All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 11, 2013
Guests: Jack Abramoff, David Sirota, Leah Gunn Barrett, Sherrod Brown, George Papandreou, Radhika Balakrishnan, Chrystia Freeland
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Thank you for joining us tonight.
It is a hilarious truth about Washington I come before you tonight to
lead off my cable newscast with the following news. The Senate
successfully voted to begin debating a piece of legislation today.
That is good news. That is huge news because thanks to the vigorous
new tradition of the near constant Republican filibuster, voting to start
debate is something the Senate almost never does before.
Here your illustrious United States senators are overcoming a
filibuster to begin debate on a gun safety package today.
Again, just to appreciate how crazy the filibuster was in practice,
this was not a filibuster of the bill. This was a filibuster of debating
the bill, which is completely routine, this happens all the time. The
remarkable thing today about today`s filibuster of debating a bell was that
the filibuster failed. On the strength of support of most of the Democrats
and 16 Republicans, only two Democrats joined by 29 Republicans in trying
to block the debate, Arkansas`s Mark Pryor and Alaska`s Mark Begich.
And the reason this remarkable turn of events was allowed to take
place in the Senate today was because of a big news we brought you
yesterday, which is that a deal was worked out between Democrat Joe Manchin
and Republican Pat Toomey on expanding background checks.
Now, Joe Manchin, who is a gun positive Democrat from West Virginia
with an A rating from the NRA has been looking to make a deal like this for
months, ever since the massacre of Sandy Hook Elementary School in
December. And from the very beginning he made it incredibly clear he
wanted to work on gun safety not just from Republicans from across the
aisle but with the NRA itself, in the room at the negotiating table.
And he was pretty optimistic the NRA would cooperate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I want to call our friends at
NRA and bring them into it. They have to be at the table. We all have to.
I`m telling you, I believe this is a time for all of us to sit down and
move in a responsible manner. And I think they will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Joe Manchin speaking on this network on December
17th, just three days after the Sandy Hook massacre.
And here`s what happened next: publicly, even as Joe Manchin was
inviting them into the fold, the NRA was fighting background checks with
all their might. In multiple public appearances Wayne LaPierre called the
idea of universal background checks as an unworkable nightmare of
bureaucracy being offered up by public elites.
But Joe Manchin really wanted to bring NRA to the table to work on a
deal of background checks. And he did. Late last month, "Politico" is
reporting on the progress of the negotiations, citing several sources as
saying that the fact that NRA was even talking with Manchin suggested at
least some room for negotiation for the group.
For their part the NRA would not talk about their negotiations with
Manchin. But a spokesman told politico at the time, the organization was
strongly opposed to what they`ve referred to as criminalizing transfers
between two law-abiding people, calling it a non-starter.
And then, yesterday, a deal was struck and notably did not include a
background expansion for private person to person sales. As he rolled the
deal, Joe Manchin again emphasized the degree to which he had been working
with the NRA, telling reporters he`d been in constant dialogue with the
NBC News reported the NRA was a, quote, "near constant presence"
during the talks.
And amazingly, as the deal was coming together, it was looking like
the NRA was maybe not going to fight it, which almost made sense given they
had apparently been in the room negotiating it. So, the rollout of the
deal was accompanied by this all fevered speculation the NRA might decide
not a vote for this compromise against members of Congress in this
scorecard system they used to grade lawmakers.
Just before the big press conference, a spokesperson for Senator
Manchin told BuzzFeed the NRA remained neutral on the bill and the NRA came
out with a statement that did not entirely contradict that sentiment. It
was critical of the bill overall, but praised parts of it, namely the part
where it leaves at least one major background check loophole in place.
But they were in fact stopping short of saying they would count yes
votes for the bill against the senators who cast them, which actually
sounded like really good news for the future of the bill. But it also
sounded to me at least way, way too good to be true.
I was sitting in my office yesterday reading these reports, thinking,
really? The NPR -- NPR -- the NRA is not going to score the first major
piece of gun legislation to come before the Senate since 1994?
No, of course not. Of course not really. The NRA soon clarified to
senators informing them that, yes, they are unequivocally opposed to the
compromised deal, the one they were in the room helping negotiate, which
means that yes, the background check bill gets a debate, but there will be
another before it gets an up-or-down vote, and the NRA will damn sure will
scoring that filibuster vote, as well as the final bill itself, assuming it
even gets that far.
And that means the NRA is really good at what they do. It means that
after working successfully, it would appear with the senators who are
proposing it, to weaken the background check proposal before it ever hit
the Senate floor, leaving an impression they`d remain neutral in the bill
once it was introduced, they then turn around and attempt to shoot it to
So, if the bill passes, they succeeded in watering it down. If it
doesn`t, they`ve killed it. That is how the NRA rolls.
Joining us tonight from Washington, Jack Abramoff, former Republican
At the table, David Sirota, columnist for Salon.com, and Leah Gunn
Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
All right, Jack. As someone with experience and practice in this art,
is there like a playbook for lobbyists at this move, you go into
negotiations at the table, you leave the impression that you`re going to be
on board with the final outcome, you get it watered down, based on that
impression and come out and turn around and try to kill it?
JACK ABRAMOFF, FORMER REPUBLICAN LOBBYIST: Well, I`m not going to say
that`s not part of the lobbyist playbook. It indeed is part of the
lobbyist playbook and I think depending on the issue, you`ll find the
lobbyists doing anything to thwart things.
I have to tell you, Chris, based on calls I had just up until the
moment I walked into the studio, the folks in the NRA were not saying they
were at any point involved in serious negotiations or favor of the bill.
But, put that aside for now.
I think your question about do lobbyists do this? This is exactly
what lobbyists do. Lobbyists` jobs are to stop bills.
ABRAMOFF: And playing defense is much easier that offense and this is
a defense. And whether it`s the NRA or whoever it is, this is a typical
HAYES: No, explain that when you say playing defense is easier than
offense. What does that mean legislatively?
ABRAMOFF: It is much easier to stop legislation in the Congress than
to get legislation through.
ABRAMOFF: Getting it through you have one or two ways to do it.
Stopping legislation, you`re going to have 50 ways to do it. And mainly is
throwing bombs and blowing up train tracks and I think lobbyists know that
and it`s easier for them to stop it.
HAYES: But here`s what`s interesting to me about this, David, and you
worked on the Hill. Sometimes you`ll see, like for instance, when they
were talking about -- "Politico" is reporting this, a few other places
reported -- that on the gun safety side, right, the White House had cut a
deal with the gun safety activists, bring them inside the tent, you`re
going to be part of our discussions on this legislation. But the price of
that is when it comes out, you don`t criticize, right?
And that seems like something -- I can understand that thinking
because you`re getting something out of it. But if you`re sort of
negotiating with someone with no buy-in from them, you`re just setting
yourself up for this kind of deal.
DAVID SIROTA, SALON: Unless you think -- I think what`s going on is
that actually the NRA won. That the NRA watered down this bill. They got
the assault weapons ban out, they got the magazine stuff out and now, we`re
left with a backgrounds check that`s not even really a universal background
check. And the NRA --
HAYES: So, it is expanded.
SIROTA: It is sort of expanded. It`s better than what we have. It`s
certainly expanded. But it`s not 100 percent.
And the NRA said, you know what? Let`s cut our loss, we`re going to
win -- we got everything -- not everything -- we got a lot of things we
don`t want off the table. But we can`t go to our membership.
The other constituency of the NRA is their membership. They can`t go
to their membership and say this is OK.
So, they come out with a bill they can accept and they can also go to
their membership and say we`re against this so the leadership at the NRA
essentially wins both ways.
LEAH GUNN BARRETT, NEW YORKERS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE: On the contrary,
it`s not their membership they`re concerned about. I mean, NRA members
support universal background checks. You know, 80 percent or higher.
What they`re really worried about are the gun manufacturers who are
largely funding them. If you want to call them their membership, then the
gun manufacturers are their membership, and the reason --
SIROTA: Or their constituency.
BARRETT: Well, the reason they`re afraid of universal background
checks is they`re going to lose gun sales. If you come out with this
avenue, 40 percent of gun sales which currently have no background checks
whatsoever and you`re going to cut that down to maybe 30 percent.
HAYES: So, wait, do you think, though, to go to David`s
characterization, he just called it a win. We got on the air yesterday,
and I thought, given where this debate was six months ago before Sandy Hook
happened and in the wake of Sandy Hook and they said, well, they`re going
to try and let`s see if they get anything. Yesterday`s deal to me felt
like a victory in terms of where the center had moved.
There`s also another way looking at it so watered down that the
lobbying industrial complex has --
SIROTA: It`s not a victory. It`s not as huge a victory as it seems.
HAYES: What`s your thought on that?
BARRETT: Well, I think if the bill -- when it gets to the floor
they`re going to try attacking and putting all sorts of amendments.
HAYES: Amendments, right.
BARRETT: Concealed carry reciprocity, which, you know, we certainly
do not want. We fought that off a couple years ago.
HAYES: Concealed carry reciprocity is the idea that if you`re from a
state that has concealed carry, you can --
BARRETT: You can bring it to a strong gun law state like New York and
you can carry your gun around Time Square. This we clearly do not want
HAYES: There`s been some notion that`s part of what is going --
BARRETT: Oh, we know they`re going to do it. It`s pretty
predictable. If they do that, the whole thing is going to die.
But you know what? This is a long term fight. The NRA is
marginalizing itself by being so out of touch with the broad majority of
HAYES: But are they -- do you think that`s true, Jack?
ABRAMOFF: No, I actually don`t think that`s true, because you have to
remember what the NRA`s goal is. The NRA`s goal, first of all, they are
extremely powerful and they`re not the only powerful --
BARRETT: I don`t think they`re that powerful.
ABRAMOFF: Well, I think -- what I mean by powerful, they may not have
90 percent of the people out there.
BARRETT: They certainly do not.
ABRAMOFF: They may not even have 50 percent of the people supporting.
But you have to understand from a lobbying point of view, what they
need to do is activate their activist and get the people who are responding
to them to be in the fight.
I think they`re doing that very effectively. And, frankly, I haven`t
seen them do anything that`s going to cause them a problem with the people
who support them, who make up their coalition in the future.
HAYES: I mean, if that`s the test, that makes sense of Wayne
LaPierre`s speech. If the audience are the base or the activists that --
and let`s remember, I mean, one of the things I think -- well, hold that
The thing you just said about amendments is important. Jack, that`s
what`s going to happen next. And this is another place where the lobbying
industrial complex does its work, right? Because another great way of
killing a bill, you`ve gotten over a filibuster, this thing is going to go
to the floor. If you want to kill this thing, amendments are going to be
another bite at the apple.
ABRAMOFF: Right. There`s no question. It`s another tool in the
playbook. Get as many amendments. Fill up the tree of a bill. Try to put
things put on to a bill. I`m not certain they can get concealed carry
But, by the way, the other side plays that, too. The first two
amendments are undoubtedly the Feinstein amendment on assault weapons,
which is political cover, and then the magazine amendment which is again
HAYES: Political cover -- explain what do you mean by political
ABRAMOFF: Political cover in the sense that Democrats who are in
states such as Montana, such as in the Southwest and out in this West,
Democrats are more conservative gun state, let`s call them.
ABRAMOFF: They need to be able to show they are not anti-gun. So,
there are going to be some amendments that come up they`re going to be able
to vote against --
HAYES: I see.
ABRAMOFF: -- giving themselves cover and they`ll be able to vote in
the final passage.
SIROTA: And where the NRA does have its power, and I agree with you
that NRA doesn`t have necessarily have power in numbers of voters, but
where it does have power is in those gerrymandered House districts. Those
gerrymandered Republican districts where Republican members of Congress are
more afraid of a pro-NRA primary than having to move to the center in a
BARRETT: You know, let`s get to the point. We`re New Yorkers Against
Gun Violence, and New York was the first state to pass strong gun safety
legislation post-Sandy Hook and we`re followed by --
BARRETT: -- Colorado and Connecticut and other states, Maryland.
So, the real progress is going to happen at the state level. You
know, the federal government, Congress is the last to drag their feet
kicking and screaming. And they will eventually get something, but maybe
not this time around.
And the NRA in this meantime is marginalizing itself, it really is,
because it`s going to be completely out of step with the American people.
You`re smiling, but --
HAYES: No, but my question is -- this is the profound question here,
does marginalizing itself matter, right? If the point is that you need the
intensity as opposed to broad opinion with you, which is what Jack is
saying, right? You`re saying you need the intensity of your activists, the
question is, do they pay a price ultimately for alienating broad voters?
BARRETT: We need to become intense, too. And I think we will be. I
mean, American and public opinion actually is increasing. In January, 56
percent of Americans were supporting gun laws. In February, that jumped to
So, it`s opposed to -- you know, the Newtown bump is increasing not
decreasing. Maybe it is with senators and Congress people, maybe those
people because they`re living out of touch but they`re in Washington.
But the general American public is concerned something happen.
They`re fed up with this level of gun violence we`re tolerating. And I
think -- you know, I do believe a genuine grassroots movement is sprouting
and will be able to counter the NRA.
HAYES: Jack, quickly, do you see this -- do you see this actually
getting of the Senate?
ABRAMOFF: Yes. I think there`s a very strong possibility it could
get out of the Senate. I know from the conversations I had about an hour
ago, they`re going to make another -- a few other attempts at
filibustering. They have a base of 31 votes and think they could get those
eight other senators, and think they`re within striking distance.
But I think they could get it out of the Senate. What happens in the
House is an entire different ballgame.
HAYES: And it`s in the House, of course, where the same gerrymandered
ABRAMOFF: That`s right.
SIROTA: And it will get watered down even more.
I think one thing to say, I have a question about a Congress where the
NRA is so powerful in the Congress that if any bill gets through, is that
really up to itself an admission that what happened isn`t necessarily what
really needs to happen?
HAYES: But I think from the perspective of -- when you think about
the perspective of the long term trajectory, the issue, right? I mean,
we`re already dealing with the first bill on the Senate floor that deals
with these issues since 1994, and that is, if you want to notch it in terms
of wins and loss, that`s a loss, because if the NRA had its druthers, this
would never see the light of the day, right?
And the only gun bill we`ve got in the first term of Barack Obama was
you can carry your gun in a national park.
David Sirota of Salon.com, Leah Gunn Barrett of New Yorkers Against
Gun Violence, and from Washington, Jack Abramoff, giving us the playbook --
thank you very much.
HAYES: One thing you can say about the NRA`s influence is at least
you have heard of the NRA. Another bill has come to life courtesy of a
group you have no idea about. If it becomes law, it will mean a pay cut
for millions of hourly workers. That`s next.
HAYES: Here at ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES, we have a firm policy. When
we e encounter a new press release from SHRM, we sit up and take notice.
Who is SHRM, you ask? Well, they`re, of course, the Society for Human
Resource Management, an industry trade group that according to their Web
site, is the world`s association devoted to human resource management.
Their board of directors represent some of corporate America`s most
successful companies like Yahoo! Burger King, Equifax, SiriusXM Radio and
Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
So, SHRM was super psyched today to be able to have one of their
experts give testimony at a hearing on Capitol Hill in favor of the Working
Family`s Flexibility Act of 2013.
According to Republican Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama, who
introduced the bill, it would give employees the choice of paid time off in
lieu overtime pay. Ergo, giving workers the flexibility to take time off
to meet family responsibilities. >
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Americans work hard -- nurses, ambulance drivers, cashiers,
plumbers, electrician, dental assistants. We`re proud of our work. But
it`s only part of our lives. The other part: tee ballgames, birthdays,
school plays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries.
You shouldn`t have to choose work or family. It`s time for balance.
It`s your time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, it`s your time. How can you not support this?
Especially considering this bill is also being touted by none other than
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as part of Republicans re-branding, a new
post-election outreach to hit a new conservative agenda that addresses the
issues that matter today like the stresses that working families face.
Here`s Cantor making just that case back in February at the American
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: There`s a police officer at
my home in district her name is Vicki. She`s working a tough job with long
hours while raising her kids. Her life is made a little easier because
she`s a local government employee. She`s permitted to work some extra
hours and save it up for a sick day or school event.
Just imagine if we simply gave this opportunity to employees and
employers, at their option, in the private sector. A working mom or
working dad could make overtime now and reap the benefits of it when they -
- when their kids needed them. And they wouldn`t have to miss work so they
could still pay the rent.
This is the kind of common sense legislation that should be non-
controversial and moves us in the right direction to help make life work
for more families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All this sounds great -- choice, flexibility.
But when a Republican and an industry trade group are talking about
choice, what they`re usually talking about is choosing to screw you because
in actuality, the bill would let the employer and not the employee decide
when and under what circumstances you can take comp time meaning employees
who work overtime hours in a given week might not receive any time or pay
for that work until more than a year later therefore workers in essence
give their overtime pay to the employer in the hopes of getting it back
some time later as paid time off.
Here`s Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney from Connecticut at today`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE COURTNEY (D), CONNECTICUT: We`re debating legislation
frankly recycled through this committee numerous times and never prevailed
and forces work others to compromise their paycheck in order to have more
time off from work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In other words, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said,
this bill is, a quote, "a cruel hoax on the American family and an assault
on working families and the 40 hour workweek."
By the way, Pelosi said that back in 1997, the first time this bill
was introduced. Republicans failed again in 2003 with a little built
called the Family Time Flexibility Act.
Welcome, America, to the new Republican Party.
Coming up, if you want to know what got Elizabeth Warren fired -- got
her fired up today, put these three things together: people illegally
kicked out of their homes, consultants making billions off those
foreclosures and no one -- no one -- being held accountable. That`s coming
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You`re saying when you find
evidence of illegal activities --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARREN: -- by the banks when they have illegally foreclosed against
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARREN: -- that that information is privileged and you will not
release it without a letter from Congress?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it is derived from the bank examination
process, yes, it is --
WARREN: How else would you get it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Senator Elizabeth Warren today in a Senate Banking
Subcommittee hearing that flew so far under the radar, it`s a miracle it
The senator was doing what she does best sticking it to those in the
world of finance that should be held so some kind of account. The hearing
was about a subject we talked about Tuesday on this show, an incredible
settlement between the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of
Currency or OCC and banks -- a settlement over what are astoundingly
widespread practices of deceit, malfeasance and incompetence of banks in
wrongfully foreclosing on homeowners.
Today`s hearing focused on part of the process that proceeded that
settlement and the history goes like this. It`s really kind of amazing. A
few keys, it became completely clear the foreclosure process in this
country was a complete disaster. It began to look very embarrassing for a
certain entity, the OCC, that was charged with regulating the very same
banks that were so obviously screwing it all up. The basic stance for the
OCC was, OK, OK, don`t worry, we got this.
And so, they began what was called the Independent Foreclosure Review,
which they said would be a way of investigating all this wrongdoing in the
papers and embarrassing everyone and making sure they got to the bottom of
the whole thing and everyone was made whole.
But the Independent Foreclosure Review was essentially having banks
hire independent consultants who are on bank payrolls to look at the bank`s
own records. No, really, that`s the way it worked or that was the way it
was supposed to work. But the process proved to be so obviously
dysfunctional, compromised and expensive that midway threw this process,
everyone threw in the towel and, thus, the recently announced settlement --
the whole episode was such a ridiculous disaster, the only winners out of
this weren`t the foreclosed homeowners, it was the consultants who walked
away with $2 billion in fees, $2 billion. The settlement, OK, the
settlement for nearly 4 million homeowners was $3.6 billion. So, $3.6
billion to the nearly 4 million wronged homeowners and $2 billion in fees
to seven independent consulting firms.
Here`s the Senate Banking Subcommittee chairman, Senator Sherrod
Brown, asking the OCC deputy chief counsel, Daniel Stipano, of those fees
paid to the consultants took away from money victims ultimately got in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: If you`re the bank and you realized you
spent, pick a number, $328 million or $90 million --
DANIEL STIPANO, OCC: Yes.
BROWN: -- on paying consultant X, don`t you think that affected their
negotiations on how large a settlement it would ultimately be?
STIPANO: I can`t speak for the banks.
BROWN: How do you know it didn`t is the better question.
STIPANO: I don`t know it didn`t because I can`t get inside their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You don`t need to get inside their head to know the answer to
And here`s the best part, as was revealed at the hearing today,
everything those independent consultants, everything they found out about
what the banks were doing wrong, members of Congress can`t see. Even
though it`s a federal regulator, the OCC is not turning it over. The OCC
called it confidential supervisory information.
Joining me tonight from Cleveland is the man you just saw, Senator
Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio.
It`s good to have you, Senator.
And my first question to you is this. I watched the hearing today and
there`s a lot going on on Capitol Hill all over the place. You had to
leave for the gun vote at some point. Why did you want to have a hearing
on this? Why are you focusing on this issue? Why does this matter to you?
And why should it matter to voters?
BROWN: It matters because these agencies, the OCC has not a very good
history of looking out for consumers, a pretty good history of looking out
to the banks. They have a new comptroller of the currency now, Comptroller
Curry, who is clearly more pro-consumer than his predecessors. He`s been
there about a year. We`re starting to see some improvements.
But they`ve -- I think you could see in this hearing when Jack Reed
asked questions, when Elizabeth Warren asked questions, when I asked
questions, you can see that they don`t think of families, they don`t --
they don`t really imagine -- I don`t think these regulators think very much
about what it`s like for a parent to tell their daughter that`s 12 years
old that you`re going to -- we`re going to have to move and we don`t know
what school district you`re going to live in because we`re have to -- we`re
foreclosed on our home. That doesn`t really come up in these deliberations
and that`s what`s really important about this, to put that -- make that
connection, that these are families, these are human beings that were so
damaged and so hurt in so many communities devastated by these illegal
HAYES: It also seemed to me, watching the hearing, that the kind of
incestuous relationship between the banks and these companies they`re
hiring to go look at their books as guided by the regulator. It looked
like this -- the worst nightmare you have about all of the self-dealing
that happens between Wall Street and regulators. And watching this
hearing, watching you and your colleagues ask them questions. Here`s Jack
Reed, talking about hiring these independent consultants, who themselves
are on the bank payroll. Take a look.
SEN. JACK REED (D), R.I.: Would you delegate that responsibly and
effectively to consultants who did not have a relationship with you, had a
contractual relationship with the bank?
DANIEL STIPANO, DEPUTY COUNCIL, OCC: Yes.
STIPANO: Well, we thought it was the best alternative. We have
REED: Do you still think it`s the best alternative?
STIPANO: No. I think if we had it to do over again, we would take a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: My question is, is there going to be accountability for this
at the end of the day?
I mean, that is the question, I think, all of us ask when we watch the
latest iteration of whatever the foreclosure fraud process is dumping on
BROWN: And I think the answer to that is we`ve seen some progress of
the hearings. Actually, they gave us more information than we expected
about fees and some other things and not nearly enough. We still don`t
know enough about individual or even en masse, if you will, information
about homeowners, about people who lost their homes.
But I mean just this peculiar kind of -- the regulator hires -- the
regulators tells the banks to hire these companies, these consultants, so
this information is between two private companies, even though the
regulators say to do that. So we don`t have, as Congress, as the public,
we don`t have access to this information as much as we should. That`s
what`s got to change because there`s simply -- in the qualifications and
the conditions of hiring and the contracts, none of that is public yet.
And that`s one of -- that`s a mission Jack Reed and I talked about
afterwards, and we have got to get this stuff to be public, even though
it`s between two private companies with their overseer.
HAYES: Sitting on a hard drive somewhere, there are -- there are
essentially audits that were conducted of individual loans, individual
cases of wrongful foreclosure with a trail of evidence about them. They
are sitting on a hard drive somewhere and you are being told as a member of
the United States Congress, you cannot see that.
BROWN: Yes. And it`s -- and it`s not government money, even though
it`s money that probably was taken from the settlement for the individual
homeowner. But what we didn`t get into as much as we will at some point, I
think, is the -- is the revolving door here. One of these consulting
groups is just -- is the receptacle, if you will, of all these government -
- these former government regulators. So you got the regulators writing
complex rules, going to a private company.
And only these regulators now at the private company can interpret
these complex rules. And they all want us to think -- they all want to
intimidate us and want us to think that, well, we don`t really -- we can`t
really understand it; only they can understand it. And nobody wants to
look stupid. And as a result, they`ve gotten away with way too much, this
whole revolving door. And we`ve seen it far too much in Washington. This
is as good an example as any I`ve ever seen.
HAYES: Senator Sherrod Brown, we are going to continue to follow this
story. Thank you.
HAYES: We`ll be right back with "#CLICK3."
HAYES: Citizens of FOX Nation, listen up. Set your phasers on
outrage; your blood is about to boil. The man behind me is the president
of The Socialist International. No, seriously, that`s a real thing, The
Socialist International, he`s the president. He joins me live on set,
First, I want to join the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with the cranial accessory of the future. Behold the
invisible bike helmet, a must-have for cyclists who want to protect their
noggin and their sense of style. It`s called the Hovding, the greatest
innovation in Swedish design since the IKEA assembly guide.
Now I know what you`re thinking. This is an airbag for your head. It
seems to be bordering on lefty self-parody. Yes, but as the blog
Treehugger points out, it has been called the safest bicycle helmet and won
the world`s largest design class. It is a collar containing a folded-up
airbag that`s triggered when you have an accident. The helmet itself has
been around for a few years. But now there`s a new short documentary film
making the rounds that not only follows the helmet`s creators but shows us
the helmet in action.
Spoiler alert: this unsuspecting crash test dummy gets sacrificed to
the Swedish safety gods.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, well, that comes
from Twitter fan Parnel Bogard, pointing us to "Open Letter" by Jay-Z. The
rapper`s latest track is a response to the hand-wringing over his recent
trip to Cuba with his wife, Beyonce.
HAYES: Jay-Z also proclaims it is a song that he got White House
clearance to make the journey. Fortunately the White House press corps was
all over this issue, seeking further comment from press secretary Jay
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s a song, Donovan (ph).
The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip.
HAYES: I am glad we cleared that up. OK, the third awesomest thing
on the Internet today, this is awesome. Tax Evaders, "Forbes" calls this
the gamefication of social broadcast. Call it whatever you want to call
it, it is pretty awesome.
The Citizen Engagement Lab developed this new game you can play
online, drawing inspiration from Space Invaders.
The bee`s (ph) alien spaceships sport corporate logos and vent your
frustration over corporate tax loopholes and offshore accounts on the
eight-bit avatars of some of the globe`s biggest corporations. However,
sadly, the chances of you winning this game are, well, as we learned,
You can find all the links for "#CLICK3" on our website,
allinwithchris.com. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: There`s no reason why you should
say we have got to slow the growth of Social Security benefits in order to
reduce the deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Continued reaction today from Democrats to the president`s
budget proposal directing their ire on his proposed cuts to Social Security
to the embrace of chained CPI. The president`s cuts of Social Security in
the name of deficit reduction have been the focus of a lot of the
discussion surrounding the budget. We talked about it here last night.
And much of the reaction from Democrats and progressives has been a
kind of palpable sense of betrayal. In a sense, the president has finally
done it, finally caved.
But if you take a moment and zoom out, this, as in austerity, is what
has been happening across the world over the past five years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): Massive financial crisis followed by bailouts,
followed by deficits, followed by austerity, followed by revolt. And that
cycle, that path has been trod by liberal governments and conservative
In fact, one of the most grim ironies of the crisis age, an irony that
Barack Obama is now part of, is that center left governments across the
world have been the ones to turn around and impose austerity, sometimes
brutal austerity, on their own bases, who do not want it.
And nowhere in the world was that austerity been more violently
resisted or dramatically disastrous than in Greece, implicated right at
center of the spectacle of human suffering is former Greek prime minister
George Papandreou, who was elected as part of a center left coalition but
to meet targets demanded by the E.U. to get bailed out, he oversaw massive
and truly devastating austerity cuts.
Under his leadership, pensions were cut by up to 40 percent, 30,000
government workers were laid off, taxes were raised several times, GDP
growth contracted from 0 percent in 2008 a negative 7 percent in 2011. And
the unemployment rate rose to 17.7 percent, and 40 percent for young
Now an austerity regime so blunt and so unpopular it ultimately
brought down his government. Joining me tonight, George Papandreou, former
prime minister of Greece and current president of The Socialist
International, it`s wonderful to have you here. Thank you for coming.
GEORGE PAPANDREOU, FORMER GREEK PRIME MINISTER: It`s great to be
HAYES: So I wanted to have you here because we`re having a budget
discussion here in the U.S. And there are many, many, many differences
between the U.S. and Greece, which I would like to talk about.
PAPANDREOU: And some similarities.
HAYES: And some similarities. And the first place I want to start
off is the politics. I mean, you had to do this, right? The politics of
being from the center left, having a coalition and base of support that
wants things like pensions and higher wages and social spending, and then
getting in power and having to turn around and implement cuts that go after
those very things.
What was that like, doing that increase?
PAPANDREOU: Well, it was very difficult. But first off, I think one
of the similarities is that we took over from conservative governments here
in the United States. It was actually the Democrats here that had a
balanced budget and I took over from a conservative government. And they
ran up this deficit.
So I had to deal with this huge deficit. And I had to deal with the
markets, too. And the markets were really pounding on Greece. They wanted
to see --
HAYES: They were asking for blood.
PAPANDREOU: They were asking for blood. And this is where, of
course, not only Greece, but the European Union could have said, listen,
sit down; we guarantee Greek bonds, let Greece make reforms because of
course, we had to deal with the symptoms called the deficits. They`re
symptoms of a deeper problem.
But once you -- and I was able to deal with that. We didn`t go
bankrupt. I was (inaudible) die from symptoms. We didn`t go bankrupt. We
didn`t leave the euro. We had to take difficult measures. But we wanted
to go into the deeper issues of how we make our economy sustainable.
Greece has great potential. That`s where I think Europe made wrong
decisions as far as imposing too harsh austerity. And not only on Greece,
but as a European-wide policy.
And that, of course, was part of a policy which I had to follow in
order to make sure that Greece stayed inside the euro and did not go
HAYES: You talked about these similarities, and in terms of
inheriting a balance sheet that was bequeathed to you by a center right
party, center right coalition, that was actually wildly out of whack,
right, one of the things that happens in American political context, is
Greece is a watchword on the American Right.
Because basically the idea is Greece was essentially a people that
tried to basically lazily expands their welfare state. They blew up the
entire country and then they went bankrupt and then they had a crisis.
And I want you to take a look because this is what conservatives say
the U.S. is and is becoming. And I want to --
PAPANDREOU: Which I agree -- which I disagree with, of course.
HAYES: Yes. I want you to respond to that --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman Darrell Issa, now
warning if Congress doesn`t take on spending, the country will go into a
downward slide to make us like Greece.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: What I`m looking for is to save Medicare and
Social Security in the country from becoming Greece.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll look like Greece within three years
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MINORITY LEADER: That alone makes us look a lot
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That puts us on a path to becoming Greece. The
country is going to burn!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What do you think of that?
PAPANDREOU: Well, I would say that the Republicans made the U.S. look
more like Greece. The conservatives made the mess in Greece. And we`re
mopping up the mess. We have to deal with this crisis.
Secondly, it`s not the welfare state in Greece that was the problem.
It was more of a crony kind of a capitalism, more of a client (inaudible)
capitalism, where business and government were colluding to, you know, to
spend money in ways which helped obviously the richer, not necessarily the
HAYES: And (inaudible) interest.
PAPANDREOU: I`m not saying that we didn`t have to revamp our pension
system. I didn`t -- I`m not saying we didn`t have to, you know, be
careful. But therefore, an example -- I`ll give you just an example.
We had collusion of big pharmaceutical companies with doctors. There
was corruption. They were -- they were giving extravagant medical
treatments, prescriptions. We put everything online, despite the
resistance of the doctors. They didn`t want to use computers. We forced
them and we cut by 30 percent the medical bills.
Now that means that, you know, that`s good governance. So we needed
good governance. And that was the problem in Greece. It wasn`t the
As a matter of fact, Brookings Institute comes out and says, if we
were transparent and we were able to hit tax evasion as, let`s say, a
country like in Sweden or with the Scandinavians we would gain 8 percent
GDP. Now that`s not austerity, that is good governance, that`s what we
HAYES: One of the things that`s happened in the wake of your
government collapsing -- and this is a really important thing -- is the
rise of a fascist party in Greece called Golden Dawn.
I want to play some video of this.
This is -- do we have this video?
Yes, we do. There it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): This is Golden Dawn, marching through a market,
smashing kiosks and demanding the papers of immigrant workers, 40 burly men
led by (inaudible) Ilias Kasidiaris (ph), a lawmaker with a right-wing
Golden Dawn party, matching through a night market in the town of Ruffina
(ph), demanding dark-skinned merchants show their permits.
This has come out of the rubble of the ruins of the crisis in Greece.
And what do you -- when I look at this, it`s terrifying, because we all
know about the rise of fascism in Europe in previous eras.
What do you make of this?
PAPANDREOU: Well, first of all, I -- one of my first laws was an
immigration law, which made -- gave migrants that were staying in Greece
the capability to become Greek citizens, and if they were born there also.
So that was -- there was a reaction to -- by some of the ultra-right wing
parties. But I stayed the course on that.
Secondly, this crisis has done two things. One is that, of course,
there`s huge unemployment because of the austerity. And I think this is
where we would have wanted in Europe-wide to have a more humane and long-
term consolidation of the budget rather than sort of deep cuts, to be able
to make the reforms.
And secondly, we need a sense of empowerment of our citizens. Now
these people feel disempowered. And they think that following, you know, a
dogma, a leader, a neo-fascist party that they`ve giving -- they`re getting
power. That`s, of course, an illusion. But it`s terrible and it`s
scapegoating what the real problems are.
HAYES: You talked about balance, you can -- a kind of way of
projecting a budget in which you aren`t imposing deep cuts but you`re
getting towards balance in the future. That`s the promise the president
has made with his budget. I want to talk about whether that promise can be
achieved. I want to bring in other people into the discussion right after
HAYES: Let`s open up the conversation with Chrystia Freeland, author
of "Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Superrich and the Fall of
Everyone Else; Radhika Balakrishnan of Rutgers university.
I want to play a clip of Jay Carney defending the president`s budget
today and if offering exactly the balance, you, George just talked about,
right, which is the balance of short-term, some investment and stimulus,
long-term reducing deficits. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: He believes we need to reach a budget compromise that`s
balanced that allows the economy to grow, that secures a rising and
thriving middle class and invests in the economy of the future, while
reducing our deficits in a responsible way. His budget is proof that you
can do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Radhika, is that a doable thing? Is that a laudable goal?
Can this budget do it?
RADHIKA BALAKRISHNAN, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: I mean, the problem is just
the logic of the idea that cutting deficits is going to grow the economy.
I mean, when the economy is in a recession or going down, the best thing is
for the government to actually spend money to create jobs.
And often when they talk about this, they talk about the government as
a household, as though if you don`t have money for a car, you shouldn`t go
buy it. Well, the government isn`t a household because when they spend
money to create jobs, that actually creates revenue.
A car doesn`t create revenue. But a job creates revenue by paying
taxes which will reduce the deficit. So the logic that somehow you`re
going to grow the economy by cutting jobs and employment --
HAYES: He`s making a slightly different argument, right, because he`s
saying, I mean, the president`s argument on this has been, particularly
now, the short-term investment. Right? They have got the $40 billion for
highway spending in the budget, long-term reduction of -- in the out years,
it`s not quite the -- they were making for a while -- they were making the
we`re a household, we have to cinch our belt, they`re not quite making that
argument now, I feel like.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, THOMPSON REUTERS DIGITAL: Yes, yes. No, no,
that`s right. And I think a lot of what they`re suggesting is sensible.
My big concern is I don`t think that they`re grappling with the magnitude
of the problem. So we --
HAYES: In terms of unemployment, you mean?
FREELAND: In terms of unemployment and just in terms of the
structural change in the economy. So we just heard Carney talk about how
you know, the president wants a growing thriving middle class. And I think
that`s definitely right. I think the president has been focused on the
inequality issue actually for a long time. It`s one -- it`s sort of his
But despite their efforts, despite the fact this is his second term of
what I think is a pretty progressive Democratic president, if you look at
what`s happening to the U.S. middle class, things are getting worse.
And if you look at the structure of employment, you know, there are
fewer -- it`s not just a question of unemployment, it`s what are the jobs
there. And there are fewer high paying jobs and more low paying jobs. And
I don`t see anyone really -- like people are still focused on recovering
from the financial crisis. They`re not saying this is an economy that is
HAYES: Two things, one I think the president -- there are aspects to
which I think the president is addressing that, the raise in minimum wage
in the budget, for instance, which I think --
HAYES: (Inaudible) an address of that, right? I mean, raising it to
$9 an hour, that is a real concrete, deliverable good for people at the
FREELAND: But is it enough?
HAYES: No, I don`t think it is. But there is something. But the
thing that`s fascinating to me also, when you talk about what this recovery
looks like, in Greece right now, the Greek stock market recently hit a
record and Greek unemployment recently hit a record.
The two things, the two records just happened very recently. And the
question is, is the stock market the leading indicator or is that the new
normal? Because if you bring it to the American context, what we`re seeing
coming out of the crisis recovery is an economy that seems to be able to
generate tremendous corporate profits but not employment.
PAPANDREOU: Well, I think what we`re seeing here is we`re seeing the
-- first of all, the effects of globalization. You can have profit making
but these companies are international.
PAPANDREOU: So the effect on your country, basically what, I`ll tell
you very simply, whether it`s -- whether they do it legally or do it
through money laundering, it`s robbing the Greek people and the American
people and the people of the world of revenues which should be invested in
Because we have about $32 trillion, I think it is, of offshore or tax
havens of money -- $32 trillion around the world. Now that was -- just a
little of that stimulus --
HAYES: Would go a long way.
PAPANDREOU: -- would go a long way.
BALAKRISHNAN: But I would -- I mean, I think it`s also the structure
of the economy. What we`re seeing is a financialization of the economy.
The economy is run by finance capital. It is not manufacturing, not
working class unionized jobs that actually give people money to be able to
buy things, but it`s finance capital and profit is at an all-time high.
BALAKRISHNAN: Whereas wage --
HAYES: Very successful in doing that.
BALAKRISHNAN: -- very successful. So we need to talk -- I mean --
and the Obama administration has given some, you know, the Dodd-Frank bill
and others. But what we need is financial regulation. I mean, the reason
for this crisis was the absolute changes in the regulatory framework that
created this crisis.
And as George says, you know, it`s not just domestic. It is
international because if you don`t regulate internationally, you are going
to have the problem that goes from one place to the other.
FREELAND: Right. And this international point is actually really
key. Because I think part of what we`re seeing is governments -- and the
Greek government was an extreme example -- but this is true of the U.S.
government of European governments increasingly simply lack the power to --
FREELAND: -- companies and their richest citizens. It`s just not
HAYES: Former prime minister of Greece, George Papandreou, sorry to
cut you off. We are up against the break. Radhika Balakrishnan , thank
you so much. It was really a pleasure to have you.
PAPANDREOU: Nice being here.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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