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All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
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ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
January 7, 2014
Guests: Dick Durbin, Dan Kildee, Barney Frank, Ben Jealous, Jesse A. Myerson, Catherine Rampell, Josh Barro
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
On Capitol Hill today, a surprise victory for the 1.3 million people who
had their unemployment benefits taken away from them, and a Republican
Party now in full retreat.
Here`s what happened. As we told you yesterday, Republicans had found
themselves in the position of filibustering the unemployed for reasons that
none of them seem able to articulate. For an entire week, it`s essentially
been impossible to find a Republican who could explain just why they were
Well, today, that filibuster crumbled. Perhaps the fact that opposing
unemployment insurance is a really unpopular position right now, had
something to do with that. Six Republicans voted with every Democrat
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 60, the nays are 37, 3/5 of
the senators dually chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative. The
motion is agreed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With that filibuster broken, the Senate is now one step closer to a
vote on the actual bill which would retroactively restore benefits and
extend them ahead for three months.
Tellingly, Republicans didn`t even use all their debate time on the Senate
floor today. That`s probably because they appear unsure of just what their
position is on the issue. And so, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,
grasping at straws, pulled it into his argument, drum roll, Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Because it`s only when you
believe government is the answer to all of your problems that you talk
about unemployment insurance instead of job creation. And the minimum
wage, instead of helping people reach their maximum potential. Another
area where we should be able to work together is health care.
By almost any metric, affordability, accessibility, even the ratio of
cancelations to enrollments, this law has imposed more pain and more
distress than many had ever thought possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner tweeted that the reason
unemployment benefits shouldn`t be extended is because they do not solve
joblessness, which is true, but completely beside the point and not
something anyone`s actually arguing.
President Obama understanding he has both the moral and political upper
hand took the stage today with unemployed Americans to make the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the Americans who joined
me at the White House today and millions of them like them who are laid off
in the recession through no fault of their own, unemployment insurance has
been a vital economic lifeline. For a lot of people, it`s the only source
of income they`ve got to support their families while they look for a new
Long-term unemployed are not lazy. They`re not lacking in motivation.
They`re coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois.
Senator, I wanted to get your reaction to the argument that House Speaker
John Boehner seems to be making against a renewal which is this renewal
won`t solve joblessness.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I can tell you it`s a new attitude
of the Republicans. There was a time when they believed that a person who
was down and out looking for a job needed a helping hand, and they were
willing to do it. This used to be a bipartisan effort.
But over the years, we`ve seen this ain`t your daddy`s Republican Party.
They basically believe that the way to get the unemployed lazy off their
back sides is let them live with an eviction notice or maybe cut off in the
utilities. I don`t think that`s a humane way to approach this.
HAYES: You know, what`s been confusing to me is I can`t tell and couldn`t
tell today when watching the procedural vote on the floor of the Senate
whether Republicans object to it in principle or whether they want it paid
for. Do you understand what your colleagues are demanding and why they`re
actually obstructing it? Because it remains unclear to me.
DURBIN: You hear it both ways. Some of them are just basically of the
belief that a person who doesn`t have a job is just lazy. And the only way
to get that person up and moving is to stop giving them a helping hand,
whether it`s food stamps, which they don`t like, either, or unemployment
And then there are others who use the pay form -- you know, I`m not going
to question their sincerity. But when it comes to tax extenders, the
breaks in the tax code for corporations to move jobs overseas, you know,
year after year they say, no, you don`t have to pay for those. So, there`s
a dual standard here.
HAYES: What happens next? Today`s vote, I think was a little bit of a
surprise, it was unclear whether we were going it get the votes. What
DURBIN: Well, a couple Republican votes surprised us today and kept the
issue alive. There will be a vote to move it forward in debate tomorrow.
But by the end of the week, there`s going to be a test vote. We need 60
votes to go forward and actually extend unemployment benefits. And let me
just remind those who are watching, the promise from Speaker Boehner is no
matter what the Senate does, he`s not going to improve an extension of
HAYES: So, then what do you say to the folks out there watching right now
who are one of those affected, one of the 1.3 million, one of the 2
million-plus who`d be affected by an extension into six months out. What
is the message to them? Where does this go next for them?
DURBIN: Well, I can tell you, the Democrats in the Senate and House are
not going to give up. We believe that because the average unemployment is
38 weeks that cutting people off at 27 weeks creates some hardships, some
hardships for families that people shouldn`t have to live through.
Let me add, too, the money that`s put into unemployment benefits is spent
quickly by people who are out of work. That helps the economy, creates
jobs in the process. That`s why across the board, Republicans as a party,
Democrats and independents all think it`s a good idea. The big problem are
the congressional Republicans, who are opposed to it.
HAYES: Am I wrong to find it frustrating/outrageous that we -- that this
debate is for a three-month extension? That even if you`re successful,
even if you overcome the hurdles, procedural hurdles, and the filibusters,
even if miracle, miracle John Boehner sees the light in the house, the best
that can be hoped for, for these people is to have precisely the same fight
three years from now.
DURBIN: I agree with you. It`s hardly, is it worth the effort? Well, for
the folks who need it, it`s worth the effort, even at 90 days. But the way
this place works, Congress works, it will take us 90 days to debate and
vote on it before it finally happens.
I think we deserve better in this country. We need a safety net to help
those who are struggling to get back to work. We`ve got to understand that
the long-term unemployment rates are at a position now where historically
we`ve always helped people in this circumstance. We should do no less now.
HAYES: Quickly, do you think you have the politics on your side? Will
there be pressure on congressional Republicans in both houses to vote for
DURBIN: Yes, I think there will be. I`ll be honest with you.
I think that there`s a rising social conscience, and a feeling across this
country that we ought to be helping one another a little more than we`re
doing. You know, and the Republican mantra now, cut back on food stamps
that go primarily for children and the elderly and disabled, cut back on
unemployment benefits when we still have some chronic areas of high
That`s a pretty tough message to try to deliver in the bone-chilling cold
of January in most parts of the United States.
HAYES: Senator Dick Durbin, thank you so much for your time.
DURBIN: Thank you.
HAYES: As the senator just alluded to, Republicans` determination to block
assistance to the long-term unemployed is just one part of what seems to be
a multipronged strategy. To stiff, screw, deny and otherwise leave behind
those Americans who are most in need.
Tonight, we go ALL IN on the GOP`s poverty agenda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Benefit from, they`re wealthier than that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And yet you have Senator Marco Rubio planning a big
speech on the war on poverty.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: After 50 years isn`t it time to declare big
government`s war on poverty a failure?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have Paul Ryan also talking about poverty as an
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We`ve got the 50th anniversary of the war
on poverty coming up next year. We don`t have much to show for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it does appear thought leaders in the Republican
Party think this is an issue worth tackling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. But there`s a difference between raising the
minimum wage and tackling poverty.
HAYES (voice-over): You may be wondering, what exactly is the Republican
poverty agenda? And what have Republicans done concretely to advance it?
Most recently, Republicans cut off long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3
million people 3 days after Christmas, and are refusing to include an
extension in the budget agreement hashed out before the holiday. Victory!
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I do support unemployment benefits for the
26 weeks that they`re paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a
disservice to these workers.
HAYES: But that`s just the latest victory. In fact, Republicans have been
hard at work on their poverty agenda over the entire last year. In June,
House Republicans actually voted down a farm bill because it didn`t include
enough cuts to the food stamp program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. House today rejected a five-year half trillion
dollar farm bill. The bill would have cut food stamps by $2 billion a
year, but that was too much for many Democrats and not enough for a number
HAYES: Doubling down on their poverty agenda, the House passed a bill in
September that cut the program by almost $40 billion over the next 10
years. The bill would kick almost 4 million people off the program in the
first year, alone.
Now come early reports that a compromise bill between the House and Senate
could include $8 billion to $9 billion in food stamp cuts -- another hard-
fought Republican victory for their poverty agenda.
REP. STEPHEN FINCHER (R), TENNESSEE: The bible also says the poor will
always be with us. And it also says if you don`t work, you don`t eat.
HAYES: Of course, Republicans` biggest victory for their agenda came not
from Washington, but from Republican governors across the country, who
refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Medicaid is a failed program. To expand this
program is not unlike adding 1,000 people to the Titanic.
HAYES: In their efforts to block the Medicaid expansion, Republicans have
been remarkably successful. Twenty-three states, almost all Republican
governors, are refusing to expand the program. Denying health insurance to
almost 5 million people who desperately need it.
People who say the Republican Party doesn`t have a poverty agenda are
wrong. They have a very clear, concrete three-pronged agenda to deny
people in desperate straits the help they need, to take way unemployment
insurance for people looking for work. To take food out of the mouths of
people who are hungry, and to deny poor and sick people health care.
That is the Republican Party`s poverty agenda: making more people poor.
HAYES: Joining me now is Congressman Dan Kildee, Democrat from Michigan.
And, Congressman, from your perch in Flint, Michigan, a state that suffered
through very extended rates of unemployment, a city that`s had a rough
time. How does this look to you?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Well, it`s just a shame. Unemployment
extension is a difference between people being able to pay their rent, pay
their mortgage, feed their kids, pay their car payment.
The folks who don`t get this help will suffer long-term consequences. And
this is the thing, it`s just -- it`s a heartless act for the Republicans to
consider a political victory, the fact that they`re unwilling to help 1.3
million Americans who are facing really tough decisions every day.
HAYES: So why -- so why is it the case that Boehner could come out and say
we`re not going to bring this to a vote in the House? I mean, is it the
fact that Republican members don`t have districts like yours where people
are hurting? Are day just insulated from the folks voting? Explain the
political logic of it to me.
KILDEE: Well, it`s hard for me to explain it because it defies logic. You
know, unemployment is not a Democratic or Republican condition.
There are people in my district who are Democrats, Republicans and
completely apolitical that are struggling because they don`t have a job.
They`re looking for a job. This recovery has not been strong enough to put
everybody back to work.
And so as Americans, we help one another and we have a way to do that
through unemployment insurance. I don`t understand how the Republicans can
simply look the other way.
So here`s the thing. The reason that he won`t bring it up, that Boehner
may or may not -- we hope that he does -- but the reluctance to bring it up
is not because they oppose it, necessarily, it`s because they`re afraid it
HAYES: Of course.
KILDEE: There are still enough reasonable Republicans out there who would
join with all the Democrats, and we would extend unemployment -- emergency
unemployment for those folks. But for some reason, the politics of this,
and here in Washington, it`s like a fact-free zone. The politics of this
are more important to some of the Republican leadership than what`s
happening to people out in even their own communities, Republicans,
Democrats and otherwise.
HAYES: You know, it strikes me that there is no path forward and no real
impetus on the Republican House leadership for any proactive policy agenda
for crafting some new version of the social safety net or so forth. What
they can win are denials. They can deny people unemployment benefit, they
can cut people off food stamps. That`s how they measure in the ledger of
That`s what they got right now.
KILDEE: Well, they`ve talked themselves into this narrative that anything
the government has anything to do with is essentially wrong. Where the
history of the last 50 years has been one where, you know, President
Johnson 50 years ago tomorrow decided we would have a war on poverty and
there are pieces of that that have been really important.
Unemployment -- emergency unemployment extension, for example, has saved 11
million Americans from poverty since 2008. Those are real people.
KILDEE: Who lost their job, and for a temporary period of time, not long
term, for a temporary period of time, needed a few hundred dollars a week
to feed their kids, to pay for their heat, to pay the light bill, to keep
their car and keep their house.
This is not a lifestyle that one longs for. I know these folks. Every one
of the people who are unemployment that I know would gladly trade that
condition for a decent job.
Now, of course, what Speaker Boehner says is he wants to see a pay forward
and he wants a jobs program as a part of it.
HAYES: Hey, a jobs program would be great. I think if you had a real job
KILDEE: Here`s the thing. His job -- whenever you hear some of those
folks and speaker is one of them talking about a jobs program, read that to
mean tax cuts.
HAYES: Fine print. Yes.
KILDEE: Tax cuts for the wealthy which does not create jobs. That`s been
So, I mean, this has really gotten out of hand. The politics of this place
seem to have overcome logic.
HAYES: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you for your time.
Joining me now is former Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from
And Dick Durbin said earlier in the program about not your daddy`s GOP. As
someone who served in the 1990s during another House-led, Republican House
caucus with Newt Gingrich and so forth, do you think there`s been backslid
backsliding, erosion on basic consensus support for basic safety net
BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes, and it began with
Gingrich. Remember, Newt Gingrich undermined the former Republican leader,
Bob Michael, a mainstream conservative because he was too close to Tip
O`Neill. They weren`t snarling at each other.
And, yes, what you have is a real -- you have a reversion now on the part
of the Republican Party back before the new deal. There`s one very
important point. John Boehner says, well, this isn`t going to help jobs.
That is not only a lack of sympathy, not surprised to see that, but it`s
appalling economic ignorance.
There is a broad consensus based on an obvious fact that unemployment
compensation does help create jobs, because it adds to aggregate demand in
the economy. Every economist understands that. In fact, the unemployment
compensation program starting in the `30s is widely, again, hailed by
almost all economists as part of the countercyclical set of programs that
you have. When you have unemployment, that becomes self-reinforcing.
FRANK: Fewer people can work, so they haven`t got money to spend and that
leads to further unemployment. Unemployment compensation, Boehner could
not be more ignorant in that economic assertion. Cutting unemployment
compensation takes money out of the economy and that, in fact, does shrink
It`s also the case, of course, that the major job deficiency we have right
now. If we look at this recession that Obama inherited from Bush and
what`s happened since then, we have done very well in private sector job
creation. The reason there is still a lag is that public sector jobs have
been cut. So, there are fewer teachers and firefighters and park
supervisors and cops, et cetera, et cetera. And the Republicans have done
HAYES: One of the things I think the Republican Party finds itself in a
bind about is the fact they actually don`t believe in this program but they
realize that`s politically untenable.
Here`s a graphic they made back in the fall about unemployment, over 881
million served, mocking the program. Do you think they`re caught between
what their ideology says and what they know is politically unacceptable?
FRANK: Well, they may be caught between their ideology and reality. And,
again, I want to stress, the notion that when you have high unemployment,
when you have a slowdown, the government does some things to try and offset
that has always been basic economics.
But, yes, I think it is the case. Let`s be fair. It`s not all the
Republicans think that. Maybe not even the majority. But what you have is
still this fear that you`re going to lose in a primary to the Tea Party
types if you don`t take that very, very angry attitude.
HAYES: Former Congressman Barney, thank you so much.
Coming up, the "O`Reilly Factor" takes on marijuana possession.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only stealers, Juan. There`s no mass arrests of users.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They get a ticket, Juan. They get a ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think so. And I think lots of people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Not so fast, Bill O`Reilly. Not so fast. The newest right wing
conspiracy theory, ahead.
HAYES: Last night, Bill O`Reilly said on national television there are,
quote, "no mass arrests of marijuana users." I`ll be talking about how
utterly untrue that statement is next. But why not just debunk this one
together? Right now.
Tonight`s question, have you or has anyone you know been arrested for
smoking or possessing pot? Tell us your short story. Tweet your answers
@allinwithchris or post at Facebook.com/allin, and we`ll share one at the
end of the show, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Mary Katherine, you`ve got a baby. You want that
baby to be smoking pot? Is it a he or a she?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh --
O`REILLY: Is it a he or she?
MARY KATHERINE HAMM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It`s a she. I`d rather she not
O`REILLY: When that baby is 13, 14 years old, you want that baby to be
smoking pot in moderation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m answering the question by saying it doesn`t have to
be illegal because I can step in and handle things.
O`REILLY: You don`t want to engage. Mary, you`re babbling. You don`t
want to engage in this conversation.
HAMM: I`m saying clear words and making an argument to you.
O`REILLY: You`re babbling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You step into the no-spin zone, you prepare for the tough questions
like, do you want your baby smoke marijuana? That was from a jaw-dropping
segment on the "O`Reilly Factor" last night, which pushed an astounding
conspiracy theory from the right, you know, we`ve got the birthers who
don`t believe the president was born in the U.S., the climate deniers who
don`t believe the world is getting warmer and now marijuana truthers.
Conservatives who insist no one is arrested for marijuana possession.
I first encountered these folks after my segment last week, which I told a
story about when I was once caught with marijuana at the 2000 Republican
national convention and was spared by the cops I think because of the color
of my skin, the privilege that`s attached to it.
That segment prompted the marijuana truthers to tell me, you idiot, no one
get arrested for marijuana possession.
Last night, we learned that Bill O`Reilly is among the truthers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: This is soft drug use. Why are you
arresting and giving this kid a record, especially minority kids,
disproportionately, they`re the ones who get arrested.
O`REILLY: Only stealers, Juan. There`s no mass arrests of users.
WILLIAMS: No, no.
O`REILLY: They get a ticket, Juan. They get a ticket.
WILLIAMS: I don`t think so.
O`REILLY: This is not a crime that is actively pursued by district
All right. I`m just going to discount that argument, Juan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK. Yes, just discount that argument because really it takes
approximately three seconds using the old Google machine to find anecdotal
evidence rebutting O`Reilly`s claim. Just Google "marijuana possession
arrests", lots of stuff comes up.
But anecdotes are not data. So, we wondered, does anyone keep track of
this thing? It turns out there`s an obscure little outfit called the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI for short, that does just that. It
reported that more than 42 percent of all drug arrests in 2012 were for
marijuana possession. That amounted to one arrest for marijuana possession
every 48 seconds. That`s more than half a million in that year, alone.
The thing is, there`s a huge racial disparity in those arrests. Whites and
blacks use marijuana at similar rates, blacks are arrested for possession
way more often. Not for selling. For possession, the same offense as
whites. They`re arrested at a much higher rate.
Bill O`Reilly, of course, is not the first older privileged white guy to
express a lack of understanding of the devastating impact that marijuana
arrests can have. We can thank him for accidentally reminding all of us of
an important truth -- just because something bad doesn`t happen to people
you know doesn`t mean it doesn`t happen at all.
Joining me now, former president and CEO of the NAACP, Ben Jealous.
Ben, Bill O`Reilly seems to have a thing about defending the honor of the
war on marijuana. Like, he`s really got a stake in this.
I want to play this clip of him from the summer, more or less doing the
same thing. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: The message being sent to children is, it`s OK. When I was
growing up, when you were growing up, all right, as children, now, not once
the Vietnam thing kicked in and drugs, sex and rock `n` roll, but as
children, we were taught that this was forbidden. It was not a good thing.
The exact opposite message is now getting across. Our culture now is
actually actively harming the most defenseless among us, the children. It
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What -- this -- there`s some sort of throwback culture war
revisiting the `60s thing happening here.
BEN JEALOUS, FORMER NAACP PRESIDENT & CEO: Yes, look, Bill is just
completely out of touch. And he really needs to get grounded in this
You`re talking about one person getting, you knows, picked up by the cops
every 48 seconds. And when he talks about our kids, I say this as somebody
who`s a parent who has young kids in my household, as somebody who had a
junior high school student with me for three years, my own nephew. It was
very hard for him to get a beer if he wanted a beer, but if you wanted pot,
there were six or seven kids at his junior high school selling pot.
JEALOUS: Let`s just deal with the real facts.
JEALOUS: That one of the best ways to make it hard for kids to get is to
start treating this like beer.
HAYES: You know, there`s also this generational aspect to it. I think you
saw it in that segment. I thought it was so interesting. The young
conservative Mary Katherine Hamm who I like quite a bit basically defending
legalization and O`Reilly scowling at her.
And this shows up in data. You know, 18 to 34, should marijuana be
legalized? Sixty-seven percent say yes. Sixty-five plus, 29 percent say
yes. And those numbers basically flip around.
It looks like marriage equality, it looks a lot like a bunch of other
JEALOUS: No, look, that is precisely right. The reality is the day is
coming when we will handle this much differently. But what`s also real,
quite frankly, as you talked about last week, we basically have two
policies. You know, black folks are almost four times as likely to get
busted for using pot as whites.
That means for whites it essentially is legal. And for black people, it is
very much not legal. You look at a state like Kentucky, blacks are 8
percent of the population, and 36 percent of the people busted for using
pot even though, frankly, young whites are more likely to smoke pot.
HAYES: So that is the part of this that I think gets lost in the defenders
of the drug or is exactly the racial disparity. But, for -- on the off
chance Bill O`Reilly DVRs our show or his producers are watching, will you
just tell them it is the case that people really do get arrested for
That`s all I want. Just a concession of this basic reality. That`s it.
JEALOUS: Look, we spend $3.6 billion a year in this country locking up
people for smoking pot. We are busting people, as you said, once every 48
seconds. In some years, it`s faster than that. Some years, it`s been once
every 37 seconds.
This is a big issue. And the kids who get busted, their lives get harmed.
Yes, some of them might get expunged. Hundreds of thousands don`t.
It really depends on the state that you live in. Sometimes it depends on
whether your parents can afford a good lawyer.
And for those kids, even until they`re 18 when it might be expunged after,
they cannot sign up for a student loan, they cannot, you know, they have a
hard time getting a job. There`s a lot of employers out there who will
actually hire you if you`ve had a DUI, but they won`t hire you if you have
a pot bust. If it`s not expunged, it follows you for the rest of your
There`s a man who`s a deacon in a church in my grandma`s town and he`s a
handyman. He`s in his late 50s.
I said to him, one day, you`re a genius, why are you a handyman? He said,
it came down to it, when he was 25, an older black man, he was busted for
pot. Every hospital he has worked at, whenever they`re taken over, they go
and they look and see if anybody`s been busted for drugs.
He was busted in his early 20s for one joint. He`s been fired a dozen
times and eventually got tired of being fired and became a handyman. He`s a
smart enough and principled enough to be a deacon in his church.
HAYES: Ben Jealous, thank you for dropping a little knowledge tonight.
JEALOUS: Thank you, brother.
HAYES: Coming up, the "Rolling Stone" piece that is making conservatives`
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: He doesn`t think anybody should have to
work at all. He thinks the government should give paychecks out just to
you sitting on your couch because you are, you exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: He, the he mentioned there, the one and only Jesse Myerson.
The author of that piece will be here to respond, ahead.
HAYES: Some good news this week on the nominations front.
This week, President Obama renominated 54 people for federal judgeships,
people that had been successfully blocked by Senate Republicans. See,
nominees that are not confirmed within a year must be renominated in the
new year. And last year, thanks to the routine, almost unprecedented use
of the filibuster, Republicans in the Senate manage to keep a ton of them
In fact, the obstruction was so bad that half of all nominees ever
filibustered in the history of the American republic have been filibustered
in President Obama`s five years in office. The crisis in vacant judgeships
and executive branch positions grew so bad that Harry Reid, long resistant
to bold rule changes, went ahead and pulled the trigger on the nuclear
option, flat-out getting rid of filibusters for executive branch nominees
and judicial nominees below the Supreme Court, which means many, if not
most of these nominees just renominated this week will be confirmed, which
is on the whole good news.
The bad news, the frankly outrageous news, is the one name missing from
that list, Judge William Thomas of Florida. Thomas is a well-respected
Florida attorney who`s currently a judge in the Miami-Dade circuit. He`s
one of 10 children raised in a poor family, was on welfare, and he would
have been the first openly gay black federal trial judge in history.
Back in 2012, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio`s backing, the president
nominated Thomas to federal district in Miami. So why, you might ask, was
Thomas not on the list of nominations this week?
Quote: "The nomination of Judge William Thomas was returned by the Senate,
and Senator Rubio has made his objection clear, so the president chose not
to renominate him." That`s from a White House aide.
You see, Senator Rubio had a change of heart about Judge Thomas. And since
there`s a long tradition of allowing home state senators a veto power over
nominees from their state, a practice known as blue slipping, Senator Rubio
was able to single-handedly block a historic, qualified, deserving nominee.
When asked back in September by "The New York Times" for an explanation of
his flip-flop on Thomas` suitability for the bench, a spokesperson said
there were concerns about his judicial temperament and his willingness to
impose appropriate criminal sentences.
Frankly, though, that doesn`t pass the smell test. What seems a far more
plausible explanation is that Judge Thomas was simply an innocent bystander
in Rubio`s increasingly desperate, pathetic and craven attempts to win back
a right wing that has abandoned him.
You will remember last summer Rubio played a central role in shepherding
through the Senate an immigration bill which passed with strong bipartisan
support over the objections of the right-wing base. For those efforts, he
was absolutely savaged in the conservative media. He was labeled a traitor
and scoundrel and heaped with scorn by the vengeful hordes that will be
turning out to vote in the 2016 Republican primary.
And that has left Marco Rubio spending more or less every waking hour since
trying to get back in their good graces. He now has got a big bill he`s
touting that`s going to kill Obamacare and he was one of 37 Republican
senators today who voted to filibuster the long-term unemployed to try to
make sure they spent the rest of this freezing winter without even meager
And now Marco Rubio can say with pride to his base that he successfully
blocked the first openly gay black trial judge in American history. These
are what the victories for congressional Republicans look like these days,
not implementing some affirmative policy victory, but successfully hurting
someone or some group of people, food stamp recipients, the long-term
unemployed, a qualified out gay black man who was within a hair`s breadth
from the federal bench.
They lose, Marco Rubio, and you win. Enjoy the victory, Senator. Poor
yourself a glass of champagne. And keep spending every waking moment
pandering to the people that despise you, because it will keep you from
thinking too hard about what you have done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Now, the author of this piece has some very interesting insights --
he`s an Occupy Wall Street guy -- for millennials like you. He thinks,
among other things --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he did.
KELLY: -- that there should be guaranteed work in this country for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Guaranteed work. Well, I kind of like the sound of that, at least
at first blush.
But in case you haven`t heard, that simple idea has right-wingers
everywhere, including over at FOX News, freaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s going to clean the toilets? I mean, who`s going
to do the actual work that needs to be done?
KELLY: Who is going to generate the taxes that`s going to pay for those
people on their couches?
Is this the way people on the left are thinking?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s actually a vile and despicable philosophy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The man who started the uproar is going to tell us who will clean
the toilets next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred and 10 million, that`s how many people died
under communism last century, an impressive number, one that
rollingstonemagazine.com forgot when it published an article advocating
principles that helped fill all those graveyards.
After all, only threat of death can prop up a left-wing dream, because no
one in their right mind would voluntary for this crap, hence, 110 million
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Did you hear the one about the "Rolling Stone" article calling for
mass murder? No? Well, then, you, my friend, have not been paying
attention to the latest right-wing freak-out.
The source of said freak-out, this seemingly innocuous article called "Five
Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For."
Now, the language and tone of the article were a bit outside the political
mainstream, no doubt, but the ideas in the piece, which we`re going to talk
about in just a moment, are not even that radical at all. That did not
stop the right from launching into a full-out apocalyptic freak-out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how the Occupy Wall Street movement thinks.
This is a group of people who graduated with the degrees in lesbian dance
theory and then were surprised when they didn`t get a six-figure paycheck
out of college.
This is unfortunately a lazy generation, a generation that expects things.
And ignorance and communists is no way to go through life.
KELLY: With all due respect to the article and the piece, not many people
care what this kid from Occupy Wall Street thinks and has written in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh, they care, Megyn. They may not agree, but they care, which is
why it was your A-block last night.
And while the article was published over the weekend, it has already
elicited more than 6,000 comments, been tweeted more than 2,000 times, has
riled to no end not only our friends at FOX News, the folks over at
"Forbes, "The Washington Times," and Reason.com.
The outrage fest was on full display in all its glory this afternoon, when
the author of the piece, Jesse A. Myerson, stopped by CNBC`s "Closing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, they tried this experiment once before. It
was called the Soviet Union, and it ended very, very badly. You can just
Google it and see. Everybody ended up down by the river eating government
cheese. Why do you think this is going to work?
JESSE A. MYERSON, "ROLLING STONE": Well, I don`t know exactly what "this"
you`re referring to is, but each of the five reforms that I proposed are
currently extant in the world, four of them in the United States in the
communist hellholes of Alaska, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota. So, which
one of those has the gulag?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And Jesse Myerson joins me now, along with Catherine Rampell,
economics reporter for "The New York Times," and Josh Barro, politics
editor for "Business Insider."
OK, Jesse, did you know when you wrote this piece you would be caught in
this just crazy social media updraft of invective and abuse and venom?
MYERSON: Definitely not.
I was -- usually, what I do as a far leftist is troll liberals. And so the
right wing --
HAYES: I know. I have been on the receiving end of it.
MYERSON: You have been on the receiving end of it.
The right wing basically has never heard of me, until this twit named
Charles Cooke tweeted -- from "The National Review" tweeted out this
article Friday night at 9:00. And once that membrane was punctured, all of
the, like, bigoted and hateful and violent muck and filth just like doo-
dooed all over my --
MYERSON: -- mentions, and just has basically not let up in the
intervening few days.
HAYES: OK. So, here`s why I think -- I want to talk about the ideas. But
first there`s this sort of tonal aspect here. Right?
And the reason that it drove people nuts is two things, I think. Can we
put up the full screen of what the ideas are? Number four, it`s make
everything owned by everybody. People are like, yes, OK, fine, yes, make
every -- yes, comrade, make everything owned by everybody. Like, that`s
Marxism, and that`s ridiculous and that`s discredited.
And there is in your Twitter bio -- and I think this also helped move
things along -- you talk about yourself as a co-host of a podcast,
communications gun for hire, and #fullcommunism.
And I think there was just, like, there`s nothing the right loves more than
a good fight against communists and they don`t get them that often. And
then here you are on "Rolling Stone."
MYERSON: Yes, well, you know, so full communism is sort of a tongue-in-
cheek post-Occupy joke.
But, look, I will cop to identifying as a communist, but -- and I`m happy
to defend my political identity, but basically the backlash didn`t -- was
all about my political identity and almost none of it ever mentions the,
like, thing that I wrote.
HAYES: So, OK.
The thing you wrote, Josh, you stepped into the breach to basically be
like, actually, take away #fullcommunism, take away make everything owned
by everybody, let`s look at the substance here.
JOSH BARRO, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Yes.
Well, I think the funny thing here is that when conservatives get very
heated about liberal economic policy ideas, one of the things they tend to
say is, this a stepping stone to communism and it`s what they`re asking for
because it`s what they can get right now.
And they happen to have someone right here who is putting out a set of
somewhat incrementalist ideas, some of which are even good ideas, who is
also saying, oh, by the way, I`m a communist.
HAYES: I`m really trying to get us there.
BARRO: Right. And maybe there are some things that aren`t in the piece
that I would also like to do.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It`s not a path to communism.
RAMPELL: That`s the bullseye.
BARRO: It`s reinforcing a fear that already exists on the right. And I
suspect you knew that you were doing that.
But I think, you know, Dylan Matthews wrote something very smart at "The
Washington Post" today that reframed all of the policy ideas from Jesse`s
post as conservative policy ideas, quite convincingly, because they really
are fairly incremental.
HAYES: So this is -- I love this. This is him saying, you know, here are
free market solutions that conservatives should be pushing for.
And he talks about -- he invokes Milton Friedman. He says, end long-term
unemployment, tear down the welfare bureaucracy. Eliminate job-killing
income, payroll and corporate taxes. Have Social Security invest in the
private sector, not government, and help small businesses grow.
And, Catherine, a bunch of these, a few of these, universal basic income we
were talking about a little bit, these are ideas that are --
RAMPELL: That have been embraced by conservatives, very far-right
conservatives, I would add. Charles Murray has talked about universal
There have been discussions about some of these other policies, you know,
from -- to just talk about -- I forget how Dylan framed it. But the one
about having Social Security invest in the market, didn`t George Bush kind
of talk about --
HAYES: There was some discussion.
RAMPELL: He framed it very differently.
But, you know, the idea of investing these funds, these public funds in
these types of ways is not so unique to the left.
HAYES: No, and, Jesse, as you pointed out earlier on CNBC, North Dakota
and Alaska are already implementing aspects of this nefarious social
We will give you the details ahead.
HAYES: Earlier in the show, we asked you to tell us your story about
getting arrested for marijuana possession.
Got a ton of answers posted at Facebook and Twitter pages, like Eva (ph)
from Facebook says: "My stepson twice with the good old New York stop and
frisk. Wasn`t even smoking it. They found it in the ashtray of his car."
"My friend was kicked out of school after an arrest involving a few grams
and a dirty pipe. Threw up his college education so off track that he`s
still working on getting his bachelor`s three years later than he should
have. The war on drugs ruins lives."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Welcome to Alaska. Here`s $1,000.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, it`s about time. But why?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We pay every resident $1,000 to allow the oil
companies to ravage our state`s natural beauty.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I`m home.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We`re back.
I`m here with Jesse Myerson, Catherine Rampell, and Josh Barro.
That is a real policy in Alaska. Alaskans collectively own the oil well
for that state. They lease it out to private resource companies that take
it out of the ground, and then they get a benefit and they cut a check to
every Alaska resident every year.
MYERSON: That`s right.
HAYES: And this is -- basically, it`s the closest thing we have in the
states to what is known by economists as a universal basic income.
MYERSON: Yes, so it`s paid for by this thing the Alaska Permanent Fund,
which because is just like any pension fund or hedge fund or whatever.
There`s a fund manager and they invest passively in stocks and bonds and
then they just pay a dividend to everybody. You know, the distance between
the people managing firms in the United States and the people who actually
own them is so great that basically anybody could own the firms and just
let them be. So if we just had a big fund that paid dividends to
everybody, it wouldn`t really affect --
HAYES: OK, so slow that down for a second, right? So the idea here is,
you have the government-owned portfolios, right? Essentially, have the
government invest in the stock market. This is known in other countries as
sovereign wealth funds, and it`s super common across the world.
RAMPELL: It is common across the world. It`s more common in places where
you have abundant natural resources.
HAYES: Yes, like Alaska, for instance.
RAMPELL: It`s much more difficult to do if you`re running a deficit and --
MYERSON: A trade deficit.
MYERSON: Fiscal deficit.
RAMPELL: A budget deficit, yes.
BARRO: Well, no one else --
RAMPELL: Yes, exactly. You need the money to buy the stocks.
HAYES: And that`s why it tends to build up in places like Norway, and
other folks. They accrue all these assets, because they`re like, we`re
selling you our oil. And now we have these got bucks here sitting in the
bank account. What do we do with them? Oh, let`s invest them in a
And one of the other -- one of the risks is -- we have been talking about
what kinds of places do this. Well, one of the risks is how do you promise
-- how do you promise budget projections basically based on stock market
investments and things like that? I mean, this has been a huge problem for
RAMPELL: I think that there`s a big risk in taking this at a more global
HAYES: So, the downside danger would be, OK, we think our fund is going to
perform at 6 percent year over year and we`re going to budget out our costs
RAMPELL: It`s very hard to find low-risk investments for this kind of
HAYES: But the other, the flip side of it with Alaska, right, is this idea
of this check to everyone, which does seem so sort of anathema, so un-
American, right, so ridiculous that you would just write people checks.
But the idea of the government just writing people checks has this very
long conservative heritage.
And the idea is that this is a substitute for other welfare programs that
is advantageous and that, for example, it doesn`t go away if you work. So
it doesn`t discourage people from working. It would also tighten up labor
markets. The checks that are envisioned in these programs would be a lot
bigger than the Alaska check, which is about $1,000 or $1,500 a year.
It would, for example, be a poverty level income for everybody, that it
would theoretically give you the option not to work or in a two-parent
family, maybe one parent would choose not to work.
HAYES: What, you`re telling me -- just so this is clear, because I want
people to understand this idea. Right? The idea is that the government
writes people a check for say, $20,000 year, because you`re an American
citizen. And that`s basically what we`re saying is a minimum to get by.
That sounds to the people listening to that right now, to a lot of them,
BARRO: Well, so part of why I like this idea, and I like the land value
tax idea in Jesse`s piece that might pay for it is that these -- Jesse says
he`s a communist. I view these as neo-liberal ideas that would allow the
government to engage in redistribution of income without really managing
You can let employers do what they want. You can let people decide what
kinds of jobs that they want to take. And these programs exist to ensure
that they have a decent standard of living, regardless of how the private
HAYES: So, let me give an example, and then I want Jesse to respond.
We have all these programs, like we`re talking about food stamps, right?
We`re talking about LIHEAP, which our own reporter Ned Resnikoff did some
great reporting on costs to. That`s money to buy heating fuel, right?
We have Section 8 housing vouchers. Right? There`s all different programs
we have in the safety net. There are conservatives -- Milton Friedman
said, just get rid of all that stuff. Give people money, let them do with
what they will.
MYERSON: Yes, I mean, it`s a decent idea.
You couldn`t get rid of the whole welfare state, and it would be good to
have, like, a tiered system. A guy, Matt Bruenig, who I`m friends with
who`s a Demos blogger, has a wonderful piece about a tiered system where
you could have -- retain, for instance, disability payments, give an extra
universal basic income to parents, so that they could pay for their kids.
And, , what this could do is ennoble and dignify the work that we don`t
consider work in the country, like child-rearing and domestic work and
typically women`s work that is invisible and uncompensated. And this can
allow people to do that work and still be able to survive.
HAYES: So, here`s my big wrap on this, is the fact what I liked about this
piece is, it`s a big thing that looms over American economy right now is
the labor market is broken. And we have too many people in poverty.
And that should be the thing. Whatever -- whatever they`re coming from the
left or right, that`s what we need solutions for.
Jesse Myerson from "Rolling Stone," Catherine Rampell from "The New York
Times," Josh Barro from "Business Insider."
"ALL IN" for this evening.
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