updated 9/25/2013 11:20:58 AM ET 2013-09-25T15:20:58

POLITICS NATION
September 24, 2013

Guest:

REV. AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST: Thank you Ed and thanks to
you for tuning in.

For the past hour, we`ve been watching this extraordinary conversation
between President Obama and former President Clinton. We`ll have the
entire conversation on our Facebook page after the show and we`re going to
be talking about how this health care law is going to work and help
millions of Americans.

But we begin tonight with another extraordinary unfolding story. At
this moment senator Ted Cruz has taken over the Senate floor. He is
desperately trying to defund Obamacare even if it means shutting the
government down in seven days. For over three hours, he has been rambling
on about his hatred for Obamacare. Here`s how it started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I intend to speak in opposition to
Obamacare. I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am
no longer able to stand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He is telling Americans the president and even leading
Republicans, I don`t care what you think. In his desperate crusade, he is
sounding like a guy losing control. He actually compared the effort to
defund Obamacare to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: To the civil war. Time of enormous pain, anguish, bloodshed in
the United States. There were a lot of voices then who said the union
cannot be saved. Can`t be done. Accept defeat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What? Did he just compare his political hostage taking to
fighting slavery in America? Senator, it`s been a rough couple of weeks,
but wow. And the bizarre comparisons continued.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You know, with John F. Kennedy told this country we`re going to
send a man to the moon. A lot of people said it can`t be done. It`s
impossible. Cannot be done. And yet John F. Kennedy had the vision to say
Americans can do things, whatever we set our mind to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Putting a man on then is the same thing as defunding
Obamacare. That`s one small step for Cruz, one giant leap off a cliff.
But he still wasn`t finished. He compared his doubters to appeasers of
Nazi Germany.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany. Look, we saw in Britain,
Neville chamberlain who told the people accept the Nazis. Yes, they will
dominate the continent of Europe, but that`s not our problem. Let`s
appease them. Why? Because it can`t be done. We can`t possibly stand
against them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ted Cruz comparing those who support Obamacare to appeasers
of Nazi Germany. It`s sick. It`s a charade. This reality show would be
fun to watch if it were not so dangerous.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank and Goldie Taylor.

Thank you both for being here.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: I mean, Dana, you have reported on Ted Cruz and followed
his political rise. What is he doing right now? I mean, what`s his end
game?

MILBANK: Well, it`s not really a matter of an end game. You have to
understand this really isn`t about Obamacare. It`s not really about the
budget. It`s not really about anything but Ted Cruz right now. So he is
out there, yes, he is saying the things you`re talking about. He has also
informed us that he likes white castle hamburgers, that his dad was good at
making green eggs and ham. He went on and on about the family history,
talking about the black ostrich cowboy boots he likes to wear but today
he`s wearing more comfort.

His colleagues did get together and they sort of intervention today
and said please don`t do this. You are hurting Republicans, you are
hurting us. You`re not helping the case of Obamacare. And he said, you
know what? I`m going to do it anyway because it`s helping his most
important cause and that is Ted Cruz.

SHARPTON: But Dana, there`s no point to this. I mean, there`s no
hope that he will stop this today. There`s really no point he`s after
other than himself here.

MILBANK: It is so preposterous. The whole idea of launching a
filibuster is that you have a delay. You avoid a vote. The vote`s already
scheduled for tomorrow at noon or 1:00. He is not that. All he is doing
is having c-span train cameras on him. So, he can endure himself further
to the tea party crowd. But in terms of practical effect, it`s not doing
anything. In fact, it is allowing people to lampoon the Republicans which
people like Mitch McConnell is saying stop it. I`m not with you on this.

SHARPTON: And despite all that, Goldie, Ted Cruz, one of his big
things today is that he`s listening to Americans. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Congress is not listening to the American people. We need to
do a better job of listening to the people. That`s together what we have
to do is make D.C. listen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But here`s the reality, Goldie. Most Americans don`t want
to shut down over Obamacare. Fifty-nine percent are against a shutdown and
a default to stop Obamacare, just 19 percent support the idea.

TAYLOR: That`s exactly right. But if you dig deeper into the
numbers, you will find that the vast majority of Americans do agree that
Obamacare`s individual tenants. They do agree that if you want to keep
children on your health care until they`re 26-years-old. They do believe
that you ought to not bar people from getting health insurance if they pre-
existing conditions. So, there are a lot of things inside of Obamacare
that people actually want to have.

When you mention the word Obamacare, it has been demonized so much by
the Republican Party that that does not test well. If you gave it another
name, then perhaps people would know something better about this thing.

But Dana really hit the nail on the head. Either, you know, Ted Cruz
is either building his own funeral pyre or his paving his road to the GOP
nomination for 2016. And we don`t know which one it is just yet. But we
do know he`s not talking to the Republican house or the Republican senators
today. He is not even talking to Democrats. He is talking to New
Hampshire and Iowa caucus goers. And that is his audience today and for
the next several hours that he will take this stage.

SHARPTON: Now, I might add, he is not alone out there. He is on the
floor with senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. But the right wing "Wall
Street journal," Dana, they even condemned Cruz`s efforts predicting
something you alluded to. They predicted he will hurt fellow Republicans.
Quote, "the supposedly intrepid general Cruz can view the battle from the
comfort of HQ, a headquarters, while the enlisted troops take any
casualties." That`s a pretty stinging charge from a conservative paper.

MILBANK: Well, and it is correct. I mean, yes, there have been
others making cameo appearances out there. I think Sessions is the fifth
one. Maybe he will get that number, a few more actually, to support his
cause. But far more are opposing what he`s doing because he is hurting the
brand, for example. He had the House go ahead and do the defund Obamacare
option, then said he didn`t have the votes for it. Now what --

SHARPTON: And then attack them in the house after they did what he
had requested they do.

MILBANK: Right. And he is not postponing the vote or changing the
way the vote is going to be in the Senate. But what he is able to do is
drag this out a bit so when the Senate sends it back to the House, poor
John Boehner is not going to have any time to avoid a shutdown. So he is
making a shutdown far more likely.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you, Goldie. I hear that Dana said
that there was some like Sessions that may join him. But let me give you
some that have condemned him along with "the Wall Street Journal."

Three former Republican leaders slammed Cruz and the party extremists.
Former House majority leader Dick Armey said they are trying to create
chaos. Dick Armey. Former House speaker Dennis Hastert said it`s a lot
for fractious than when he was in office. And then former House speaker
Newt Gingrich said, John Boehner has a ten times harder job than I had.

None of these people in major leadership positions in his party saying
even anything remotely kind about this effort.

TAYLOR: You know, Reverend, it`s ironic because it`s these very same
people. It was the GOP establishment that created the pea party. They
created what they believed was an astral turf, you know, grassroots
organization that really grew up and became a movement on its own.

And so, in effect, people like Dick Armey created Ted Cruz. They gave
him this platform. And so, Ted Cruz has not painted himself into the
corner. This is more like the tiger is out of the bag. And so, for them
to stand up now to condemn something like what happened to Ted Cruz or even
what is happening to Sarah Palin who they (INAUDIBLE). I think they are
going to take a little bit of responsibility for that.

SHARPTON: Well, talking about Sarah Palin, Dana, she is on Cruz`s
side. Have no fear, he is not totally left abandoned. She`s one of the
few people supporting him. Listen to what she had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Senator
Cruz is doing is he`s waving this flag and saying, hey, what is the
alternative here in fighting for our economic liberty in the United States
of America. What his colleagues, many of them are doing, they are waving
this flag and they are saying, oh, let`s surrender until we win. That`s
their tactic? This is nonsense. More power to Senator Ted Cruz, Mike Lee,
others who are standing up for what they campaigned upon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, don`t miss this moment, Dana. She is actually saying
they waved the flag. They surrendered. She even brought the prop with
her. This is a serious split between these far right wing extremists and
the established Republican Party. That could have serious ramifications
when we get past the theatrics of Cruz. This is serious.

MILBANK: Well, it is. The question is have we finally reached a
point where responsible Republicans are going to stand up to Sarah Palin
and to Ted Cruz? I`m not optimistic that we have yet reached that point.
I`m confident Cruz is not going to get a whole lot of support when this
comes to the floor in the coming days. But you know, Cruz is -- he is
isolated on this position, but I think it`s very rare that you are going to
find a Republican leadership to go against him the way they are right now.

SHARPTON: All right, Dana Milbank and Goldie Taylor, thank you both
for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Coming up, how did Ted Cruz become what GQ magazine says is
the most hated politician in the country?

Plus, more on the extraordinary moment, President Obama and former
president Bill Clinton on stage together selling Obamacare.

And an American crisis President Obama is fighting to fix. Our failed
justice system. Tonight, how police are making money on the war on drugs.
Our special series criminal injustice continues.

Also, friend or foe, I want to know. E-mail me. "Reply Al" is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Today everyone was talking about
Presidents Obama and Clinton coming together to talk about health care and
how Republicans won`t stop attacking it.

Alexis says the GOP is scared. Because Obamacare works and they know
it, but don`t want to admit it.

That`s right.

Dorothy says I know it is good. My prescription cost went down by
more than half.

Good for you.

And Charlie says millions are already benefiting and millions more
will be benefiting very soon.

That`s true. And coming up, you will hear President Obama and the
secretary of explaining stuff talk about those benefits.

But first, we want to hear what you think too. Please head over to
facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are watching Ted Cruz`s takeover of the Senate floor.
For over three hours he has been ranting about why Obamacare needs to be
defunded. And as he continues ranting in his bubble of insanity, we see
what`s really happening back on planet reality.

Here in the real world, Republican governors have a job to do. Ten
GOP governors have now caved on the Medicaid expansion. Right wingers like
Rick Scott, Tom Corbett, and John Kasich. Even this governor, remember Jan
Brewer? Yes, that finger pointing governor from Arizona, she`s in. Why?
Because they believe in it. They know it helps people.

So what is this guy doing? Where did he come from? And who will be
left standing?

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne.

E.J., you have covered politics for a long time. Have you ever seen
anything like what senator Ted Cruz is doing?

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don`t know. Well, we
have had a lot of filibusters in the civil rights years, but I think we
have seen a figure on the right who brought everybody else together against
him including a lot of other conservatives who are upset with the road he
has taken them down.

And I`m glad you focused on those Republican governors. I was out in
Ohio and wrote about John Kasich, whom I disagree with on a lot of issues
like labor and income tax cuts, but he is been very gutsy in fighting his
own Republican legislature to drive and do the Medicaid expansion.

All of these other Republican governors have done it. Why? Well,
because they see, a, this is a lot of money for their states, period. B,
they do know they have a lot of uninsured people in their states. C, this
is very good for their local hospitals.

And so, I think we`ve been talking about this a little long. The
typical way of saying it is the party establishment versus the grassroots
tea party. In a lot of ways, the tea party are beltway ideologues
organized by groups like the Club for Growth and the governors, the real
Republican party says let`s try to solve some problems.

SHARPTON: That`s very interesting. You know, I read your column and
what you were talking about, strange bedfellows in Ohio as an example,
which is why I wanted you on to discuss it. Because you`re saying that the
tea party, they`re the real beltway guys, and they`re the creation of the
ideologues. And that the Republicans that are out there governing on the
ground are the real grassroots Republicans.

I mean, you wrote about Obamacare strange belt fellow. And in writing
about the GOP governors you said usually follow party line in being
critical of health law in principle. But they have responsibilities that
radical ideologues don`t have. They understand the difference between
Obamacare as a right wing bogeyman and the affordable care act as a
reality. That`s a different way to view this, E.J.

DIONNE: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

And I do think that when you have to worry about your citizens on a
day-to-day basis. And they are going to hold you accountable when you are
looking at the deal that this Medicare buy-in and actually is for states.
And in some cases, in Kasich`s case, he talks with a real compassion about
poor people and says we will be more judged by what do for them than by
what our budgets look like.

I mean, what you see a practicality and compassion at that level of
the party. Whereas the rest of the party just sets up Obamacare as some
big government expansion without talking about what it is actually trying
to do. And that`s why I have been thinking for awhile, Republicans want to
stop it before it`s fully effective because they are most afraid that it
will actually work. And then a lot of citizens will say wait a minute,
there are some real benefits to us or to our communities from this.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, it`s interesting because Cruz has developed
a big name out of this. And in a new profile in GQ magazine, it describes
the senator like this. Quote, "so far Cruz has proposed no major
legislation and has shown little interest in changing that. He seems
content accomplishing nothing because in Cruz`s view of the federal
government, nothing is the accomplishment. Stopping bad things, Cruz told
me, is a significant public service." That is very, very interesting and
it clearly are not why you send someone to the U.S. Senate and wash it.

DIONNE: Well, it is why tea party folks send people to the U.S.
Senate in Washington. But the tea party is a constituency within the
Republican Party which is the party that got 47 percent of the vote in the
last election, so it`s not the whole country.

A lot of Americans don`t fully trust government. A lot of Americans
think government needs reform, but they also believe the government can do
useful things. And it`s one of the great ironies that the tea party
constituency is actually older than the country as a whole. And there are
a couple of programs they really don`t want the government to cut. One of
them is Medicare and the other is Social Security. And there`s one tidbit
in that article that I think is going to stick to Cruz and he`s going to
try to get out of it. The notion he would only go to a study group in law
school with people from Harvard, Yale, or Princeton --

SHARPTON: Smacks the elitists, doesn`t it?

I`m going to have to leave it there, but thank you for your time
tonight and for bringing a different view.

DIONNE: I appreciate it, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: And Ted Cruz, by the way, is still talking.

Ahead, Presidents Obama and Clinton team up to tell America the truth
about health care, an amazing scene this evening.

And the Ronald Reagan drug war is big business for many police
departments. Our series criminal injustice is coming with us.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Two presidents on stage together fighting for health care
for all. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: They are both Democrats.
They have fabulous daughters. They each married far above themselves.
Join me in welcoming number 42 and number 44, Bill Clinton and President
Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was Hillary Clinton earlier this evening introducing a
rare sight. Two American presidents on stage together far common fight.
Presidents Obama and Clinton kicked off a six month national campaign to
urge Americans to sign up for the health care law.

Starting next Tuesday, people will be able to enroll in health care
exchanges. The final crucial phase and a law that`s already helping
millions of Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: There have been over the last
three years a whole array of consumer protections and savings for consumers
that result directly from the law that we passed. And for those that want
to repeal it, typically when you ask them about what all these various
benefits, they say that one`s good and that one`s pretty good. And we`d
keep that. And you pretty much go down the list. And there`s not too much
people object to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: People object to the law until they find out what it does.
And the President said the law actually makes insurance more affordable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: So now what? What are
you doing on October 1st? Tell them how this is going to work.

OBAMA: I can tell you right now that in many states across the
country, if you`re say, a 27-year-old young woman, don`t have health
insurance, you get on that exchange, you`re going to be able to purchase
high quality health insurance for less than the cost of your cell phone
bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Insurance that`s cheaper than your cell phone. There`s no
way this will be unpopular. And President Obama says, that`s exactly why
some on the right are against it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The opponents of health-care reform know they`re going to sign
up. In fact, one of the major opponents when asked why is it you`d
potentially shutdown the government at this point just to block Obamacare?
He basically fessed up. He said, well, once you know, consumers get hooked
on having health insurance and subsidies, then they won`t want to give it
up.

It is an odd logic. Essentially they`re saying people will like this
thing too much and then it will be really hard to roll back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is an odd logic, but from this Republican Party, we
shouldn`t be surprised.

Joining me now is Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan
and Bill Press. Thank you both for being here.

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: Thanks, Rev.

BILL PRESS, NATIONAL SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Reverend Al, hi.

SHARPTON: Governor, Republicans are in a frenzy to stop this law. Do
you think that`s because they`re afraid people will like the law as the
President just said there?

GRANHOLM: I do think that, Reverend Al. I think once people have
something, it`s difficult to take it away. And they are in such a frenzy
as you pointed out, Ted Cruz is going to stand there until he can stands no
more. Well, I hope he has good health-care. And by the way, he is a guy
who keeps talking on the floor about freedom and truly if you are somebody
without health-care, you are not free. You are not free from worry about
disease or illness. I think we progressives should embrace the mantle of
freedom and think about talking about this as being freed from the worry of
bankruptcy, from the worry of having a child who cannot get health-care.

SHARPTON: Yes.

GRANHOLM: This is good thing for the nation.

SHARPTON: You know, Bill, the presidents Obama and Clinton were
talking also about GOP governors and health-care. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: More and more states with republican governors, republican
legislators are doing it.

OBAMA: What we`ve seen is that when republican governors take a look
at the deal they`re getting, you`re seeing some republican governors step
up and saying, you know, I may not like Obamacare, but I`m going to go
ahead and make sure that my people are benefiting from this plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You know, Bill, on that point, a recent poll in Georgia
found people said, they oppose the health-care law, but they like what`s
actually in it. Seventy one percent supported letting adult children stay
on their parents` plan. Sixty six percent supported covering pre-existing
conditions. And 60 percent supported Medicaid expansion. Now, even in a
red state like Georgia, people like the details once they know about them.
How does the administration get the facts across even as you begin to see
republican governors some that I mentioned earlier in the show have come on
board now?

PRESS: First of all, you`ve got the best possible team to sell this
plan starting today. You know, it was 20 years ago yesterday that
President Clinton gave the first speech on health-care to the United States
Congress. Twenty years later, there is Bill Clinton with Barack Obama.
Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton planted the seeds, Barack Obama reaped the
harvest. And now you take Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and Barack
Obama on the road, Reverend Al, with that team against who? Ted Cruz? Are
you kidding me?

I mean, they`re going to sell this thing. Plus, they`re going to be
putting millions of dollars from HHS out there to tell people exactly
what`s available. Because as you pointed out and the poll points out, once
people know what`s available, that they can get basic health-care coverage
for lower premiums, lower than your cell phone bill, and a choice of
doctors. People are going to sign up. And that`s what Republicans are
worried about.

SHARPTON: You know, Governor in the `60s, opponents of Medicare used
very similar language as opponents of Obamacare are today. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Behind it will come other
federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we known it in
this country. We will awake to find that we have socialism.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: We have to let the American
people know, we have not waved the white flag of surrender on socialized
medicine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, it`s the same playbook. And look at how
everyone in America embraces Medicare today.

GRANHOLM: Yes. That`s exactly right, Reverend Al. You know, when
you think about the 30 million people who are uninsured, they`re not
worried about socialism. They`re worried about getting cancer. They`re
not worried about waving the white flag or being not free because they feel
like they are not free. So truly I think once as you`ve said people find
out the details in these states, it will be great. But the problem is
you`ve got a lot of governors whose insurance commissioners are issuing
regulators that are preventing these helpers, these navigators from
explaining it properly to people. So, this is why as Bill Press says, it`s
so important to get, you know, 42 president, 42, 44 and maybe even
president 45 out on the road to be able to explain it.

SHARPTON: But you know, Bill, when you really look at these numbers,
I want to bring you back to Medicare in 1965 that Governor Granholm and I
were discussing. Did you know that before Medicare passed in 1965, just 46
percent of Americans wanted a plan like it? But in 2012, 78 percent
supported preserving Medicare. Will we see a similar bounce once these
health care laws go into effect in your opinion?

PRESS: Absolutely. You know that. I know that. And the Republicans
know that, Reverend Al. That`s what we have to understand. Look, they
tried to beat this in the Congress, they failed. They tried to beat it in
the Supreme Court, they failed. They tried to beat it in November 2012,
they failed. This is their last try. They know that if they don`t stop it
now, Obamacare is here forever and it will be like Social Security and like
Medicare which were reviled in their time. And once people got into the
program and benefited from the program, they`re immensely popular today.
So will Obamacare. It`s here to stay.

SHARPTON: You know, Governor, the President is scheduled to speak
Thursday. And he`s supposed to give very personal testimony to health-care
and the need for the healthcare law on Thursday. And in the past, we don`t
know what he`s going to exactly say Thursday, but we do know that in the
past, his mother`s health-care struggles have been something he would bring
up. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I often think about what might have happened if a doctor had
caught her cancer sooner. Or if she`d been able to spend less time
focusing on how she was going to pay her bills and more time on getting
well.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: She`s still with us!

OBAMA: She is still with us. She`s in a better place.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: I mean, you`ve been a governor. You certainly know
political life. When you can bring issues down to your own personal
connection to them, because we are talking about things like health-care
that ends up being very personal to the voters and to those that you are
speaking to in your audiences.

GRANHOLM: There are millions of stories out there like that across
the country. And when the President speaks from his own personal
experience, he amplifies their voices as well. And as he goes around and
as his cabinet members go around over the next two weeks to really try to
bring this home, I`m certain that he will bring forth these stories of real
people to help underscore his own personal story. Everybody knows somebody
who is uninsured. Everybody watching your show tonight, knows people who
are uninsured and who are going to have the opportunity in an affordable
way to have coverage and have that worry lifted from them. It`s so
important to tell stories.

SHARPTON: Bill, isn`t it at the end of the day kind of offensive to
people when you really say to them that you`re willing to shutdown the
whole government to stop your child from being able to stay on your life
insurance past 26 years old? Or that we want to shut the government down
to stop anyone with a pre-existing condition, which is a huge percentage of
the country, from being able to be insured. When people start thinking
about it personally, won`t that really change where this discussion goes?

PRESS: Oh, I believe it will. And the governor is right. You know,
there are millions of stories out there. Every single person has a member
of their family, if they haven`t themselves, been to the emergency room or
had some illness that they never expected. And haven`t been able to pay
their bills or had to give up things in order to pay their bills. Those
stories multiply across the country, Reverend Al. And that`s what I think
people do realize. And you know what also offends me? Here`s Ted Cruz on
the floor of the Senate. There are more kids uninsured in his state than
in any other state. There are more poor people.

SHARPTON: It`s amazing.

PRESS: There are one-third of Latinos in Texas uninsured. He ought
to be the champion of Obamacare.

GRANHOLM: Twenty six percent of his people -- 26 percent of the
people he represents do not have health-care. And yet he`s standing there
until he can`t stand anymore so that they can`t have health-care. How
outrageous.

PRESS: That`s true of some many members of the Tea Party in the House
of Representatives too. The people in their district need health insurance
the most.

SHARPTON: Well, I can`t stand that he`s standing there.

GRANHOLM: Amen.

SHARPTON: Governor Granholm and Bill Press, thank you both for your
time tonight.

GRANHOLM: Thanks so much, Rev.

PRESS: Thanks, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Coming up, on national voter registration day, the right
wingers are trying to suppress the vote. We`ll tell you how many are
fighting back.

But first, the stunning investigation of our criminal justice system.
Police profiting from the war on drugs. Our special series criminal
injustice is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: America`s public
enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and
defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new all-out offensive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In the decades since President Nixon made that statement,
America has spent more than $1 trillion on the war against drugs. And
we`ve arrested more than 37 million people for non-violent drug offenses.
Thirty seven million. That`s a horrific toll. But what does this country
have to show for it? High school students report the same rates of drug
use as they did 40 years ago. And according to the most recent CDC report,
drug overdose death rates have never been higher. So why have we poured
money into a drug war that has obviously failed? And why to this day do
police departments continue to pursue this failed war?

One huge factor may be money. During the Reagan administration, the
government started handing out grants to police departments to fight drug
crimes. Creating incentives for police to arrest more suspects. In
Wisconsin, for example, just one drug arrest nets a given city or county
about $153 in extra funding. But non-drug crimes like murder, rape, and
burglary, they get no extra funding. No extra incentive for the police.
But there`s another financial motivation behind all this. The Reagan
administration also gave police the authority to keep the vast majority of
cash and assets they seize when waging the so-called drug war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It turns out that whole departments have a monetary
interest in increased drug arrests.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Most people don`t realize that the financial
incentives built into the system virtually guarantee that the overwhelming
majority of drug arrests in the United States will be for non-violent, low-
level drug offenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A couple months ago we did a two-day operation. We
arrested over 200 people, a majority of them for selling drugs. A lot of
the money comes out of seizures from the drug profits. The bigger players
are making off of this. So I guess that money`s being put to good use.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So where you get all that money? The money`s ours
now. That`s my money now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is a leading voice calling for reform,
former Seattle police Chief Norm Stamper. He`s author of "Breaking Rank: A
Top Cop`s Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing." Thank you for
coming on the show tonight.

NORM STAMPER, AUTHOR, "BREAKING BAD": Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: You were a 34-year veteran police officer who we want on to
lead Seattle`s police department. You saw some of the incentives first
hand. What is this system doing to our criminal justice system?

STAMPER: Well, in a word, it is corrupting the system. What we have
seen with this drug war are insane numbers of Americans being arrested for
non-violent very low level drug offenses in the number -- in the tens of
millions of numbers. And what do we have to show for it? Drugs as you
pointed earlier, are more readily available at lower prices and higher
levels of potency than when Nixon first declared war against them. And
make no mistake, he was really declaring war against his fellow Americans.
He was declaring war particularly against young people, poor people, and
people of color.

SHARPTON: The federal prison growth over the last decade, let`s look
at that, Mr. Stamper. .4 percent has come from people who`ve committed
homicides. Yet 61 percent has been drug offenders. Sixty one percent.
Drug offenders, most of them non-violent. Yet .4 percent for homicides.
So not only are we putting families and others through a real human toll
that follows some of them the rest of their life for only having a bag of
marijuana in their pocket, but we`re also building up these huge costs in
terms of prisons, filling them up with people when a very small percentage
of them are the people committing homicides and violent crime.

STAMPER: Well, the prison industrial complex, the law enforcement
drug enforcement industry. The cartels themselves, heavy street
traffickers, are deeply invested in the status quo. They are very much
invested in making sure by protecting and expanding their drug markets
oftentimes to violent means that they will continue to reap the enormous
untaxed obscene profits associated with elicit commerce.

SHARPTON: Now, the war on drugs does more than just give financial
incentives to police. It actually funds whole communities. I want you to
listen to this clip from the documentary "The House I Live In."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All sorts of people start to get a vested interest
with financial interest in keeping the system going.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There`s a whole range of corporations. The Taser
gun manufacturers, private health care providers, phone companies, whole
communities that now depend on prisons as their primary employer. Now
deeply invested in the drug war and system of mass incarceration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So you have all of these different parts of the communities
that actually depend on high incarceration rates. That, of course, depends
a lot on non-violent drug offenders going to jail.

STAMPER: You hit the nail on the head. Money talks in this country.
It always has. I`m sure it always will. What do we need to do to buck the
incentives? What do we need to do as the American people to help bring an
end to this insanity?

SHARPTON: Former Seattle police Chief Norm Stamper, thank you for
your time this evening.

STAMPER: Thank you for yours.

SHARPTON: Ahead, new voter suppression. But today, a new push to
stop them in their tracks. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today is national voter registration day. A drive to get
people signed up to vote all across the country. Voter suppression was a
huge issue in last year`s election and is still a challenge today. In
North Carolina, republican Governor Pat McCrory says this about the state`s
new law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Protecting the integrity of
every vote cast is among the most important duties I have as governor. And
it`s why I signed these common sense, common place protections into law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Common sense protections? North Carolina`s new voter law
is the harshest in the nation. It includes a strict voter ID requirement.
It eliminates same-day voter registration, cuts early voting by a week,
increases the number of poll observers, and bans pre-registration for 16
and 17-year-olds. There`s nothing common sense about it unless your goal
is to make it harder to vote. This kind of thing is happening all across
the country, but it`s time to send a message.

Go to national voter registration day.org. It will give you step by
step instructions on how you can register to vote and stop the far right
from turning back the clock.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s time for Reply Al. Remember, friend or foe, I want to
know.

Janet writes, "How can the far right say they don`t want the
government coming between us and our doctors when that`s exactly what they
recommend that the government does for women and their bodies?" Good
point, Janet. You must understand there`s an old Barry White song that
says "Practice what you preach." They mean they want to stop government
intrusion when it is a right wing ideological position. But when it`s
where people make a choice for themselves, then the government mustn`t
intrude. Does it sound inconsistent? Maybe that`s because it is.

Finally tonight, an update on last week`s tragic shootings in Chicago.
Prosecutors have charged four suspects with attempted murder and aggravated
battery in the shootings that left 13 people hurt including two teenagers
and a three-year-old boy. The child Deonte Howard was the most seriously
injured suffering a gunshot wound to the head. Police say the suspects
used an AK-47 assault rifle to spray bullets into that crowd. Yet another
example of the need for stronger gun safety laws.

Can you believe after all these shootings from Chicago to the Navy
Yard in D.C. to Newtown, we still can`t even get a background check passed.
We must have new and strict gun laws and we must take seriously that we
cannot accept this kind of violence as the new norm in this country. But
that change will only come from the bottom up. You`ll be hearing a lot
about Chicago in the coming weeks right here.

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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