March 23, 2013
Guests: Nancy Northup, Kyrsten Sinema, Tammi Kromenaker, Mildred Wiley, Jesse Sharkey, Gwen Moore, Jay Angoff, Rebecca Onie, Vince Warren, Nicholas Peart, Jumaane Williams, Russ Tuttle
MELISS HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question. What are
30,000 students in Chicago supposed to do now? Plus, Obama care three
years later. And the secretly recorded NYPD stop and frisk bombshell. But
first, this is not a test. We are experiencing a serious uterus emergency.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Ladies, it is time to gird your
loins again. Remember that hint that we dropped to our national Republican
lawmakers on election day, you know, the one that responded to their
attempts to manhandle our uteri by delivering their party a resounding
defeat. Well, it seems their friends at the state House level have missed
the memo. Because while congressional Republicans finally managed to make
nice with the ladies by passing the Violence Against Women Act, state
lawmakers across the country have been outdoing themselves in acts of
policy violence against women`s reproductive rights and your uterus should
be very, very afraid. This month there has been such unrelenting onslaught
of state-level attacks against reproductive choice, some of them blatantly
unconstitutional that it inspired "Mother Jones" magazine to create their
own anti-choice March madness championship brackets. Now, you would think
after beginning the month of March with the state passing the most
restrictive abortion ban in the country that things couldn`t get much
worse, but oh how wrong you would be. Arkansas kicked things off on March
6 when its health did something no state has ever done before. Apparently,
not content with the 20-week ban they just passed in February, Arkansas
Republicans voted to override a veto by the state`s governor and pass a law
making abortions illegal after just 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Now that limit violates the standard set by the Supreme Court in Roe v.
Wade, which allows states to regulate abortion after viability, which
doesn`t occur until at least 22 weeks. In fact, the Arkansas law rewrites
the definition of viability altogether. While the court defined viability
as the possibility of life independent from the mother, Arkansas draws the
line at the point in which a fetal heartbeat can be detected. And at 12
weeks a heartbeat can be detected with an abdominal ultrasound. But not so
fast, ladies. You have not escaped the transvaginal probe yet. Because no
sooner had Arkansas claimed the title of most restrictive abortion law in
the land, than North Dakota came along and up the ante -- lowering the bar
even further. North Dakota has passed its own law that would cut off
abortions at six weeks into a pregnancy. Now mind you the average American
woman doesn`t even find out she`s pregnant until the sixth week. So this
new law would in effect outlaw 75 percent of abortions in North Dakota and
the bill bans abortions once a heartbeat is detectable using "standard
medical procedure," and you know what that means, clearly North Dakota has
learned nothing, absolutely nothing from Virginia`s failed attempt to force
the dreaded probe on women last year. Because at six weeks of pregnancy
the only way to detect a heartbeat is with a transvaginal ultrasound. But
not even the small window of choice before the six week mark is safe from
Republicans in North Dakota.
They have also passed two personhood bills through the Senate that would
amount to a blanket abortion ban in the state. I guess that sounded like a
great idea to Kansas. Because the bill that was just approved in that
state house this week would criminalize all abortions by bestowing
personhood status on a fertilized egg. The Kansas bill is a 70-page piece
of legislation that is a grab bag of attacks on reproductive rights. Among
the worse is its requirement that it could force doctors to tell women that
abortion may increase their chances of developing breast cancer. I got to
tell you, this is a thinly veiled scare tactic based on junk science that
was largely debunked by the National Cancer Institute back in 2003. After
convening a hundred of the world`s leading experts, they concluded that
having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman`s subsequent
risk of developing breast cancer. A very different bill advanced Tuesday
by Republican legislators in Texas includes the same loose interpretation
of the truth. And on paper Texas Senate Bill 537 is about "protecting the
health and safety of patients of an abortion facility."
But what it would do in practice, it would shut down all of the state`s 37
licensed abortion clinics. The law would require the clinics to either
close or undergo expensive and extensive facility upgrades to meet the same
standards as an ambulatory surgical center. But here is the kicker, it
includes clinics in Texas that only dispenses abortion pills and don`t
perform any surgical procedures at all. It looks like they are choosing to
give women`s history month a whole new meaning with these historic
restrictions on women`s constitutional rights. But make no mistake, the
aggressive whittling away of reproductive rights during this month of March
madness is bigger than just one month, or even a handful of states. There
is a long game in play here. And its goal is nothing less than the
complete erosion of reproductive choice. At the table, Nancy Northup,
president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Robert
Traynham, who is a former senior adviser to the Bush-Cheney administration
and now an assistant dean at Georgetown University. It is lovely to have
you both here.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.
NANCY NORTHUP, PRES. AND CEO, CENTER FOR PEPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Good
HARRIS-PERRY: Nancy, start by giving me your sense of what the motivation
behind these new state regulations are.
NORTHUP: Well, as you said, this is a whole new kind of extreme. What we
have seen for you is, of course, is a chipping away at the protections of
Roe versus Wade. But what you`re talking about bans at six weeks, the kind
of shutting down the clinics in Texas. This is not chipping away. It`s
taking the sledge hammer at the right. And what I think is going on here
is that no longer satisfied with just making it harder and more expensive,
is they`re going for a whole new constitutional regime. What they want to
do is take the 40 years of precedent of Roe v. Wade and have it overturned.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, when you talk about the 40 years of precedent,
when we`re looking at the maps because I was saying, well, let`s just look
at the fact that before Roe there are some states where in fact a woman
could access a legal abortion.
NORTHUP: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So when you just sort of look at the pre-road map and then
our current map, which is -- so, these are states where there is some
access to abortion before Roe v. Wade in 1973. And then you look at our
map today. And what we see is that in fact there are major abortion
restrictions in all the same states that were illegal before 1973. So in
many ways we already are in a pro-Roe v. Wade world.
NORTHUP: Right. And it`s what we`re headed to in this country, as you
just pointed out, is that we have two sets of constitutional rights. Those
for women who live in states like New York and California, that are
respecting women`s ability to make these health decisions for themselves,
and women who live in the states that you`re talking about in Texas, in
Mississippi, in Kansas, in North Dakota. Who have a subset, an inferior
set of constitutional rights. And this is what whether you live in New
York or Mississippi, you`ve got to say, we need to draw the line. This is
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Robert, I wanted you here at the table in part because,
you know, I always try to think about this from multiple perspectives. And
I actually think there are multiple ethical positions to take on the
question of choice.
HARRIS-PERRY: But that does feel different to me than this kind of
legislative chipping away at what is an established constitutional right.
So, it`s one thing to say I`m personally opposed to abortion. I would
never personally seek an abortion. I would work to try to keep others from
having an abortion in the sense of counseling and providing reproductive
options. It`s another thing to do this kind of back -- what feels like a
back door destruction of a constitutional right.
TRAYNHAM: Well, yes, or no. Yes, you`re absolutely correct. There`s no
question about that, on the surface it seems like maybe women`s rights are
taken a step back. However, we also have to respect state rights, right?
And state`s rights have the ability to be able to legislate at the state
and local level. My understanding with North Dakota specifically is that
if the governor signs this into law, it still is up to the population,
meaning the people, to be able to decide whether or not this is
constitutional or not. So that is the process, you`re allowing the
individuals to be able to make that ultimate decision. Now, granted, this
is a woman`s right issue, there is no question about that is a health
issue, but it`s also a moral issue here as a conservative that I have
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, right. And so let me make this point. If I`m
standing on the side of believing that abortion is ethically or morally
wrong, then I might not care that the states are beginning to erode rights.
So I mean for those, for example, who are gun control advocates -- so what
there`s a Second Amendment, right? We, in fact, want the states to do the
best they can to eliminate handguns. But the fact is we know. When I hear
you say well, there are state rights and constitutional rights. I just
cringe, because I think wait a minute, Robert, we know that the state
rights language was always about keeping people from having freedom.
TRAYNHAM: You`re absolutely right. So it works both ways. I mean you go
back to the pre-civil rights. As you know, state rights was all about
oppressions. If you want, the argument still is about that. So it`s a
very fine line, but at the end of the day, that`s how our constitutional
system is set up, that states are empowered and should be empowered to make
these decisions. The question becomes from a moral standpoint is whether
or not they are so oppressive, that they are so demonizing to African-
Americans, to minorities, to women, whatever the case may be, that the
federal government should supersede that. That`s really the question and
purely from a legal standpoint.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Nancy, as Robert talks about what states can do and
voters can do, the fact is voters have turned back personhood amendments
every time they have an opportunity to.
NORTHUP: Well, sure. They have. But what we have to think about in North
Dakota the six-week ban is not something that is going to be put to the
voters. That`s something that the North Dakota legislature has pushed
through and is on the governor`s desk. But it`s important to recognize,
and this is what the Supreme Court has said in looking at this issue. Is
that these decisions about your most personal life, these decisions that we
need to be treated with dignity in making, this is not for the state of
North Dakota or the state of Mississippi to vote away. These are decisions
that are protected by Constitution. I mean, the court said in Planned
Parenthood Versus Casey, it is the promise of our constitution that there`s
an area of life that the government may not enter.
NORTHUP: And decision about women`s bodies and health and the numbers
facing children are part of these decision.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And this is what always feels shocking to me when I
hear it from Republicans, because I think you guys want the state out. So
why do you suddenly want it in in this most personal? I promise, we are
going to stay on exactly this topic as soon as we get back. Because after
the break we`re going to add a couple more voices to this conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Most American families want two children and most American
women will spend about five years of their life either actively trying to
get pregnant or being pregnant or recovering from pregnancy and they will
spend the other two-thirds of their reproductive life trying to avoid
pregnancy. Joining our table to talk about our reproductive rights,
Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema and Victoria DeFranceso
Soto, who is NBC Latino contributor, fellow at the LBJ school at the
University of Texas and director of communications for "Latino Decisions."
So I wanted to bring you in here, Victoria. Because it does feel to me
like part of what we need to talk about is which women are most impacted by
these restrictions. So women who have private providers can go and access
those providers. It`s really women who need to use clinics, usually poor
women, women of color, who then end up being in a position of being
criminalized for making reproductive choices.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, NBC NEWS: Well, in the great state of Texas,
which I love my state, but when it comes to reproductive rights, I`m
ashamed of my state. And we see this abortion creep. And I think one of
the most blatant indications is that the state of Texas said we`re going to
take away money from any clinic that is related to abortion provision. So
Planned Parenthood. Which means that women of lower socio-economic status
who need Medicaid dollars aren`t just being banned from their rights to an
abortion if they so choose, but also all of the other health care that
comes with reproductive rights. From cancer screenings, from annual
checkups. So it`s an infringement. Not just--
HARRIS-PERRY: (inaudible) needs care. We need to have an opportunity to
look in and make sure everything is working well.
SOTO: And my favorite is, just a couple of weeks ago, Rick Perry was
asserting that he would veto any bill that would prevent texting while
driving, because he doesn`t want government micromanaging your life. But
yet, he wants transvaginal ultrasounds. He wants Texas, he said this, to
be a place where abortions are things of the past. You don`t think that`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Kyrsten, and let me ask, here we are then, 113th
Congress, the most women elected. Personhood turned back in every state
where it ended up on the ballot. How is it that state lawmakers are
saying, no, we don`t really care about that? We are moving forward to begin
to restrict women`s right?
REP. KYRSTEN SINEMA, D-ARIZONA: Well, you know, I come from Arizona. And
Arizona state legislature has long been out of sync with the public on this
issue. Arizona`s pro-choice state. We`re fairly libertarian. And yet we
have a state legislature that continues to attempt to restrict women`s
rights and access to health care. And so what we`re seeing is legislative
bodies that are just frankly not listening to the public they represent.
We saw it in Texas. We see it in Arizona. The good news is that courts
are coming in and saying, actually, you can`t do that. So in both Texas
and in Arizona, the court has said, actually you can`t stop sending those
funds to Planned Parenthood because women use that for ovarian cancer
screenings, they use it for breast cancer screenings, they use it for birth
control, and so we have to provide that access. What I think is really
difficult is the challenge of helping voters in the community connect with
the fact that they have a state legislature that is actually ruling of out
their own interest, you know? And this is true throughout the country.
Even in states that one would consider to be very, very socially
conservative like Mississippi. Even in those states, when women and their
husbands and boyfriends and family members will say, you know what, we can
make our own decisions.
HARRIS-PERRY: And part of it was it because it went a step too far.
Right? On our uterus model, Nancy, you know, they have a little fertilized
-- oh, oh no. That might be bad. I seemed to have popped open the
fertilized egg. That`s -- we`ll put that back together. But the very idea
that this would constitute a person. Right? And some set of
constitutional rights should come to this. Look, I get that that is a
particular kind of faith claim, it`s not associated with science. But the
reality is that if this turns into a person, right, there are economic
consequences, right? The cost to raise a child, $10,000 a year, up to
$20,000 a year. When you`re talking about what it actually costs to have
this thing turn into a human. Why not allow women to make the best choices
that we can with as many resources and options instead of trying to come in
and regulate the process?
NORTHUP: Well, of course, and this is what the Supreme Court has said,
that because it`s so essential for women economic, political, community
participation, to be able to control their reproductive lives, that we have
to leave these decisions to women and their families. I mean, as you just
had there with the picture of the fertilized egg, the person (inaudible)
that wanted to make that equal to a person would not just affect abortion.
They would affect the use of contraception and also fertility. IVF. This
is not just a parade of horribles. We had a case in Costa Rica. They
banned IVF because of personhood theories. Now, luckily, the Inter-
American (ph) Court of Human Rights said you can`t do that. This is about
wanting to have kids as well as sticking to --
HARRIS-PERRY: The potential good thing about that is it broadens the
coalition. I mean, Mississippi is not a pro-choice state, but it turned
back personhood in part because of the IVF, right? So when people on the
other end of the economic scale are on the other end of wanting to make
choices about when to have kids and how to have them, when that is
threatened as well, in fact, this coalition grows. And it just -- I would
almost even be down with it if -- if Republicans were saying, OK, this is a
person. And therefore what we must do is make sure that this person has
high equality education, universal health care, sufficient food and
nutrition, quality housing, because we are so concerned about the rights of
this person, when in fact that doesn`t happen. At the same time that we`re
creating compulsory pregnancy, we`re also stripping away all of the
realities of being able to turn this into a human.
TRAYNHAM: But we all know that we were that at some point in our mother`s
uterus. We know that. This is an interesting learning, teaching point for
me, as the only guy at the table, because I`m doing more listening than
TRAYNHAM: Push it away. Because I am really struggling with this, because
as a conservative I`m more of a libertarian, right, and I`m also gay, so I
don`t want the state -- and I`m also black obviously. So I don`t want the
state telling me who I should marry, who I should fall in love with, and
obviously how I should live my life.
SINEMA: I like you.
TRAYNHAM: However, but my faith and my conscience tells me that abortion
is wrong. However, I`m also listening to all of you around the table, and
there`s a sense of reason. There`s a sense of rationality here that I
can`t ignore. So this is what I`m struggling with, quite frankly.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the thing is, isn`t that OK? To say, OK, you can have a
sense of faith and individual belief in this, and that`s not the same thing
as legislating it.
TRAYNHAM: Bu I don`t feel like I have the right to tell you what to do
with your body. And I don`t feel comfortable -- I`m sorry.
SOTO: And I also want my daughter, who is in utero, to be able to have
that choice. So we focus so much of the rhetoric on the fetus or the
patient, but the concept of the woman is excluded from any conversation of
rights. And ultimately this is a discussion about rights. Economic
rights, civil rights. And it`s about women who are here and women who will
come after us. It`s also a framing issue in the debate about reproductive
rights and abortion.
SINEMA: I also want to go back to what Robert is saying. So, Robert, I`m
from Arizona, which is a very heavily libertarian state. And I come from a
family of individuals who, like yourself, are quite conservative and also
people of deep faith. And I feel like it`s totally appropriate and OK for
you to have your faith and for you to have your faith and you to have your
faith. What I think is important in this debate is we hue to what are the
fundamental American values, which is liberty. You have your faith and you
have your faith and you have your faith. And our government`s job is to
protect each person`s liberty, which means--
TRAYNHAM: And trust you to make the right decisions.
SINEMA: So that is exactly right. So protecting your faith, protecting
your beliefs and not infringing on someone else`s. So libertarian
philosophy is the perfect philosophy to have.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, we`re going to go to North Dakota. But
you said you wanted your in utero daughter to have freedom. We also want
her to have a Nerdland onesie, and so here is the Nerdland onesies for your
in utero daughter. When we come back, North Dakota.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just yesterday the Republican-controlled legislature in
North Dakota went a step beyond its earlier ban on abortion at six weeks
and approved a referendum for the November ballot that could end all
abortion in the state. If it passed, the referendum would amend North
Dakota`s constitution to reflect that life begins at conception and it
would make criminals out of the employees of the one place in North Dakota
that performs all the state`s abortions. The Red River Valley Women`s
Clinic in Fargo. Joining me now from Fargo is the director of that clinic,
Tammi Kromenaker, nice to see you, Tammi.
TAMMI KROMENAKER, RED RIVER WOMEN`S CLINIC: Good morning. Thank you for
HARRIS-PERRY: So thank you for joining us. I know that you`re via Skype,
and this is in part because of the relative remoteness of North Dakota, and
yet, that`s part of exactly why your clinic`s work is so important, right?
KROMENAKER: Absolutely. We serve women from North Dakota, South Dakota,
Minnesota. Our patients travel an average of three to seven hours to reach
HARRIS-PERRY: We know, Tammi, that most women who seek termination already
have a child, some 60 percent, and that 88 percent of them are seeking it
in the first trimester, in those first 12 weeks. So why does North Dakota
feel such a need, given those kinds of statistics, to impose itself in this
KROMENAKER: Well, I think that lawmakers here are emboldened. The
personhood amendment has been tried before, and there was a procedural move
where a senator got the bill killed. He then lost his seat in
redistricting, and Personhood USA has used him as an example and said, if
you mess with us, we`re going to mess with you and you`re going to lose
your seat. So they feel emboldened by that, and we also have billions in
reserve from oil money. So they are not afraid to take on the cost of
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so the oil money thing is fascinating to me. Because
some of this is really even just about the inside of the policymaking. So
some of the reporting out of North Dakota suggests that these are policies
that are being cribbed directly from Wikipedia, and that part of the reason
that they`re showing up on the legislative floor is because there used to
be a sort of a safety valve in the House that kept them from coming, and
now that`s gone, and the folks are just sort of willy-nilly putting these
things out there.
KROMENAKER: Well, you know, it`s funny that they`re saying it comes from
Wikipedia and they`re saying that they created them themselves. It`s
clearly modeled on other states. It`s clearly coming from other states.
It is almost identical in wording from other places. And it has been
stopped before, but when legislators are afraid of losing their seats, they
will back down even on things that they feel very strongly about. And it`s
just sad that they are basically being bullied into passing this kind of
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, there`s at least one legislature who`s not being
bullied. Representative Kathy Hawken who is a Republican. I just really
love what she had to say about this. She said to "The Huffington Post",
one of the key tenets of the Republican Party is personal responsibility.
I`m personally pro-life, but I vote pro-choice because you can`t make that
decision for anyone else. You just can`t." So, that feels to me like a
very principled Republican libertarian position to have. Can that work as
a persuasive claim there in North Dakota?
KROMENAKER: You know, Kathy Hawken is amazing. And there have definitely
been other senators, both Democrats and Republicans who have stood up and
stood against these bills, but, you know, the people who are for all this
personhood and for all this pro-life legislation have a lot of power and
are basically just bullying other legislators. And it`s -- she is a lone
kind of voice out there, a lone voice of reason.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you one last question, Tammy. Is -- if
personhood passes in North Dakota, if your clinic is shut down, what does
that mean in a real world way for the women of North Dakota?
KROMENAKER: Well, the closest clinics are three and four hours away in
Minnesota and South Dakota.
And as we know, South Dakota has those 72-hour waiting period. So, and
even more restrictive landscape for women. And it will leave, just like
you said earlier, poor women, rural women and women of color the most
vulnerable women in our society, unable to access abortion services, and
they`ll either carry pregnancies that they didn`t intend to carry in the
first place or will take measures into their own hands. Women of means
will be able to travel elsewhere. And it just leaves our most vulnerable
women with no choices left whatsoever.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Tammy. We are so proud of the work that you`re
doing in North Dakota. We will keep our eyes on this.
KROMENAKER: Thank you so much.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I`m about to send my little uterus model
to Virginia. It`s Cooch Watch time. Be on alert, Virginia.
HARRIS-PERRY: Abortion has recently taken center stage in the heated
Virginia gubernatorial race between Republican Ken Cuccinelli or Cooch and
Democratic Candidate Terry McCalls. At the most recent political volley,
Virginia Democrats pounced when the Associated Press unveiled this
questionable comparison made by Cuccinelli in June of last year. Speaking
before the conservative Family Foundation, Cuccinelli said, quote, "Over
time the truth demonstrates its own rightness and its own righteousness.
Our experience as a country has demonstrated that on one issue after
another, started right at the beginning -- slavery. Today, abortion.
History has shown us that the right position was and those were issues that
were attacked by people of faith aggressively that changed the course of
the country. Kirsten, so it is 2013 and we are fighting about slavery and
abortion in a gubernatorial race. That does seem off topic.
SINEMA: It does. I mean the issue -- you know, the issue of women`s
health decisions and privacy and liberty was fought during my mom`s, you
know, formative years. I mean this was a generation before me fought this
fight. And we settled it.
SINEMA: And unfortunately, it`s come back to the forefront. And I think
it`s really disturbing. As you know, I served in the state legislature for
nearly a decade before coming to Congress. And I was shocked every single
year. When we would come up and start fighting and discussing these
issues, because I really kept saying well, we are in an economic crisis,
right? I mean like ...
SINEMA: Our state is really struggling. We`ve got, you know, the biggest
foreclosure crisis in the country, and we`re debating, you know ...
HARRIS-PERRY: No job.
SINEMA: We`re debating these issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: No jobs in there. Like don`t -- no. I see, no jobs in
there, I don`t want.
SINEMA: So, what I think, you know, what elected officials across the
country we have a duty to do, is to be honest about the real challenges our
economy is facing. We`ve got a debt issue that we are facing, we`ve got a
budget crisis we`re facing, we`ve got a Congress that is pretty
dysfunctional and governing by, you know, crisis after crisis after crisis.
No attempt to make grand solutions. No attempt to spur growth in the
economy. And frankly, we`re spending our time focusing on these issues
which have very real impacts for so many people around the country.
SINEMA: But if we would have focused on the issues around job security,
job growth, economic growth, frankly, many of these social issues would
take care of themselves.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because (inaudible) is an economic issue for women.
SOTO: It absolutely is.
HARRIS-PERRY: And for families.
SOTO: And I`m actually scared that it`s going to remain a very dominant
issue because of the fact that other failure (inaudible) in conservative
political issues that have helped rally conservative causes (ph) the
wayside. Immigration in 2010 was the cause celeb for the Tea Party, for
the right wing. That`s fall another favor. Everybody is on board. We`re
just battling out the details. We`re looking at gay marriage. We`re also
seeing a trend of acceptance for gay marriage. So it seems that abortion
is the only thing, so for the short term, I think there`s going to be even
more attention onto that matter.
TRAYNHAM: And here`s what I don`t understand. The Republican Party is all
about individual responsibility, smaller government, letting the person
figure out for their own -- for (inaudible) person what they should do.
Millions of people to the congresswoman`s point are living paycheck to
TRAYNHAM: We have an economy that is still at 8.9 percent unemployment
TRAYNHAM: Why are we talking about this?
TRAYNHAM: That`s ...
HARRIS-PERRY: I like it even more.
TRAYNHAM: I don`t understand. And the reason why is because we had this
conversation on the presidential race, and especially at Senate levels, you
know, when Missouri -- and the American people said you know what -- talk
to the hand. I don`t want to talk about this, I want you to talk about my
financial life. I want you to talk about my financial security.
TRAYNHAM: I just want to understand this. I really don`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Nancy, why are we still in this fight?
NORTHUP: Well, obviously because there`s a hard-core anti-choice group in
this country who are not going to give up. Their agenda -- people always
say to me, I`m so surprised, you know. The passing of six week ...
NORTHUP: Why is it? Because of their agenda, and it`s pre-single minded,
is to make sure that Roe versus Wade is overturned. And we have to take
that seriously. And so, you know, we`re right to say this, you know,
economic issue should be in the front of the table. But right now people
need to pay attention to this. Because women are being treated as second
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, let me ask you: is it possible that they are not
completely divorced? That part of what happens when we`re in an economic
shrinking is that we`re looking for the enemy? So, in part it was the
aggressive anti-immigration language. And now we are seeing this, you know
-- part of what happens, if you can`t control this, as you can`t go to
work. And therefore, you can`t compete with men for jobs. Is that -is
there any possibility that this is in part tied to men`s sense of economic
decline and therefore an attempt to control women`s bodies and therefore
their earning capacity?
NORTHUP: Well, it is certainly tied to, I think, ideology about the role
of woman in life and economic life and the family. There`s no question
about that. There is a very deep ideological divide. And we have to
realize that. We have to engage it. It`s life. You know, when there is
divides on issues like taxes, you have to talk about it. And we have to
fight for both the vision and the Constitution this, which is again, these
are decisions for women in their family. They are (inaudible) to women`s
equality. Justice Ginsburg has been so eloquent on this point. That women
cannot be equal citizens unless they can control their reproductive lives.
SOTO: It`s also a messaging question here. I mean pulling back from
abortion per se, but they use abortion, opposition uses very powerful
imaging. It`s a message that`s reinforced in the "Pulpit"
HARRIS-PERRY: Have you seen this picture of the so-called black slave and
the infant baby who are -- no, that`s Dread Scott. Right to that -- that`s
the Dread Scott -- yeah, there you go. This one. "I know how you feel
when I was a slave down there, the courts didn`t think I was fully human
either." I was just like no. I`m going to need you to not do that. I`m
going to (inaudible) that to not exist.
NORTHUP: Politically ...
TRAYNHAM: on top of it -- it was an angel ...
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because she`s dead.
That`s right. That`s right.
SOTO: And that`s the power -- when we talk about politics, we`re actually
talking about consumer messaging.
SOTO: And anti-abortion rights lobby has very powerful messaging. It`s
almost like the mad men lobby. And then you reinforce that with the
pulpits, both the Catholic Church. You know, Catholics in general are pro-
choice, but your priest gets up there and he starts pounding away to now,
but he still is doing that, and the Evangelical churches. So you have a
very powerful messaging machine against abortion.
HARRIS-PERRY: We need the messaging machine on the other side. Thank you,
to Congresswoman Sinema, to Nancy Northup and to Robert Traynham who we all
are really liking a lot today.
HARRIS-PERRY: Victoria was going to be back later in the show. But when
we come back, my letter to the 16-year-old survivor in Steubenville, Ohio,
who refused to remain silent.
HARRIS-PERRY: Today I have a letter to a young woman whose name I do not
want any of us to know because we already know too much about her. We
already know how she was assaulted and photographed. We know how she was
shamed via social media. We know that she has been bullied since the young
men who raped her were found guilty. And I don`t want us to know her name,
because she deserves some modicum of privacy as she tries to heal. But I
do want her to know that she is not alone, which is why my letter today is
to the 16-year-old Steubenville survivor.
"Dearest beloved girl. This letter is an apology. An apology for being an
adult who has failed to make the world safe for you. Because you should be
safe. Even when you make the sometimes stupid, often naive choices that
teens make, you should be safe. And your vulnerability should not invite
assault, an attack of your body or your spirit. And so, I`m sorry.
Because we have failed to teach your male peers that they have no right to
touch you without your consent. Or to use you to meet their needs. Or to
discard you if your victimization does not feed their life plan. I am
sorry we have failed you. And this letter is also a note of gratitude for
your willingness to report this crime and to take the stand and to endure
the viciousness hurled at you this week.
I know the words that run in a loop in your mind. Don`t tell. If you
tell, no one will believe you. If you tell, everyone will think you are a
whore. Sometimes it`s him who says it first, spewing the words like mold
spores that grow in the darkness of your silence, and sometimes it`s your
own voice telling you I can`t tell. No one will believe me. It`s the
reason 54 percent of survivors never report the assaults. It`s the reason
I kept my secret for nearly a decade.
But not you, beloved. You demanded the right to be heard. You may have
lost your voice that night, but you found it again when you told the truth.
Even though you knew, didn`t you, you knew just how relentlessly they would
try to silence you and you knew that neighbors and friends and even members
of the national media would mourn the loss of your attacker`s football
careers more than the loss of your innocence. And you knew that even those
who claimed to be sympathetic would pass along the pictures of your assault
with a kind of tone deaf voyeurism that seeks to make you a thing instead
of a person. I think you knew or maybe you suspected these things that you
spoke out anyway. And that is astonishing. And I just need to say thank
you because you did what so many of us never find the strength to do. You
spoke for yourself and you spoke for the 44 percent of rape victims who are
under 18. And you spoke for my 14-year-old self who still hears that
threat in my head.
Don`t tell. No one will believe you. So this is my apology, and this is
my gratitude. And this is me saying I believe you. I believe that you are
inherently valuable. Not as a character in some grotesque news cycle where
your assault is all we know, but as a girl with hopes and dreams and
ambitions and vulnerabilities and so much more growing up to do. I never
need to know your name. But I need you to know that you`re not alone.
Surviving is not a single occurrence. It`s a lifetime of making choices
that honor you and your right to speak. You have begun surviving, you`re
going to continue surviving, and if you ever get down. If you ever wonder
how you`re going to go on, take out this letter. Because I believe you.
HARRIS-PERRY: After months of uncertainty and anxiety, officials in
Chicago announced Thursday that 54 of the city`s public schools are slated
to close at the end of the school year. This move affects some 30,000
kids, one of the largest school shutdowns in U.S. history and the city`s
stated goal is to send these students to schools that perform better and
have more resources.
But the news has outraged the community and the Chicago Teachers` Union.
Critics point out that almost 90 percent of the students affected by
Chicago school closings over the last decade have been African-American and
that most of the schools have been in poor neighborhoods. Joining me now
from Chicago, Jesse Sharkey, the vice president of the Chicago`s Teachers
Union and Mildred Wiley, the senior director of the Community Collective
Impact at Bethel New Life Church on the City`s West Side where many of the
school closings will occur. Welcome to you both.
JESSE SHARKEY, V.P., CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jesse, I want to start with you. Jesse, is this about
retaliation for the teacher strike earlier in the year?
SHARKEY: I don`t know what is in Rahm Emanuel`s heart, the mayor of
Chicago, if it is, it`s really the wrong thing to be taken out, as anger at
the union on 61 schools, 30,000 school children.
HARRIS-PERRY: But now, I know that there has been an outcry from
communities in part because the research -- and I was reading this report,
that create research brief on school closures and they suggest that in
fact, there`s very little reason to think that these kids are actually
going to get into higher performing schools, that what happens is classroom
sizes explode in some of the few schools, that are then left open, and you
just end up with all of the schools being punished. Is that an accurate
assessment, or is there reason to think, Jesse, that this could be good for
SHARKEY: That is an accurate assessment. I mean school closings to
Chicago are not a new policy. We`re doing this since 2002, it`s those over
100 schools, and what the research shows is that only six percent of the
students whose schools are closed and displaced, wind up at a school that
performs better. In addition to that, the act of being transferred from
one school to another, often many of the students are transferred more than
once, loses between three and six months of academic progress each time it
And so there`s a PR spin. This is about improving the schools, but that`s
not what our experience in Chicago was showing us at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Mildred, there is another side to this. I -- there is
no one, I think, at least in Chicago, who could impinge Bethel New Life and
how much work you all have been doing. And yet, it seems to me that the
position that some community organizations are taking is, hey, these
schools are failing our kids, we`ve got to do something. So, sort of where
are folks in the community on this kind of complicated question?
MILDRED WILEY, BETTER NEW LIFE: You`re right. It`s a very complicated
question. I feel that a lot of our community residents are in shock in
some cases. Then we`re trying to figure out what is it -- what it`s best
for our children. A lot of these decisions -- all of these decisions are
being done by adults and the way I land in this, is what is best for the
children. And being very concerned that our kids are being transferred to
a better performing school. That they actually get there. Because it`s
another big concern when you are dealing in the communities in which I live
and work, you have to make hard decisions sometimes. With what you can use
your disposable income, your income is not disposable.
WILEY: -- with your hands. And if you have to make a decision about food
or give my child car fare so they can get to school, car fare is going to
WILEY: And what`s going to happen with those children?
HARRIS-PERRY: And -- let me- let me push it out a little bit, because I
know a lot of the working you have done in Bethel New Life has been about
community. Part of what happens when you shut down 50 plus schools is you
create 50 plus enormous empty blighted buildings, right? Empty buildings
in communities like West Garfield Park that at this point create more
opportunities for crime, for disillusion of neighborhood. Is there a push
to make these buildings safe and to make these communities whole?
WILEY: This is where I do call on our mayor to bring his opportunity back
to our communities. To bring something in these buildings besides a light
that may or may not be on because they`re still going to have to heat and
light these buildings in some form or fashion. Even though there is no
longer learning going on in there. But let us come together and build new
opportunities for housing to go in there. We could have adult education
programs in there. We could have transitional opportunities for clinics.
We could do a lot of things. But let`s not just have a bunch of 52 plus
buildings still being abandoned in our community. Because we do not need
HARRIS-PERRY: And Jesse, I know that we`re, in fact, looking at the school
board voting on this on May 22nd. Any chance of them turning back this
SHARKEY: Well, historically when they put out this list, and they put it
out every year. And it`s called the hit list, we call it. They have
pretty much carried through all the closings that are on the list. I
believe in the first six years there was something like 60 schools on the
list. And they actually closed or carried up actions in 59 of those cases.
Last year they were 22. They hit all 22. But that being said, they`ve
never done anything on this scale, and in fact, they haven`t done anything
on this scale anywhere in the country. So, we`re counting on a huge public
outcry among people who are invested in these communities. Parents,
children, educators, all of us to make a stand and to say, you know, don`t
do this in our city. Don`t dismantle our community schools in such a
SHARKEY: And we`re very connected to protests and speak out. Hopefully
the policy makers will change their mind.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, it`s a tough one when you`re dealing with Mayor
Emanuel. He`s not -- he`s not being a big one for listening on that one.
Thank you to Mildred and to Jesse. Coming up ...
SHARKEY: Thank you for that letter, Melissa. I was really -- as an
educator, that touched me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, thank you.
WILEY: It was -- it was phenomenal. I believe in her. I believe in you
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. I greatly appreciate that.
Coming up, the president`s health care act turns three today and it`s
getting pushed around on the legislative playground. That and the
courtroom bombshell on the NYPD stop and frisk trial. There is more
Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And I have to start
the hour by giving a big birthday shout-out to the ACA. Happy third
birthday, ACA. Whoo!
That`s right. It`s the third birthday of President Obama signing the
Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, as it has come to be known.
And ACA is one of the most expansive pieces of social legislation in
decades. Americans that have been excluded from receiving health care
because of cost or preexisting conditions will finally have access to
health insurance and care.
And the promise of ACA is great. But it doesn`t mean that the
implementation will be easy.
t is true that since 2010, 66 out of 72 provisions of the act have already
been implemented. But as we noted before, coverage doesn`t necessarily
equal care. In 2014, ACA will extend to cover roughly 30 million
Americans. However, by 2015, estimates show there will be a shortage of
nearly 63,000 doctors in the United States.
And although the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in June, that does not mean
the end of legal challenges. Cases though are still pending in different
federal courts challenge the employer coverage requirements, contraceptive
coverage rules and the independent payment advisory board, and there are
still those members of Congress trying to repeal or chip away at the ACA.
Friday marked the 39th -- yes, 39th time that Republicans have tried to
repeal the law in the last two years, 39 times.
And then there`s the most important component, the patient. According to a
recent poll, 48 percent of people don`t know if their state is going to
offer a health insurance exchange. So, I`m sorry. Maybe the birthday
party isn`t so great after all, because if you hope to get another one,
we`re going to get ourselves together.
At the table, Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; Rebecca
Onie, co-founder and CEO of Health Leads; Jay Angoff, the man who until
recently was inside the Obama administration and responsible for the
implementation of President Obama`s health care law; and NBC Latino
contributor, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.
So, Jay, I just want to start with you, what has been accomplished in the
last three years.
JAY ANGOFF, FORMER HEALTH & HUAMN SERVICES DEPT. OFFICIAL: Well, lots have
been accomplished. Kids can stay in their parent`s policies until they`re
26. Insurance companies can`t cut off coverage once you reach a certain
limit. They cannot cancel.
And most importantly, insurance companies that spend more than 20 percent
of the dollar on administrative expenses and profit, they`ve got to refund
money to people. And in 2012, people around the country got more than a
billion dollars back from their insurance companies that did not comply
with these rules.
So, lots have been accomplished so far but there`s more to come.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, yes, it comes with more, I wonder -- when you talk to
your constituents, are people feeling the ACA? I mean, when look at some
of the data, it says that people are saying, oh, I haven`t been personally
-- if in fact, they have personally impacted -- they have the sense of I
have been personally impacted by this.
REP. GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I can tell you, young people who
have been able to stay on their parent`s insurance until they`re 26 have
certainly been the first group of beneficiaries. I`ve heard from people
who had been able to get covered through their children because of free
existing conditions. And it`s had an impact on them.
I think that the hurry to repeal the Affordable Care Act is because people
don`t want to see the benefits in other people, because just like Medicare,
they won`t want you to mess with it. Certainly, we`ve seen $5.7 billion
nationally benefit seniors who`ve seen the donut hole closed.
MOORE: And maybe they take it for granted, but they certainly won`t once
the donut hole reoccurs.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask you --
MOORE: And just one other point, people talk about how this is going to
have a terrible impact on small businesses, 360,000 small businesses have
taken advantage of the Affordable Care tax credits already.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, when we have legislation that is this good, that
is this historic, that is this potentially enormous.
Rebekah, it feels to me like the question isn`t getting -- I mean, now the
legislation is through. Now, it is constitutional. But how do we make
sure that it is implemented, that people feel it?
REBECCA ONIE, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, HEALTH LEADS: No, it has to be real. One
of the victories of the ACA is that it`s triggered actually a whole set of
forces that are now really causing us to be able to shift at last from a
sick care system to a health care system. You know, from a system that
financially rewards bad outcomes, to one that can really focus financial
resources and the time of health care providers on keeping people healthy.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you say focusing us on a health care as opposed to
the sick care, so using the emergency room is one example. The other thing
I know you talked about is having people other than just doctors to provide
our care. What does that look like?
ONIE: No, I think one of the opportunities here is to look more
expansively at what counts as a health care provider and go beyond just
doctors, that you really say, if we had a team in place that was there to
keep patients, what would we spend their time on and how do we think about
really devoting resources to address some of the factors that have a huge
impact on patient`s health, like, you know, whether they can pay their
electricity bill to keep their refrigerator on, to keep their medications
cold for example.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. This much broader conception of what
Vicki, when the president signed the bill, he said the core principle that
everybody should have some basic -- this is about the core principle --
that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their
health care, kind of setting up a health care floor. How close are we to
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: The legislation is in place, when you talked about that.
But for me the biggest frustration is the lack of public knowledge. We saw
a recent poll come out saying that 80 percent of the people who would be
most affected from the health care law, mainly poor folks and Medicaid
recipients, didn`t know enough about the Affordable Health Care law.
I think about in 2009 when we went to the digital transition to TV, from
analog to digital, you were bombarded --
HARRIS-PERRY: With information.
SOTO: -- you could not turn on the TV or radio without making sure your TV
set was ready for the transition. I, as someone who lives out of the
Beltway, do not feel that there has been sufficient information to the
layperson about what you need to do depending on your situation for
affordable health care.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jay, how come you -- look, this is the application for
health care, right? And it is not brief. Some of it is redundant, right?
Some of this, you don`t (ph) have poor people.
But this is a big old document. For all the good you guys did in creating
the policy, it feels like you failed on the conversational piece.
ANGOFF: That`s a 21-page application and that`s too long.
ANGOFF: It`s got to be shortened. But let me say this, we`ve got a
fragmented system. There`s Medicare, Medicaid, but run by the government.
There`s the Children`s Health Insurance Program run by the government.
There`s also private health insurance.
And so, because of the fragmented system, there`s going to be more
complexity than there would be, for example, in single payer system, or if
they were in Medicare for all systems.
So, there`s going to be some complexity. In addition, most people are
going to go to the internet and punch in the answers to a few questions
rather use the paper application. Also, as you said, many of those pages
are not relevant to most people. All that said, yes, it`s got to be
shortened. It`s got to be shortened.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I feel like I want you to say those words, which is
Medicare for all and single-payer, because those were the things that moved
off the agenda as possibilities in the context of managing all of the
politics of this.
As horrifying as it is, there have been 39 challenges to a three-year-old
law, is there any possibility that those challenges might open us to
actually moving more in that direction, single payer or Medicare for all?
ANGOFF: I don`t think those challenges will, but if this fails, I mean,
this -- the Affordable Care Act, for better or worse, relies on private
insurances. The concept is, we`re going to structure the markets so that
private insurance companies have to compete, therefore, they`ll have an
incentive to reduce their own administrative costs and to drive down
underlying health care costs.
If private insurance companies fail at that, then I think there very well
could be a single payer system. I`m optimistic this will work.
ANGOFF: But the private health insurance industry has a huge stake in
making this work.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, that may be, in fact, be the most optimistic thing I`ve
heard. If they have a stake in making it work, it`s a little bit like how
I know that the NFL is going to manage to deal with the labor contract,
there`s just too much money to be lost.
Stay right there, because when we come back, I`m going to ask the
congresswoman about one of her colleagues, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
She opened her mouth this week and words came out.
Stay for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The American people, especially
vulnerable women, vulnerable children, vulnerable senior citizens, now get
to pay more and they get less. That`s why we`re here. We`re saying let`s
repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills
Let`s not do that. Let`s love people. Let`s care about people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Congresswoman, can you get your girl? I mean, health care
reform is literally killing women, children and seniors.
MOORE: She deserves an Oscar.
MOORE: You know, actually, the Affordable Care Act, even not fully
implemented, people are already seeing -- we`ve seen huge changes. The
cost curve as you pointed out of health care has come down. People have
gotten these billion dollars in rate. We have seen the lowest health care
cost peeks in 50 years.
The provision of the Affordable Health Care Act has that says, you know, if
you spend 20 percent of the money on administrative costs or profits,
you`ll have to -- it really provides a disincentive for raising health care
costs and there have been moneys put out there for these review boards to
really check insurance companies with regard to raising the health care
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, because it does rely on insurance companies, Jay,
the key issue right now that we`re about to implement is the state
So, remind folks -- because they may not understand all this -- what the
state of changes are and tell me a state that is model, that is doing this
ANGOFF: Exchanges are Web sites. Exchanges are -- they`re places to buy
insurance. And today, for most people today the place is going to be on
So, regardless of what state you live in, if you don`t get insurance at
work, you`ll be able to go on the Internet, you answer several background
questions, but to punch in the answers to four questions which are age,
location, which would be zip codes, family size and whether you smoke or
not. And based on those for questions, you will get quotes from every
insurance company selling insurance through the exchange. That`s a
And so, people won`t be able to be turned down because of health status.
They won`t be able to be charged more based on health status. And so, what
this will do is it will facilitate competition. It will allow people to
make apples to apples comparison. They`ll see which companies are selling
the best product for the lowest prices, and that should drive down prices.
HARRIS-PERRY: But it only works, right, if everybody comes into the
system, right? The whole idea of insurance is that works if you have an
enormous number of people who are all logging own and answering their four
questions and buying insurance, right? If only sick people, right, if it`s
only at the moment where I`m like, uh-oh, let me go and get my insurance,
right? So how do we make sure that the young, you know, 27-year-old,
perfectly healthy woman and the elderly gentleman without insurance all
ANGOFF: There are a couple of ways. And the bill provides -- the
Affordable Care Act provides funding for what are called navigators, which
are people and organizations which are going to help people sign up to work
through the system. But most importantly, as I said earlier, the insurance
companies must -- they have, insurance companies have to sell through the
exchanges. They can`t afford not to.
This is a huge new market of an estimated 16 million people. Insurance
companies have to sell to these people. In addition, they`re losing
business now, which will now go to the exchange. So they have to sell to
the exchanges. Insurance companies, whatever you say about them, are
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes.
ANGOFF: They`ve been able to persuade people to buy poor value insurance
for high prices. They should be able to persuade people to buy good value
insurance for a reasonable price.
HARRIS-PERRY: Give me one state doing it well.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, give me one that`s doing it badly. I will. Oh,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Texas!
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, Texas.
But your language about navigators, right, makes me think, Rebecca, about
the work that you`ve been doing for a really long time, right? This idea
of trying to look at the thing that is health care and recognize its
complexity and get people accessing it in a very different way.
ONIE: Absolutely. I mean, I think one of the questions is will there be
enough primary care doctors given all the patients coming into the system.
And I think the way to think about that is how do we best leverage the time
of physicians? So, there was a study that was done by the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation of 1,000 pediatricians and primary care doctors and 80
percent of them said they thought it was as critical to address patients`
social needs as their medical needs.
But 80 percent also said they didn`t have the capacity to do that. So, how
do we think about medical assistance, pure coaches, you live down the block
from someone and can direct them to a great fitness program in the
neighborhood, or in the case of Health Leads, how do we use college
students who are really going to Googling, to track down the nearest food
pantry for our family?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, I`m thinking, you know, as Jay describes, you
know, going on the Internet. I, without the iPad, go on the Internet in a
heartbeat. But there are folks in my neighborhood, first of all, who don`t
have access to the Internet.
And then, secondly, you saying you`re going to answer four questions on a
health care exchange, which is Web site, might as well, you know, just be
anything -- how do we start to create the political will to generate
resources for the things that you`re talking about? Because this has not
happened for free?
SOTO: This is a public question again. And the question I have also have
for you, Jay, is what happens to the folks in states that aren`t covered,
say in Texas? And they are not covered under Medicaid? And that they`re
just going to try to get away with not having health insurance?
So they don`t come up to the 100 percent poverty line, 138 percent poverty
line. What happens to those people and those couple of states? That`s my
ANGOFF: Well, I know we`re not supposed to talk about the medication
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes, we`re going to do that next. So, we`ll push on
this because the Medicaid is exactly where I want to go next.
SOTO: That is where it`s needed the most.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. You got the health care exchange on one piece. The
next piece is Medicaid. And I don`t want people to miss it.
So when we come back, we`re going to talk about that exactly that question
of Medicaid and who`s going to get left out.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, now that ACA is three, right? It`s a preschooler in
terms of age, it is time to really go to school. It`s time to get it
And one of the key aspects of it is the Medicaid expansion. But that has
to go through the states. And as we`ve talked about the states, since the
program start this morning, the states have been consistently problematic.
So, let`s see if we can answer to Vicki`s questions. What happens if you
live in a state and Bobby Jindal is your governor?
ANGOFF: Or she talked about Texas. What the Medicaid expansion does is,
under the Affordable Care Act, anyone up to 138 percent of poverty is
eligible for Medicaid if the state child abuses to expand Medicaid. Over
the long run, the state only pays 10 percent of the cost. The federal
government pays 90 percent of the cost.
In the first three years, the federal government pays 100 percent of the
Now, the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country is Texas.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it is opting out of the Medicaid.
ANGOFF: That`s right. You would expect Texas to be clamoring to agree to
expand Medicaid. But instead, Governor Perry has said, no, we`re not going
to expand Medicaid.
What that means is that ultimately, the system will cost more because
people will go instead of getting things taking care of when they`re fairly
inexpensive. They`ll wait until things get serious. They go to the
emergency room. It costs everybody more.
But ironically, the people in Texas will stay be paying taxes to ensure
people in other states. It makes no sense whatever.
HARRIS-PERRY: But it makes political sense if what he`s trying to do is to
be able to say, your poor person living in Texas, look, Obamacare has done
nothing for you, right? Because, in fact, he stood in the way of it
ANGOFF: And it`s not just poor people who want this. And this is why I
think, even people like Governor Perry ultimately will accept the Medicaid
expansion. The hospitals want it.
ANGOFF: The hospitals need to get paid.
And even the Chambers of Commerce who are not generally thought of as
advocates for the poor.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
ANGOFF: The Chambers of Commerce want it because it`s good for business.
So, because it`s good for hospitals, because hospitals need to get paid,
because the Chambers of Commerce want it, I think even Governors like Rick
Perry in Texas ultimately will expand Medicaid.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and the linkage to business, and aside from the
But if you want to grow in business, you want to have a healthy workforce.
You want to have a population that can be ready to work. You want to go
and sell your state to business. If they know you`re the worst in
education, you`re -- you know, quarter of your population is uninsured,
that`s not very attractive to come to your state.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, and given what we know about the changing nature of
work, and the extent to which we underwrite all of these people who pay
such low wages, right, your workers out of Wal-Mart, for example, are --
even if they`re full-time workers -- likely to be eligible for Medicaid,
right? This is actually the way to provide health insurance for all of
these big companies that pay low wages and don`t provide health insurance.
But there are still politics not just of the local level, there is still a
national politics on this congresswoman.
MOORE: I sit on the Budget Committee. And, of course, Chairman Ryan who
is also from Wisconsin, proposes his newest budget to repeal the Affordable
Care Act. But he keeps all of the taxes and savings from the Affordable
Care Act. You hear about the $710 million that was raided from Medicare.
I mean, that was money that was taken from insurance companies, the
Medicare Advantage, the advantage (INAUDIBLE) to insurance companies. Then
he cuts an additional $810 million out of Medicaid.
So, instead of 16 million uninsured people that we`re trying to reach, 16
million to 21 million we`re trying to reach through the Affordable Care
Act, there would be 50 million who are uninsured.
MOORE: Including, you know, as Michele Bachmann talks about those women
who would no longer be seen as having preexisting conditions just by the
gender rating --
HARRIS-PERRY: Just by being a woman.
MOORE: Just by being a woman.
MOORE: And so he balances his budget in 10 years by decimating health
care. And, of course, the voucher from Medicare, there will be a lot more
uninsured people of all ages under Ryan`s budget.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Rebecca, we see this. We see the national level
politics. We see the state level politics. But on the ground, it is about
ONIE: Absolutely. No, I mean, I think one of the missing pieces of this
conversation at the national level is the fact that it`s not just about the
ACA. I mean, health insurance companies, for example, are starting to
provide, in good ways, higher reimbursement rates to doctor`s offices that
actually restructure themselves to put the patients at the center.
So, you know, that story that stays with me is there is a patient that we
worked with at Children`s National Medical Center in D.C. Mom is named
Sandra, works two jobs to be able to provide for her family. But her son
has really severe epilepsy and ADHD.
You know, and as the summer approaches, she gets so worried about what`s
going to happen to knock you over the summer when she is working. She is
out of school. So, she confides in her doctor that this is weighing on her
and he was able to connect her to Health Leads and we could get her
connected to an in-home child care provider so that he would, you know,
state out of the E.R.
So, that`s what it really means for a healthcare to be focused on the
patient. We should have a health care system where patients can talk to
their doctors about these issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s almost magical story, right? The idea of -- I mean,
one from some other decade where it feels like you have a doctor, a doctor
who has the time to talk to you and take follow-up action afterwards, and
it`s not because doctors are bad people, but because the system that we`re
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, the idea of just having a physician in which you
And if there`s some way that ACA -- I do want to ask this one last question
of you, Congressman, will we 20 years for now look back and remember that
ACA was the turning point? That this three-year-old bill -- if we can
manage to not let it die? If --
MOORE: If we can manage to not it let it die, there`s not a penny in Paul
Ryan`s budget to implement it. You have states like my own dear Wisconsin
where the governor, for political, ideological reasons, you know, doesn`t
want to set up exchanges.
But there was something I`d wanted to share with you. I went to Russia,
broke my finger, I went to the hospital, the doctor x-rayed it, set it, I
would tout out my Blue Cross, Blue Shield card. And they all just kind of
looked at me like, what do we need this for?
MOORE: Got back to Washington, D.C., do they said it perfectly and
honestly, this finger is the only part of my body that doesn`t hurt.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love it. This is idea that -- the healthcare, the
fundamental human right. And that we ought to provide it to everybody,
including undocumented folks, visitors, everybody, right. It`s a final
human right, maybe this will be the turning point. We will continue to
keep our eye on ACA implementation.
I also want to say thank you to my panel, Congresswoman Moore with her very
well fixed Russian finger, Rebecca, Jay and Victoria.
Up next, the courtroom bombshell that dropped the stop and frisk trial this
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe you saw something about this in the paper yesterday,
but unless you were in court for the case of Floyd versus the City of New
York this week, you likely didn`t actually hear it.
Here`s the New York Police Department deputy inspector Christopher
McCormack in the middle of a contentious conversation with the officer who
recorded it, Pedro Serrano.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OFFICER PEDRO SERRANO, NYPD: So what am I supposed to do? Is it stop
every black and Hispanic? I told you that I have to be there, I must be
DEPUTY INSPECTOR CHRISTOPHER MCCORMACK, NYPD: Listen, a gang -- a gang --
again, you`re telling me you want to stop everybody. You want to stop all
black and Hispanic. It`s not -- this is not --
SERRANO: I`m not going to do that. You want to do that. I don`t want to
MCCORMACK: This is about stopping the right people, the right place, the
MCCORMACK: Again, take Mott Haven in the South Bronx where we had the most
problems, and the most problems we had, they was robberies and grand
SERRANO: And who are those people robbing?
MCCORMACK: The problem was, what, male blacks, and I told you at roll call
and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21. I said
this at roll call.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Did you catch that? The male blacks and their ages, that
clip played in the federal district court on Thursday would seem to settle
the debate for many about whether the controversial NYPD`s policy of stop,
question and frisk is focused more on race than on crime and suspicion.
Here`s what some had to say outside of the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE JACKSON SR., CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I heard the argument in the
courtroom. And the New York argument seems to be to justify, not deny. It
seems to rationalize, not deny.
JONATHAN MOORE, LEAD COUNSEL: There`s a siege going on in the communities
of color where is the police have told even if they don`t want to and we
have officers standing next to me who say they don`t want to do that
because it`s illegal are told that they need numbers.
NICHOLAS PEART, PLAINTIFF IN FLOYD V. CITY OF NEW YORK: This is -- the
level of uncertainty just not knowing, you know, what was happening, being
cuffed for the first time and everything, thrown in the back of a police
car. I never had that happen to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The legality of what most call stop and is in question. And
here with are four people to help explain why the policy itself is so
problematic. Joining me now are New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams;
Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights,
which is bringing this lawsuit against the city; documentary filmmaker Russ
Tuttle; and Manhattan Community College student Nicholas Peart, who says he
was stopped and frisked by the NYPD at least five times.
Let me start with you, Vince. What is this case? What`s at the heart of
VINCE WARREN, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: This is a case to end,
once and for all, the massive invasion of rights for people in this city.
The stop and frisk policy has been going on for a very, very long time.
And what we`re trying to do is we`re trying to get the police to act
constitutionally, to stop people for an articulated reason, for a
particular reason, and not on the basis of race and not in such massive
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s quite interesting why it`s a problem. I mean,
there you have -- the sergeant saying, hey, the people who commit crimes
are young black men. I see some young black men, I`m trying to stop crime
in this city. It is a reasonable.
WARREN: There`s nothing reasonable and there`s nothing legal about it.
Unless you assume that every African-American person from 14 to 21 in the
city is suspect.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just the guys.
WARREN: Yes, 50 percent of that population. No, that the problem here is
that the police are not stopping anybody -- they`re not stopping based on
suspicion. The police department constitutionally has to have some reason
to be able to do this, and targeting the entire neighborhood and stopping
folks because they`re black and brown and using that as a proxy for
criminal activity does not pass constitutional muster at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nick, talk to me about what that feels like, though, in a
real sense, to be constantly targeted by the stop and frisk policy.
PEART: Well, to be constantly targeted is very disheartening, you know,
because you have individuals that`s going -- you know, living every day
lives and they are stopped. There`s no reason why the community should,
you know, feel the hostility from law enforcement, someone who works for
the city, you know? It`s absurd.
And I shouldn`t have to worry what a cop is thinking or wonder just because
I`m walking outside at night that I`m more likely to be stopped. You know,
that shouldn`t exist.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, this idea, councilman is part of -- I feel like
it`s the difference of the experience of being a black American, is that
sense that it`s never officer-friendly, that when you see the police car,
you get a tightening of your stomach, you get a sense of anxiety, and not a
sense of protect and serve.
JUMAANE WILLIAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN: And apparently it doesn`t
stop. I mean, I was arrested on Labor Day in (INAUDIBLE) trying to get
into event with kids (INAUDIBLE) work for citywide official. They either
didn`t believe who we were or just didn`t care.
It`s 2013 and it`s also frustrating to me that it seems like things that
I`ve seen in the 1960s, with Jesse Jackson in the courtroom. We`re trying
to tell people why it`s wrong to do things in the community. It`s amazing
that we even have to have this discussion.
For some reason, when it comes to law enforcement and stopping crime, the
answer has always been stop as many black and Latino young men as we can.
Lock up as many as you can. It`s never been a solution. It`s never worked
and never will.
And we know what the solutions are. And for some reason, we keep going
back to unfortunately what`s generally been acceptable, everyone in these
communities are criminals. Even though the NYPD`s own statistics show that
stop, question, frisk has no correlation between guns found, between
shootings and between murders.
So, they wedded into a policy that`s unfortunately a wedge into our
community. So instances like what happened a couple of weeks or a couple
of weeks in my district, Kimani Gray, that fury comes up. And it`s what
happened in terms of the violence and unrest cannot be condoned. But you
also cannot condone those who are ignoring the anger for so long.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve just shown the image Kimani Gray. So, some of us have
been following it very closely. Others haven`t. So, for folks who don`t
know, tell us a little bit about that story.
WILLIAMS: Kimani Gray is a 16-year-old who was shot and killed by officer
who said that he had a gun. And they made a lot of statements without a
full investigation, which I think was unfortunate. They should stop doing
But I do know this is not about the details of one particular shooting.
Not to do long ago, Shanta Davis (ph) was shot and killed from there. She
was unarmed. Ramali Graham (ph), they ran at this house, shot and killed
him at his bathroom. Stop, question and frisk, Mayor Bloomberg and
Commissioner Kelly have stopped 5 million people in the past decade and
have shown no correlation of this.
As a matter of fact, these past, shootings were down, murders were downs
and stops were down. So, there`s no correlation whatsoever with this
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, it`s interesting. You bring up the point of
optics. Yes, seeing Reverend Jackson standing there on the courthouse
steps talking about police misconduct in black communities, those feel
like, oh, excuse me, what decade are we in?
How do we begin to move past what seems to be now a decades-long problem of
this relationship between police and communities of color?
RUSS TUTTLE, FILMMAKER: Well, I mean, you talk about optics and it`s
perception. And, you know, they say this is an effective crime fighting
tool. When you look at how you`re alienating an entire community. There`s
maybe a gray area when a shooting does occur. But people aren`t going to
accept that. They`re not going to wait for the verdict to come out because
of this experience, and this is continuing over and over again and we heard
these stories because of the aggressive nature of a lot of these stops and
because of the unnecessary nature of a lot of this stuff.
I mean, just based on the research that I`ve done and the officers that
I`ve spoken to, and that they`re told to go out and do the stops based on
nothing more than getting quotas, meeting numbers, meeting these objectives
and if they don`t, they`re under threat. They`re under threat in several
HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, just before we go to break on this, I want to
reemphasize that point that a lot of times the officers have a sense of
discomfort with it, but this policy is occurring at a very level, which is
part of what we`ve heard in that audiotape.
TUTTLE: Absolutely. I mean, the officers I`ve spoken to and I`ve spoken
to numerous officers and they do articulate that, a high level of
discomfort with this. A lot of them are afraid to come forward and do
anything. When they do, they are retaliated against.
When you hear the officers are on the stand, brave officers who are on the
stand in the trial this week. I mean, they are fearful and they have been
retaliated against. Other officers I`ve spoken to speak to me in the
shadows are afraid to come forward but express extreme discomfort and their
colleagues do as well. They don`t know what to do about it. They come --
they come to me, which is crazy, but there`s nothing internal they can do
to solve the problem. So, they`re coming to me and they say, I have no
where else to go. God, this is really -- this is an upsetting situation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, this is bad.
We`re going to stay on exactly this topic because this is a case in New
York, but this is not an exclusively New York problem, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I think about it is, a fireman is told by his
supervisor, we need you to put out 15 fires this is month. And if you
don`t put out 15 fires, you`re going to get penalized. So, if he doesn`t
find 15 fires to put out? Is that his fault? It`s not. But the fireman
might even go out there and start setting fires, causing fires, you know,
just so he`s not penalized or looks bad. You know, that`s kind of what the
police officers are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So the police officers, if they`re getting incentivized to
make the stops and they don`t have enough stops to make, become like
firemen who set fires in order to set fire putting out quota. But this is
not just a New York problem, right? I live in New Orleans, where under
consent decree, our mayor, Mitch Landrieu, is trying to pull us out right
now saying basically it`s too expensive for the city to abide by people`s
WARREN: This is a nationwide problem and we see this very much in New
Orleans. The Center for Constitutional represented the independent police
monitor in New Orleans for the purposes of that consent decree. And the
New Orleans police department is notorious throughout the country for
HARRIS-PERRY: Going back to like 1903.
WARREN: Exactly. Back in the day.
So, here you a have a situation where the Department of Justice recognizes
there is a problem. Everybody sits around the table. All the sudden the
city decides this is going to be too expensive. We`re going to be pulling
And we this problem around the country and this is happening in New York as
well, that there`s been pulling around in the city council, an inspector
general piece and Mayor Bloomberg says, I`m going to fight that to the
hilt. Just like your mayor in New Orleans just saying, I`m going to fight
this to the hilt.
What people need to fight is crime. What they need to stop fighting is
constitutional policing. And that`s happening in New York. It`s happening
in New Orleans.
An interesting thing happened in Cincinnati. There were race riots and
there were police shootings and 15 lawsuits back in the day in Cincinnati.
They had interesting model, they pulled together the police department, the
police union, the city, the city council, and most importantly the
community members to come up with a solution, there`s been a reduction in
crime. They`re policing much, much smarter than using this crazy stop and
frisk to the black community.
That`s what we need to be thinking about in New Orleans. That`s what we
need to be thinking about in New York as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Really. I mean, I just want to go to "The New York times"
column that you wrote. I want to point out how much this is not about
crime. Let me quote you to you.
"I was stunned and I was scared and then I was on the ground with a gun
pointed at me, and I couldn`t see what was happening but I could feel a
policeman`s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently, he
looked through and found my ID that I kept there. `Happy birthday,` he
Make you feel good about your government? About your policing? About your
sense of citizenship in this city?
PEART: Certainly not. And I felt like that -- you know, when it happened
on 96th Street. I felt like I didn`t belong in the neighborhood because of
that experience, that 18-years-old. It was a lot to take in. And I think
one thing is it`s not just a minor inconvenience. Some of these stops are
very hostile. It`s disheartening.
HARRIS-PERRY: And if you had reacted differently, right? If it`s a
hostile stop and you react differently, you can die.
PEART: Yes, possibly. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, we see it happen over and over again. Young men
losing their lives if you`re pulled over and stopped on a day when you`re
like, OK, I`m going to comply. But if you`re pulled over and stopped, and
being pulled over while walking, right, and stopped on a day when you had a
bad day, people can lose their lives.
WILLIAMS: People have.
WARREN: And parents teach their kids different things. I mean, this is
WILLIAMS: My mother bought me the little black book when I was growing up
to show me how to survive a confrontation with a police. I had more
conversations about police officers than I did about the crime in the
community. That`s wrong.
WILLIAMS: I also want to mention the inspector general bill is a bill I
cosponsored with (INAUDIBLE) that is part of a larger community safety act.
We`ve reached good places with the I.G., but we`re still pushing much
harder on some profiling. So the negotiations are done.
But again, anything we believe is better commissioning the mayor and
commissioner are pushing back. And I know you had Dr. Mohammed on here.
He was on my -- I co-chair the gun violence task force on the city council.
And he always makes sure that we mention that this crime is not new, even
though the complexion is.
And what`s frustrating is that as a nation we know what to do. So when the
crime, the complexion was different, we needed new jobs and education. But
then when the complexion changed, all the sudden they are victims of their
own self destruction, and the only resource we can get is police.
So, the same statistics can`t be used to put a community center like I
don`t have within two or three miles. They can only be used to send
police. And when we talk about gun violence on a mass scale, I see people
shooting congressmen, shooting children, they talk about mental health.
But when we bring up the mental health of our children, they say we`re
trying to avoid personal responsibility.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We close schools and we deploy police, right, and
then we wonder why we end up with the results that we do.
Let me ask you one last question, our last few seconds here. How does film
and the arts, how does it help us to make -- this little black book if you
grow up in black communities, but how do we make this knowledge available
to a broader audience so people understand how destructive it is?
TUTTLE: Well, one of the things as is here, you know, a lot of people when
we were talking about earlier, a lot of people haven`t experienced this. A
lot of people in New York City have not experienced this.
One of the things we set out to do when we started making that video, the
first one I made that had the first ever released audio of an actual stop
where a kid was harassed and roughed up by the police, threatened with
arrest and they threatened him with violence -- we wanted to put that out
there because we wanted people to understand what it was like, people who
never had experience that before.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Just to understand how deeply problematic it is.
Thank you so much. We are going to be watching the case at every second.
Thanks to Jumaane and Vince and Russ and Nicholas.
And up next, it`s the best paint job that we have seen this week, our foot
HARRIS-PERRY: Our foot soldier this week is Aaron Jackson. He is the
founder and president of the nonprofit organization Planning Peace.
Aaron`s group has been active around the world for eight years now, opening
orphanages in Haiti and in India, planting trees in the rainforests of
South America and most recently launching a health program to help children
in developing nations.
So, for all these reasons, Aaron Jackson could be a foot soldier, but the
reason he caught our attention this week is because of this house. It may
seem like a plain, unassuming house that could be anywhere in the country,
but this house is in Topeka, Kansas, and has some infamous neighbors.
Across the street from this little house is the Westboro Baptist Church.
You know that group that`s known for picketing military funerals with
hateful signs attacking fallen gay soldiers. Aaron decided to use
Westboro`s tactics against them but not in a way that makes war, but rather
in a way that generates peace.
He bought that little house and decided to paint it in the rainbow colors
of the gay pride flag, and dubbed it the equality house. The process has
been in the works for about a year now from buying the house and planning
and then finding the right day to rainbow coat it. The right day was this
past Tuesday when professionals came in and painted the house in
The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive causing
traffic jams on the small Topeka Street. Gifts and kind words are
delivered to Aaron regularly and the story is gaining traction worldwide.
One neighbor that Aaron spoke to told him that he loves the house. Not
only because of the powerful message it sends but because he just finds it
pretty. Aaron`s goal is a simple one. To show the world that where there
is hate, there is also love.
Aaron and Planting Peace intend to use the publicity and funds that they
are receiving from this house to bolster existing anti-bullying campaigns
and to eventually create their own LGBT anti-bullying initiatives. For
showing us all the best way to fight hate is always with love and a little
rainbow magic, Aaron Jackson is our foot soldier of the week.
Please go and read our interview with Aaron and check out our site at
MHPShow.com. And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for
watching. I`m going to see you tomorrow at 10:00 because Kenji Yoshino is
back. He`s going to be here to talk about the Supreme Court case, DOMA,
and Prop 8. All that on the equality of MHP tomorrow.
Coming up, "WEEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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