updated 9/18/2013 10:57:33 AM ET 2013-09-18T14:57:33

POLITICS NATION
September 13, 2013

Guest:


REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC`S POLITICS NATION`S HOST: Yes, Ed thank you.
Thanks to you for tuning in. Tonight`s Lead, America`s comeback. Five
years ago, this Sunday at the end of the Bush Administration, financial
panic swept across Wall Street sending the nation into economic free fall.
The Lehman Brothers Bank filed for bankruptcy triggering fears of a second
great depression.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: What`s been called the worst
financial crisis in modern times, certainly the largest financial disaster
in decades in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the ugliest days I have seen in my
career.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The Dow Jones industrial average sank
over 500 points. Triggering reaction from Wall Street to Main Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All wiped out about $700 billion from retirement
plans, government pension funds, and other investment portfolios.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Just months later, Barack Obama
was inaugurated president, facing the worst economic crisis in decades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are dealing with something we haven`t dealt
with for a long time. And no one knows that better than Barack Obama. And
he goes into the White House tomorrow morning to try to do something about
it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That day, in his first inaugural, the president addressed
the nation`s fears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I say to you
that the changes we face are real. They are serious and they are many.
They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this,
America, they will be met.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It hasn`t been easy, but since those dark days at the end
of the Bush administration, the economy has made clear progress under
President Obama. A month after the crash, the unemployment rate under
President Bush jumped to 10 percent. Today, it`s 7.3 percent and falling.
At the end of the Bush era, the economy shrank by more than eight percent.
But in the most recent quarter, it grew by 2.5 percent. Six months after
the crash, the stock market bottomed out, the Dow Jones falling to 6500.
Since then, it`s more than doubled. The Dow finishing today at over
15,000.

We still have a long way left to go. Too many of the gains have gone
to the wealthy few. The rich are getting richer. But too many others are
being left behind. President Obama`s now focused on building an economy
for all Americans. But Republicans seem determined to tear it down.

Joining me now are Melissa Harris-Perry and Jared Bernstein.

Thanks for being here.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
Absolutely.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Jared, put in context how far we`ve come since this country
was teetering on the edge of a great depression five years ago.

BERNSTEIN: Yes, that`s actually pretty easy for me because I was
there working for the administration when we went into the White House and
looking in our rearview mirror, we saw that eight percent decline in GDP.

You know, in the first quarter that Obama was in office, we lost over
two million jobs. So the president very quickly got to work with the
recovery act and the Federal Reserve also put its pedal to the metal.
Since then, of course, we have added millions of jobs. The GDP has been
growing since the second half of 2009.

But you`re right in your introduction. Much of that growth has done
an end run around middle and lower income people. They are certainly
working morgue than they did before. Much of their wealth, by the way, has
come back as housing prices have recovered. But remember, a lot of people
lost their homes then, too. So yes, lots more to be done.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s my real point, Melissa. When you look at the
fact the president took a big step toward fairness in the tax code. He
pushed through the first tax hike on the rich in 20 years. Listen to what
he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Today`s agreement enshrines I think a principle into law that
will remain in place as long as I am president. The deficit needs to be
reduced in a way that`s balanced. Everyone pays their fair share.
Everyone does their part.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And then lawmakers from both parties voted to bail out Wall
Street. But many on the right attacked the idea of helping out regular
Americans. Suddenly, it became a giveaway. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Self-reliance means if anyone
will not work, neither should he eat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the giveaways, to the reckless spending

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Get government
out of the business of fostering dependency.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Free markets, not
government dependency.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Cradle to grave
government support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Expanding the dependency classes in America.

RYAN: We don`t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that
allowed able bodied people into complacency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, if you use all kinds of tricks, games and end runs and
you break yourself on Wall Street, it is government investing government
bailout. If you`re trying to survive, you`ve worked all your life, you`ve
helped to build your community, you may have even served in the military
and you need help, all of a sudden, it`s a giveaway. It`s a you`re a
parasite.

How do we celebrate five years of this country`s recovery but the
basic middle class and poor America hasn`t recovered at all and the people
that we sponsored into recovery have the arrogance to turn around and start
calling people names?

HARRIS-PERRY: And look, I would actually suggest, I would back up
once second even from the social safety net because the first attack on
government and the one that absolutely has made this recovery so much
slower and so much more unequal is at the state level, the attack on public
sector jobs.

So what we saw is 2008 to o 2009 to about halfway through 2010 with
Democrats in control of both the House -- the Senate and the White House,
we started to see real motion, as Jared was just talking about in terms of
making recovery particularly in the private sector. Now, that recovery has
continued to grow over the course of the first and now second Obama
administration.

But where we saw the slowdown start to happen was after 2011, after
those midterms elections in 2010 brought in all those Republican state
legislators and governors. They started shedding, not social safety net,
jobs, the jobs that people were working, government jobs which actually are
things that keep our whole system operating. And that is where we started
to see that slowdown and that is why more than anything else, ordinary
people haven`t felt a recovery.

SHARPTON: And Jared, that is also why we`ve seen in certain
communities like African-American and Latinos disproportionate unemployment
because they work mostly in the public sector, and with the decrease of
public sector jobs, it increases unemployment in areas where people cannot
get into private sector fairly who we bailed out, by the way, and the
public sector jobs are not -- are dwindling in the name of we don`t need
big government or we`re cutting out agencies or programs. Isn`t this
hurting the public, these GOP policies?

BERNSTEIN: Yes. And I actually think that the conversation that the
two of you were just having is a potentially fruitful one or would be in a
politics that was a lot more rational than the one we have today. I mean,
one of the things that`s also happen over this period is we have cut well
over $2 trillion of spending so the deficit has company down a lot. In
fact, it`s coming down more quickly than it should in terms of austerity,
but we have a problem and a potential solution.

The problem as you`ve mentioned is that there is a lot of work to be
done in the public sector and there are a lot of those folks who could
really use the jobs. So in a rational economy with borrowing costs still
low, with the deficit coming down, what would you do is marry that problem
with that solution. We would put a lot of people to work helping to repair
the public infrastructure, improving the quality of our public good. It
makes perfect sense.

SHARPTON: These are not giveaway jobs. We need to repair the
infrastructure.

BERNSTEIN: Here`s the thing about the safety -- that`s why all that
safety net you played drives me quite nuts. Because actually, what history
shows very clearly is if you provide low income people with an opportunity
for decent jobs, they will always take them. And the reason they will is
because they have to. You can`t survive on our safety net.

HARRIS-PERRY: The right, exactly. No, I mean, I think to me that
question that Jared just raised about a rational economy, about saying
look, we as a country, whatever our ideology have a set of problems and we
have some solutions. And in fact, growing the public sector, putting
people to work, the very people that are being demonized as somehow laying
in a hammock that still leaves themselves and their children hungry more
than two weeks out of every month right, but so-called laying in this
hammock, they would prefer to work. Some of those jobs have been
eliminated through this kind of austerity and they often at the state
level.

SHARPTON: Including all of them all working. I mean, when you look at
the fact now, let`s go to the private sector a minute to drive your point.
Under President Bush, the private sector lost 665,000 jobs. Under
President Obama, it has added 3.25 million jobs.

Private sector`s come back. But in areas that do not dominate before
private sector employment, public sector has gone down. The people that
stood by the country and watched us bail out these guys who were greedy and
who gambled away this American economy five years ago, now all of a sudden,
they`re being called the names while we`re supposed to pop champagne and
celebrate a recovery that we never participated in. We weren`t even
invited in the hospital let alone the recovery room.

HARRIS-PERRY: We heard the green room earlier can shouting as we were
talking about some of this idea that five years ago when the crash
happened, that somehow the sky was falling the world was over because this
particular sector was taking such a hit when in fact ordinary people had
already been taking a hit and in fact, took an even worse one after the
decline.

BERNSTEIN: You know, there`s an interesting ideological kind of were
to all this. One of the things I sometimes do and I very much enjoy it is
to go on the financial market stations and talk about the markets which
have done, of course, very well. And I will be sitting there listening to
these guys talk about the market saying how great the market`s doing. It
is doubling. We are having a great day. Investors are doing really well.
And now, they get to me and say, Jared, how can you explain how Barack
Obama is screwing up this economy?

HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, I have a market in Brooklyn. I will bring to,
that`s not doing well, the Belmont market. Until we can get down to the
Belmont markets of the country and bring them back, we are not there yet.

BERNSTEIN: My view there, Reverend, is that don`t ask me how the
economy is doing because there is no economy. There`s different economies
and they are doing quite differently.

SHARPTON: Melissa Harry-Perry and Jared Bernstein, thanks for your
time tonight.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And be sure to catch Melissa Harris-Perry on Saturdays and
Sundays at 10:00 a.m. eastern time.

Coming up, shameful new right wing attacks on the poor demonizing
Americans it most in need. My commentary is ahead.

Plus, Republicans talk a big game, trashing Obamacare. But guess
what, it`s working and they know it. Another GOP governor is coming into
grips with reality.

And why aren`t Republican leaders condemning Ted Cruz and his
offensive praise of Jesse Helms?

Also "Reply Al," what`s on your mind. E-mail me friend or foe, I want
to know.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Today our fans were fired up about the
GOP`s proposal to cut $40 billion from the food stamps program.

Marshall says, a shame and a disgrace, a nation where the wealthy get
richer and they take from the poor.

And Laila says I think we need to cut their food budget. Most
Republicans look a little overfed to me.

We`ve got more on the GOP`s war on the poor coming up later. But
first, we want to hear what you think. Please head over to facebook and
search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation. It keeps
going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The GOP talks a good game. They hop, they buff, but in the
end, they cave.

The Republican governor of Pennsylvania has announced that he is about
to sign in his state the Medicaid expansion under the Obamacare or under
the affordable health care act. We see this governor as he has made this
announcement. But let`s go back to what the governor said about the very
same Obamacare program he is now signing Pennsylvania into.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The health care law imposes an
unconstitutional mandate. The law threatens every citizen`s individual
liberties well beyond the issue of health care.

As attorney general, I oppose it. When I became governor, I rejoined
a suit as governor. I have not been a supporter of Obamacare at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is unconstitutional, it`s all of these things but when
the pedal hits the metal, we find out that it, if it`s Brewer in Arizona,
now this governor, all over the country, the program is working, the people
need it. And all that will tough talk ends up with a pen in their hand
signing it into law.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne. Thank you for being here.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: E.J., another governor comes out caving on Obamacare.

DIONNE: You know, I`m really glad you`re doing this segment because I
think there is something very interesting going on among Republicans and
you can see it in what they say.

I went back and looked and last summer, Senator Ted Cruz said if we
are going to repeal it, we have got to do so now or it will remain with us
forever. Why did he believe that? He said people would get hooked on
Obamacare.

Now, if Republicans actually believe that Obamacare was going to be a
total failure, then they wouldn`t believe that people would come to see it
as an effective program that couldn`t be repealed.

And so I think that`s why you have got all this pressure to get rid of
it before it takes effect. And a lot of Republican governors have looked
at this and said on the Medicare expansion, for example, this is really
helpful to hospitals all over their state.

SHARPTON: You have ten Republican governors so far that have caved on
exactly that on Medicaid expansion, ten Republican governors, E.J.

DIONNE: Right. And there are two things about that. One, a lot of
us are for that simply because it will get coverage to a lot of people who
don`t have it. But two, a lot of hospitals are really getting hammered by
uncompensated coverage of people who come in and don`t have any insurance.
And so, a lot of these hospital boards are going to their governors and
saying you can`t turn down this Medicaid expansion. It means a lot of
money copping into our state to help our hospitals d thus help everybody
and not just the poor Americans who need that coverage.

SHARPTON: Now, E.J., when you look at things that doesn`t make sense,
among them has to be why they keep going into the Congress, voting over and
over again against Obamacare for the 41st time the GOP tried to target
Obamacare and the Democrats laced into the Republicans on yesterday. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Here you go again. Repeal
effort number 41.

REP. JOHN DINGELL (R), MICHIGAN: Here we go again. Time in the house
is being wasted. The business of the nation is being obfuscated. The
Republicans have more nonsense to put on the floor.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: So, what are we doing here today?
Thank God for Obamacare. We have got something to do we can try and repeal
it for the 41st time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a lot of witchcraft and baloney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It has no chance of passing. It`s a waste of a lot of time
and money.

DIONNE: I think there are two things going on here. One is, you look
at the polling on Obamacare and if you just look at Obamacare, it`s
unpopular and so they say we`re doing a popular thing although when you
take it apart and look at all the particular provisions of Obamacare,
people say wait a minute, I want this, I want that.

But the other thing is Chris Van Hollen, the congressman for Maryland
said the other day that it`s almost become a fetish on the right wing of
the party that nothing is more important than killing Obamacare. And so,
they keep playing to that base now 41 times. That`s more than most players
have home runs in major league baseball.

SHARPTON: It`s absolutely true. And you`re right. When you break
down Obamacare, 61 percent favor allowing young adults to stay on their
parents` insurance plans until age 26, 72 percent want to require companies
with more than 50 workers provide health insurance for their employees, 82
percent want to ban insurance companies from denying coverage to people
with pre-existing conditions.

Both Social Security and Medicare weren`t popular with conservatives
in the `30s and the `60s. Try getting ridded of that would be political
suicide today. So when you break it down, just like we grew into where we
are understood Social Security was necessary and where we understood that
we needed Medicare, I think that is what is going to happen here because
when you break down this bill, when you break down the affordable care act,
people want the elements.

DIONNE: There are certain reforms in our society that are
irreversible. They`re not irreversible because people don`t have the power
to repeal them. We are a democracy. They are irreversible because people
like the programs. They think they are good for us. That certainly true -
- and they need them. That`s certainly true of Social Security and
Medicare. You do not see democratic countries with universal health care
systems repealing them, even very conservative governments say oh, no, we
are not going to touch that health care system. And I think conservatives
understand that and so they want to get rid of this before it happens.

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne, thanks for your time.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the right wing is at it again claiming the poor
aren`t really poor because they have appliances. We will tell you what`s
really behind this appalling talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Rush Limbaugh makes some offensive comments about chicken
nuggets, dish washers and the poor. It exposes the worst of this kind of
thinking from the right. We will talk about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s bad when in the midst of this recovery for the
wealthy, people are struggling to make ends meet. It`s bad that we are
facing the largest gap in the economy between the very rich and the very
poor in terms of income and assets that we have seen since the 1920s.

But what`s worse is when people pour salt on the wound. When they
call them flames, then they belittle them, when they take it seems no
abandon in trying to degrade and denigrate them.

Listen to what Bill O`Reilly says about people receiving government
assistance and calls them names because they have basic appliances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Now we have millions of poor people in
America and the government flooding them with entitlements. So in some
states, you can make up to $40,000 in entitlements if you don`t work. That
I believe is creating a poverty class that doesn`t want to work because
they have enough they get color TV, cell phone, computers, and it`s
unending. It will keep coming in. Some of them are going, hey, you know
what? I can just not do anything, have a couple of more kids, get my
computer, cell phone, color TV, big screen and just sit back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Color TV, big screen, have a couple of more kids. The
poverty class. He really believes that? Well, Rush Limbaugh even made it
more vial. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Only 45 percent had a
dishwasher. So they`re sacrificing there. People in poverty are washing
their own dishes, half of them are. The reason why only 45 percent have a
dishwasher because things like chicken McNuggets don`t come with dishes.
How many people do you think take their McNuggets home and put them on a
plate and grab a knife and a fork and a napkin and sit down, maybe a bottle
of wine, it`s not happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I wanted you to hear it for yourself because in fact if I
read it, you wouldn`t believe it. McNuggets, people don`t buy dishwashers
because they`re eating McNuggets. That`s what he says. And these are the
people that are influencing the policymakers in Washington.

Joining me now Maria Teresa Kumar and James Peterson. Thank you for
being here. Maria, Rush says poor people don`t have dishwashers because
they are not civilized enough to use dishes. What`s your reaction?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: It`s not only it
is pathetic but it is completely out of touch. It must be nice to him to
be Rush and to be a millionaire and not have to rub elbows with those that
are struggling today and despite the boom in our economy. Let`s have a
real frank conversation. When we start talking about appliances of the
working poor, are those working poor, do they actually have the money to go
ahead and stock them with food on the table and making sure that can pay
their electricity on time so that they can actually generate. These are
not luxury items. And to start criticizing folks because they have access
to information and in an increasingly interconnected world is absolutely
obscene. What they`re trying to figure out is, how do we make sure we`re
pulling all Americans up so that we can enjoy our riches.

SHARPTON: And you have to always throw in and they`re going to have a
couple of more babies. I mean --

KUMAR: It`s sick, yes.

SHARPTON: When you look at who actually gets food stamps, for
example, Professor Peterson, let`s look at it, let`s really see why this
gets me so angry. Seventy six percent of households that receive food
stamps include children, seniors, or disabled people. In households where
an adult is able to work, 58 percent do. Over half of the households that
receive food stamps where there are people that can work, they`re working.
Eighty two percent work in the year before or after they receive food
stamps. These are not people slaying around watching a big screen having
babies. These are people that work every day trying to make ends meet and
on top from their struggle, they have to be castigated and denigrated by
millionaires with radio and TV shows.

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Yes, it`s absolutely awful, Rev.
You`re right. And in addition to that as your data points out here, the
overwhelming, the lion`s share of what they refer to as entitlements, about
what we should refer to as the social safety net goes towards Medicare and
yes, some food stamp support for the elderly, for the disabled, for
veterans who are disabled. And so, we have to as a nation, we have to
renew our commitment to the social safety net and we have to allow these
folks who are trying to track from that to be exposed of what they are
which are liars and hypocrites.

I wish that we could do an inventory of the consumption habits of the
one percent. Because when you think about how many yachts and how many
private planes and how many expensive automobiles and clothe, an all types
of material items and what could be done with those resources if we allow
them to be properly distributed throughout our economic system so that we
could have a more robust safety net, that`s the kind of conversation we
need to be having instead of really dealing with people who not only have a
lot of disdain for the poor but also a profound misunderstanding of our
economic system. At the end of the day, we have been rolling back this
social safety net.

SHARPTON: Yes.

PETERSON: And we need to be doing the exact opposite in this
recession. Rev, as you know, this week we found out that 90 percent of the
recovery in this recession has gone to the one percent.

SHARPTON: Ninety percent.

PETERSON: So, instead of critiquing this --

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: But Maria, let me also raise this. While we`re seeing this
ugliness on the right, a new poll from Gallup found that 20 percent of
Americans didn`t have the enough money to buy food at some point in the
last year. Twenty percent.

KUMAR: I mean, this is where we start talking about conservative --
compassionate conservatism. Where has it gone? When you have your swagger
because you`ve decided that you`re going to cut food stamps to children
through head start, that`s not very tough to do when you basically attack
the most vulnerable of our community, in our country. What we really need
to do is make sure that we are applying the same rules and so that
everybody is paying fairly.

What Dr. Peterson was saying is absolutely right. How can we make
sure that everybody is paying their taxes fairly, that there aren`t
loopholes on the rich. That all of a sudden they can walk away and not
making paying their fair share into society. That is just not right. The
working poor are working but they`re working for folks that are making
incredible profits off their back. Let`s make sure that we have and --
that`s fair based on work but also making sure that everybody is paying
their taxes appropriately.

SHARPTON: And Dr. Peterson, right wingers are constantly attacking
the poor. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: The poverty in this country. Everybody out of work is
eating. They`ve got big screen TV. Probably have a car, have a cell
phone.

O`REILLY: My contention is that the Obama administration is
encouraging parasites to come out and you know, take as much as they can
with no remorse and this is how our country declines. This is how we
become a weak nation.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The thing we`ve got to deal with more
than anything else in this country is deal with this entitlement mind-set
the government`s going to help me in every aspect of my life.

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I got news for you in other
countries they`re not washing their clothes and sitting in air conditioning
watching their big screen TV. They`re dying. That is poor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Dying? They`re dying? So now you have to die before we
take your poverty seriously? I mean, have we really become that
insensitive?

PETERSON: It`s absurd, Rev. And these jokers don`t want to the
compare the United States to these other countries in any other way except
when it serves them. But here`s what I would love for them to do, I would
love for them to put a map up when they do this so their audience can see
the sort of red state`s consumption patterns with respect to federal
support and federal government. And remember, there are plenty of
Republicans and plenty of folk who are poor who vote republican who fall
under the criticism of these same right wing entertainment complex.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

PETERSON: So, I wish they would inject some reality into some of
these conversations.

SHARPTON: He`s absolutely right, Maria. This goes across racial and
party lines.

KUMAR: That`s right.

SHARPTON: When you really break down the data, some of the people
that they`re talking to, they`re talking about.

PETERSON: That`s right.

KUMAR: And I think what we -- I think what -- you had hit the nail on
the head. Basically for a long time when you said poverty, it was a code
word for person of color. Now poverty knows no color, no socioeconomic.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

KUMAR: And that`s where the hurt is that the fact that you have a
vast majority of Americans regardless of their race saying, you know what?
I`m feeling the pain, I`m paying bills, I`m doing everything by the book,
yet, I can`t put food on the table for my kids and family. And that`s
what`s wrong. And the callousness in which they address the American
people and calling, you know, collectively lazy, that`s disappointing but
it`s also anti-American.

SHARPTON: Collectively lazy, Professor Peterson, parasites. What I`m
saying, if you want to argue, if you want to debate social policy, if you
want to debate the safety net, if you want to debate big government, fine.
But why do we have to demonize people that are really trying to make it,
again I repeat, 58 percent of the people receiving food stamps that can
work are working. Five eight percent. Seventy six percent include
children, seniors and disabled people.

Eighty percent worked during the previous or following year that they
received food stamps. We`re not talking about people laying around
watching flat screen TVs getting drunk, having babies as they`re trying to
depict them. It`s inaccurate. It`s unfair. It is absolutely horrendous
to me because people have to labor under these misconceptions to try to
make ends meet and make a way in this country.

PETERSON: You`re right, Rev. And listen, if you want to talk about
the decline of America, it`s not about the social safety net which has been
under attack for the last 20, almost 30 years. The decline of America is
as a direct result of the consolidation of the wealth and resources and
landownership in the top one percent. A country cannot exist in the future
the way that our economic system has flowed money upwards to the one
percent over the last 20 to 30 years. The recession, the recovery and the
data that says that the economic recovery has been channeled to the one
percent is proof positive that we`ve got to make changes and we actually
have to change our attitudes.

And so, when they`re making comments, Rev., it`s very, very clear that
they represent the aristocracy. They represent the one percent. They
represent the ownership classes. And we`ve got to have people out here who
are representing poor folk and speaking on their behalf because they don`t
have the multimillion dollar platform in the syndicated radio shows and all
those things. So, it`s very, very important for people to understand, this
is not about entitlements, this is not about the demonization of poor
people. This is about the fact that as the United States of America, we
have to have a strong commitment to the social safety net for those among
us, our family members, our elderly, our children, those who need it. And
we are wealthy enough as a country to be able to do it.

SHARPTON: I have to leave it there. Maria Teresa Kumar and James
Peterson, thank you both for your time. All of us are kind of steamed up
on this.

KUMAR: Yes, thank you Reverend. Yes.

SHARPTON: Defending real true hard working Americans that just need a
little help. Still ahead, Ted Cruz`s stunning comments on Jesse Helms.
Where is the outrage from GOP leaders? There`s been deafening silence.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The very first political contribution I
ever made in my life was to Jesse Helms. When I was a kid, I sent $10 to
Jesse Helms. We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We need 100 more like Jesse Helms. It`s been two days
since Senator Ted Cruz made that offensive comment. And two days of
silence from republican leaders. Where`s the outrage? Where`s Mitch
McConnell, John Boehner and the rest of the GOP leadership? Their silence
is shameful. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms represented the worst kind
of hate and division in American politics. He supported segregation and he
opposed making Martin Luther King`s birthday. Helms once said this about
the civil rights act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSE HELMS, FORMER NORTH CAROLINA SENATOR: Taking liberties away
from one group of citizens and giving them to another. I thought it was
bad legislation then and I have had nothing to change my mind about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Helms also once said, quote, "It is time to face honestly
and sincerely the purely scientific statistical evidence of natural racial
distinctions in group intellect." Jesse Helms is the GOP`s past, but Ted
Cruz wants to make him the party`s future, as well. Republican leaders
need to speak out and tell America they`re putting the shameful legacy of
Jesse Helms behind them.

Joining me now are Joe Madison and Ryan Grim. Thank you both for
being here.

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Joe, why aren`t GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell and John
Boehner denouncing this praise of Jesse Helms?

MADISON: Because they can relate. This man has now been resurrected
by them and then resurrecting Jesse Helms, they resurrected everything he
stood for. All the things you mentioned. But imagine this, Nelson Mandela
would probably still be in prison because he supported the apartheid
government. The voting rights act probably would not have existed. This
is a man who even accused his opponent wife of dancing with a black man who
was against interracial marriage.

SHARPTON: Yes.

MADISON: So what they`ve done, what Ted Cruz has done, he has
resurrected the last standing racist unabashed racist in the United States
Senate and the sad thing about this, it`s not just the republican
leadership, but you know, where are African-American brothers and sisters
in the Republican Party? They wouldn`t be in their position today if Jesse
Helms was still alive.

SHARPTON: That`s a very good point. You know, Ryan, there`s a
precedent for this. We`re not act asking for something that -- the
president for, in 2002, and Joe may remember this because many of us in
civil rights were involved in this. GOP Senator Trent Lott was pressured
to quit his job as minority leader because he praised Strom Thurmond who
ran for president as a segregationist. Listen to what Lott said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRENT LOTT (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI SENATOR: When Strom Thurmond ran
for president, we voted for him. We`re proud of it.

(APPLAUSE)

And if the rest of the country would have followed our lead, we
wouldn`t have had all these problems over all these years either

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now he said, we voted for him and if the rest of us had
voted for him, we won`t have these problems. He had to leave the minority
leadership in the Senate. Even President Bush at the time was in support
quietly of him having to move out. Here you have a guy who said we need
100 more Jesse Helms who represents the same or worse than Strom Thurmond
and said when he was a kid, his first donation is he sent $10 to this guy
and he doesn`t even live and never has in North Carolina where the guy was
a senator from.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: Right, what I think it shows you is just
how far the GOP has gone to the right over that past decade. You know, we
like to think of time marching on, you know, progressively. You know, that
the arc is bending towards justice but you know, what this shows is that
there is nothing necessarily unique about time that will necessarily bring
justice about. You know, games can be lost. And if this kind of
resurrection of Jesse Helms and what he stood for, you know, goes
unchallenged within the Republican Party, there`s a real risk that at least
within that party, the gains that even it had made ten years ago could be
lost.

SHARPTON: You know, Joe, we are seeing a new more polished version of
the same kind of beliefs because let me show you something. Let`s take it
away from race. Let`s talk about how they deal with gay rights and
homophobia. Listen to this sound bite from the Jesse Helms talking about
gays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HELMS: Many homosexual average 16 different sex partners every month.
If homosexual men would stop their activities today, there would never be
another case of AIDS in this country.

Call it gay bashing if you want to. I don`t call it that. I call it
standing up for America`s traditional family values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, let`s fast forward. Come to the day. Rick Santorum
on gay marriage echoing Helms` talking points. Listen to this.

"It threatens my marriage. It threatens all marriages. It threatens
the traditional values of this country."

So in many ways, we`re seeing a modern more nuanced version of the
same themes in different areas here, Joe Madison.

MADISON: Well, that`s exactly right. When Jesse Helms died and left
the Senate, Jim Crow died with him. And now what has been resurrected is
James Crow Esquire. You just said it. There`s no if, ands, buts about it.
And we who call ourselves progressives need to stop calling these people
conservatives because real conservatives don`t think like that. They are
regressives. Can you imagine what the well of the United States senate,
the floor of the United States Senate would sound like if 100 people talked
like Jesse Helms? Where would this country be?

SHARPTON: There are only 100 in the U.S. Senate. So, it would be the
whole Senate.

MADISON: That`s my point. That`s exactly my point. What kind of
country would we have, and no one, no one in their right mind wants to go
back to that period in time.

SHARPTON: But again, I can understand that we have extremists, Ryan.
I can understand we`ve got these guys that go off the wagon in maybe even
one or two senators, three or four congressmen, a lot of pundits and hosts
of talk shows. But the fact that none of the leadership, none, two days
later has stood up and said this is wrong, this doesn`t represent our
party, that`s what I`m talking about. If people go off on the deep end on
the left, they are widely denounced. If they go out from the right, it`s
like they didn`t say anything.

GRIM: Right. The left tightly polices itself from the center, no
doubt about it. And with Jesse Helms, you were not cherry picking, you
know, a few quotes of his. And it`s not as if there was.

SHARPTON: His whole life.

GRIM: Right. It`s not as if there were some good things about Jesse
Helms in the center here and then he also has this racist and anti-gay
positions. No, he was defined entirely by his bigotry and his racism.

SHARPTON: Yes.

GRIM: That`s what he built his entire career on. That`s his legacy
is.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

GRIM: And when you`re resurrecting him, that`s all there is. There`s
nothing else that you can point to about him other than that.

SHARPTON: Nothing else he wanted pointed to. That`s what he
represented. Joe Madison, Ryan Grim, I got to go. Thank you. We`ll be
right back.

MADISON: OK. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Thank you. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This weekend marks 50 years since the bombing of a Baptist
Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four little girls. The bombing
happened just weeks after the march on Washington it rocked the entire
nation. We`ll talk about it ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, this Sunday marks 50 years since the
tragic bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama.
It took the lives of four little girls who were getting ready for Sunday
school that morning. Denise McNair, Carl Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and
Cynthia Wesley. The church was a gathering place for civil rights leaders
including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it was the headquarters of the
children`s crusade when young marchers demonstrated in the streets, braving
the dogs and fire hoses of Bull Conner.

But on September 15th, 1963, the church was targeted by the KKK, a
bomb exploded in the basement near a room full of children. The bombing
just a few weeks after the march on Washington shocked a nation and left an
indelible mark on everyone who lived through it. I recently talked about
that with Condoleezza Rice who was a child in Birmingham at the time of the
bombing

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: My dad`s church was only
about two miles from 16th Street Baptist Church. So it was like the ground
shook. And for kids in Birmingham of my age, I was eight, it was, you
know, how could these people hate us so much?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Condoleezza Rice on one side. Knows that it wasn`t for the sacrifice
of little girls like her and others, white and black, Goodman, Chaney and
Schwerner, if they had not shed blood, she won`t have been secretary of
state. President Barack Obama won`t have been in the White House. People
paid a price to open America up. We should never forget them and we should
not stop until we finish the path that they put us on. We should honor
them and honor them by our continued activity. This weekend, I honor these
four girls, I honored the others that gave their lives. That opened
America up more.

I honored them by continuing to try and keep an opening. Because of
them. We are places no one ever thought we could be, but we still have
places to go. We still have hills to climb. And valleys to cross. But we
should not forget those that made it possible because of them, I can say,
thanks for watching.

I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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