medicaid pays 44 cents.
ROY: And what this means is that a lot of doctors don`t take Medicaid,
because they lose a lot of money caring for Medicaid patients. And so, you
have a card and says you have health insurance, but if you can`t get access
to a doctor, your cancer doesn`t get diagnosed early. It diagnosed late
when it`s too late to treat. Your heart conditions don`t get diagnosed
early. You get diagnosed late when it`s too late to treat.
And so, the health outcomes for people on Medicaid or much poor than they
are for people on private insurance.
HAYES: But they`re better depends on what the control group is, right,
because they`re much better than people that don`t have health insurance?
ROY: Not necessarily. So, there`ve been a lot of studies that shown,
otherwise. University of Virginia conducted a study looking at 900,000
surgical patients that showed that, actually, Medicaid patients have higher
in-hospital mortality than people with no insurance at all even if you
control for age, income, prior health status.
HAYES: My sense of the literature is that, actually, -- Medicaid actually
has relatively good health outcomes, and it depends on the control group.
I mean, there`s been a lot of different studies --
ROY: There`s certainly a lot of debate about it, but I think nobody
debates that Medicaid is a lot worse than private insurance. And so, I
think one of the tragedies here is there was an option for a state, it
depends on the state, to put more people on the exchanges where the quality
of coverage would have been better than the Medicaid expansion where the
quality of coverage is worse.
And I understand hospitals are grabbing the money, but in terms of the
patients, it`s not obvious that the patients are going to do better.
HAYES: Do you agree with that, Valerie?
VALERIE ARKOOSH, NATIONAL PHYSICIANS ALLIANCE: I don`t. In fact, the
study that you cite from Virginia has some real mythological flaws in it.
And that, it really looked backwards over time at what had happened in the
past. I think a much better study and a study that`s much more indicative
of what`s likely to happen with the expansion is the Oregon health
And in fact, in 2008, Oregon created a lottery. And anyone who met certain
criteria could come into it and a group of people actually were able to get
Medicaid through that lottery. And they followed the group that didn`t get
it and they compared them to the group that did. And a year later, they
looked to see what had happened.
So, it`s very much like what`s going to happen with the Medicaid expansion.
And the differences between the two groups were striking. The group that
did get the Medicaid coverage reported both better physical health and
better mental health.
ROY: But that`s subjective. That`s not hard outcome.
ARKOOSH: They had also had much better access to preventive care. I think
there was a 60 percent difference in mammogram screening compared to the
group that didn`t have insurance. They were more likely to be taking the
correct right prescription drugs for their chronic conditions and just had
better overall financial stability, less medical debt, fewer unpaid bills.
So, I think that when we see in real-time, watching what Medicaid does for
people, it makes a tremendously positive impact --
HAYES: We`re also going to have a big (INAUDIBLE) going forward. I mean -
ROY: I mean, the Oregon study has not yet measured actual hard health
outcomes. It`s only measured --
MITCHELL: And also to your point, though, about private insurance.
Florida is moving towards managed care in Medicaid. So, it will be
privatized. There will be, you know, HMOs and insurers who are controlling
the Medicaid program in Florida. And also, Florida, right now, is opting
out of an exchange. So, it`s interesting some of the points you make --
ROY: But that`s the same thing. So, Medicaid managed care, they`re still
paying at the reimbursement, the low reimbursement rates whereas the
exchange left (ph) higher reimbursement rates so that access to physicians
and the access to the quality care will be better.
HAYES: Let me just point out a few factual things right here. Medicaid
reimbursement rates, right, are set for the state. Medicaid has tremendous
latitude for the states. They determine eligibility. There`s a basic
benefits and package that`s required, mandatory benefits package for them.
There`s optional above that which they also determine.
There`s eligibility, the optional benefits package, and the reimbursement
rate all determine to the state level, right? This creates incentives to
squeeze providers so you have reimbursement rates that are lower than paid
and private insurance. Unlike Medicare in which reimbursement rates get
fixed in the federal level, we pass the doc fix every year.
REID: And by the way, in Florida, Governor Rick Scott slashed the
compensation that went to public hospitals because he wanted to favor
private hospitals. And he has been running this experiment on Medicaid
managed care in Broward County. This was the -- what he got the federal
government to expand statewide. And I live in Broward County, I can tell
you that the experiment, people didn`t like it.
People don`t like having the HMO experience. But at least to your point,
when you compare people who have no insurance at all, those are people who
are getting care in the emergency room, by and large. They`re not going
for mammograms. They`re not going for screening. So, you`re comparing
whether or not when a doctor puts them on an ER table and treats them.
Yes, sure, doctors do a good job of treating people in the ER, but that
doesn`t mean that`s the way you get health.
HAYES: Given the way the political economy is -- the hospital is grabbing
the dollars, as you said, which I think is a fair enough way to stay in
Florida, I`m fascinated about what`s happening in Pennsylvania where you
are. Blue state, Republican governor, who`s making noises and seems to be
leaning towards rejecting the Medicaid expansion would be a really big deal
because it`s a blue state in Republican governor. I want to talk about
that right after this break.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes here with Valerie Arkoosh from
the National Physicians Alliance. Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute.
Tia Mitchell of the Tampabay.com and our own MSNBC`s contributor Joy Reid.
And we`re talking about Medicaid expansion and the surprising decision --
shocking, I would even say. Rick Scott, the bete noir of the president`s
Affordable Care Act, who has now turned around and is going to accept -- He
will sort of passively accept if the state legislature votes for Medicaid
expansion. And I want to counter to what`s happening in Pennsylvania,
Republican Governor Tom Corbett there.
When the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court, there was a
surprising decision, right, which has created this bizarre train, in which
it said it was unconstitutional for the Affordable Care Act to be
structured in such a way that state didn`t expand Medicaid up to 138
percent -- 133 percent plus five, 138 percent of the federal poverty line,
right? If they didn`t do that, originally, the bill said, you don`t get
any Medicaid. Done, right? In a eight to one decision in the Affordable
Care Act, the Supreme Court said that`s an unconstitutional overreach which
is giving all the states the options and we`re seeing states come down
And I think there was a remarkable kind of blindness of confidence coming
from a lot of quarters that all the states would accept. Because
obviously, the dollars, 100 percent for three years, and 90 percent
thereafter. After, you know, 2020. And this is Jack Lew talking to George
Stephanopoulos soon after the Affordable Care Act decision, basically
saying we`re going to get there. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK LEW: In 1960s when Medicaid was enacted with a much smaller federal
share where the state had to actually pay a considerable amount, the states
all ultimately came in.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So, do you think these governors are (inaudible).
LEW: In 1997, when the child health program was expanded, still the match
required states to pay something, the states came in. It`s 100 percent
federal. And I believe that ...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And goes down to 90 percent ...
LEW: It goes down to 90 percent after several years, but it is the most
generous federal match in the history of Medicaid. And I think the
governors are going to have to answer to their own people. The vast
majority of states will come in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The governors are going to have to answer to their own people.
Tom Corbett after reelection in 2014, what is going on there in
VALERIE ARKOOSH, NATIONAL PHYSICIANS ALLIANCE: Well, Governor Corbett is
taking kind of a nuanced response in his budget address last week. He
didn`t say no, but he said not at this time. And he didn`t put any funding
into -- or appropriate the money to drive down those federal dollars. It`s
an interesting situation, because we have ...
HAYES: That sounds like no to me.
ARKOOSH: -- Pennsylvanians and that would benefit from the Medicaid
expansion. And the Medicaid program is very, very successful in our state,
and it`s kind of inconceivable that he would walk away from this amount of
money, for -- particularly for the first three years with a 100 percent
match. You know if this were money to build roads and bridges, I don`t
think he`ll walk away from it. So, clearly, there`s something else going
HAYES: Well, but what is going on? I mean that`s my questions -- I mean
why is it the case -- What`s the political economy of Florida and the
political economy of Pennsylvania? Pennsylvania is actually a fairly old
state in terms of where it lies in the age distribution.
HAYES: And it`s 600,000 people. And it`s a blue state. I mean it has a
Republican governor, but it, you know, in national elections, it votes
quite reliably. I mean who -- how can you get away with this? I guess,
what are the politics such that the same hospital association folks aren`t
going to come and beat down this door?
ARKOOSH: Well, right now, the state has - and the state senate are both
Republican controlled. So we have a fully Republican state at the state
level right now despite having re-elected pretty overwhelmingly President
Obama in the last election. And I think that what`s been tough to
understand in Pennsylvania is that Governor Corbett is really not sharing
his analysis publicly. There`s been reports issued with numbers in them,
but we have not seen the data, on which some of those analyses were based.
And although, you know, in fairness, governors, you have to make sure they
have a balanced budget ...
ARKOOSH: Particularly these first three year, it`s essentially across the
state, nothing. And very importantly, the law`s written in such a way that
should that federal funding go away, that governors can pull back on the
expansion. So this is not a one time forever we`re expanding.
ARKOOSH: So they have that flexibility down the road as well.
TIA MITCHELL, TAMPABAY.COM: I just -- the Republican-led legislature in
Florida has some of the same concerns, I think, and especially the Florida
House, which is more conservative. And I talked to several members last
week, and they said, you know, we just don`t believe the federal government
is going to make good on its promises. This is deficit spending. You
know, so there are, definitely, you know, conservative, you know, talking
points as to why the Medicaid expansion doesn`t make sense. But the other
side is, you know, you have in Florida, millions of uninsured. And this
would reduce it - you know give 1 million people insurance. So there`s
this kind of those two sides that have to be debated out during the
AVIK ROY, FORBES.COM: And that clip that you brought up with Jack Lew,
he`s right about the incentives. You know, states have these incentives to
take the money, because otherwise it goes to taxpayers in (inaudible) other
states with other states. But the difference is between now and then, why
is this more of an issue now versus, say, 1965 or 1997, is that Medicaid is
now such a large part of state budgets that they`re much more sensitive to
the issue of are they going to be on the hook for this extra Medicaid
spending down the road. If the match declines. So, it`s 100 percent the
first couple of years, it`s 90 percent at the end. What if it goes to 85?
What if it goes to 80?
HAYES: Let me say ...
ROY: That`s what states governments are worried about.
HAYES: That is what that they say they are worried about, and I will take
them at their word. It`s amazing how state governments don`t tend to worry
about long-term costs in 2020 in a whole other variety of fields and yet
when it comes to covering the uninsured -- I mean I just think ...
ROY: It`s a larger portion of the budget.
HAYES: Right. It is a large ...
HAYES: Pensions are huge. And every governor, Republican or Democrat is
happy to take along pension costs out in the 2020 and 2030?
HAYES: You know, and the other thing is the law right now, is at 90
percent in perpetuity after 2020. We should make this clear, there is
nothing statutorily in the books right now that`s going to make that match
go down. Now, of course, any future Congress could change that, and
that`s, I think the risk.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And you have in Florida, you have Rick Scott,
essentially, put out numbers that turned out to be completely bogus, trying
to sell the idea of not taking the money. And when he was exposed as
having to put out numbers that were actually false, and that it wouldn`t
cost the state money, that was part of the capitulation. But I think
there`s also a political calculation. I don`t understand Corbett, but the
governors who got elected in 2010, the Tea Party governors who have to go
up for reelection in 2014 are by and large taking it. They are taking it
in Ohio, Michigan, those governors like Scott, that are vulnerable, taking
HAYES: Rick Snyder is.
REID: Rich Snyder is taking it, right. But then the sort of presidential
-- potential presidential candidates. Wisconsin, Scott Walker is not
taking it. Louisiana Bobby Jindal is not taking it, South Carolina Nikki
Haley. The people who seem to have national political ambitions seem to be
not taking it. I think it`s more of a political ...
HAYES: We should take -- Wisconsin is a weird case, though, because they
were already covering up the 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
HAYES: So they`re actually in a weird position, because they already had
it, they already had eligibility above the ...
HAYES: So it`s a less devastating impact in Wisconsin in terms of who is
not going to be covered.
ROY: And I really love what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. Because he
understands the point that I was making before, which is that the exchanges
will provide better coverage than Medicaid will. So, the way he set up his
system was to maximize the degree to which people be on the exchanges.
HAYES: Oh, but this is the thing that drives me crazy about the Republican
approach to the Affordable Care Act, which often looks like trolling to me,
which is basically to say, well, the exchanges are going to be better.
None of the Republicans are setting up exchanges in their states. We just
hit the deadline. And basically everyone said, you know what? I`m not
going to appropriate any money, I`m not going to get them working.
Exchanges are incredibly logistically complicated. If people really think
that the exchanges are going to provide the higher quality health care,
then why will they get their as (ph) together to get the exchanges going?
ROY: They don`t need to. Because the federal government will run them
anyway, and that`s -- the states have actually very little latitude to
change or design the exchange in a different way than the federal
government will. So it`s easier for them to offload that risk onto the
federal government, because if there`s anything that goes wrong with the
HAYES: Right. They don`t want to be ...
ROY: -- Sibelius gets the blame. Obama gets blamed.
ROY: Not them.
HAYES: So, that`s a political calculation.
ROY: And people will still get covered, right.
ARKOOSH: I really want to jump in on this issue of Medicaid patients not
getting access. I think the largest expansion of primary care, both
physicians and nurses is under way in this country that we`ve seen in
several decades. In the Affordable Care Act there is money to actually
increase reimbursement for primary care doctors, it`s in the Medicaid
program, up to Medicare rate.
ARKOOSH: In Pennsylvania that means about a 90 percent increasing rates
for primary care doctors. And community health centers are being
strengthened and more being built, with the expectation that people who go
there now even when they have Medicaid may continue to go to places like
ARKOOSH: But I think what gets missed in this conversation is that when a
person befalls some catastrophe. They get diagnosed with cancer, they get
hit by a bus and they have to go to the hospital, people who are uninsured
have effectively debt that they will be paying off for the rest of their
lives. They cannot ever, ever get back from that.
ARKOOSH: And people who have Medicaid do not have that problem.
ARKOOSH: It pays the hospital bills and it`s not a life-ending, from the
financial standpoint, experience for someone to get hit by a bus. So they
can go to the hospital. They can get better. They can get out without
endless debt and they can go back to work. And that`s what we want, we
want people who can work and contribute to their communities and take care
of their kids and not worry that the next layoff means they`re done.
HAYES: Let`s do it for the exchanges, now, other than Medicare.
ROY: Well, I mean ...
REID: I thought Republicans didn`t believe in federal control of people`s
live. Now they are basically saying, hey, federal government, come in and
run the exchange with my state. This is completely upside down.
ROY: As I said, because they don`t have much latitude. So, if the states
really did have a lot of latitude do design the exchanges in the way that
they wanted or they (inaudible) then it would be different, but they don`t.
REID: But Kathleen Sibelius, they try to work with it. They said listen
ROY: From a policy standpoint, that the latitude that states have to
design the exchange in structurally different ways are very, very small.
HAYES: I think the other -- because this is really a question going
forward is what kind of -- how that shapes the politics in Medicaid.
Because I think -- we`ve seen the politics of Medicare, which is a
fascinating thing, in which -- we`ve got to do something about Medicare.
But if you do something about Medicare, you`re kind of cutting Medicare.
And it`s an incredibly powerful force in our politics. Medicaid has been a
kind of adjunct, right, Medicaid is for other people, those people. But
Medicaid is now going to be a bigger part of people`s lives, and I think it
will be interesting to see how that shapes the politics going forward,
right ? As people get brought into the system through the extension, it
might change the perspective of Medicaid and change what the political
support. There`s that old -- there`s that old line about programs for the
poor are poorer programs, right? The more that something is made, in which
eligibility creeps up in the income scale, you may see increases in
quality, right? It might be a political constituency, and there`s fighting
ARKOOSH: And there`s a lot of misconceptions about who Medicaid takes care
of. Seniors in nursing homes -- one of the biggest percentages ...
HAYES: 20 percent of the dollars, I think.
ARKOOSH: ... of Medicaid dollars. Children in Pennsylvania, a very
significant proportion of children gets their health care through Medicaid.
Pregnant women and people with disabilities.
ARKOOSH: So it is not -- in Pennsylvania, if you`re a full-time working
adult and you don`t work for someone who offers health insurance, you
basically have no way to get health insurance.
HAYES: Yeah. Exactly. Valerie Arkoosh of the National Physicians
Alliance. Tia Mitchell of the Tampabay Times and MSNBC contributor Joy
Reid, thanks for being here.
REID: Thank you.
HAYES: Fantastic. The Conservative Political Action Conference has
invited yours truly to speak at their famous annual CPAC meeting this year.
My response is after this.
HAYES: My story of the week. Conservatives and me. And you. So last
week, I was surprised and oddly delighted by something that my friend
Rachel Maddow also picked up on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": They have invited Chris
Hayes to CPAC this year. Chris Hayes, host of "UP WITH CHRISH HAYES" here
on MSNBC invited to speak on a panel with Ralph Reed. I don`t know if he`s
going to go, but it`s cool that they asked him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, the legendary Conservative Political Action Conference had
invited yours truly to participate at their 40th annual conference this
March. I was specifically invited to be part of the panel called "CSI
Washington DC, November 22 Autopsy", along with Amory Burckle (ph), John
Fund, Michael Barone and Ralph Reed. I would be among 10,000 hard core
conservative activists gracing the same stage as everyone from Marco Rubio
to Sarah Palin to Mitt Romney who have used the occasion of the past to
flaunt their conservative bona fides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R ), FLORIDA: How do you know Americans are majority
conservatives, here`s why? How come liberals never admit that they`re
FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY, (R ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was a severely
conservative Republican governor.
HERMAN CAIN, (R ), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must outsmart the
liberals. We must outsmart the stupid people that are trying to run
FMR. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R ) ALASKA: Keep your change. We`ll keep our God,
our guns, our Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s a good line. The form letter invitation I received even paid
me the slightly odd compliment of calling me one of America`s leading
conservative voices as in "as one of America`s leading conservative voices,
your participation in CPAC 2013 will be critical in our efforts to unite
and energize conservatives." My initial reaction was, of course, I`ll go.
As someone who attempts to convene discussions across various ideological
boundaries, I have the special appreciation for CPAC`s willingness to
invite someone with my politics to speak to the attendees and as someone
who regularly invites conservatives to sit at our table with a bunch of
liberals, leftists and progressives, it seems only sporting and karmically
appropriate for me to accept.
But then I remembered, thanks to a number of conservatives on my Twitter
feed, a pretty gross episode from 2011. That year, the board of the
American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, voted to ban the gay
conservative group GOProud from sponsoring the 2012 conference. GOProud
was founded in 2009 by two former Log Cabin Republican staffers, and its
cofounder, Chris Barron, told me that one of the first things they did was
send the check to ACU to cosponsor CPAC. They were accepted as sponsors in
2010 and in 2011, but social conservatives mobilized against them and
ultimately prevailed. As far as GOProud knows, the policy of not being
allowed to sponsor the event is still in effect.
So, I wrote back to Al Cardenas who runs the ACU in a letter yesterday and
asked whether the policy is still in effect. If it isn`t, I told them, I`m
psyched to go, and if it is, well, I`ll wait until it changes, which is
really just a matter of time.
Now, I should be clear -- GOProud is not an organization I share much with
ideologically or even, truth be told, like all that much. They come out of
the Breitbart wing of the conservative movement and seem to relish nothing
more than pissing off liberals. GOProud is not really the point. The
point is the principle, which is it`s not OK to ban organizations for
reasons of pure bigotry. But the ACU does this because there`s a powerful
constituency within conservatism that won`t have it any other way. It may
not even be a majority of conservatives, at this point, as a number of
conservatives have said to me, but the bigots have enough juice, they call
And this kind of sums up the whole problem of the contemporary conservative
movement in the Republican Party, doesn`t it? Maybe because I`m a squish or
in the immortal words of Abbie Hoffman, a liberal who won`t take his own
side of the argument, I always want to find the important, redeemable
salvageable aspect of conservatism -- a solitary caution about radical
changes, skepticism of bureaucratic dysfunction. The perils of central
planning, reference for institutions, but then sometimes I kind of feel
like conservatism and the Republican Party largely controls is just the
name we give for variety of interests, ruthlessly devoted to hierarchy in
exclusion, keeping those people, whoever they might be out.
The grand irony is that this year`s CPAC will largely be devoted to
debating and brainstorming how to resurrect the electoral fortunes of
conservatism in a country in which those people now make up a majority.
And they are, as GOProud co-founder Chris Barron pointed out to me, several
panels even explicitly devoted to inclusion. All this, while GOProud is
still exiled. In the last three months, there has been an absolute
avalanche of articles and blog posts sand essays and magazine cover stories
and TV segments about to how to save the Republican Party. But what I want
to ask my guests when I get back is, is the Republican Party even worth
HAYES: Joining me now is John McWhorter, professor of linguistics and
American Studies at Columbia University, contributing editor at "The New
Republic" and "New York Daily News " columnist. Avik Roy is still here, of
the Manhattan Institute. We also have Michelle Goldberg, author of "The
Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the Word" and the
senior contributing writer for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast" and my
colleague John Mitchell -- Nichols, Washington correspondent for "Nation"
magazine, associate editor of "The Capitol Times" newspaper in Wisconsin.
All right. So here`s my first question is. Should liberals have an
investment? Do liberals have an investment or purchase in the great debate
about how to remake the Republican Party? Right, I think -- I think the
general feeling in the press coverage is that liberals do. But I`m just
not sure they do. Like shouldn`t -- I mean the question is like, should
you want these strong Republican Party? And whatever that means? Or
should you want like complete total unilateral victory?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: But don`t you think it kind
of depends on where your interests lie. I mean, on the one hand, it`s
clearly in the interest of the Democratic Party to see the Republicans
continue to marginalize themselves and implode and fight the civil war.
But also, I mean, the country is ungovernable, right? Like we go -- we
kind of lurch from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis because we
have this wrong faction that will not agree to any kind of sensible
measures with regards to the budget. So in as much as you want a country
that can`t be governed in a somewhat sensible manner. And in as much as we
have the two-party system, you want one of -- both of those parties to be
at least -- have some kind of baseline of sanity.
JOHN MCWHORTER, NYDAILYNEWS.COM: But also that any party should desire a
degree of self-criticism of anything that`s what Democrats accuse
Republicans, at least these days, of not having. And I think that any
party has tendencies, which need to be tempered. That anybody who`s
concerned with the state of this nation the way it`s supposed to be run,
would think was a good thing. And so, for example, I think as a Democrat
myself that identity ...
HAYES: ... of fairly recent vintage.
MCWHORTER: Of actually always vintage. I thought I could get away with
being a cranky Democrat.
HAYES: You`re back in the fold, dude.
MCWHORTER: I`m back -- I`m back in the saddle. And I think identity
politics is great when it starts, but then I think it seeps in and becomes
a poison. I think that there needs to be a party that can temper that. I
think that all of us can often have a visceral distrust of business and
corporations, which is well placed in many ways. I`m always happy when
there`s a party that counters that. However, it has to be a Republican
Party that is a conservative party, rather than what it actually is, which
is today, in many senses, a radical party that makes gestures towards what
any thinking person would call conservatism.
ROY: You know, I mean I`m old enough to remember 1992. When there`s been
12 years of Republican presidents in the White House.
ROY: And every article in the "Newsweeklies" was about the irrelevance of
the Democratic Party.
HAYES: Sure. And totally.
ROY: And of obviously that -- that was a bit overwrought at the time. The
real question is not whether the Republican Party will survive, but what
will be the policy platform of the Republican Party? Will the Republican
Party move to the left to accommodate a new liberal majority? Or will it
stay conservative, but expand its coalition to groups that aren`t voting
Republican today? And that`s -- that`s really the question of what will
happen with the Republican Party, not whether it will survive.
JOHN NICHOLS, THENATION.COM: I want to offer -- I think you`re right. The
Republican Party is going to survive. Unfortunately, we have an electoral
system that`s designed to have these two parties.
ROY: Yeah, right. They are (inaudible).
HAYES: Right. Agreed.
NICHOLS: But as a progressive, and not as a Democrat, I definitely hope
the Republican Party gets its act together. Because the Democratic Party
is a mess right now. And it is a mess because it exists as we`re -- its
platform is, we`re not as bad as those guys. And until the Republicans
become a lot better, the Democratic Party will not become a lot better.
And to give you an example of this ...
HAYES: What does better mean?
GOLDBERG: Wait, how is it -- I mean the Democratic Party is a mess
compared to what? I mean it seems to be in much better shape than it`s
been in ...
NICHOLS: ... only electorally. Only electorally.
GOLDBERG: Well, electorally, and actually ideologically, I mean that kind
of the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, you know, the kind of the
moderates who were -- who made the kind of mission the Democratic Party a
welfare reform and entitlement reform. They`re not ascendant any more.
The party is more socially liberal than it`s been at anytime during our
NICHOLS: President Obama ...
GOLDBERG: So, in what way is it -- I mean it`s a mess compared to FDR ...
NICHOLS: It`s a mess.
GOLDBERG: But yes ...
NICHOLS: Yes. It is.
NICHOLS: President Obama -- we`ll see what President Obama does on the
Keystone pipeline. And we will see what President Obama does on Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We will see whether Democratic Party is
the party of Roosevelt and whether it stands on some core principles or
whether it abandoned ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the interesting on what it does. Not what it says.
HAYES: But wait a second ...
NICHOLS: And a better Republican Party gives that credit (ph).
HAYES: I totally -- I think I disagree. But I disagree contingent on what
the definition of "better" is, right? Because like -- I just -- like what
is -- better a more effective party, that like is a more effective, can
squeeze out more efficiency out of its current coalition, right? Like look
at, you know, the Texas Republican Party, which is a great example, right,
when we`re now talking about Texas as a battleground.
NICHOLS: They produced Ted Cruz.
HAYES: They produced Ted Cruz and they also -- they`re also doing --
they`re doing better in successful elections, right? So all this stuff
about, oh demographic ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t want that.
MCWHORTER: "Better" is a party that would attract more interest among
young people. And I`m going to say it, more interest among critically
thinking people who try to think out of the box because at this point,
what`s going on is that the party is a radical party, which to a large
extent is in the hands of people who are looking to outside authorities,
such as, for example, religion or ossified theories that aren`t based on
what actually works, but based on a kind of a religious ooh ooh ooh --
kind of fervor.
MCWHORTER: And such -- this is not the party of Burke. I was teaching
Burke, of all things, at the Columbia this week. And my key question to
the students was, you`ve read Burke, you`ve read this conservatism. You
thought you weren`t going to like him. Why is it that you agree with
almost everything he said and yet most of you hate Republicans. What`s the
difference? And we got all ...
GOLDBERG: Well, it`s ...
HAYES: Wait a second --
ROY: I`m a great admirer of Edmund Burke. And so, I understand exactly
what you`re talking about. And I think part of the challenge is that the
modern conservative movement in America was forged in the 1950s, before the
great society, before the turmoil of the `60s.
ROY: So there needs to be a kind of a readjustment or reassessment of how
you apply conservative principles for the 21st century. And that
philosophical, intellectual project is ongoing.
HAYES: Let me just say this, let me just interject here, because -- Corey
Robin, author of the great book "Reactionary Mind", the set of assays and
a writer about conservatism. If he`s watching us, he`s losing his mind
because he has a whole -- I think very persuasive revisionist reading of
Edmund Burke that says actually, Burke himself was a radical -- Burke
actually was calling for bloodshed and revolution. And there was a sort of
monarchist kind of revolution across Europe by the end of his life. This
HAYES: ... And actually, his whole point is that we liberals have this
idea always, there`s always this argument about -- there was this good
conservatism back in the day. But the conservatism we have now is bad
NICHOLS: Burke was in dialogue ...
HAYES: Exactly, the ones who are no longer in power. I want to talk about
that tendency right after this break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
HAYES: So, I said before we went on break, there`s this kind of like
liberal feeling that, you know, today`s conservatives are so bad, but
yesterday`s conservatives will be like, fun looking in nostalgia. So I`m
sort of skeptical to that impulse. At the same time, to the extend that we
have like empirical metrics of voting behavior in the house, the DW
nominate store (ph). You know, you actually see the Republican Party`s
move to the right. I mean there`s just -- I don`t think that`s that
NICHOLS: Let me take a piece of that. Because that`s -- to me, this is a
fascinating thing. The Republican Party was a diverse party and a party
that had many ideological streams within it. Forced the Democratic Party
forward in a lot of ways. It`s notable.
HAYES: Civil rights particularly.
NICHOLS: It`s civil rights. But John Lindsay and a group of other
MCWHORTER: Goldwater. Right.
NICHOLS: Kennedy -- no, before. When Kennedy wasn`t moving fast enough on
civil rights, the first good civil rights bill putting -- really put
forward with a chance of getting some place, Republicans were very involved
in it. But my point on this one is, if you look back at the history of the
Republican Party, it has had conservative streams within it for a long,
long time. The interesting thing is that its leaders, its conservative
leaders historically called out the nuts. And so, William F. Buckley went
on the front page of "National Review" and called out the Birchers.
GOLDBERG: Right. And Barry Goldwater didn`t want ...
NICHOLS: And Goldwater, he wrestled with it, but eventually did well.
Reagan -- Reagan again and again and again called out and marginalized the
nuts. And ...
GOLDBERG: But I have a question -- right.
NICHOLS: And we are not ...
NICHOLS: This is the problem for the Democratic Party.
HAYES: But John, you were not writing that -- you were not writing that
about Reagan in 1984 ...
GOLDBERG: When Reagan was there.
GOLDBERG: You know what`s amazing is -- you know what`s amazing is that
we`re already doing this about George W. Bush.
NICHOLS: I know.
GOLDBERG: Right, we already are like, well, that George W. Bush was so ...
NICHOLS: Well, even George W. Bush, but do we not accept then, that that
is -- that the degeneration of the Republican Party, which we should be
GOLDBERG: No, I do. But I also think that it`s important not to fall into
the temptation of then kind of putting Reagan on a pedestal, let alone...
MCWHORTER: So, I`m going a little devil`s advocate here. Talking about me
and my evolution, such as it was. It was really more of that ...
HAYES: You`re the founder of the cranky party.
MCWHORTER: Society evolved around me. Which is that when George W. Bush
came in and I wrote a book, that was entire identity politics, so I had
many wonderful people telling me that what I really was, was a Republican
who didn`t want to admit it. And I will openly admit that for about a year
and a half, I considered it. I tried to be open minded to absolutely
everything. And it made a certain sense in the era of at least the
gestures towards compassion at conservatism, faith-based initiatives .
Frankly, I think welfare reform was a wonderful thing. However, what`s
happened over the past ten years, in particular, such that no me back then
could possibly consider becoming a Republican ...
HAYES: Right. Right.
MCWHORTER: And that`s happening to more and more young people. And I`m
not even young anymore.
GOLDBERG: Can I say something else. But I think that two things have
happened. You`re absolutely right about the Republican Party losing it
moderate wing and its kind of gestures towards compassion, but also the
Democratic Party has -- and modern liberalism has, I think, absorbed a lot
of the salutary aspects of kind of conservative -- philosophical
GOLDBERG: You know, so you have -- Andrew Sullivan is constantly going on
about how Obama is a true philosophical conservative.
HAYES: And he calls himself a moderate conservative.
GOLDBERG: Right. And I think that there`s something to that, right? I
mean Obama does have a lot of respect for tradition, does have a lot of
respect for established institutions, for families.
NICHOLS: He`s a good Burkean.
GOLDBERG: For families, for all these kinds of things. And it`s -- but
identity politics that you`re talking about, although the modern Democratic
Party is very much a coalition of all these different groups, it`s -- you
don`t see any of the kind of like ridiculous -- you know, this isn`t the
party that`s going to kind of support Ebonics. Or this isn`t the party ...
NICHOLS: That`s over in `90s.
ROY: I want to get back to John`s point, which is this whole idea of, you
know, Reagan and Buckley calling out the nuts. You know, one of the
structural things about the conservative movement today, is it`s
leaderless. There isn`t any one person who has the stature today, and for
the last -- since Reagan died, basically, or since Buckley left the scene
who has that kind of stature to say here are things that conservatism
should stand for. Here are things that conservatism should not. But f
there is -- if there comes to be a conservative standard bearer over the
next several years, that could change. But that`s ...
HAYES: But George W. Bush was that. Let`s just be clear. It`s like
everyone is running away -- I mean liberals ...
NICHOLS: Let me ask you -- let me ask you ...
HAYES: There were a lot of conservatives ...
ROY: On this issue of compassion. Because conservatives are already
HAYES: Yeah, all that topic -- let`s just be clear about this, because
this is a revisionist history. Conservatives loved George W. Bush.
ROY: I loved George W. Bush.
HAYES: I mean -- I mean it`s like -- which is -- everyone now is like it`s
like everyone wants to talk about like when they became an anti-fascist,
right? Like going back in times, like, oh, yes I never liked that. I --
that Medicare part D, thing, was, you know. Paul Ryan cast the deciding
vote in Medicare part D, which I will never get tired of saying. But
George W. Bush was a conservative icon, the conservative right loved him,
and if you criticized him, you`re a horrible person. He is now in
NICHOLS: That is not true. Chris -- not in 2000 -- in 2000 ...
NICHOLS: ... there were conservatives who actually thought he was -- he
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And too moderate.
NICHOLS: But let me -- let`s go and your core point is that came to life
as soon you started love W.....
HAYES: That`s my point, after 2000 ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he wasn`t a leader of the intellectual --
NICHOLS: No, he wasn`t the leader of the intellectual.
GOLDBERG: But the intellectual - I mean we could go back and find some of
the most embarrassing florid, purple hints by all of the intellectual
leaders, the conservative ...
HAYES: Control room, go find florid hymns.
NICHOLS: Let me ask you a core question here.
NICHOLS: Let me ask you a core question. You said well, you know, you
didn`t have the leaders that it did. When Buckley called out the John
Birch Society, he wasn`t Buckley yet. He became -- it was a critical point
in his evolution to stand up as a conservative and say, I am not this. And
I think that the crisis in the Republican Party today is that there are not
people standing up and taking the risks. And saying, I`m not --
ROY: I want you to think that Ted Cruz is the problem with the
NICHOLS: Well, what he`s doing -- what he`s saying Harvard is the seed bed
of communism or whatever ...
HAYES: Hold that. I want to play the president making his argument for
loyal opposition. Because there`s -- we`re having -- there`s like a few
things I want to kind of distinguish here, right. It`s like the Republican
Party getting its act together, so it can be an effective counterbalancing
force that actually works to govern the country, right? There`s this
question of this sort of purging of the nuts which is a term I don`t really
love. But about, you know, people that we think are extremists or stand in
the way of actual kind of functioning, practical politics, right? The
exchange. But then to me, the thing is, but as someone who is to the left.
Pretty far to the left of the American mainstream politics, like what
investment do I have in all of that getting worked out? Right, I mean --
the question is, like what I want is a Republican Party that, for instance,
comes to the table on climate? Right? Like that`s what I want. And my
question is, like how do we get there from here right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I`m a big
believer not just in the value of a loyal opposition, but in its necessity.
Having differences of opinion, having a real debate about matters of
domestic policy and national security, that`s not something that`s only
good for our country. It`s absolutely essential. It`s only through the
process of disagreement and debate that bad ideas get tossed out. And good
ideas get refined and made better. And that kind of vigorous back and
forth, that imperfect, but well-founded process, messy as it often is, is
at the heart of our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the president when he went to address the Republican House
ideas conference at famous interchange sort of like -- This is amazing --
amazing moment that it will never happen again, because it was so great.
And it was sort of like, you know, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" , with that
people of actual power.
NICHOLS: But it`s also Obama is exactly who he wants to be.
NICHOLS: That`s who Obama wants to be.
HAYES: I guess we`re right here. One is that like "A," I think this model
of like strong and vigorous debate, like, obviously, I believe in that.
Because that`s what I try to do here. And that`s what I do for a living,
right? But at the same time, like politics to me seems like I`m sort of a
real realist, nihilist on this. It`s just like pure will to power. And I`m
not quite sure like these exchanges ever -- like, do we have some idea that
these exchanges back and forth improve things. And I`m not sure how much
that`s ever the case. But the other thing -- the other question is like how
do we get -- like on climate, for instance. Like, you know, Josh Bear (ph)
had this column when he was talking about why he`s a Republican, right. He
made this distinction between different parties are good because of
different normative values, right? Different conceptions of the good,
different values, different moral codes of what should be valued and what,
you know. But we should agree on positive facts, right? That we should be
(inaudible) to say like, look, there`s a ...
GOLDBERG: Change is real.
HAYES: Right. Exactly. Like OK, now, you have a set of normative
principles that you want to apply to how deal with that. And I have a set
of normative principles that are more egalitarian, re-distributive, and
yours are much more liberty, and let`s figure out how to do that. But it
does feel like the problem we encounter now, even on these questions a
positive fact, right? There`s like this -- this disengagement from that.
And I just don`t know what changes that.
GOLDBERG: Well, the only thing -- I think the only thing that changes is
that you basically have a party that`s kind of instructed in the entire
alternative reality and now lives within it. And eventually, you know, I
think there`s been a hope for a long time that that bubble is going to
burst. And -- but you have to see, I think, the current Republican Party
really crumble, really suffer -- really suffer several more years of
serious electoral defeats before you`re going to have some kind of
GOLDBERG: ... with the intellectual cul-de-sac that they ...
HAYES: I don`t think it`s going to happen, also. And here`s the other
thing. We`re going to -- you know what the midterm electorate is going to
look like in 2014? I`ll tell you what. It`s going to look like the 2010
ROY: Smaller ...
HAYES: Smaller, and older and whiter. And it`s going to elect a lot of
Republicans and then we`re going to be sitting at this table writing
ROY: I can tell you that`s not true. So I think ...
ROY: Yeah, there`s been -- I think 2010 was like that. So, in 2010 a lot
of -- in 2008, after Obama won, people had a lot of the same conversations
they`re having today. And then 2010 happened, and people said, well,
conservatism doesn`t need to change. We`re fine. 2012 made people realize
that the 2008 hope and change was not a one time thing, that there has been
an evolution of the electorate, and conservatives are much more serious,
and there`s much more urgency to the question of how do we improve and
modernize the Republican Party. So, that`s happening.
HAYES: Go ahead.
NICHOLS: You`ve come full circle, though. You started out this questions,
why should progressives ...
HAYES: Right. Right.
NICHOLS: Why (inaudible) should care about this stuff.
HAYES: Right. Right.
NICHOLS: And you said, well, how are going to get some improvement?
NICHOLS: The fact of the matter is, that until the Republican Party
becomes - and I use the term better.
NICHOLS: But until it becomes better at what it does. And also until it
moves into ...
GOLDBERG: Not better at what it does.
NICHOLS: Yes, better at what a party should ...
GOLDBERG: Better at abstractive -- better at what it should do, not better
at what it does.
NICHOLS: No, no, (inaudible) a 30 second moment.
NICHOLS: I want to talk about the history of the Republican Party until it
becomes capable of advancing ideas and debating. And (inaudible) in the
real world. The Democratic Party will always have a huge space, in which
NICHOLS: Like that -- for progressives, they should want the Republican
Party to become an intellectually vigorous and strong conservative party
that argues from a reality-based point.
HAYES: So, what do we know now we didn`t know last week? My answer is
HAYES: In just a moment. What we know now we didn`t know last week. But
first, a quick correction for an error I made on another show. On Friday,
February 15th, I appeared on "Rachel Maddow Show" to discuss different
strategies gun safety groups are using to fight the political power of the
gun industry. One of those tactics is divestment, in which advocates and
public officials call on pension funds do divest from stocks and gun
manufacturers. On the Rachel`s show, I erroneously referenced the
California Public Employment Retirement System or CalPERS, as having
divested from gun manufacturers when in fact it was the California State
Teachers Retirement System, CALSTRS, that was the first major pension fund
to divest from firearms manufacturers. As a coda, it turns out a few days
after I appeared on Rachel`s show, CalPERS voted to divest from two gun
manufacturers as well. So if you`re being charitable, you can also view my
error as a brief moment of clairvoyance.
And also, an update on the story we`ve been covering here on "UP" New York
City Council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has still, after
more than 1,000 days, not brought a vote -- to a vote a bill that would
require all businesses in the city to give their employees five paid sick
days a year. This week, Gloria Steinem who I had the pleasure of talking
to here on "UP" recently, signed a letter along with hundreds of other
women that ran an ad in the "New York Times" calling for Miss Quinn to
bring the paid sick day legislation up for a vote. Steinem has been a
prominent supporter of Chistiane Quinn who would, if elected, be the first
woman and first out gay person elected mayor of New York. The Gloria
Steinem now says that if Christine Quinn doesn`t bring the legislation to a
vote, she will withdraw her support. "Making life fair for all women,"
Steinem told the "New York Times", "seems more important than breaking the
barrier for one woman.
So, what do we now know that we didn`t know last week? We now know that
China, the world`s biggest greenhouse gas emitter along with our own proud
nation, possibly the biggest obstacle to a comprehensive enforceable global
cap on carbon emissions, has done what the U.S. has not, put a tax on
carbon. On Tuesday, the official state newspaper "Xinhua" announced that,
quote, "China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies
designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide
emissions, according to a senior official at the ministry of finance." We
don`t know when the tax will kick in, how high the tax will be, or how
strictly it will be enforced. We know there are reasons to be quite
skeptical of China`s commitment to reducing emissions, but we do know that
Chinese authorities are increasingly concerned about climate change and
directing more and more investment toward renewable energy. We know that
public investment in renewable energy here in the U.S., meanwhile, is on
We now know the citizens of a Houston suburb, Missouri City, better be
ready to pay up when they need the services of the local police. According
to a report, on KHOU 11 News, starting March 1st, drivers will be charged
the cost of dispatching first responders to the scene of car crashes, a tab
that can run as high as $2,000. We know city officials say the new policy
is intended to close the city`s budget deficit and will save $50,000 a
year. We know that a model of public goods purchased, like private
luxuries, is the inevitable result of the austerity regime, and many states
and localities now toil under, and it is an offense against the most basic
foundational conceit of our social contract, which is that we all pay in to
provide basic service, universal services we all might use some day. We
know that increasingly the tendency (ph) to disaggregate funding, with
fees and means testing, the only real durable public goods are those we pay
for collectively and use collectively.
And finally, we know now that the new name will be for the Florida Atlantic
University`s football stadium. The school located in Boca Raton saw a
sponsor for the stadium in exchange for naming rights. And on Tuesday we
learned that for the price of $6 million, the new name of the stadium will
be GEO Group Stadium. GEO Group, as it turns out, is one of the nation`s
largest operators of for-profit prisons. We know that GEO facilities have
faced lawsuits and accusations of human rights abuses. We know that in the
last decade the industry has boomed with the top two private prisons, both
enjoying record profits topping $1.6 billion in revenue last year. We know
nothing makes a mockery of the notion of a free market like booming
magnates of the prison industrial complex who exist solely off government
contracts and then turn around and use their money and influence to push
policy makers to put more people in prison. Even the staunchest
conservative will tell you the invisible hand is supposed to be an
instrument of liberation, not imprisonment.
You want to find out what my guests now know they didn`t when the week
began. I`ll begin with you , Mr. John McWhorter?
MCWHORTER: You know, from 1937 to 1963, there was a gridlocked Congress.
People in the era of "I Love Lucy" were as appalled at the state of
lawmaking as we are now and what broke it was a gradual ground swell of
social related feeling, which we now know as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
That was created by uniquely politically talented president who got in for
accidental reasons. I`m not sure what the lessons are ...
MCWHORTER: ... for today. However, Congress has been worse than it is now
and I think it`s something we could remember.
HAYES: Avik Roy.
ROY: After the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented there will still
be 30 million Americans without health insurance. Doug Holtz-Eakin, the
former director of the Congressional Budget Office in the Bush
administration now put out an op-ed in Reuters last week making the case
for market based universal coverage as the way forward for entitlement
reform. So, this is beginning of a multi-year project for us to try to
make the case to conservatives that actually, universal coverage is the
path to getting our fiscal ship in balance.
HAYES: Interesting. Michelle Goldberg?
GOLDBERG: Well, you know, most weeks seem to bring at least some news
about why the Catholic Church has no business setting itself up as the
kind of moral arbiter of American politics or any other kind of politics. T
his week we learned from "La Republica" that the pope`s resignation might
be related to a circle of high level gay clergy being blackmailed by male
HAYES: I saw that report and I spent some time in Italy. I`m not sure how
much I trust the sourcing on that ...
HAYES: But I did -- I did see that report. John Nichols?
NICHOLS: Mine is not as impressive as Michelle`s . And very much -- one
thing that we know is that the sequester is austerity, is, you know, kind
of across the board blunt austerity ...
NICHOLS: But the austerity that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson want,
which is ultimately much more devastating going after Social Security and
Medicare and Medicaid, is being pushed by a group called "Fix the Debt."
They`re spending literally tens of millions of dollars to advance the idea
that this is the only alternative.
NICHOLS: The terrific group Center for Media and Democracy has launched a
new Web site at prwatch.org that tells you all about this group and what`s
revealed is, that it`s being run by a lot of billionaires who don`t want to
fix the debt. They really want to lower their taxes.
HAYES: "Nation" magazine has a great feature on "Fix the Debt" this week.
You are one of the contributors, check that out. My thanks to John
McWhorter from New York, the New York Daily News, Avik Roy, former the Mitt
Romney`s health care policy advisory group, Michelle Goldberg from
"Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast" and John Nichols of "The Nation" magazine.
Thank you for getting up. Thank you for joining us today. For "UP", join
us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00. We`ll have former White House Press
Secretary Robert Gibbs on the president and the White House press corps.
Coming up next, Melissa Harris-Perry on today`s MHP. How President Obama
compares to Kevin Bacon in "Footloose." That`s an analogy for the ages.
That and a once great American city`s on life support. Will America let
Detroit die? That`s Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next. We`ll see you
right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting up.
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