ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES
December 3, 2013
Guest: Karen Bass; Sally Kohn, Dean Baker; Wallace Turbeville; Sabrina
Joyce Stevens, Derrell Bradford, Randi Weingarten
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.
Today the president was out officially selling Obamacare for the first time
since the relaunch of healthcare.gov and he was defiant in the face of his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of them are rooting for
this law to fail. That`s not my opinion, by the way; they say pretty
I will work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively. If
you have got good ideas, bring them to me. Let`s go. But we`re not
repealing it as long as I`m president. I want everybody to know that.
HAYES: Meanwhile, across the country in California, state Republicans
stooped to a new low to sabotage the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Affordable Care Act is bringing health insurance
here to California. It`s called Covered California, and the administrators
say that it could set the stage for the rest of the country.
HAYES (voice-over): On the Left Coast, the launch of the state exchange
Covered California actually went relatively well. In fact, the state`s
exchange now reports it is signing up 2,700 people a day. That`s good news
for Golden Staters who need health insurance, bad news for California
Republicans, who are determined to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Enter Republican State Assembly Leader Connie Conway. Conway, along with a
number of her GOP colleagues, offers a helpful resource on her own website,
leading you to coveringhealthcareca.com. It is billed as a California
resource guide and it looks like any generic health care website,
stethoscope on keyboard and all.
It has something for everyone. If you`re uninsured, you can click through
the "I don`t have health insurance" icon to find a page dominated by a
calculator with the penalties imposed for not buying insurance.
If you`re young, you can read that young adults will end up paying for much
of federal health care reform by subsidizing the cost of sicker people.
And if you`re a senior, wondering how the law could affect Medicare, you
will find in the handy FAQ section that Medicare providers will see rate
cuts nearly $200 billion over the next decade. These cuts could
potentially result in the exodus of doctors from the Medicare system.
The website sounds and looks pretty official, except it isn`t. The real
California state exchange website is coveredca.com. Are you confused?
Good. That`s the intention. In fact you have to scroll all the way to the
bottom to find out that coveringhealthcareca.com is brought to you not by
the official state exchange, but by the assembly Republican caucus. You
might need your magnifying glass to read it.
Now the reason California Republicans have been reduced to online tricks is
because the state has demonstrated what government looks like when
Republican obstruction can`t actually threaten the mechanics of governance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As the challenges with the Obamacare rollout
continue, there are a few states making headway and California is often
pointed to as one of those states.
HAYES (voice-over): Since October 1st, about 80,000 people have enrolled
in private health plans through the state`s exchange. And more than
100,000 people have already qualified for Medicaid through the exchange.
Meanwhile, California Republicans have been reduced to creating prank
websites to prey upon their own constituents desperately seeking out
information about health insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We reached out to all of the members of the assembly and state
Senate from the Republican Party. We should note two California
Republicans did agree to come on the show but logistics got in the way.
Joining me now is Congressman Karen Bass, Democrat from California. She
was speaker of the California State Assembly from 2008-2010. She knows her
way around that state`s politics.
I am amazed that this existed. And this was one of those rare times when a
headline actually captured how truly ridiculous the story was. Great
reporting by the "L.A. Times," which sniffed this out and wrote it up and
brought it to my attention.
Can you believe they did this?
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIF.: You know what? This is exactly as you
described it, an incredibly new low. But I think that it is an example of
In California, you know that the state is 100 percent behind Covered
California in making sure that the Affordable Care Act is implemented. For
them to lower themselves to this level, I have to tell you, I`m shocked,
and I`m shocked at the Republican leader. I do know her and I would have
never imagined that she would have done that.
HAYES: Do you get whiplash moving back and forth between Washington, where
you have the House, the Republicans, who have won chamber of Congress, who
are headed towards the least productive Congress in history, and
California, in which the GOP has been reduced essentially to a rum caucus
that can do nothing more than make prank websites?
BASS: Well, you know, during the time that I was there, even though they
were the minority, we required super majorities to pass budgets and to
raise revenue. Since I left, one of the reasons why they have been cast
aside is because now Democrats control both chambers with super majority.
But it`s because of the antics that took place every year. We used to shut
down the government on an annual basis. It got so bad one year we even
issued IOUs. And the voters in California got sick and tired of it and
essentially they rendered the Republican Party irrelevant, which is why
there are super majorities in both houses.
HAYES: I think California voters are trying to send national voters a
message about the way out of obstruction. There`s two ways out, right.
One way is we need more compromise; the other is just elect overall
majorities of Democrats who can get stuff done.
BASS: Until my Republican colleagues take their party back from being
seized by an extremist minority within their party, I think we`re going to
be facing this. And so I have to tell you, when I came here to Washington,
D.C., it was deja vu. It was just like it was in California. But I`m
happy that Speaker Perez and center (ph) president Darrell Steinberg don`t
have to deal with the challenges I did during my time.
HAYES: Your constituents are some of the people that are going to benefit
from the law. And I`m curious how it is playing in your district right
now. California, like Kentucky, a little bit like New York, is one of
those test cases; it wasn`t in the federal exchange, the website worked
reasonably well from the beginning. It has made improvements.
How is it playing in your district right now?
BASS: Well, it`s playing very well in my district and I know this every
day from calls we get. But a few weeks ago, Chris, we had a townhall in my
district. We had over 400 people turn out and we were doing enrollments on
And we also had a town hall where we talking to people while they were
waiting for their appointments. And everything went really well.
People came with very genuine questions. But the majority of the people
with the exception of four or five were really supportive of the law and
wanted to do everything they could to make it run better and to enroll.
So there are things that we can do to improve the law. But as long as you
have one party that is calling for repeal -- although I hear they`re
running away from that now -- when I first came, their mantra was "repeal
and replace." I`ve been here three years now. I have not heard any
HAYES: Yes, in fact, John Boehner today was quite nonspecific about the
possibility of a replacement. But you have California delegation meetings
with your colleagues across the aisle, as I imagine.
BASS: Yes. Well, actually, we have California delegation meetings as
Democrats. There is 53 of us in the caucus, including Democrats and
Republicans, so we`re quite large.
HAYES: And do you get the sense that your Republican colleagues at the
congressional level, they must be facing a barrage of constituent inquiries
about the health exchange, about enrollment.
How are they handling that?
BASS: Well, I have to tell you that the California Republican delegation
is a mixed bag. Some of the Republicans do come from very conservative
districts, which are not very many in California, who are against the
Affordable Care Act.
But many of my Republican colleagues do come from more moderate districts.
And I happen to know because I know them personally. They don`t really
subscribe to some of the extremism that they have to come here and act out
in order to survive their party.
HAYES: Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, thank you so much.
Obamacare working in California is just one of the success stories not
getting the attention it deserves. But arguably the single most
undercovered Obamacare health care story right now is this, which did make
"The New York Times" today.
The Affordable Care Act is going to cost less than was originally projected
because it appears the effect of the law on health care costs. Today the
president touted this development.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. So
we`re actually bending the cost of health care overall, which benefits
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With a round of applause for bending the cost curve.
Joining me now, Sally Kohn, columnist, "Progressive Activist," and Dean
Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, coauthor
of "Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People."
Dean, I will begin with you. Now we should state that the slow of the
increased rate of spending and health care is due to a lot of factors; we
don`t know what they are fully yet. There`s good reason the Affordable
Care Act is playing some role.
But explain to folks how big a deal this is with the CBO, Congressional
Budget Office, now downward revising its projections out into the future.
DEAN BAKER, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH: This is
huge. We have seen the sharpest slowdown in health care costs in post-
World War II history; we don`t have data going further back.
Just to give you the idea how much that is, the difference between the
projections made back in 2008 and what we`re actually -- think we`re going
to pay this year, with most of the data in, is $550 per person, $2,200 for
a family of four.
Is Obamacare responsible for all of that? Surely not, but the point I`ve
been making about this, and I don`t work for the Obama administration, I`m
just saying what we all know here in Washington. If it had gone the other
way, imagine what we`re looking at costs that were $2,300 (ph) more than
projected. What do you think the Republicans would be saying?
HAYES: That`s a great point, yes.
Would they be on the hook for it absolutely?
HAYES: No one on the other side would be like, well, we don`t know if this
is Obamacare or not.
BAKER: Yes. So clearly I think Obamacare is part of the story; the
downturn is part of the story, some things that certainly aren`t good. The
downturn can`t be all the story. I heard people saying well, you know,
people are out of work.
That`s true but they have been out of work, the big hit, the downturn was
2009. I don`t mean to be crude about it, but let`s imagine 10 million
people lose their jobs, we expect to fall off in spending because those
people can`t afford to -- but the economy is certainly better today than it
was in 2009, so --
HAYES: I want to put some dollars and cents to this, Sally, just to get a
sense of this.
So this is the difference in the CBO projected savings. The CBO`s now
projecting savings of -- in 2020 of $222 billion in a year just in Medicare
and Medicaid from this slowing increased health care cost. The sequester
is $87.9 billion, and the proposed cuts to food stamps is $3.8 billion.
So while we are waging war, the Republicans are waging war about these $3.8
billion, no one is talking about the fact that $222 billion appeared in
2020 that we did not think would be there.
SALLY KOHN, "PROGRESSIVE ACTIVIST": But the law is so a disaster, right?
I mean, this is the thing, all right? I have been on Twitter with
conservatives all day about this; they can`t find a single positive thing
to say about the law.
Literally it could bring people`s health care costs down to zero, and
Obamacare could cure cancer, and conservatives would still be shouting from
the rooftops that it`s a disaster because, indeed, they`re determined to
sink the law just as they`re determined to sink the president.
And I think this California thing is hysterical, in part because it`s the
sort of natural conclusion of the Republican panic about this. They vote
en masse against the law even though it originated in Republican ideas.
They then vote dozens of times to try and repeal it unsuccessfully. Then
they hope the website is going to sink it finally; they do everything they
can. Finally they got nothing left but to just throw toilet paper at it
HAYES: The best thing about this, of course, is that in the absence of a
website that wasn`t malfunctioning, they created their own website to
malfunction, right? They didn`t have -- they weren`t served the gift of a
malfunctioning healthcare.gov, so California Republicans just went out and
made it themselves.
KOHN: And it`s worse than the scam websites, right? California`s actually
already shut down 10 scan websites. This is worse --
HAYES: That they`re preying on people at -- who are searching --
KOHN: At least try to sell them health insurance. (INAUDIBLE) tries to
get people to do nothing.
HAYES: Dean, Sally`s point there, I think, is important. Kevin Gern (ph)
wrote this post today, which is that you have to remember Obamacare is now
and always has been and will be in the future about politics, right? I
mean, ultimately its fate, whether it`s being decided in the courts in
terms of how the insurance companies interact with it, all the different
It is fundamentally a political struggle to get this thing in place.
BAKER: That is exactly right. And I think the Republicans were always
hoping they could stop it in Congress. Obviously, they lost that. They
were hoping the Supreme Court would strike it down; they lost that. Then
they were hoping for some catastrophe and then they could build support for
the repeal. And clearly that`s not happening.
Every day people are signing up. And that has to be huge. I have
insurance, I gather you have insurance, but imagine you`re sitting there,
working at a crap job, and suddenly you can get insurance for yourself, for
your family, that`s got to be a huge thing. So the Republicans can tell
them anything they want but they see now they have insurance, and that`s a
HAYES: That is a really important point. And (INAUDIBLE) wrote a piece on
"Salon" the other day that highlighted the fact that the repeal strategy
seems to be ebbing away a bit. They`re not fronting it. And that, I
think, has to do with the fact that every day that goes by, as people are
getting health care and health insurance through this law, it gets harder
and harder to take that thing away.
KOHN: Well, right, and 95 percent of people`s insurance was never going to
be affected. Let`s remember before the law went into effect, all of the
other pieces of the law, which we don`t talk enough about, the young people
being able to stay on their parents` insurance, the ends of pre-existing
conditions, the ends of these medical spending caps, all those things were
already not only popular with the majority of voters, popular with the
majority of Republican voters, right? So already this law was doing pretty
This individual mandate piece, the access to individual insurance and the
ability for, yes, people -- some people losing their insurance, but most of
those people can get better insurance at better prices, they have got
nothing better to critique.
HAYES: You`re one of them.
And Dean, quickly, the (INAUDIBLE) part of the Affordable Care Act, a lot
of people don`t know this. The majority of the text of the law is actually
about reforming the delivery and repayment system of the health care system
to do precisely what we`re seeing show up in the data, which is to bring
BAKER: That`s right, it`s trying to restructure payment systems so that
you`re paying people, paying doctors, providers, based on outcomes, not on
the number of services they provide. So they don`t have the incentive to
provide tests that don`t do anything.
HAYES: And there is some good evidence already in hospital readmission
rates that point to the fact it is having a good effect.
Columnist Sally Kohn, Dean Baker from the Center for Economic and Policy
Research, thank you, both.
KOHN: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, today in Detroit, life got even harder for a
lot of people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD SMITH, FORMER DETROIT CITY WORKER: For 29 years they took out money
from my check to go into my pension. And the city was supposed to put out
an equal amount of money. Now what ended up happening, they didn`t fund it
like they were supposed to, but they got my money. And then they sit
around now and they`re going to renege on the promise that we got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Ahead, I`m going to talk to a former Goldman Sachs banker about how
Wall Street is screwing Detroit`s retirees out of their pensions. Stick
HAYES: Today Congress actually managed to get it together for long enough
to pass something unanimously. It was for a worthy cause. But it did
involve a bill with the words "loose change" in the title. I`m not
kidding, (INAUDIBLE) the worst Congress ever, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t want one penny cut from the pensions of the
retired (INAUDIBLE) of the city of Detroit. It`s criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The City of Detroit has about 20,000 retired workers who were
promised pensions but today every single one of those pensions is in
serious danger. And that is because a federal judge ruled today that
Detroit is eligible to go forward with its Chapter 9 bankruptcy, officially
making it the largest city in U.S. history to do so.
When Detroit filed for bankruptcy back in July it was still an open
question whether the city actually met the legal requirements for Chapter
9. Today, a bankruptcy judge ruled that it did, saying in part, quote,
"The city no longer has resources to provide its citizens with basic
police, fire and emergency services," and that Detroit, quote, "was and is
Now there`s a lot more to unpack here. We`ll do in a moment.
But of particular importance are those 20,000 or so city retirees with
guaranteed pensions that are no longer guaranteed. We`re talking about
pensions that are protected in Michigan State Constitution, or at least
they were. Today`s ruling holds that federal law supersedes the state
constitution, which means those pensions that pay out on average -- listen
closely -- about $19,000 a year -- can be cut.
And the state of the City of Detroit, which is already being wrested away
from its citizens, is now officially out of voters` hands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DAVE BING (D), DETROIT: I don`t think we have a final determination
as to what all the elements are going to be to get us through this process.
But it is a process that I think we need to take a lot of care because
there`s going to be pain for a lot of different people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Wallace Turbeville, a senior fellow at the
progressive think tank, Demos, and a former investment banker with Goldman
Sachs, where he specialized in infrastructure finance. He wrote a report
for Demos that examined why Detroit went bankrupt.
All right, Wallace, your reaction to today`s court ruling?
WALLACE TURBEVILLE, SR. FELLOW, DEMOS: Thank you for having me here.
The ruling today went further than, as you said, than just saying they have
jurisdiction and can take over the case and proceed with the case. This
thing of saying that they can cut the pensions, that was all about the
court saying we have the power to do it. The court also went on to say
we`re going to be cautious about cutting the pensions and be fair.
Other interesting things were said by the court. The court talked about
the state`s involvement and whether the fix was on for the state to
actually cause Detroit to go bankrupt. He said there was evidence of that
in the record, but not enough evidence to make the case solid.
HAYES: That`s a really important point, so the court investigated whether
or the state actually pushed Detroit into bankruptcy intentionally. The
Republican government, he passed an emergency management law, which is now
being used to run Detroit. And the state played a crucial role in tipping
Detroit into bankruptcy, what was that?
TURBEVILLE: Well, absolutely. I sort of think two roles. One is they cut
revenue sharing by about $67 million a year. That`s a lot for Detroit.
HAYES: Revenue sharing, meaning the state would take the taxes collected
from all over the state and some of that money would flow back to --
TURBEVILLE: Yes, parse it to different cities and municipalities. So they
cut revenue sharing in two phases. One was simply because of the Detroit
losing population. But most of it, $44 million of that, was a state law
that cut revenue sharing that went into effect in 2012, just before the
city ran out of cash.
HAYES: State Republican governor, State Republican House, they look at the
balance sheet. They know that Detroit`s in trouble. They pass a bill that
takes $47 million out of the ledger of Detroit, and then Detroit files for
TURBEVILLE: Well, then the emergency manager, appointed by the governor,
who is virtually a dictator, pushed -- actually did the bankruptcy filing.
So it was the governor`s agent who did the bankruptcy filing.
HAYES: So the judge said there is not enough evidence to say the fix was
in on this bankruptcy.
What was your opinion of -- when people look at Detroit, they say, oh, the
classic story of big government gone awry. They`ve got too many municipal
employees; they`ve got these big pensions, this is what happens when you
have liberalism run over -- run a city.
Why did Detroit go bankrupt?
TURBEVILLE: Well, the numbers just don`t depict that. We took a good look
at the numbers; the City of Detroit, since the onset of the Great Recession
-- the Great Recession drove unemployment in Detroit up to 30 percent. It
was a devastating event. Since the Great Recession, the city has cut its
operating budget by 38 percent, mostly salaries. It has --
HAYES: So they are spending 38 percent less?
TURBEVILLE: Yes. It has -- it has -- it has -- the number of employee per
capita in Detroit, compared with like Cleveland or St. Louis, there are
many fewer employees per capita. There are all these indications that, in
fact, the city was desperately trying to cut.
On the other side of the ledger, what was going on was their revenues were
being absolutely devastated.
HAYES: Annihilated, a combination of unemployment, of exodus from the city
TURBEVILLE: Seventy percent of the mortgages are -- were bad mortgages.
It`s just -- it was just an --
HAYES: Seventy percent of the mortgages in Detroit?
HAYES: OK. So there -- they`ve got --- so they`ve not -- they have got --
you`re running Detroit; you have got this recession, you`ve got 30 percent
unemployment, you`ve got bad mortgages that are destroying your tax base.
You`ve got people leaving. You`ve got the state that comes in and says --
that`s another letter -- the state comes in and says we`re going to take
$47 million away from you. And then you`ve got this third layer, which is
you have made all these deals with Wall Street banks that you are now going
to owe them millions of dollars. Explain that to me.
TURBEVILLE: Oh, well, they`re -- I`m going to make it real simple.
HAYES: And you were a Wall Street banker. You have done this.
TURBEVILLE: I am. I ran a derivatives company for a while. So I know how
to do this.
But simply stated, what they did was they borrowed $1.6 billion in 2005.
Half of that, for half of that, they made a deal where they -- it was under
a derivative. They paid the banks on Wall Street the interest and the
principal got paid to the regular bondholders.
But the deal with the banks on Wall Street, it`s as if you had a mortgage
and you were paying your interest to somebody else. But the deal was, if
you got nicked one credit rating category, all of the interest for the next
20 years would come due today.
HAYES: OK. So this is -- you`re in a precarious situation. You`re
Detroit, you`re already hovering over getting a downgrade from the ratings
agencies, which say you`re not a good investment.
And the structure of the deal was you can borrow this money, but the day
after that you get downgraded, you have to pay us everything that`s due.
TURBEVILLE: That`s right. And of -- just the interest -- just the
interest. But that was -- that`s hundreds of millions of dollars, of
course. And they don`t have that kind of money.
I -- in 1990, I did a transaction to try to keep Detroit, and successfully
kept Detroit investment grade rated. It`s a really important credit
rating. I -- that was 23 years ago. The City of Detroit has got severe
structural problems, has for a long time.
To enter into a transaction like that, it wasn`t just a -- it`s not an
interest rate bet, it was a bet on staying solvent so that -- so that
nobody would pull the plug (INAUDIBLE).
HAYES: And they lost that bet. Quickly, is there a way for Detroit to pay
its full -- to pay the promise to its retirees and get out of this?
TURBEVILLE: Well, yes there is. So there are several aspects to it. One
is to be creative about how you try to drive down their cashflow deficit,
which is to really address some of the payment -- actual payments into the
pension funds right now, need to restructure them a little bit.
But the way to actually do it, and, tragically the bankruptcy court can`t
order the state to kick in a little money, to kick in some revenues to put
back the $47 million they took away, that`s actually the way to do it. So
HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) the state government wanted to reinstate that revenue
sharing they took away, you could create a cash flow such that they could
their head above water?
TURBEVILLE: That`s correct, and do it that way instead of --
HAYES: Instead, it`s going to go through bankruptcy.
TURBEVILLE: It`s going to go through bankruptcy.
HAYES: Wallace Turbeville from Demos, thank you so much.
TURBEVILLE: Thank you so much, sir.
HAYES: Coming up, Congress is on track to be the least productive ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, when you look at the number of
bills passed by the House and the paltry number of bills passed by the
Senate, you can see where the problem is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, Speaker Boehner, we can see where the problem is. And we`re
going to talk about it next.
HAYES: There are eight, count them, eight legislative days left in the
first year of the 113th Congress, and you`ve probably heard, it is on pace
to be a record-breaking one as the least productive Congress in the history
of the American republic.
The first session of the 113th Congress has passed 52 laws so far, easily
making it the least productive first session of any congress in history.
You can see the bar in the left, that is the 113th congress. It is lowest
than the least productive first session, which just happened to be from the
last congress, the 112th. This may be the reason that congress`s approval
rating recently hit an all-time record low. And, why when congress was
recently pitted against unsavory items, it seems Americans have a higher
opinion of dog poop.
But, there is some really good news out of congress today. The house
passing unanimously, H.R. 1095, the TSA Loose Change Act, which will take
the forgotten Loose Change left in those little containers when you go
through security about half a million dollars a year, and direct it to
funding organizations like the USO, which is certainly a worthy cause.
This is the kind of thing our congress has come together to do. Toss Loose
Change. But, wait, House Speaker John Boehner has specifically asked today
about this congress being on track to be the least productive congress
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOEHNER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE SPEAKER: Listen, the house has continued to
listen to the American people and focus on their concerns. Now, whether it
is the economy, whether it is jobs, whether it is protecting the American
people from Obamacare, we have done our work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We have done our work. That is true, Speaker Boehner, the TSA
Loose Change Act is not the only law you passed the session. We should be
clear. There have been some really, really undercover highlights in this
for session. For instance H.R. 1071, to specify the size of the precious
metal blanks that will use in the production of the national baseball hall
of fame commemorative coins. Coins like this one.
Important piece of legislative business for this country and there is more
congress has done a very nice thing for one of their retired colleagues.
Former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, H.R. 2289 to rename section 219C of
the internal revenue code of 1986 as the Kay Bailey Hutchison spousal IRA.
Just in case you thought there really was not much more this congress could
possibly do, there is S982, the freedom to Fish Act. A bill to prohibit
the corps of engineers should taking certain actions to establish a
restricted area prohibiting public access to waters down stream of a dam
and for other purposes, you know? So, people can fish at dams without
restriction because of freedom.
Now, if you detect sarcasm in my voice, it is because I like many Americans
and frustrated with congressional republicans particularly house
republicans, do nothing attitude. And, in fact, one of the most insidious
aspects of a congress that so habitually underperforms, is that we begin to
underperform in our expectations and imagination of what is possible. Just
like an animal kept in captivity for too long, we forget what these does is
just outside our immediate environment.
But, I know why the caged bird sings. Right now, in the last eight days,
this congress could to do a tremendous amount of good for the country, for
the world, for the citizens. If it so chooses. There is nothing stopping
as described by democratic Congressman Joseph Crowley today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH CROWLEY, (D) NEW YORK CITY CONGRESSMAN: Jobs and infrastructure,
the 2014 budget, immigration reform, a minimum wage, unemployment
insurance, farm bill. And, we have the Brady background check, and there
are other issues as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And, so from now until the end of this session, "All In" will
feature a special segment the counter factual congress, comprehensive
immigration reform, the minimum wage, the farm bill, restoring food stamp
cuts, expanding social security, extending unemployment insurance. Every
day, from now until the session is over, we are going to take a look at a
world in which republicans in congress wanted to do their job. Tomorrow,
we will be bringing you the first installment, so tune in. [
HAYES: Coming up, the headlines are everywhere. Today, American schools
are failing. But, what if those headlines are getting it wrong? That
story is ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): But, first, I want to share the three awesomest things
on the internet today. We begin with a new twist on Christmas sweaters.
Yes, the Christmas sweater has in the line for decades as the chosen party
attire for the out of touch and generally geeky.
This holiday season, that is all about to change. Behold the ugly
Christmas sweater, a product of the Digital Dudz Division of the morph
costume company. As you can see, using some Christmas magic, they replaced
a traditional wool fireplace with a an actual fireplace. But, wait, if
what is the secret to wearing a real life Yulag (ph) over your washboard
ads. Well, the sweater comes with a pocket. You download animation of a
crackling fire onto your iPhone and then you simply put the fan in the
oven. And, if the fireplace is not your speed, perhaps you would be
interested in caroling Christmas kitty.
HAYES (voice-over): I sure hope my secret Santa is watching. The second
awesomest thing on the internet comes to us from IO9 in the "New York
Times." Say hello to your new robotic mall cop overlord, the Knights of K5
Autonomous Data Machine, being presented with an overdramatic video at a
technology convention this week. It is being built as the night watchman
of the future, which will roam the halls of corporations, schools, and
malls like a 300 pound rumba of death.
HAYES (voice-over): What could possibly go wrong with this? Well, to
start, privacy advocates a serious concerns with the proposed facial
recognition capabilities of the K5, not to mention, the many human mall cop
jobs that might be killed by this machine. One group is calling it R2D2`s
On the other hand, it looks more like Johnny Evil Slap job. Well, imagine
what that thing could do to a shoplifter. Well, still probably years away,
but I say if you are going to put a drone in a shopping mall, better be
ready to deliver a Cinnabon to my doorstep. Otherwise, I will just stick
The third awesomest thing on the internet today, is the insanely great
artwork of a man named Kyle Lambert using only his finger, his iPad, and
App named Procreate. Kyle Lambert was able to pull off this incredible
realistic portrait of actor Morgan Freeman. Lambert claims he perfected
the world`s most realistic finger painting, using a photograph only as a
Lambert has also done iPad portraits of other celebrities like Jude Law and
Rihanna. He is not the first artist to find his calling on an iPad.
Former first lady Laura Bush told ABC last year that her husband, George
W., found his calling after doodling on his iPad, which made me think, if
he could do it, maybe I can too. Yes, it is my iPad Omage to the reason
for the season. Oh, I am too good. You can find all the links for
tonight`s Click 3 on our website, allinwithchris.com.
HAYES: If there is one thing that everyone in America, left, right, and
center agrees on, it is that American schools are failing and American
students are getting beaten handily by kids in much of the rest of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR OF AROUND THE WORLD: All right, this might be
a little depressing to many of our viewers and it is to me.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR OF AROUND THE WORLD: Yes.
MALVEAUZ: New figures now. International studies suggesting U.S. Students
are falling behind their peers overseas.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR OF AMERICAS NEWSROOM: Disappointing news
about America`s education system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: In fact an international assessment of
teenagers around the world shows U.S. students slipping even further
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, it brought big headlines promising statistical empirical
proof that the perception of the U.S. mediocrity is a reality. The new
program for International Student Assessment Rankings of student
performance around the world were released. They showed U.S. students in
the middle of the pack in reading and science and below average in Math
when compared to other developed countries.
The Pisa rankings, which were based on tests of more than half a million
15-year-olds, showed American students slipping in the international
rankings compared to the last round of testing, 3 years ago. With U.S.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan calling it a picture of educational
Now, this is normally the point of the segment where we shake our heads and
turn to the question of just how we fix the problem. But, before we do
that, let us take a moment to look a little deeper, because there actually
might just be a lot less here than meets the eye.
The U.S. is a big place and the peace results are actually broken down
separately in three states Connecticut, Florida, and Massachusetts. In
Connecticut and Massachusetts, two of the richest states in the union,
students generally perform better than the worldwide average. That is the
January economic policy institute report illustrated, America tend to lags
in the international testing, because America has, quote, "So many test
takers from the bottom of the social class distribution."
If you were to correct for their massive income inequality, you found the
relative performance of the U.S. adolescence is better than it appears.
And, that is putting aside the way theses rankings can be gained. Consider
that the top finisher in all three categories was Shanghai, a result that
gave rise to headlines proclaiming China as having the world`s smartest
But, as Tom Loveless at Brookings points out, "Shanghai, accounts for just
1.7% of China`s population and it is home to many of the nation`s elites.
The country, essentially forces many of the children of poor migrant
workers to leave Shanghai once they get to high school, which is a pretty
good way to keep those test scores up.
And, while Pisa`s testing was done three years ago in China`s rural areas,
where schools are often rundown and poorly staffed, the Chinese government
only allowed the release of Shanghai`s scores. I am not making that up.
The article that American schools are failing, that China and so many other
countries are outpacing us, underlies almost every conversation we have
about education and education policy in America.
So, right now, I want to talk about what is truth and what is fiction about
the performance, relative performance of America`s schools. Joining me now
is Sabrina Joyce Stevens, a formal elementary school teacher, now an
education activist. Derrell Bradford, executive director of -- what are
you executive director of -- better education for kids, but do not describe
education reform organization.
He served on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s educator effectiveness
task force, member of the State Department education`s charter school
advisory board. And, Randi Weingarten, president of the Union of American
Federation of Teachers. All right, I will begin with you Derrell, because
I am obviously skeptical of the kind of America`s schools are failing line.
What is your take on it?
DERRELL BRADFORD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF BETTER EDUCATION FOR KIDS: So, to
be equally skeptical, I think the most important thing is that like, when I
see this story I am like this is not a story, because the news is not new
to me. And, I do not think it is really knew to anybody, like every year
or every three years or every two years, depending on what the assessment
is, you get a new battery that tells us stuff that we know very importantly
that we do very little about, which is that the rich kids in the United
States are kind of doing OK compared to everybody else. The poor kids are
doing horribly. You know, compared to everybody else. . And next year we
will get the same data. So, to me --
HAYES: So, things have not changed overtime. So, the idea that there is a
longitudinal decline in American relative education, you are saying is not
BRADFORD: So, what I do think is that the story is actually external to
hear like most of the data says we have been doing pretty much the same,
but other countries are getting better faster.
HAYES: Randy, does that stand with your interpretation of it?
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Yes, I
mean I think what has happened is that we have seen over the course of the
last ten years that the U.S. is basically in the same place in these Pisa
rankings. But, I think that three things show up from these scores.
Number one, the poverty does matter, social economics do matter because you
see that in terms of the breakout of the scores. But the second piece is
so what do we do about it? And, that for the last ten years, the basic
strategy in terms of American public education has been test, test, test,
And that, actually, I think, is showing that that hyper testing of
students, mass closing of schools, sanctioning of teachers, is not the
strategy that works when you look at the other countries that have kind of
lapped over us.
HAYES: So, there are two things right now that sit in uncomfortable
relation to each other. One is Derrell, you are saying actually over time
we are sort of staying where we have been, right?
But, at the same time, education policy in America has changed
tremendously. I mean the amount of charter schools, you can track all of
this, right? We have been trying new stuff, so something -- Sabrina, how do
you square those two things that we are trying a lot of new stuff and we
were staying where we were.
SABRINA JOY STEVEN, EDUCATION ACTIVIST: Well, because a lot of the things
that have been tried are not addressing any of the root issues. As Randi
mentioned there is, you know, we have a glaring poverty and inequality
problem in our country that is going to depress performance.
Beyond that we also need to take into account whether or not this even
matters, because you know this is supposed to be a society that is
dedicated to, you know, freedom and justice for all. Why is it that we so
focused on how our students are performing on tests as opposed to are we
living up to those ideas.
HAYES: Because global capitalism is a game. It is like the Olympics. You
have to understand this.
STEVENS: And with that game, despite our low performance overall the --
HAYES: You got to read the Tom Freidman column. It is a global
capitalism. It is like an Olympics in which we all race against each
other, and I am in one lane, and the Chinese, and the Indians, and the Fins
are over here, and if I do not beat them out then they will get the jobs of
the future --
BRADFORD: And, that is cyclical because, you know, the today`s global
competition was sputnik in the `50s and `60s. So, like this is not --
HAYES: Which one is the incentive for a lot of investment here? So, I
want to actually talk about --
WEINGARTEN: But -- but --
HAYES: Yes, Randi.
WEINGARTEN: I am sorry. Let me just say, but there is a lot of lessons as
Sabrina just said from all of the PISA data that if we did other things --
WEINGARTEN: -- we could actually do what these countries did like early
HAYES: OK. I want to talk about the lessons. One thing I think happens
too little in American policy discussion is looking at other countries,
which we have to confront these problems. So, let`s talk about what the
lessons are for American schools, teachers and students after this break.
HAYES: All right. We are back with Sabrina Joy Stevens, Derrell Bradford,
and Randi Weingarten. And, Derrell, you are saying something during the
break about this notion of global competitiveness where we are stuck up,
because Sabrina raises interesting idea like, why should this matter? Why
should we be caring about this?
BRADFORD: Yes, I think this is deeply embedded in the American DNA and
psyche, like the idea of American exceptionalism and competitiveness in our
sports culture and our everything culture. I mean it is not about
education. Education is sort of where you see how we are express itself in
this anxiety over how we do with the rest of the country.
HAYES: You are also saying these inequalities are happening inside of the
society, forget externally and the people getting the best educations are
the ones who are reaping the most gains from the economy.
BRADFORD: Yes. I mean -- So, I read this thing earlier today. It is
actually on Diane Ravitch`s blog, which I never read, but --
STEVENS: You should.
BRADFORD: I read it today. And, she was like "Look, you know, the
American economy is still the biggest swan in the world. Why are we
worrying about this? And, I am like because it is not big for the same
reasons or with the same input as it used to be. There is more technology.
There is more efficiency, and so we have this conversation about 1% of the
American people controlling the vast majority of the income like that is
what has happened. That is why --
HAYES: Right. And, the questions is --
STEVENS: Education doesn`t -- that is the thing, is that we have these,
you know, political systems and economic systems that is deeply inadequate,
and yet the proposed solutions to that problem are the -- come from the
same ideology that created that very problem --
HAYES: But it is --
STEVENS: -- I think you know, we are not going to get out of this mess by
repeating the same testing and market driven schemes that wrote the rest of
the economy and then applying it to schools. What we need to be thinking
about is how do we make sure that the next generation of children is
actually prepared to revitalize that social system, so that they can undo
STEVENS: That is not going to happen from test prep. That is going to
happen when we actually look at the school at our very own country. We
have to prepare the kids for those challenges.
HAYES: So, Randi, you agree with this and I want to hear you talk about
what lesson you think we should be importing. Derrell, I want your
response; because one of the things is interesting here is that -- you
know, the ideological lessons cut across --
HAYES: -- I mean you can find systems that are performing well, single for
instance, the teacher payment system in North Korea -- North Korea, that is
not working well. In South Korea, you know, teachers, it is a much more
market based system. Teachers can make, you know, there is a $4 million
teacher in South Korea, who got written up, right? So, there are
ideological lessons across the spectrum in other countries.
BRADFORD: That is right.
WEINGARTEN: Exactly, right.
HAYES: They are performing well. Randi, what are the ones you think we
should be paying attention.
WEINGARTEN: So, there are four -- let me do four quick lessons. First,
look, we are in the business of educating children. And, the different
between the market economy and educating children is that we have to try to
help all kids welcome winners, so we do not have a niche market.
So, when you look at the lessons that we learned; number one, there is a
deep respect for education. Parents feel it. Kids feel it and there is a
deep respect for educators, and they will prepare -- and the countries that
now compete us, they prepare. They support, and they really respect
And, even in places with market economics, educators are paid
competitively. Number two, the parents are really engaged, which is part
of what we are trying to do with this day of action on December 9th to show
that we are all in terms of reclaiming of promise of public education.
Number three, there is a real focus on equity by giving kids who have the
least the most, like pre-K education, like wrap around services, and number
four, this is where it crosses around ideological bounds. The whole notion
of having standards is really important like the common course standards,
but there is also tools to make sure that kids really understand them and
teachers are prepared.
HAYES: I want to talk about number three, that is exactly the idea,
because one of the things you see in other countries is they do a better
job of essentially putting their best teachers in the underperforming
school, and actually there is a lot of places in which compensation goes up
or teachers that go --
BRADFORD: So this is really important. You have highlighted equity of two
different sums. One is money, which is sort of way the student formula and
the whole bunch of other stuff, which works or doesn`t depending on this
thing which is teacher deployment.
And, if you are black or foreign America, you are black or poor in America,
you are vastly more likely a young teacher to get a teacher teaching on a
subject matter and to get a teacher who gets laid off in the event of
downsizing. So, that is systematically working exactly as it is supposed
to. How can you hold those two things with the same hands at the same
WEINGARTEN: Except that -- Except that you can turn around, like we did in
New York City with the chancellor`s district. You can actually turn around
struggling schools. You can create incentives to get the best teachers to
the toughest places, but you have to create a sense of high moral. That is
when teachers get together and collaborate to work together and that is
what this thing said -- That is what these scores said.
HAYES: And, how important do you think moral is?
STEVENS: Moral is everything, because if you think about what actually the
most important thing that go on in the school buildings, therein
interactions between teachers and students. If you have people who
physically cannot -- you know, if you can`t give more of yourself than you
have already given, you feel beat down, you are not giving your best to
your students. And, we need to pay attention to those kinds of things.
HAYES: There is a lot more about this that I want to talk about and we
will in the coming days. Education activist, Sabrina Joy Stevens, Derrell
Bradford from Better Education For Kids, Randi Weingarten from the UFT,
WEINGARTEN: Thank you.
HAYES: That is "All In" for this evening. "Rachel Maddow" Show, starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks very much. And,
thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. In March of this past
year, there was a series of violent attacks in the South of France.
In March 11th, French soldier was killed in an unprovoked seemingly random
shooting. Then four days later in a town about 30 miles away, two more
French soldiers were ambushed and killed again in a totally unprovoked
And, then four days later, it happened again. The third attack was an
attack against a Jewish school in the city of Talus. A young rabbi and
teacher were killed. He was trying to shield his own kids from the gunman
at the time.
Two of his children were killed alongside him that day as well as another
8-year-old girl from the school and then the gunman got away. Three
attacks they were March 11th, then March 15th, then March 19th. And in all
three cases, it was a single gunman with a large caliber handgun.
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