updated 4/14/2014 11:46:07 AM ET 2014-04-14T15:46:07

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
April 12, 2014

Guests: Bryce Covert, Christina Greer, Nomi Prins, Rick Newman, Stephen
Black, Amy Goodman, Raul Reyes, Juan Cartagena, Cynthia Diaz

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, is President
Obama winning his leg of the relay swim?

Plus, beware of the pop-up tax man.

And hunger strike at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But first, separating fact from fiction when it comes to the politics of
the wage gap.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This week Senate Democrats tried
unsuccessfully to pass their Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the wage
gap between men and women workers. This, of course, set the nation to
talking about women and work, and you can`t really talk about working women
in America without thinking of Rosie. Rosie Riveter, the we can do it
figure of World War 2. Rosie answered the call of her nation by trading in
her apron for a riveting gun. As millions of young men left home to do
battle for democracy overseas, millions of women took up their place in the
factories of the defense industry, fighting for democracy right here at
home. 310,000 women worked in the aircraft industry alone, where almost
none had worked before. Yes, Rosie and her sisters in the fight for
democracy were critical to the war effort and a grateful nation thanks
these efficient, sacrificial, hard-working women with deafening applause
and paychecks half the size of the men who worked alongside with them.

And never fear, when the war ended, these loyal women workers who toiled
for half pay were indeed rewarded with a promotion to the most important
job of all. Domestic technician. Yes, once the men came home from war,
Rosie was told to go home and to rebuild the nation another way, by making
babies and buying consumer items and, man, Rosie did a damn good job at
that too. Let it never be forgotten that it was the Rosies who gave birth
to the baby boomers. It`s interesting then that Democratic women in the
Senate framed their failed vote on Paycheck Fairness Act in terms of war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D) MARYLAND: We`re leading an American revolution,
just like Abigail Adams encouraged us. If they forget the ladies, we`re
here to fight. So I said square your shoulders, put your lipstick on and
let`s fight another day.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D) WASHINGTON: We deserve more than to be left fighting
the same uphill battles for justice we`ve been fighting for decades and
decades.

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D) WISCONSIN: Opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act
is a war on progress in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: It also probably won`t surprise you to hear that the
Republicans blocked the bill. They said it was not about real policy, but
a transparent political stunt to draw more women voters to come out in
November. Now here`s what the Paycheck Fairness Act would have done. It
would require some companies to report salary information to the government
and would prohibit retaliation against employees for telling one another
how much they make. It would also expand opportunities for workers to sue
their employers over wage discrimination. Now, workers can sue already,
thanks to the Equal Pay Act, but it`s a hard road to take. And a woman has
to know that she`s being paid less. She has to find another employee
making more money for the same job and she has to be willing to risk,
torpedoing her own career in order to do so. She has to find a lawyer
willing to take her case. That`s not an easy thing to do when workers win
only a third of the time in equal pay cases. The Paycheck Fairness Act
would address that to some extent by narrowing the grounds on which an
employer can claim that the disparity is due to legitimate business
reasons, but it still puts the onus on the workers to sue a system that has
not yet closed the wage gap. And that`s why, frankly, I kind of agree with
the Republicans. You know, they said that the act is a little more a piece
of political fluff than to lure women voters and, you know, because for all
the talk of women making 77 cents on every dollar that a man earns, wage
discrimination is simply not the only reason. The reality is in fact far
more complicated. Just look at the White House. Republicans made much hay
over the fact that women working at the White House earn on average 88
percent of what men working at the White House make. And they asked about
it on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that men and
women in the White House are paid the same level -- the same amount for the
same level of job, but the problem only comes when you do the math.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you look at the aggregate
and this includes everybody from this most senior levels to the lowest
levels, you`re averaging all salaries together, which means including the
lowest level salaries, which may or may not be, depending on the
institution, filled by more women than men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Probably not a great idea to engage in mansplaining -
mansplaining, but let me just say, that what Carney said here is, in fact,
exactly the problem for women nationwide. Women as an aggregate make less
money than men and that`s because they`re more likely to work those lower
level jobs. Women make almost two thirds of workers who make a minimum
wage or less, and women account for nearly three-quarters of workers in
tipped occupations like waitressing where the federal minimum is only $2.13
an hour. Women congregate in lower paying fields. Nine out of ten college
majors that offer the least lucrative careers are dominated by women.
Fields like early childhood education and social work. And then there are
the disparities even within similar fields. Nurse midwives, for example,
are 95 percent women and they are paid less than half as much as ob/gyns
who are 50 percent men. Maids make less than janitors. And according to
data compiled by Bloomberg, the highest paid women at major corporations
made an average 18 percent less than the highest paid men in part because
women tend to have lower level see suite positions and not that top CEO
gig.

So disparity is complicated and due to a variety of reasons that require a
variety of solutions. Like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,
guaranteeing paid parental leave, instituting Universal Pre-K. Joining me
now, Bryce Covert who`s the economic policy editor at ThinkProgress and a
contributor at "The Nation," Rick Newman, who`s columnist at Yahoo Finance.
Christina Greer, who`s assistant professor at Fordham University and author
of "Black Ethnics Race: Immigration and Pursuit of the American dream."
And Nomi Prins who`s the senior fellow at Demos and author of a great new
book "All the President`s Bankers, the Hidden Alliances That Drive American
Power." So nice to have you all here.

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Thank you.

NAOMI PRINCE: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Bryce, I`m going to start with you. So, on the one hand,
like I`m down with the Paycheck Fairness Act - (INAUDIBLE) It will make
things worse. But I`m not completely against the Republicans` point that
it`s maybe a little more politics than it is substantively getting to this
complicated set of questions.

BRYCE COVERT, THINK PROGRESS: Yeah, I want to give the Republicans two
points. One is that I do think the idea that the Paycheck Fairness Act or
the Lilly Ledbetter Act are silver bullets that will just close the wage
gap. That just doesn`t live up to reality. We need, like you said, I
loved all the solutions that you put forward.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, my liberal utopia that I would build.

COVERT: I would build it with you. I also think that they have a point.
You know, they have been pushing back on the idea that there is a wage gap.
I wouldn`t give them that point, but I would give them the point that it`s
complicated and saying that the 77 percent earnings that women make
compared to men is all discrimination, is misleading. And I think that
that number gets thrown around without a whole lot of context.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, so on the one hand, like I want to be able just to
make that point because it`s so important that it`s not just, you know, the
male manager up there, you know, HR manager who`s making a decision to pay
the little woman less. On the other hand, it doesn`t mean that
discrimination like - you know, that sort of base of discrimination is
gone. It does in fact continue to exist in the workforce.

NOMI PRINS, AUTHOR, "ALL THE PRESIDENT`S BANKERS": Well, exactly. And as
you mentioned, the power relationship in the workforce, particularly at the
positions that are higher in companies and in the companies that themselves
make more money, for example, in banking, the top six banks have always
been run by men. The managing partners are traditionally mostly men and
that has been the case historically. So, and that`s where the money is.
So you filter that out through the issue of the framework of why women also
don`t have as much money as men in terms of their paychecks. Well, they
also don`t have as much power. And that is a big part of the complexity of
the issue.

HARRIS-PERRY: So let me take that point around power, Christina. And come
in part to what I see as maybe the most distressing thing that happens when
we do the aggregate - men versus women. And that is that we forget that -
or what that can do is generate a sense of false solidarity that all women
are all necessarily in the same circumstance of unfairness. So even if
there`s a general sense of unfairness, if in fact my H.R. manager or my
direct supervisor or the woman whose kitchen I clean is a woman, she
nonetheless might be engaging with me in a way that is unfair as her
employee.

GREER: Right. I think the historical context is really important.
Because we also - we constantly throw around this 77 cents to a dollar
conversation, but we do also know that there`s a very real racial divide
also within this, right? So if white women for the most part are making 77
cents on the dollar, we know that black and Latina women are making much
less.

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let me show you those numbers. So do we have -
Because 77 is the number we`ve been hearing. But when we look at the race
gap, the wage gap from African-American women, if we compare it to white
men`s earnings, they only make 64 percent of what white men earn. 89
percent of what black men earn and 82 percent of what white women earn. So
we see African-American women on the bottom there. Bu then also look at
Latinas. And the earning for Latinas there - for compared to white men is
53 percent, right? And that is probably not because there are Latina CEOs
who are being paid less. That has everything to do with a structured
market that puts those women, black and Latina women in a different ...

GREER: But it`s also - a structured market, right? When we think about
FDR, I mean the way he was able to get the new deal passed, is to really
just sell black women down the river literally, right? And so he excludes
domestic workers. So, now we have a historical conversation about wealth,
right? Wealth, race and gender that goes across time and so we see people
sort of stuck in sectors. I mean not just early childhood education and
social work, but we also see the replication of poverty and replication of
lower wage jobs. So I think we also have to make sure we historicize some
of these inequities. Because they are not going to erase overnight. I
mean I, you know, I do somewhat agree with the Republicans, but there is
something to be said about symbolic legislation every now and again.
Right? I mean we saw this with Apartheid legislation in the `80s and, you
know, it seemed ridiculous, but over time it can sort of move progress a
little bit more.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is an interesting point, that even as I have a
critique of the Democrats on the Paycheck Fairness Act, the fact is I don`t
have any idea what the right might be offering as an alternative.

RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO! FINANCE: That`s right. Well, let`s think about a way
you might actually get something like this to pass. I mean here`s an idea.
So, one GOP objection is look, we can`t put yet another burden on
businesses. There`s actually some legitimacy to that. I mean if you talk
to business owners, they really are drowning in regulation. So here`s a
way you can construct a win-win. OK? So, you know what? If you`re the
Democrat, you know,, we`re going to give you that point. Let`s take away a
few outdated regulations on business, and believe me there are plenty ...

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

NEWMAN: And say we`re going to put a new regulation on them. Let`s take a
few regulations off of them. How does that sound? Could you - is this a
possible win-win position? I mean this - It`s not that hard to get to ....

HARRIS-PERRY: This is the balanced budget theory, right? Right?

NEWMAN: This is called a compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right, right.

NEWMAN: If you really want to pass a law, make a compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s a dirty word in D.C. these days, in part because part
of what they want to be able to do and we`ll get to this, is to say we
presented this, the other side is against it, right? And so part of the
question is how well does that serve folks who are actually doing the work
in these communities, in these corporations. When we come back, we`re
going to talk more about the pay gap debate coming out of the Texas
attorney general`s office.

But first, the departure of one of the top women in the Obama
administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
publicly announced her resignation Friday after five years that focused
largely on the Affordable Care Act. She was widely criticized after a
troubled rollout of the healthcare.gov website, but as she leaves office,
the administration has exceeded its goal of 7 million people signing up for
health care during the initial open enrollment period. President Obama
praised Sebelius and nominated Sylvia Matthews Burwell who`s de factor of
the White House office of Management and Budget as her successor. In her
farewell speech, the secretary reflected on her work on the ACA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are on the
front lines of a long overdue national change, fixing a broken health
system. Now, this is the most meaningful work I`ve ever been a part of.
In fact, it`s been the cause of my life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s look at one specific example of a wage gap, the Texas
attorney general`s office. Assistant attorney generals who are men make
more on average than those who are women. Now, that is something that`s
come up and been a bit of a topic of a debate because in Texas the Attorney
General Greg Abbott, is running for governor. The attorney general`s
office has defended itself by saying discrepancy stems from differences in
how long the men have been licensed and have worked at the agency. Not so,
says Professor Bethany Albertson and assistant professor of government at
the University of Texas in Austin. Writing in "Texas Monthly" she says
"Based on my analysis it turns out that each additional year of experience
corresponds with a $992 increase in salary, if you`re a man. But if you`re
a woman, the increase is about $200 less or $798 per year of experience.
This discrepancy per year of experience shows just how insidious a gender
wage gap can be. So, I`d love this research by Professor Albertson in part
because it`s indicative of that, you know, on the one hand you have
Abbott`s office like Carney saying oh, no, it`s not discrimination, it`s
just this other thing. But when you look at it, no, each additional year
of experience has a steeper curve for men than for women.

COVERT: Absolutely. Women -- people often say, oh, well, you know, it`s
differing levels of education, let`s say. But women graduate from college.
The first year out they are making less than men despite their grades,
despite their college. And then no matter what higher degree they take on,
they will make less than an average man, so they get a Ph.D. They`re still
making less. They get an MBA, they`re still making less. So, we always
see these discrepancies even within groups.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, that was an AUW study that in part showed that
discrepancy for college grads coming straight out and that idea that on the
one hand it is that traditional labor market question where women`s
domestic work is not valued as private work and therefore isn`t valued as
public work, but it is also that even if they`re taking the same job. So,
we were talking in the break a little bit about the idea that transparency,
which is part of the Paycheck Fairness Act could help this issue.

PRINS: Yeah, and I think that part of it isn`t getting discussed as much
and it should be discussed a lot more. Because if you know as a woman or
as anyone in a work environment what someone else is making for the same
level that you have, then you have the ability to go in and fight. It
should be fair, everything should be fair. That would be a great
situation. But if you at least are armed with a bullet, the ammunition to
go in and say, you know what, that guy is making that much money to do what
I do. In fact I`m actually doing it more, but let`s just leave that aside.
That guy is doing -- I want to be at the same level because in many cases,
particularly as you go on up the ladder on the corporate side and in these
institutions where more money is swirling around anyway and it doesn`t even
come out in the wage gap because it`s in bonuses and other forms of
compensations, you need to know so that you have the ability to fight. And
that`s a very important part of this act, which is a shame that it didn`t
get through.

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait, I want to push back a little on something that you
said earlier. At one point you said, and at first, I was going with you,
because I am a fan of actually getting things done and this idea of trade-
offs seemed right. But then the more we were kind of thinking and talking
about it on the break, I thought wait a minute, we don`t make trade-offs on
basic fairness. This isn`t a regulation, right, this is about paying
workers in a fair way for doing the same kind of work and providing
transparency so that if they`re not being paid that way. So, I just - I
want to go back and ask a little bit about that because you framed it as
regulation. And I`m wondering if there is another way to think about this.
Because we don`t think of basic human or civil rights as regulations.

NEWMAN: Well, this is messy. I mean we`re talking about all these
different ways. You can`t exactly put these in two columns on the piece of
paper and say here`s the women, here`s the men. It`s that simple to break
down. I was just talking about how to pass a law. With, you now, laws are
never perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: Full house ..

NEWMAN: Laws are never perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

NEWMAN: They`re always messy.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

NEWMAN: But I, you know, this is - we`ve just shifted this conversation
away from policy solutions a little bit and you`re talking about women
themselves in the workplace. And I think one thing that`s important to
point out here is it`s never been a better time for women to take this
matter into their own hands when they can. They can`t always do that. But
sometimes they can. There is more support than there has ever been. A lot
of attention like we`re giving it right now, thanks in part to, you know,
people putting legislation in force and President Obama drawing attention
to this, to this fairness issue. This argument in Texas is terrific. It`s
great that it`s getting this attention. And I`ll bet you things change.

HARRIS-PERRY: So ....

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: But let me suggest that I think that`s both true and not
true, which is to say I agree that we have made enormous progress,
particularly for women in the workforce. I`m not quite with the end of men
as a theory. But that`s we`ve also seen a regress in labor rights in
general. And so I just think for workers in general in this moment with
the very slack labor market, it`s hard to make an argument about the power
of any laborer to negotiate vis-…-vis, right, their employer at this
moment.

GREER: Well, I mean we know that we`re right now in a moment where it`s a
war on poor people. It really is a war on women. I mean the fundamental
principles of American democracy are not based on fairness, they`re based
on economic inequality. And so, for us to sort of not really think about,
you know, the 1700s, 1800s and all the ways, in which the fabric of this
nation is about. So this economic inequality and making sure that the
exclusion of others to a certain extent benefits you.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is an argument vis-a-vis chain on race but you`re
making it around gender. That there is - that even though we have the kind
of soaring ideals in our rhetoric, that in practice we have always seen
this kind of interweaving inequality.

GREER: Right. And we know that this intersectionality exists. So if it
exists not just on a black/white spectrum, not just on a male/female
spectrum, right? And so you have all these other groups now that are into
it. And so, for us to start these conversations, yes, they`re productive,
but like the policies themselves, there isn`t going to be a magic bullet
and it`s going to take a series of various policies but also it`s going to
take even more time, right. And so the question is how long do women have
to wait, right? I mean a student just wrote a fantastic paper about how
women are taxed on sanitary products, because it`s a luxury good. So even
these minor things just erode at women`s sort of financial security.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love that you said intersectional because there`s a little
bit of a drinking game that goes on in my control room around the use of
the word intersectional. It`s almost always me, but see, it was my guest
this time.

Up next, the type of Republican lawmaker Democrats just love to hate. The
argument that Democrats love to make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKULSKI: It brings tears to my eyes to know how women every single day
are working so hard and are getting paid less. It makes me emotional to
hear that. Then when I hear all of these phony reasons, some are mean and
some are meaningless, I do get emotional. I get angry, I get outraged, I
get volcanic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So if you`re a political party trying to get women to the
polls, Democrats have at least a two-pronged strategy. One, to offer
policies that they can say will improve the lives of women, like the
Paycheck Fairness Act, we`ve been talking about, but the second prong is to
sit back and just let Republicans say stuff like what one Missouri state
representative said this week in defense of a proposed 72-hour waiting
period for abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE REP. CHUCK GATSCHENBERGER (R ) MISSOURI: Even when I buy a new
vehicle, this is my experience again, I don`t go right in there and say I
want to buy that vehicle and then you walk -- you know, you leave with it.
I have to look at it, get information about it, maybe drive it, you know, a
lot of different things, check prices. There`s a lot of things that I do -
into a decision, whether that`s a car, whether that`s a house, whether
that`s any major decision that I put in my life, even carpeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Even carpeting. So, look, there are -- you know, I don`t
want to - I don`t want to - by the notion that all women are pro
reproductive justice, they aren`t. But even women who oppose abortion may
not really like a state representative, oh, well, you know, it`s kind of
like you`ve got to at least make as much sense as I do when I buy a car or
carpeting. Like isn`t this precisely the kind of strategy that Democrats
are like, yeah, just keep talking because you end up being alienated.

NEWMAN: You wonder if some of these people have ever met a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, they all have daughters.

NEWMAN: Have they ever talked to one?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

COVERT: Well, I think interestingly in that clip he`s kind of making his
own point. We don`t regulate his decision to make a car or to buy
carpeting. They`re big decisions and we don`t tell you how to make it.

But look - yeah, I think ...

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, I love that. Men could all have a 72-hour waiting
period before being able to purchase a car. That ...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

NEWMAN: Don`t make an impulse run.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, don`t make an impulse - right.

COVERT: But yeah, there`s this strategy that`s just sort of saying back
and leaving them - say - the things that they are going to say, but what
that does, is it ends up putting you on a defense, right? You`re always
sort of playing on the extremist`s turf and it`s harder, I think, to move
from that and then say, but here`s what we`re going to do proactively.
Here`s our vision. Here`s the bills we want to pass that don`t just react
to Todd Akin or this guy.

But they try to build the progressive utopia.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that`s - don`t say - I`m not that I think President
Obama is trying to build a progressive utopia, but he`s gotten so
increasingly progressive in his discourse around this. I want to listen to
him in his weekly address which was released today talking about kind of a
broad agenda for women`s policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: House Republicans
won`t vote to raise the minimum wage or extend unemployment insurance for
women out of work through no fault of their own. The budget they passed
this week would force deep cuts to investments that overwhelmingly benefit
women and children, like Medicaid, food stamps and college grants. And, of
course, they`re trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 50th or so
time, which would take away vital benefits and protection from millions of
women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So this is so great, right. I mean so the agenda - women`s
agenda now, Medicaid, food stamps, college grants and, come on, there`s 7.1
million people now signed up for ACA.

GREER: Well, I think the real long-term damaging effects, you know, as a
professor is that these bickering arguments back and forth really do turn
off young voters, the young potential voters, right. So when we`re trying
to actually get young people to care about not just financial aid but their
own bodies and what regulations mean, all they hear are sort of ignorant
comments by some, not all Republicans. And then when Obama tries to make
the counterargument that, well, women need welfare or they need certain
provisions from the government, then they`re just like wasn`t he supposed
to provide that as the president? So there`s not a lot of context.
There`s sort of these, you know, these shortcuts and these little cues and
snippets and so the larger argument is somehow getting lost. And I think
we`re in jeopardy, actually, of alienating a much larger group of people.
Not just youth, but also people who aren`t really in the political process
- in the discourse.

HARRIS-PERRY: So are we right now failing to talk to women voters like
adults?

PRINS: Well, I think that`s -- by putting these side issues and wage isn`t
a side issue, but by talking about these little sort of skirmishes with the
Republicans and Democrats and making it politicized as opposed to about
greater democracy, greater power, greater equality, these are all things
that on an economic basis help drive America forward. Women, people of
different race, all of us together should be part of a more equal
democracy. We don`t have that. These are pieces of trying to build that.
And when we have that, the times we`ve had that, even when Rosie the
Riveter was doing her riveting, and if - we actually had a more equal
democracy. We had more -- even though there was a wage gap between women
and men, there was also a sense of building the country together and
distributing power a little bit more than we`ve had in other periods of
history and we have now.

HARRIS-PERRY: But then also Jim Crow, right? So ...

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, but right, right - no, but that`s all - I mean I think
that`s in part always the question of when we tell a historical narrative,
sort of from whose perspective do we sell it? Right? So, there`s a way in
which like - I love Rosie and I love the idea of Rosie the Riveter and as
you pointed out the sets of policies around workers that emerged from that
new deal. But then also recognition, right, that where my grandmother is
working in the 1940s is in someone`s kitchen, which does not end up getting
covered under those labor policies.

When we come back, it is like deja vu all over again when it comes to
courting the women`s vote. Some history may definitively and definitely be
repeating itself. But first, another update on a key part of the
president`s agenda, raising the minimum wage. More states are actually
acting on their own. On Monday, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill to
increase the state`s minimum wage to $10.10 by the year 2018. Governor
Martin O`Malley is expected to sign the bill. There are some drawbacks,
though, one of them being that the legislation doesn`t raise the minimum
wage for tipped restaurant workers whose rate will remain at $3.63 an hour.
On Thursday, Minnesota lawmakers approved a bill to gradually raise the
minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 for large businesses. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So we know that there`s a current political obsession with
getting more women to the polls, but it is not new. Just check out this
NBC "Nightly News" segment from October 15th, 1996, which if you were to
change the hair styles just a bit seems like it could have run last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was no accident that Hillary Rodham Clinton
happened to be in Tucson, Arizona, today.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Solidly Republican Arizona is suddenly winnable for
Democrats who worked hard to exploit the gender gap.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arizona Republican women for Clinton/Gore.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Targeting women voters in ads and through 5500 faxes
sent each month to influential women around the country, they have turned
lifelong Republicans like Teddy Langafi (ph) into Bill Clinton activists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, send those faxes out to get people to the polls. So,
you know, we`ve been thinking a lot as we`re going into the midterms, going
into the next presidential election about the idea of a woman candidate at
the top of either the Democratic or the Republican ticket as a way of
attracting women. But if we go back to kind of the question of the
economic fairness for women workers, it seems to me that part of your
argument is whether you`re Democrat or Republican, woman or male candidate,
you are really in the pockets of big business in ways that might make it
tough for identity politics to translate into leftist policy.

PRINS: Exactly. It`s a good conversation and useful, but the fact is that
relationship, the symbiotic relationships between anyone who sits in the
Oval Office, anyone who is appointed, not elected as Treasury Secretary and
the people that run the most profitable corporations and the banks in this
country are really dictating a lot of the policy. And because they are so
similar, because they have the wealth behind them, because they require
each other`s wealth and power to stay in their positions or to attain those
positions, the policy itself gets dictated through those alignments. And
so these - we`re trying to chip away with the other issues on the outside
of what`s a very central core of alive power between corporations and
people in the White House.

HARRIS-PERRY: So one can be happy to have Yellen, for example, in the Fed
position, but her being a woman does not necessarily lead to different
monetary policy.

PRINS: Exactly right. She`s doing exactly what Ben Bernanke did and she
has no choice. And anyone in that position whether they are a woman or a
man would be doing the same thing, which is subsidizing the banking system
at the expense of the greater and broader populations.

NEWMAN: We have - Something is really important here. I mean there has
been a shift in the balance of power in the economy away from employees and
workers to employers, and especially big employers. It`s not hopeless for
workers, but really important to know is we`re talking about, you know,
policies that will improve things. The thing that will improve people`s
position, men and women both, is more skills, the skills that matter. This
is just crucially important today. You know, just saying can you please
pay me a little bit more isn`t getting anywhere for men or women alike.
What gets you somewhere say I have some new skill that`s going to help the
company. Here`s what I can contribute. I`m going to make a better
contribution. This is how -- this is how people get ahead these days.
It`s really important to keep in mind.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, interestingly - it`s interesting, because in part like
immediately you start thinking about different kinds of work that are
related there, so there`s a way in which if you are the Walmart greeter or
the McDonald`s cashier, and we know this - I know we think these are
teenagers, these are not, right, these are adult workers. We want new
skill do you bring - so, if you`re in that part of the labor market, you`re
kind of stuck in this minimum wage space. But if you`re in another part of
the labor market, it actually might be a fine time to be able to negotiate
because there are lower numbers of high skilled workers, right, compared to
the jobs that are available.

NEWMAN: It depends where you are geographically. And it depends what
industry you`re in, but everybody can get more skills. I mean you don`t
have to go to college and spend $200,000 to get more skills. There are
things people can do. The community colleges, you can find programs that
are where - community colleges will align with businesses because
businesses need such and such a worker so they`ll help programs. I mean
you have to do a lot of research. It`s not going to land in your lap. But
that is the way the economy is these days.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, but I wonder about that, Bryce, in part, because, you
know, so I don`t want to move away from this idea that part of the
responsibility for individuals to invest in themselves, but it`s also an
investment in the sort of broader perspective to have a good workforce.
Should there be government -- part of what the president said was college
loans, and he doesn`t mean just, you know, come to Wake Forest University
and get a B.A., he does mean making available community colleges.

COVERT: Well, I want to point out that when we`re talking about skills,
even among high-skilled jobs, the ones that are dominated by women are paid
about $470 less a week than the ones dominated by men. So we are still
talking about are we valuing the high skill jobs that women can get and
tend to get. But of course, I mean I think we want to help women move into
stem fields, for example. They`re in high demand, they`re incredibly
important skills and we see women are less represented there. And we also
see not only a smaller pipeline, but it dribbles out. Women do not stick
with it and I think it`s because it conflicts with family, there`s a lot of
discrimination. There`s a lot of stuff that works against them.

HARRIS-PERRY: We can spend all day on the stem thing. Because on the one
hand, yes, more women in stem but also why should stem be the only ones -
like this goes back to your point of valuing what kinds of labor.

After the break, the state passing legislation to make criminals out of
mothers. My letter of the week is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: This week the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill that
would allow drug addicted pregnant women to be prosecuted as criminals.
Now, the bill would permit a woman who used illegal drugs during pregnancy
to be charged with assault if her child is born addicted to or harmed by
the drug. And to be charged with homicide if the child dies. It would
also allow women to avoid those charges if they volunteer for drug
treatment. But before Tennessee`s governor makes it official with his
signature, I wanted to urge him to consider that this proposed solution may
only exacerbate the problem that his state is trying to solve.

Dear Governor Bill Haslam, it`s me, Melissa. Now, I understand the
magnitude of the crisis facing your state and how daunting it must feel.
Last year a report found that in Tennessee babies born addicted to opiate
drugs that their mothers took during pregnancy was higher than ever before.
But governor, as you think about what you`re going to do with that bill
that`s on your desk, please take a moment to consider that punishment is no
substitute for protection. Particularly when the threat of that punishment
could put the health and well-being of vulnerable people, both the babies
and their mothers, at even greater risk.

As you have already no doubt heard from the national medical groups that
have weighed in on this bill, this proposal could have the exact opposite
effect of its intent of improving health outcomes for babies of drug-
addicted mothers. According to a statement released by the American
Medical Association, pregnant women will be likely to avoid seeking
prenatal or open medical care for fear that their physician`s knowledge of
substance abuse or other potentially harmful behavior could result in a
jail sentence rather than proper medical treatment.

So, governor, any government intervention to address drug dependency among
pregnant women and their children must treat that addiction like what it
is, a disease. And helping mothers to battle their disease requires a
treatment-based approach that must first do no harm by ensuring they`re not
deterred from prenatal care. That could reduce the effects of addiction on
their babies. Besides, even as a law enforcement measure this bill is
remarkably short-sighted because it targets only those women who use
illegal drugs during their pregnancy. Yes, it is true that 30 percent of
mothers of drug dependent babies born in Tennessee used illegal drugs
specified by the bill, but it is also true that 42 percent of mothers of
babies used legal drugs prescribed to them by a doctor for legitimate
treatment. And another 20 percent actually used both.

So not only would your law criminalize only certain types of drug abusers,
it would also completely overlook the primary driver of the epidemic of
drug-addicted babies in your state. What`s more, you already have evidence
that criminalizing drug-addicted mothers simply doesn`t work. For years
Tennessee was already allowing women to be charged if their newborns tested
positive for drugs, but over the last decade there was a ten-fold increase
in babies in your state born addicted to opiates. Governor, here`s the
good news. You need not look for an alternate policy approach for your
state.

After all, the very same state legislature that proposed the bill you are
currently considering are ready task, a safe harbor law last year that gave
mothers addicted to prescription drugs priority in line for treatment
programs and also assured them that they would not lose custody of their
children if they disclosed their drug use. So, here`s - Why not instead of
sign a law that would expand that intervention to include protection for
all mothers battling addictions during their pregnancy. I think that would
be just a much better use of your pen. Sincerely, Melissa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We are now in the final stretch of tax season, so maybe
you`ve been seeing commercials like this.

(BV(

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been (POUNDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been waiting on my check. You need to do
something about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want my stuff back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard there was a company out there that could get
your check in 30 seconds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That is a commercial from a few years back for the tax
preparation company "More Money Taxes, formerly out of Memphis, advertising
a refund check in just 30 seconds. If that sounds a little sketchy to you,
well, it was. Last year the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to shut the
company down, alleging that employees there prepare fraudulent returns that
cause their customers to incorrectly report their federal tax liabilities
and underpay their taxes and charge customers bogus and unconscionably high
fees. Unfortunately, according to advocates, what "More Money Taxes" was
up to is not uncommon. More than half of all tax preparers for this tax
season are not subject to any kind of licensing or training regulations.
They just have to register for an identification number. And the ease of
getting into the business combined with the more than $300 billion in
anticipated tax refund money has made tax preparation ripe for predatory
practices that target low income communities, especially individuals who
qualify for the earned income tax credit.

Joining me now to explain why this happens and what we can do about it is
Stephen Black, Director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility
at the University of Alabama. He`s also the founder and president of
Impact Alabama, which trains students to provide free tax preparation
services for low income families. Good morning, Stephen.

STEPHEN BLACK, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Good morning. Thank you for having
me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. So start with the earned income tax credit.
Explain why that is such an issue in this predatory practice.

BLACK: Well, that`s the basis for the entire industry. Something that a
lot of people don`t appreciate. The earned income tax credit is the single
largest federal anti-poverty program. And I think it really doesn`t get
that much attention and press because it`s one of those rare initiatives,
probably the singular substantive federal tax initiative policy that enjoys
bipartisan support. President Reagan was a big supporter, President
Clinton grew it. It`s a refundable credit to families. I think it`s not
controversial to say, sort of welfare reform because it leaves the debate
about welfare to the side. You only qualify for it if you`re working and
most of it goes to working parents raising adults. It`s a huge amount of
money that pours into low income communities in about an eight-week period
in the last part of January through March all over the country. The
challenge is between 65 and 70 percent of these families feel as though
they need professional help. They`re intimidated by the IRS, they don`t
want to mess up, they don`t want to get it wrong and they don`t have access
to CPAs, to accountants the way upper income families do because CPAs are
not in the business of doing very simple returns where you don`t even
itemize the return.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so when you say professional, though, I mean
this is a pretty elastic term of professional, right? We were just looking
that for tax practitioners who are subject to the Treasury standards, about
308,000 of them who are doing taxes. But when it comes to these folks who
are these unenrolled preparers, folks who just need to get an I.D., there`s
actually more of them. So they`re professional only to the extent that you
have to pay them to do it?

BLACK: This is the majority of tax preparation around the country that
serves working class Americans, working paycheck to paycheck. It`s
literally like the Wild West. And people use the word regulation and
commercial tax preparers say, well, this is going to be bad for our
business. It`s going to - it literally will not be. Regulation really
isn`t the best word. The best word is just basic licensing and training
the way if you want to open a hair salon in any state in the country, you
have to pass a test and get a license. If you want to do nails, you have
to pass a test and get a license. If you want to prepare taxes for
families charging them on average $300 for about 30 minutes of work that`s
not very difficult, signing the most important document they sign all year,
there`s no training requirement, there`s no licensing. It`s literally the
Wild West in every state other than four.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So you`re talking about $300 and $400 fees for a
half an hour worth of work. That`s a $600 to $800 an hour level. I mean
even sort of high level CPAs typically don`t charge that.

BLACK: That`s absolutely right. You can talk to the National Association
of Certified Accountants. The average $100,000 a year family, which is not
the average family, but the average $100,000 a year family pays between
$150 and $200 to have their taxes done with itemization from a trained
certified accountant. The average single mother working at Walmart making
$19,000 a year raising two kids, goes into one of these places with a W-2,
no itemization and will come out $300. $300 is a lot of money for me to
waste in 30 minutes.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: But if you`re making $18,000 a year raising children, it`s painful
and it`s really abusive.

HARRIS-PERRY: I couldn`t help but notice that the "More Money" commercial
also had a particular sort of veilance to it that felt like there are some
communities being particularly targeted here.

BLACK: Oh, absolutely, there`s no question. And a lot of them will be
very clear about it. And liberty tax is another one. I think H&R block is
the most legitimate, and they in fact are not against additional training
requirements because they do train their staff more. Sometimes I think
they get a little too expensive, but that`s my opinion. But the other mom
and pop operations and the chains that have kind of sprung from the H&R
block model, who specifically prey on low income communities, and a lot of
them just African-American communities, they open up in strip malls next to
payday lenders and title pawn shops and literally, they`re not even there
by the end of April.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

BLACK: You can`t find them. A lot of times they don`t even sign the
returns for the people.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, they just - they pop up and then they`re gone. We
really wanted to get that information out. Stephen Black in San Jose,
thank you so much for joining us.

BLACK: Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

Also here in New York thank you to Bryce Covert, Rick Newman and Nomi
Prins. Now, Christina is going to stick around a little bit. Maybe she`ll
say intersectional again.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up to President Obama on the legacy of LBJ and the
limits of presidential power. Does he still believe that yes we can?
There`s going to be more "Nerdland" at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Back, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

On Thursday, it seemed as if we were going to be treated to some vintage
Obama. The president addressed the civil rights forum in Austin, Texas,
honoring the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed by President
Lyndon Johnson.

And the president wraps buoyed by the 7.1 million enrollees in Obamacare
was in classic Obama rhetorical form. He started with the self deprecating
humor in which he reminds us that whatever criticism we have in the press
or public, the first lady has likely already expressed them in the
residence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michelle was in particular
interested of a recording in which Lady Bird is critiquing President
Johnson`s performance. And she said come, come, you need to listen to
this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: He also gave us some of that delicious Professor Obama
affect too, as he offered a compelling history lesson about Johnson`s first
legislative priorities after unexpectedly assuming the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil
rights bill. In one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a
president should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy
they might be. To which it is said, President Johnson replied, well, what
the hell`s the presidency for?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Then, the next key ingredient in the Obama formula, when the
president makes his trademark turn from a specific story, Lyndon Johnson`s
in this case, to a broader theory of democracy and government by the
people. It`s always my favorite part because no other president has so
eloquently and routinely included social movements in his telling of the
American story.

Here, President Obama reminds us that LBJ could act only because he was
compelled to act by the people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white,
students and scholars, preachers, and housekeepers, whose names are etched
not on monuments but in the hearts of their loved ones and in the fabric of
the country that they helped to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, at this point, close followers of the president`s
speeches know what is coming, right? It`s what follows the mention of the
elderly Anna Nixon Cooper who cast her vote on election vote. It`s what
followed the invocation of Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall at the
second inauguration. Come on, you know what is next, Nerdland -- yes, we
can. Right?

It`s the moment the president assures us of the ability of the American
people to change ourselves, our nation, our world, as we bend that arc of
history toward justice -- and here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Those of us who have had the singular privilege to hold the office
of the presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and
it can be slow. Frustrating, and sometimes you`re stymied. The office
humbles you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait a minute, what? This is the "yes, we can" part, Mr.
President. Your giving me slow and frustrating and stymied and humbling?
OK, OK, maybe it`s up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You`re reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a
relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions made by those
who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully
vindicate your vision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: A relay swimmer? OK, I`m going to need to hit pause here
because our president has changed the ending on us in a very interesting
way. Facing the last midterm election of his presidency with no other
election in his personal future, our soaring optimist is turning a more
jaundiced eye on the American project.

Now, he is still firmly an American exceptionalist who insists on a
fundamentally optimistic view of the American project, but as he discussed
LBJ`s legislative legacy, it was easy to sense that he was distressed that
his own legacy would not contain these sorts of civil rights achievements,
not because he didn`t want them, but because he faced a 112th, 113th and
likely a 114th Congress far more intransient than anything even the master
of the Senate, Johnson himself, could have imagined.

And so the president left us on Thursday with hope, always with hope, but
maybe a more tempered hope and one that leaves us not declaring "yes, we
can", but asking, can we still?

At the table, Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of "Democracy
Now." Raul Reyes, a columnist at "USA Today", Christina Greer, who is
assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, and Juan --
I`m sorry, they spelled it very strange (ph) in there-- Cartagena, who is
president and general counsel of Latino Justice. Sometimes the pronouncers
are actually harder for me.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRY-PERRY: You know, they do like this highlight reel of me destroying
everyone`s name.

But I actually want to start with you because if we are, as the president
suggested here, swimming in a relay, are we winning in terms of achieving
that more perfected union?

JUAN CARTAGENA, LATINO JUSTICE: Well, we`ve got a lot of work to do,
obviously. I think the issues that are concerning the civil rights
movement in general have to take into account everything that`s happening
on the immigration front. Incredible challenges that we have in ensuring
that Latinos are also receiving equal treatment under the law.

If it is a relay race, then the next person grabbing this baton better pay
attention to this issue. That is premiere civil rights issue as we`re
going forward.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I like that you immediately started to expand the
definition of civil rights. Raul, I want to come to you in part on this
because I think if we think about civil rights exclusively about African-
American politics, then the president has a strong, but certainly not an
LBJ level record, right, on this. But if we think about civil rights more
broadly, particularly around LGBT issues, this presidency, the years of
this presidency will be remembered as expansive.

RAUL REYES, USA TODAY: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: On the creation -- not solely because of policies he himself
passed, but a new environment which he helps to create. And I wonder if
when you`re an elected official, you have to not be a member of the group
for which you are expanding the rights. Like being the southern white
gentleman helps LBJ to do race rights and being the straight black
president helps President Obama to expand LGBT civil rights.

REYES: Maybe. I mean my impression of the speech, I came away from
watching it that it was so realistic in the sense that he made references -
- he talked about history moving backwards, which the first thing I thought
about was the Shelby County decision. He also mentioned very
pragmatically, he said that passing laws is only the first step, which is a
nod to the circumstance.

You know, in LBJ`s time, we had bigotry and discrimination and racism that
was codified into law so the policy fight was very easy from a progressive
standpoint of good versus bad. Now, we still have all of those issues, but
they`re in a much more subtle way. So, it`s a harder fight. It`s a
tougher lift for him to move ahead.

And maybe -- I see what you`re saying. Maybe sometimes when you`re not at
the center of those issues, maybe it is a little easier as a leader, as a
lawmaker to see the calculus and to move on that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Amy, I sort of like this President Obama rhetorically
better. I love -- I loved the yes, we can, especially for campaigning,
like I said that as a strategy. But I appreciate that he tempered the sort
of performance of hope that he often does by suggesting, man, this is hard
and we may not be making much progress right now.

AMY GOODMAN, DEMOCRACY NOW: Well, I think the key word there is "we",
because with this whole looking back 50 years to LBJ, I think the critical
point is you have to go beyond LBJ as even Obama referenced to the
movements. It wasn`t LBJ that did this. It was the movements that forced
him to. The minute he`s signing the civil rights act in July, you have
John Lewis, now the congressman, then a leading civil rights activist once
again protesting with Diane Nash and the other remarkable people fighting
already for the Voting Rights Act that would come the next year.

And right now, with President Obama, it`s not really about what he`s going
to do. It is about what people are going to push him to do.

And I think clearly right now, the movement that is pushing the hardest,
that is the most organized, is the immigrants` rights movement. And the
question is not so much what is Obama going to do but what are people
demanding.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I always look at the Civil
Rights Act and voting rights act and the immigration act -- I can see him
moving into this. We saw George Bush do this in 2006 when he started to
break away from Cheney. You start to think about your legacy.

But I think as a Democratic president, Obama is also looking at the big
picture, right? So, we know there`s FDR and the New Deal. There`s LBJ and
the Great Society. And there`s nothing really with Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, there`s welfare reform. There`s a massive prison
industrial complex.

GREER: So these are the things that as a Democratic president we can`t
really hang our hats on, right? We`ve got Monica, we`ve got welfare, we`ve
got prisons and we got NAFTA/KAFTA and ignorance on Rwanda, right?

So, if Obama is trying to have a an FDR, an LBJ and BHL movement, sort of
as a Democratic president, this idea of Obamacare, this idea of immigration
reform really needs to happen. But I really wonder if he`s sort of fallen
into the George Bush trap, which is you`re obviously going to really start
about immigration reform essentially your last two years in office. And,
it`s too little too late.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, one of the things I like about the way that
you set up this notion of the Democratic president, we have this incredible
piece of Adam Serwer did for the MSNBC where he is trying to rethink
Johnson. I just want to read this. It`s kind of long but let me read from
the piece here.

"Perhaps the simple explanation which Johnson likely understood better than
most was there is no magic formula to which people can emancipate
themselves from prejudice, no finish line that when crossed awards a
person`s sole with a shining medal of purity in matters of race. All we
can offer is a commitment to justice in word and deed that must be honored
but from which we will all occasionally fall short. Maybe when Johnson
said it`s not just Negroes but all of us who must overcome the crippling
legacy of bigotry, he really meant all of us, including himself," right?

So, this suggests that that same tempered notion that President Obama was
giving us, when we look back at LBJ, we see these great legislative
accomplishments, but it is always still just partial. It`s never fully
there.

CARTAGENA: Definitely. That`s the matter of legislation. You can only
take it to a certain point. Behavior has to change, and that behavior has
changed in many, many ways.

I mean, Obama symbolizes so many things of the civil rights movement. Now
the question is for us in this diverse country that we now live in, given
all the challenges we currently have, how do we translate those promises
into today`s realities.

HARRIS-PERRY: And one way that we might be able to do it would be through
the vote, which of course we know is at the moment being challenged. So
when we come back, President Obama minces absolutely no words in his Friday
speech that drilled the GOP.

But, seriously, you must go read Adam Serwer`s piece up right now on
MSNBC.com entitled "Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero but also a
racist."

This morning, if you read this one thing, you will have done something good
for your brain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT: This Civil Rights Act is a challenge
to all of us, to go to work in our communities and in our states, in our
homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So let`s be clear, the real voter fraud is people who try to deny
our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. And I`d just say,
there have been some of these officials passing these laws have been more
blunt. They say this is going to be good for the Republican Party. Some
of them have not been shy about saying that they`re doing this for partisan
reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama yesterday giving the keynote
address at Reverend Al Sharpton`s National Action Network`s Annual
Conference. Reverend Sharpton, of course, also hosts the program "POLITICS
NATION" right here on MSNBC.

And I have to say, when I saw the president, I thought he`s got Ludacris
back on his play list because he had a certain -- I mean, have you ever
seen him not mincing words about voting rights in this way?

GOODMAN: It was so important what he said -- 147 million votes cast, 40
people were indicted for fraud. We`re talking about a nonexistent issue.

But what is extreme problem because there is an extreme problem is that
people are losing their right to vote. What people got their heads bashed
in for 50 years ago, right now, they`re cutting -- what is the
justification for saying we`ll give less time for people to vote,
especially for working people. I mean, when you go in the morning to vote,
if you don`t get there at 6:00 and you work all day and you have to go back
to where it is that you live, you`re not going to be able to live. What
can justify, I don`t care, Democrat or Republican, cutting back on people`s
ability to get to the polls.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. As you point out, that in no way would address voter
fraud. Like having a shorter number of hours to cast one`s vote would have
no impact on someone -- like we expect fraudulent people to show up more at
noon than 6:00 a.m.

REYES: The great lie of all this -- when you do talk about voter fraud,
these voter ID requirements that they`re passing, these other pieces of
restrictive legislation, that wouldn`t impact it anyway because most of
that tends to occur when it does at very instances, like through mail-in
votes. It does --

CARTAGENA: Absentee ballots.

REYES: Right, absentee ballots. But I just think it`s so important that
the president was up there calling it out for what it is. And, you know,
so much of the time when we talk about civil rights legislation, the Voting
Rights Act, it`s often in the sense of black and white. But as we go
forward in the future, the reason that -- the damage that Shelby County
decision is particularly damaging for the Latino community is the greatest
growth of the Latino population is throughout the South and Southeast, the
states that no longer have the preclearance.

So, it`s not just going to be an issue for African-American voters, it`s
going to be increasingly an issue for the Latino community.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, the politics of this are important. I mean, Christina,
I want to look at sort of the president`s approval ratings by race over
time. And you see that, you know, he starts particularly with African-
American and Hispanic voters sort of way up, again, particularly with
African-American voters. You see it declines a little bit from 100 to 75.

But the important little blip I want you to see for both Hispanic and
African-American voters is in 2012, it kind of ticks back up. And it seems
to me that part of the reason, Christina, that happens is because that is
when kind of the discourse about the attacks on voting become very clear.
It becomes not just a referendum on President Obama but a referendum on
whether or not we all have the right to vote. You see that uptick.

And I wonder if in part his like courage and forth rightness which may in
part be sincere is also political, is also about saying this is the thing
that really gets people to understand why they have to show up and vote.

GREER: Right. And this is the thing that will hopefully get people to
show up and vote in 2014, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, `tis the problem of midterms.

GREER: And I think we also just have to ask ourselves, where are the
Democrats on this larger conversation, right? We have the president versus
the Republican Party. But, you know, not to throw water on the parade --
they`re in there.

But let`s clear -- but there are many Democrats on local and state levels
who actually it behooves them not to have more people in the voting
process, right? They`re not as actively out there diminishing the vote the
way certain Republican legislators are, but the Democrats know their base,
they know who turns out. And especially if you`re in a district where it`s
a Democratic district and you really only have to worry about your primary,
not your general. You`re actually not that interested in bringing new
voters in. They`ll likely be Democrats if they`re Latino, depending on
where you are, but they could go for some one else.

So I`m just bringing up the point that Democrats, if you`re interested in
moving this conversation forward, you need to do a lot more and not just
put it on the Republicans to say, well, they`re the ones trying to limit
the vote.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This for me is -- we`re going to spend an hour on this
tomorrow because this is a central issue, but hearing the president just
refuse to -- I mean, for him to frame it as a partisan issue, for him to
frame it standings there at National Action Network, but let me ask one
thing about this. As much as it was exciting, would LBJ have been invited
to speak at SCLC? Is there a capture of the movements that are meant to be
pressing presidents and lawmakers when the presidents and lawmakers are
president -- does that make sense?

CARTAGENA: It does. But thank God if President Johnson had at LBJ, the
exposing we`re giving this particular audience, this particular topic
yesterday is enormous and well-deserved. I mean, yes, he was pumped up,
look at the audience. Pumped up, look who introduced him.

But he`s speaking clearly what everyone already knows. I mean, you hit the
nail on the head. The 2012 election was a clear indication that this was
done for clearly partisan reasons. Everyone knows it.

The hard -- I`ve worked on voting cases for 30 plus years. You piss
somebody off when you tell them they can`t vote. They`ll go back to their
house, get their ID and bring back their cousins and everybody can stand in
line. This wonderful picture of people standing in line just trying to
exercise that right because they can see it for what it is.

GOODMAN: I think the Republicans understand that, that 2012 there was a
lot of anger and also it goes to what media pays attention to. And when
people get angry, they`re going to do something about it. So, short term
they may win somewhere, but long term I think Democrats and I think it`s a
key point you`re making, incumbents, even Democratic incumbents don`t want
to expand it, they want to keep who voted them in.

HARRIS-PERRY: And long term that structural piece -- yes, it`s good to rev
people up, but you want to talk about who`s dealing with structures.

Up next, the essential civil rights player in the Obama administration who
also has been listening to Ludacris lately. He`s getting louder and
clearer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m pleased to note the last five years
have been defined by significant strides and lasting reforms, even in the
face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive
adversity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: And we`re bolstering our across-the-board civil rights enforcement
efforts to ensure that our work is as strong and as effective today as ever
before. Over the past three years, the department`s civil rights division
has filed more criminal civil rights cases than during any other period in
its history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was Attorney General Eric Holder speaking at the
National Action Network`s annual convention on Wednesday.

And while President Obama has not had the major legislative achievements
like LBJ`s Civil Rights Act, here`s what he has done. President Obama
appointed an attorney general who has aggressively enforced existing civil
rights law and has made strides to correct past errors. Those
accomplishments include endorsing a proposal to shorten prison sentences
for many nonviolent drug offenders that would change the face of the
criminal justice system as we know it.

He sued both Texas and North Carolina to block voter ID laws that would
make it more difficult for minorities to vote, and he has issued a
directive expanding government recognition of same-sex marriages to all
federal courtrooms, prisons and some federal benefits programs just to name
a few of things he`s been up to.

So while we may not appreciate the accomplishments of this administration
until, say, a decade hence, that`s because so much of the civil rights work
is happening in the Department of Justice. I kept asking myself, is Eric
Holder the Obama that we had been hoping for? Like, right, there`s a way
in which -- but of course he works for President Obama. I mean, you can`t
-- I think it`s not really fair to separate them. But he is like, yes, I
sue you and you and how about you don`t put them in jail and you get to
vote. Like he`s very -- he`s doing that work.

GREER: I think he may be the greatest addition to the entire Obama
administration, and I think in the long term the work that he is doing now,
the foundational work that he`s doing will actually pay off in dividends
and actually help Obama`s legacy, right, because we know right now on
immigration reform or deportations which we`ll talk about later, many
people have been disappointed in this president.

But I think Eric Holder with the appointments that he`s made for
individuals beneath him, U.S. attorneys across the country, sort of
younger, more diverse people, the issues that he`s raising and fighting
for, I think, you know, especially with the courts, plural, that we have
and the lack of judges that sort of aren`t in positions that are filled
because of Republican holdouts and the Supreme Court and they`re leaning to
the right consistently, I think the fights that he`s starting we`ll see pay
off in hopefully five, ten, 15 years.

HARRIS-PERRY: You said one thing I don`t want to miss which is about the
other attorneys in the DOJ. We may not as a public recognize it but those
who don`t want to see these policy reenacted absolutely recognize it.

And what happened with Debo and the blocking of that really incredible
civil rights advocate to one the civil rights division of the Department of
Justice was -- I mean, it`s almost like as soon as I see somebody fighting,
I go, oh, wait a minute, that must be something interesting that`s
happening there.

GOODMAN: I mean, what`s important here though is that it was the Democrats
who ultimately blocked him. This was -- yes, of course, the Republicans
were opposing him but it was the Democrats who joined with them in the
Senate when they didn`t even need 60 votes. They just took him down and
that really goes to this bigger point about where the Democrats are today,
that it`s not just about President Obama or Eric Holder and also very
interesting to hear the attorney general saying that he alone as an
attorney general today, no other attorney general has been treated by
Congress like he has been treated, going to the issue of race.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, actually I want to listen to him in this interaction
with Gohmert earlier this week because it was one of those moment you get a
sense of how ugly the treatment has been.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I realize that contempt is not a big deal
to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight.

HOLDER: You don`t want to go there, buddy. You don`t want to go there,
OK?

GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?

HOLDER: No.

GOHMERT: About the contempt?

HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think
that it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that
that was not a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Man, I was standing on the side, yeah. You don`t -- you
don`t want to go there.

CARTAGENA: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That was kind of a lovely moment.

REYES: Yes. And I was so glad that you showed the earlier clip of Holder
saying that no one else has been treated as he was, which I was a little
surprised that he went there. But when I see Eric Holder now, I just think
back to when Alberto Gonzalez was attorney general.

Now, he presided over the DOJ when it was totally politicized.
Partisanship was pretty much a requirement to get into the DOJ at that
time, there was all these different scandals. And yet, during that time,
Democrats held back at going after him because there was that sense that,
well, he`s the first Latino attorney general and that would look bad.

And yet, now, with Attorney General Eric Holder, if anything, it seems as
though Republicans are emboldened to go after Attorney General Holder as an
African-American, that gives them this free rein for this -- really, he`s
right -- unparalleled disrespect that he is enduring in this office.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it could be about him being African-American, I think
there`s a hypothesis that`s at the table. I think the other possibility is
that it could be about how aggressively he and effectively he is at the
core of implementing this.

When we come back, I`m going to come to the issue you tried to take us to
on the very first question, which is immigration and the extent to which
civil rights as a central issue of our day right now is about immigration.

We`re going to ask this question, why is there a hunger strike in fronting
of the White House right now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Half a century later, the law`s LBJ passed are now as fundamental
to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution, and
the Bill of Rights. They are foundational, an essential piece of the
American character.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: When President Obama was at the civil rights summit on
Thursday praised Lyndon Baines Johnson`s signature accomplishment, the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, he also touted what came after it, the Voting
Rights Act, Fair Housing act and immigration reform. That last one,
immigration reform, is something that President Obama has also placed high
on his agenda, but it`s something he hasn`t been able to accomplish despite
bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate and calls for immigration
reform by prominent Republicans like Jeb Bush.

And in the meantime, President Obama has continued the trend set by another
Bush, President George W. Bush, with his administration`s aggressive
detention and deportation of unauthorized immigrants from the United States
since he took office in 2009. According to Vox.com last year, undocumented
immigrant removal occurred at a pace of 1,010 persons per day. If the
deportations continued at the pace here, that means that the 2 millionth
deportation likely happened sometime in the middle of last month.

In the last seven days, new pressure has been applied to the president to
bypass congress and use his executive power to stop or at least slow
deportations and detentions. There was last Saturday`s day of action
during which protesters rallied across the country. The president spoke in
Austin on Thursday. Some immigration reform activists chained themselves
to a statue of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the University of
Texas campus. At least three people were arrested.

And the cry for the president to take executive action is being issued
right in front of his own house. Three people have staged a hunger strike
since Tuesday in front of the White House, demanding their loved ones be
released from immigration detention. One of the activists, 18-year-old
Cynthia Diaz, is taking time away from her studies at the University of
Arizona to protest the detention of her mother, Ria del Rosario Rodriguez
who has been in detention since March.

Cynthia joins us now from Washington.

Nice to have you.

CYNTHIA DIAZ, HUNGER STRIKE ACTIVIST: Hi. Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Cynthia, you are currently right now hunger striking, is
that right?

DIAZ: Yes, that`s right. This is my fifth day.

HARRIS-PERRY: So tell me why. Why are you hunger striking?

DIAZ: I am doing this hunger strike for my mom. She was unfairly deported
on May, 2011. When ICE raided our home, it was a Saturday morning. I was
15 at the time, and I have a younger brother who was 13. I was woken up by
my dad`s screaming out, Cynthia, they`re taking your mom.

And I was confused because I didn`t know what that meant so I went to my
front yard and there I saw ten ICE officers all over my front yard and I
saw my mom being handcuffed and pushed into a van. And then the door shut
and we were really confused. My brother heard everything but he didn`t
leave his room because he didn`t want to see what was happening.

That was really traumatizing for me because, like I said before, I was only
15 at the time.

HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about being confused, were you aware of your
mother`s status as an unauthorized immigrant?

DIAZ: No, I didn`t know. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I
have a brother and my dad who are U.S. residents, but I didn`t know until
they took my mom that, you know, she was undocumented.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you`re an American citizen. You have U.S. permanent re
residents in your family. How -- and yet you have not eaten in days
because you are trying to get your president and your government to let
your mom out of detention.

This is a trite question but sort of -- how are you feeling both physically
and politically at this moment?

DIAZ: This morning, I woke up a little sore, so that means my body is
reacting to the lack of food. And I`ve been -- it`s been tough. This is
my first hunger strike. I haven`t eaten in five days.

But I`m still, you know, trying to stay strong and push forward and try to
call out President Obama because we are in his front yard.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia, stay with us, don`t go away.

But I don`t want to come out to the table here. When you asked us to come
to this issue from the beginning, and part of why we wanted Cynthia`s voice
here is so often when we talk about immigration reform, it`s like -- it`s
like this big theory up here. This is about families and moms and dads and
children and --

CARTAGENA: It`s about mixed status families. For every unauthorized
immigrant in a family household, you`ll have citizens, you`ll have lawful
permanent residents. What happened here with this young woman`s family was
aggressive, outrageous, unconstitutional actions probably by ICE and home
raids.

We should know. My office sued ICE and got a major settlement out of ICE
to actually apply the Fourth Amendment doing home raids. What a marvel,
incredible application of the Constitution. ICE has been doing this
forever.

And now, to see this young woman talk about this in this way, I am so happy
you put them on the air. We have to continue to talk about people like
this were destroyed by these policies.

GOODMAN: "The New York Times" just did this great expose that here, you
have President Obama saying, we`re going after the criminals, we`re going
after the gang bangers, it`s not like we`re going after the students and
the grandmothers.

But the fact is --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GOODMAN: -- two-thirds of the people who are being deported, and we`ve hit
this unbelievable 2 million deportation mark just within President Obama`s
administration, two-thirds of them are either involved with minor criminal
offenses like they ran a red light, a traffic violation, or no criminal
offense at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: The only criminal offense is the status offense, is the
undocumentation.

REYES: Just for the record, we also hear a lot about detention. You know,
detention is prison. When you`re in detention, you don`t get due process,
you often don`t get a chance to make a phone call. You are separated
physically. You might be in a different state. Many of those detention
centers are privately run. So, there`s no accountability, no transparency
so in many ways it`s worse than prison. In this country, we have people in
our prison system who are convicted murderers and rapists who are treated
better than moms and dads who are in detention. So, just be clear,
detention is prison.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia, let me come back to you for a moment. Have you had
a chance to talk with your mother, and where is her case right now?

DIAZ: Yes, I talked to her last night. Right now she`s in San Luis,
Arizona. She is in a private detention center. She does tell me that it`s
really cold there, the beds are really uncomfortable. The food is not
pleasant at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia Diaz in Washington, D.C., I want to say two things.
As someone who thinks of myself as committed to questions of activism, I am
incredibly proud of you for taking action, for being an activist on this
question.

As a mom and my bet is, although I have not spoken to your mom, but just as
a mom, at some point, I want to ensure that you are also caring for
yourself. I am so proud of you for hunger striking here, but I also, I
just want to make my mom appeal that at some point, please continue to care
for yourself as you work to liberate your mother, please.

DIAZ: That`s what I`m doing, thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Cynthia Diaz in Washington, D.C.

Up next, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says race is the reason for
immigration reform being stalled.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We are still waiting and waiting and waiting for Washington
to do something about immigration reform, all to no avail. And there are
those who feel that race is one of the reasons why.

One of those people, it seems, is House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who
said this at her press briefing on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think race has
something to do with the fact that they`re not bringing up an immigration
bill. I`ve heard them say to the Irish, if it were just you, this would be
easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, so that wasn`t mincing words. The whole Obama
administration and the Democrats, that leadership, that notion of race
being part of it, and I think we talk an awful lot about Latino immigration
but also about black immigration from the African diaspora.

But the idea that immigrants are these racial others.

GREER: Right. I said this when I was on the show a few weeks ago. The
face of immigration is a Latino face, right, and that sort of when many
people Americans think about immigration as an idea, it`s just Mexico,
right?

We have to also be very clear, there`s loads of undocumented immigrants
from Canada who are here and we know that there`s lots of immigration from
people all over the world. I particularly work on Caribbean and Africa,
but, you know, Asia, South America, wherever.

So I think it`s really problematic the way the entire immigration debate
has been framed because it turns into a Latino versus America problem. But
I think the fact that Nancy Pelosi, and maybe it is because it`s a midterm
election year and we know that many people see it as an off year in the
sense that they don`t have to turn out, this may actually mobilize and
motivate certain Democratic individuals to actually come out, so we`ll see.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, here you have the politics of it happening up here
strategically but in terms of the policy, is there anything the president
can unilaterally do? Here`s a young woman who is not eating because she
needs the president to do something.

REYES: There`s quite a number of things the president can do using his
executive authority. He could end the secure communities program, which is
a very controversial program which is basically a pipeline into detention.
He could end the 287-G program which is pretty much deputizes all these
local law enforcement officers with no immigration training and makes them
ICE agents. He could also expand the number of people who are eligible for
deferred action.

Now, he can`t do it for everybody, and granted none of these measures would
be permanent. He cannot give anybody citizenship. But there are things he
can do. And, you know, the number 2 million, we`ve been hearing it for so
long, but when you actually put it in perspective, 2 million people is the
size of the population of West Virginia, of Nebraska. It`s more than those
states, and more than 12 or 15 other states.

When you think about the devastation that has wrought on our communities,
it`s hard to wrap your mind around it.

HARRIS-PERRY: And as much as 2 million matters, I almost don`t care if
it`s 2 million or if it`s just Cynthia`s story, when you hear that story,
it`s so appalling.

GOODMAN: You know, Melissa, I was thinking about President Obama last
night when he was at the play, "A Raisin in the Sun", right? "A Raisin in
the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry taken from Langston Hughes poem, I just want
to read three lines from that poem. What happens to a dream deferred, does
it dry up like a raisin in the sun or fester like a sore and then run and
hues ends by saying or does -- he says maybe it just sags like a heavy load
or does it explode.

This is what President Obama and the Republicans and Democrats have to deal
with, with the immigrant rights movement, the injustice of 2 million people
being deported, the vast majority have not committed a crime. They are
here. And who is talking about this? Jeb Bush.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I was going to say --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let`s listen to Jeb Bush because it is sort of
stunning that the point that you just made has been made by Jeb Bush.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The way I look at this, and this is
not -- you know, I`m going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it.
They cross the border because they had no other means to work to be able to
provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law. But it`s not a felony.
It`s kind of -- it`s an act of love. It`s an act of commitment to your
family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So everybody stay with me because we`re going to come back
and talk about if in fact the world is going to explode because Jeb Bush
and Amy Goodman agree on this question when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So what you heard Jeb Bush saying there just a little bit
earlier before the break was not an anomaly, he really meant it. Here he
is on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This last week I made some statements about immigration reform that
apparently generated a little more news than anticipated. The simple fact
is, there is no complete between enforcing our laws, believing in the role
of law, and having some sensitivity to the immigrant experience, which is
part of who we are as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I don`t hate that. Is that -- so is that the solution
for the Republican Party, to sort of regain a foothold as a party that can
grow as opposed to one shrinking demographically?

CARTAGENA: I would hope the Republican Party would admit the fact it`s
intentional and a part of many of the colleagues to isolate and single out
Latinos in the way they`re doing.

I mean, it would be nice with Jeb Bush to also say and admit, yes, some of
my colleagues have made a mistake.

Think about what happened in Alabama -- Alabama, we have a federal judge
written an opinion that anti-immigrant in the debate in the Alabama`s
legislature was code for anti-Latino. It means it`s pretty clear in any
way, shape or form.

Let`s have a Republican also have an honest discussion about race and
immigration.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the other piece, I guess I want to push back, is that
there`s always the sort of, OK, let`s talk about immigration, and that will
be about getting the Latino vote. First of all, Latinos are single issue
voters, who only vote on open immigration policy, which is empirically
false.

GREER: And the data says that Latino actually vote for economies -- the
economy, jobs, schools. There are so many other issues --

HARRIS-PERRY: They`re voters.

GREER: Right, they`re multidimensional voters, right.

REYES: But it is amazing we are at this point where Jeb Bush is, you know,
out in public with that. Nancy Pelosi in her remarks, she also compared
the immigration enforcement policies we currently have, she compared that
to the interment camps of the Japanese during the war.

So who is holding the radical position in this policy discussion? It`s the
Obama administration. It`s really time for them to rethink the whole
enforcement policy because it`s a failed policy. It`s futile and
politically, it`s just been absolutely fruitless.

HARRIS-PERRY: That interment camp language is so important. You guess
that assumption that certain identities are simply enemies of the state.

GOODMAN: What the White House is weighing inside, maybe they`ll just
extend stopping deportations from the dreamers, the young people. Let`s
make no mistake about it, going back to the civil rights movement. The
reason they got that is because they were sitting in, like Cynthia, they
were fasting.

President Obama was a community organizer. He responds to a demand, the
demand has been from the right for a long time. Now, those who help to
elect them are making demands. They haven`t for a long time. They were
demobilized.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GOODMAN: Right now, you see in that most powerful movement now is the
immigrant rights movement and he has to figure out what to do.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is really I think the perfect point to end on for this
hour. We started with LBJ, this notion of a movement that pushes a
president to great civil rights work, ending with an 18-year-old girl who
is not just fasting, but hunger striking, not eating for five days, because
her mother is imprisoned.

REYES: These people are the conscience of the immigrant rights movement.

HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed. Thank you to Amy and Raul, Christina and Juan.

And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m
going to see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. "New York
Magazine" writer Jonathan Chait, yes, he`s coming to Nerdland. We are
going to have ourselves a conversation about race, politics and President
Obama.

Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."

Hi, Alex.


END

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MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
April 12, 2014

Guests: Bryce Covert, Christina Greer, Nomi Prins, Rick Newman, Stephen
Black, Amy Goodman, Raul Reyes, Juan Cartagena, Cynthia Diaz

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, is President
Obama winning his leg of the relay swim?

Plus, beware of the pop-up tax man.

And hunger strike at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But first, separating fact from fiction when it comes to the politics of
the wage gap.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This week Senate Democrats tried
unsuccessfully to pass their Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the wage
gap between men and women workers. This, of course, set the nation to
talking about women and work, and you can`t really talk about working women
in America without thinking of Rosie. Rosie Riveter, the we can do it
figure of World War 2. Rosie answered the call of her nation by trading in
her apron for a riveting gun. As millions of young men left home to do
battle for democracy overseas, millions of women took up their place in the
factories of the defense industry, fighting for democracy right here at
home. 310,000 women worked in the aircraft industry alone, where almost
none had worked before. Yes, Rosie and her sisters in the fight for
democracy were critical to the war effort and a grateful nation thanks
these efficient, sacrificial, hard-working women with deafening applause
and paychecks half the size of the men who worked alongside with them.

And never fear, when the war ended, these loyal women workers who toiled
for half pay were indeed rewarded with a promotion to the most important
job of all. Domestic technician. Yes, once the men came home from war,
Rosie was told to go home and to rebuild the nation another way, by making
babies and buying consumer items and, man, Rosie did a damn good job at
that too. Let it never be forgotten that it was the Rosies who gave birth
to the baby boomers. It`s interesting then that Democratic women in the
Senate framed their failed vote on Paycheck Fairness Act in terms of war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D) MARYLAND: We`re leading an American revolution,
just like Abigail Adams encouraged us. If they forget the ladies, we`re
here to fight. So I said square your shoulders, put your lipstick on and
let`s fight another day.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D) WASHINGTON: We deserve more than to be left fighting
the same uphill battles for justice we`ve been fighting for decades and
decades.

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D) WISCONSIN: Opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act
is a war on progress in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: It also probably won`t surprise you to hear that the
Republicans blocked the bill. They said it was not about real policy, but
a transparent political stunt to draw more women voters to come out in
November. Now here`s what the Paycheck Fairness Act would have done. It
would require some companies to report salary information to the government
and would prohibit retaliation against employees for telling one another
how much they make. It would also expand opportunities for workers to sue
their employers over wage discrimination. Now, workers can sue already,
thanks to the Equal Pay Act, but it`s a hard road to take. And a woman has
to know that she`s being paid less. She has to find another employee
making more money for the same job and she has to be willing to risk,
torpedoing her own career in order to do so. She has to find a lawyer
willing to take her case. That`s not an easy thing to do when workers win
only a third of the time in equal pay cases. The Paycheck Fairness Act
would address that to some extent by narrowing the grounds on which an
employer can claim that the disparity is due to legitimate business
reasons, but it still puts the onus on the workers to sue a system that has
not yet closed the wage gap. And that`s why, frankly, I kind of agree with
the Republicans. You know, they said that the act is a little more a piece
of political fluff than to lure women voters and, you know, because for all
the talk of women making 77 cents on every dollar that a man earns, wage
discrimination is simply not the only reason. The reality is in fact far
more complicated. Just look at the White House. Republicans made much hay
over the fact that women working at the White House earn on average 88
percent of what men working at the White House make. And they asked about
it on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that men and
women in the White House are paid the same level -- the same amount for the
same level of job, but the problem only comes when you do the math.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you look at the aggregate
and this includes everybody from this most senior levels to the lowest
levels, you`re averaging all salaries together, which means including the
lowest level salaries, which may or may not be, depending on the
institution, filled by more women than men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Probably not a great idea to engage in mansplaining -
mansplaining, but let me just say, that what Carney said here is, in fact,
exactly the problem for women nationwide. Women as an aggregate make less
money than men and that`s because they`re more likely to work those lower
level jobs. Women make almost two thirds of workers who make a minimum
wage or less, and women account for nearly three-quarters of workers in
tipped occupations like waitressing where the federal minimum is only $2.13
an hour. Women congregate in lower paying fields. Nine out of ten college
majors that offer the least lucrative careers are dominated by women.
Fields like early childhood education and social work. And then there are
the disparities even within similar fields. Nurse midwives, for example,
are 95 percent women and they are paid less than half as much as ob/gyns
who are 50 percent men. Maids make less than janitors. And according to
data compiled by Bloomberg, the highest paid women at major corporations
made an average 18 percent less than the highest paid men in part because
women tend to have lower level see suite positions and not that top CEO
gig.

So disparity is complicated and due to a variety of reasons that require a
variety of solutions. Like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,
guaranteeing paid parental leave, instituting Universal Pre-K. Joining me
now, Bryce Covert who`s the economic policy editor at ThinkProgress and a
contributor at "The Nation," Rick Newman, who`s columnist at Yahoo Finance.
Christina Greer, who`s assistant professor at Fordham University and author
of "Black Ethnics Race: Immigration and Pursuit of the American dream."
And Nomi Prins who`s the senior fellow at Demos and author of a great new
book "All the President`s Bankers, the Hidden Alliances That Drive American
Power." So nice to have you all here.

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Thank you.

NAOMI PRINCE: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Bryce, I`m going to start with you. So, on the one hand,
like I`m down with the Paycheck Fairness Act - (INAUDIBLE) It will make
things worse. But I`m not completely against the Republicans` point that
it`s maybe a little more politics than it is substantively getting to this
complicated set of questions.

BRYCE COVERT, THINK PROGRESS: Yeah, I want to give the Republicans two
points. One is that I do think the idea that the Paycheck Fairness Act or
the Lilly Ledbetter Act are silver bullets that will just close the wage
gap. That just doesn`t live up to reality. We need, like you said, I
loved all the solutions that you put forward.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, my liberal utopia that I would build.

COVERT: I would build it with you. I also think that they have a point.
You know, they have been pushing back on the idea that there is a wage gap.
I wouldn`t give them that point, but I would give them the point that it`s
complicated and saying that the 77 percent earnings that women make
compared to men is all discrimination, is misleading. And I think that
that number gets thrown around without a whole lot of context.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, so on the one hand, like I want to be able just to
make that point because it`s so important that it`s not just, you know, the
male manager up there, you know, HR manager who`s making a decision to pay
the little woman less. On the other hand, it doesn`t mean that
discrimination like - you know, that sort of base of discrimination is
gone. It does in fact continue to exist in the workforce.

NOMI PRINS, AUTHOR, "ALL THE PRESIDENT`S BANKERS": Well, exactly. And as
you mentioned, the power relationship in the workforce, particularly at the
positions that are higher in companies and in the companies that themselves
make more money, for example, in banking, the top six banks have always
been run by men. The managing partners are traditionally mostly men and
that has been the case historically. So, and that`s where the money is.
So you filter that out through the issue of the framework of why women also
don`t have as much money as men in terms of their paychecks. Well, they
also don`t have as much power. And that is a big part of the complexity of
the issue.

HARRIS-PERRY: So let me take that point around power, Christina. And come
in part to what I see as maybe the most distressing thing that happens when
we do the aggregate - men versus women. And that is that we forget that -
or what that can do is generate a sense of false solidarity that all women
are all necessarily in the same circumstance of unfairness. So even if
there`s a general sense of unfairness, if in fact my H.R. manager or my
direct supervisor or the woman whose kitchen I clean is a woman, she
nonetheless might be engaging with me in a way that is unfair as her
employee.

GREER: Right. I think the historical context is really important.
Because we also - we constantly throw around this 77 cents to a dollar
conversation, but we do also know that there`s a very real racial divide
also within this, right? So if white women for the most part are making 77
cents on the dollar, we know that black and Latina women are making much
less.

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let me show you those numbers. So do we have -
Because 77 is the number we`ve been hearing. But when we look at the race
gap, the wage gap from African-American women, if we compare it to white
men`s earnings, they only make 64 percent of what white men earn. 89
percent of what black men earn and 82 percent of what white women earn. So
we see African-American women on the bottom there. Bu then also look at
Latinas. And the earning for Latinas there - for compared to white men is
53 percent, right? And that is probably not because there are Latina CEOs
who are being paid less. That has everything to do with a structured
market that puts those women, black and Latina women in a different ...

GREER: But it`s also - a structured market, right? When we think about
FDR, I mean the way he was able to get the new deal passed, is to really
just sell black women down the river literally, right? And so he excludes
domestic workers. So, now we have a historical conversation about wealth,
right? Wealth, race and gender that goes across time and so we see people
sort of stuck in sectors. I mean not just early childhood education and
social work, but we also see the replication of poverty and replication of
lower wage jobs. So I think we also have to make sure we historicize some
of these inequities. Because they are not going to erase overnight. I
mean I, you know, I do somewhat agree with the Republicans, but there is
something to be said about symbolic legislation every now and again.
Right? I mean we saw this with Apartheid legislation in the `80s and, you
know, it seemed ridiculous, but over time it can sort of move progress a
little bit more.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is an interesting point, that even as I have a
critique of the Democrats on the Paycheck Fairness Act, the fact is I don`t
have any idea what the right might be offering as an alternative.

RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO! FINANCE: That`s right. Well, let`s think about a way
you might actually get something like this to pass. I mean here`s an idea.
So, one GOP objection is look, we can`t put yet another burden on
businesses. There`s actually some legitimacy to that. I mean if you talk
to business owners, they really are drowning in regulation. So here`s a
way you can construct a win-win. OK? So, you know what? If you`re the
Democrat, you know,, we`re going to give you that point. Let`s take away a
few outdated regulations on business, and believe me there are plenty ...

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

NEWMAN: And say we`re going to put a new regulation on them. Let`s take a
few regulations off of them. How does that sound? Could you - is this a
possible win-win position? I mean this - It`s not that hard to get to ....

HARRIS-PERRY: This is the balanced budget theory, right? Right?

NEWMAN: This is called a compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right, right.

NEWMAN: If you really want to pass a law, make a compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s a dirty word in D.C. these days, in part because part
of what they want to be able to do and we`ll get to this, is to say we
presented this, the other side is against it, right? And so part of the
question is how well does that serve folks who are actually doing the work
in these communities, in these corporations. When we come back, we`re
going to talk more about the pay gap debate coming out of the Texas
attorney general`s office.

But first, the departure of one of the top women in the Obama
administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
publicly announced her resignation Friday after five years that focused
largely on the Affordable Care Act. She was widely criticized after a
troubled rollout of the healthcare.gov website, but as she leaves office,
the administration has exceeded its goal of 7 million people signing up for
health care during the initial open enrollment period. President Obama
praised Sebelius and nominated Sylvia Matthews Burwell who`s de factor of
the White House office of Management and Budget as her successor. In her
farewell speech, the secretary reflected on her work on the ACA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are on the
front lines of a long overdue national change, fixing a broken health
system. Now, this is the most meaningful work I`ve ever been a part of.
In fact, it`s been the cause of my life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s look at one specific example of a wage gap, the Texas
attorney general`s office. Assistant attorney generals who are men make
more on average than those who are women. Now, that is something that`s
come up and been a bit of a topic of a debate because in Texas the Attorney
General Greg Abbott, is running for governor. The attorney general`s
office has defended itself by saying discrepancy stems from differences in
how long the men have been licensed and have worked at the agency. Not so,
says Professor Bethany Albertson and assistant professor of government at
the University of Texas in Austin. Writing in "Texas Monthly" she says
"Based on my analysis it turns out that each additional year of experience
corresponds with a $992 increase in salary, if you`re a man. But if you`re
a woman, the increase is about $200 less or $798 per year of experience.
This discrepancy per year of experience shows just how insidious a gender
wage gap can be. So, I`d love this research by Professor Albertson in part
because it`s indicative of that, you know, on the one hand you have
Abbott`s office like Carney saying oh, no, it`s not discrimination, it`s
just this other thing. But when you look at it, no, each additional year
of experience has a steeper curve for men than for women.

COVERT: Absolutely. Women -- people often say, oh, well, you know, it`s
differing levels of education, let`s say. But women graduate from college.
The first year out they are making less than men despite their grades,
despite their college. And then no matter what higher degree they take on,
they will make less than an average man, so they get a Ph.D. They`re still
making less. They get an MBA, they`re still making less. So, we always
see these discrepancies even within groups.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, that was an AUW study that in part showed that
discrepancy for college grads coming straight out and that idea that on the
one hand it is that traditional labor market question where women`s
domestic work is not valued as private work and therefore isn`t valued as
public work, but it is also that even if they`re taking the same job. So,
we were talking in the break a little bit about the idea that transparency,
which is part of the Paycheck Fairness Act could help this issue.

PRINS: Yeah, and I think that part of it isn`t getting discussed as much
and it should be discussed a lot more. Because if you know as a woman or
as anyone in a work environment what someone else is making for the same
level that you have, then you have the ability to go in and fight. It
should be fair, everything should be fair. That would be a great
situation. But if you at least are armed with a bullet, the ammunition to
go in and say, you know what, that guy is making that much money to do what
I do. In fact I`m actually doing it more, but let`s just leave that aside.
That guy is doing -- I want to be at the same level because in many cases,
particularly as you go on up the ladder on the corporate side and in these
institutions where more money is swirling around anyway and it doesn`t even
come out in the wage gap because it`s in bonuses and other forms of
compensations, you need to know so that you have the ability to fight. And
that`s a very important part of this act, which is a shame that it didn`t
get through.

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait, I want to push back a little on something that you
said earlier. At one point you said, and at first, I was going with you,
because I am a fan of actually getting things done and this idea of trade-
offs seemed right. But then the more we were kind of thinking and talking
about it on the break, I thought wait a minute, we don`t make trade-offs on
basic fairness. This isn`t a regulation, right, this is about paying
workers in a fair way for doing the same kind of work and providing
transparency so that if they`re not being paid that way. So, I just - I
want to go back and ask a little bit about that because you framed it as
regulation. And I`m wondering if there is another way to think about this.
Because we don`t think of basic human or civil rights as regulations.

NEWMAN: Well, this is messy. I mean we`re talking about all these
different ways. You can`t exactly put these in two columns on the piece of
paper and say here`s the women, here`s the men. It`s that simple to break
down. I was just talking about how to pass a law. With, you now, laws are
never perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: Full house ..

NEWMAN: Laws are never perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

NEWMAN: They`re always messy.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

NEWMAN: But I, you know, this is - we`ve just shifted this conversation
away from policy solutions a little bit and you`re talking about women
themselves in the workplace. And I think one thing that`s important to
point out here is it`s never been a better time for women to take this
matter into their own hands when they can. They can`t always do that. But
sometimes they can. There is more support than there has ever been. A lot
of attention like we`re giving it right now, thanks in part to, you know,
people putting legislation in force and President Obama drawing attention
to this, to this fairness issue. This argument in Texas is terrific. It`s
great that it`s getting this attention. And I`ll bet you things change.

HARRIS-PERRY: So ....

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: But let me suggest that I think that`s both true and not
true, which is to say I agree that we have made enormous progress,
particularly for women in the workforce. I`m not quite with the end of men
as a theory. But that`s we`ve also seen a regress in labor rights in
general. And so I just think for workers in general in this moment with
the very slack labor market, it`s hard to make an argument about the power
of any laborer to negotiate vis-…-vis, right, their employer at this
moment.

GREER: Well, I mean we know that we`re right now in a moment where it`s a
war on poor people. It really is a war on women. I mean the fundamental
principles of American democracy are not based on fairness, they`re based
on economic inequality. And so, for us to sort of not really think about,
you know, the 1700s, 1800s and all the ways, in which the fabric of this
nation is about. So this economic inequality and making sure that the
exclusion of others to a certain extent benefits you.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is an argument vis-a-vis chain on race but you`re
making it around gender. That there is - that even though we have the kind
of soaring ideals in our rhetoric, that in practice we have always seen
this kind of interweaving inequality.

GREER: Right. And we know that this intersectionality exists. So if it
exists not just on a black/white spectrum, not just on a male/female
spectrum, right? And so you have all these other groups now that are into
it. And so, for us to start these conversations, yes, they`re productive,
but like the policies themselves, there isn`t going to be a magic bullet
and it`s going to take a series of various policies but also it`s going to
take even more time, right. And so the question is how long do women have
to wait, right? I mean a student just wrote a fantastic paper about how
women are taxed on sanitary products, because it`s a luxury good. So even
these minor things just erode at women`s sort of financial security.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love that you said intersectional because there`s a little
bit of a drinking game that goes on in my control room around the use of
the word intersectional. It`s almost always me, but see, it was my guest
this time.

Up next, the type of Republican lawmaker Democrats just love to hate. The
argument that Democrats love to make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKULSKI: It brings tears to my eyes to know how women every single day
are working so hard and are getting paid less. It makes me emotional to
hear that. Then when I hear all of these phony reasons, some are mean and
some are meaningless, I do get emotional. I get angry, I get outraged, I
get volcanic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So if you`re a political party trying to get women to the
polls, Democrats have at least a two-pronged strategy. One, to offer
policies that they can say will improve the lives of women, like the
Paycheck Fairness Act, we`ve been talking about, but the second prong is to
sit back and just let Republicans say stuff like what one Missouri state
representative said this week in defense of a proposed 72-hour waiting
period for abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE REP. CHUCK GATSCHENBERGER (R ) MISSOURI: Even when I buy a new
vehicle, this is my experience again, I don`t go right in there and say I
want to buy that vehicle and then you walk -- you know, you leave with it.
I have to look at it, get information about it, maybe drive it, you know, a
lot of different things, check prices. There`s a lot of things that I do -
into a decision, whether that`s a car, whether that`s a house, whether
that`s any major decision that I put in my life, even carpeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Even carpeting. So, look, there are -- you know, I don`t
want to - I don`t want to - by the notion that all women are pro
reproductive justice, they aren`t. But even women who oppose abortion may
not really like a state representative, oh, well, you know, it`s kind of
like you`ve got to at least make as much sense as I do when I buy a car or
carpeting. Like isn`t this precisely the kind of strategy that Democrats
are like, yeah, just keep talking because you end up being alienated.

NEWMAN: You wonder if some of these people have ever met a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, they all have daughters.

NEWMAN: Have they ever talked to one?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

COVERT: Well, I think interestingly in that clip he`s kind of making his
own point. We don`t regulate his decision to make a car or to buy
carpeting. They`re big decisions and we don`t tell you how to make it.

But look - yeah, I think ...

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, I love that. Men could all have a 72-hour waiting
period before being able to purchase a car. That ...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

NEWMAN: Don`t make an impulse run.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, don`t make an impulse - right.

COVERT: But yeah, there`s this strategy that`s just sort of saying back
and leaving them - say - the things that they are going to say, but what
that does, is it ends up putting you on a defense, right? You`re always
sort of playing on the extremist`s turf and it`s harder, I think, to move
from that and then say, but here`s what we`re going to do proactively.
Here`s our vision. Here`s the bills we want to pass that don`t just react
to Todd Akin or this guy.

But they try to build the progressive utopia.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that`s - don`t say - I`m not that I think President
Obama is trying to build a progressive utopia, but he`s gotten so
increasingly progressive in his discourse around this. I want to listen to
him in his weekly address which was released today talking about kind of a
broad agenda for women`s policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: House Republicans
won`t vote to raise the minimum wage or extend unemployment insurance for
women out of work through no fault of their own. The budget they passed
this week would force deep cuts to investments that overwhelmingly benefit
women and children, like Medicaid, food stamps and college grants. And, of
course, they`re trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 50th or so
time, which would take away vital benefits and protection from millions of
women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So this is so great, right. I mean so the agenda - women`s
agenda now, Medicaid, food stamps, college grants and, come on, there`s 7.1
million people now signed up for ACA.

GREER: Well, I think the real long-term damaging effects, you know, as a
professor is that these bickering arguments back and forth really do turn
off young voters, the young potential voters, right. So when we`re trying
to actually get young people to care about not just financial aid but their
own bodies and what regulations mean, all they hear are sort of ignorant
comments by some, not all Republicans. And then when Obama tries to make
the counterargument that, well, women need welfare or they need certain
provisions from the government, then they`re just like wasn`t he supposed
to provide that as the president? So there`s not a lot of context.
There`s sort of these, you know, these shortcuts and these little cues and
snippets and so the larger argument is somehow getting lost. And I think
we`re in jeopardy, actually, of alienating a much larger group of people.
Not just youth, but also people who aren`t really in the political process
- in the discourse.

HARRIS-PERRY: So are we right now failing to talk to women voters like
adults?

PRINS: Well, I think that`s -- by putting these side issues and wage isn`t
a side issue, but by talking about these little sort of skirmishes with the
Republicans and Democrats and making it politicized as opposed to about
greater democracy, greater power, greater equality, these are all things
that on an economic basis help drive America forward. Women, people of
different race, all of us together should be part of a more equal
democracy. We don`t have that. These are pieces of trying to build that.
And when we have that, the times we`ve had that, even when Rosie the
Riveter was doing her riveting, and if - we actually had a more equal
democracy. We had more -- even though there was a wage gap between women
and men, there was also a sense of building the country together and
distributing power a little bit more than we`ve had in other periods of
history and we have now.

HARRIS-PERRY: But then also Jim Crow, right? So ...

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, but right, right - no, but that`s all - I mean I think
that`s in part always the question of when we tell a historical narrative,
sort of from whose perspective do we sell it? Right? So, there`s a way in
which like - I love Rosie and I love the idea of Rosie the Riveter and as
you pointed out the sets of policies around workers that emerged from that
new deal. But then also recognition, right, that where my grandmother is
working in the 1940s is in someone`s kitchen, which does not end up getting
covered under those labor policies.

When we come back, it is like deja vu all over again when it comes to
courting the women`s vote. Some history may definitively and definitely be
repeating itself. But first, another update on a key part of the
president`s agenda, raising the minimum wage. More states are actually
acting on their own. On Monday, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill to
increase the state`s minimum wage to $10.10 by the year 2018. Governor
Martin O`Malley is expected to sign the bill. There are some drawbacks,
though, one of them being that the legislation doesn`t raise the minimum
wage for tipped restaurant workers whose rate will remain at $3.63 an hour.
On Thursday, Minnesota lawmakers approved a bill to gradually raise the
minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 for large businesses. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So we know that there`s a current political obsession with
getting more women to the polls, but it is not new. Just check out this
NBC "Nightly News" segment from October 15th, 1996, which if you were to
change the hair styles just a bit seems like it could have run last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was no accident that Hillary Rodham Clinton
happened to be in Tucson, Arizona, today.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Solidly Republican Arizona is suddenly winnable for
Democrats who worked hard to exploit the gender gap.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arizona Republican women for Clinton/Gore.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Targeting women voters in ads and through 5500 faxes
sent each month to influential women around the country, they have turned
lifelong Republicans like Teddy Langafi (ph) into Bill Clinton activists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, send those faxes out to get people to the polls. So,
you know, we`ve been thinking a lot as we`re going into the midterms, going
into the next presidential election about the idea of a woman candidate at
the top of either the Democratic or the Republican ticket as a way of
attracting women. But if we go back to kind of the question of the
economic fairness for women workers, it seems to me that part of your
argument is whether you`re Democrat or Republican, woman or male candidate,
you are really in the pockets of big business in ways that might make it
tough for identity politics to translate into leftist policy.

PRINS: Exactly. It`s a good conversation and useful, but the fact is that
relationship, the symbiotic relationships between anyone who sits in the
Oval Office, anyone who is appointed, not elected as Treasury Secretary and
the people that run the most profitable corporations and the banks in this
country are really dictating a lot of the policy. And because they are so
similar, because they have the wealth behind them, because they require
each other`s wealth and power to stay in their positions or to attain those
positions, the policy itself gets dictated through those alignments. And
so these - we`re trying to chip away with the other issues on the outside
of what`s a very central core of alive power between corporations and
people in the White House.

HARRIS-PERRY: So one can be happy to have Yellen, for example, in the Fed
position, but her being a woman does not necessarily lead to different
monetary policy.

PRINS: Exactly right. She`s doing exactly what Ben Bernanke did and she
has no choice. And anyone in that position whether they are a woman or a
man would be doing the same thing, which is subsidizing the banking system
at the expense of the greater and broader populations.

NEWMAN: We have - Something is really important here. I mean there has
been a shift in the balance of power in the economy away from employees and
workers to employers, and especially big employers. It`s not hopeless for
workers, but really important to know is we`re talking about, you know,
policies that will improve things. The thing that will improve people`s
position, men and women both, is more skills, the skills that matter. This
is just crucially important today. You know, just saying can you please
pay me a little bit more isn`t getting anywhere for men or women alike.
What gets you somewhere say I have some new skill that`s going to help the
company. Here`s what I can contribute. I`m going to make a better
contribution. This is how -- this is how people get ahead these days.
It`s really important to keep in mind.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, interestingly - it`s interesting, because in part like
immediately you start thinking about different kinds of work that are
related there, so there`s a way in which if you are the Walmart greeter or
the McDonald`s cashier, and we know this - I know we think these are
teenagers, these are not, right, these are adult workers. We want new
skill do you bring - so, if you`re in that part of the labor market, you`re
kind of stuck in this minimum wage space. But if you`re in another part of
the labor market, it actually might be a fine time to be able to negotiate
because there are lower numbers of high skilled workers, right, compared to
the jobs that are available.

NEWMAN: It depends where you are geographically. And it depends what
industry you`re in, but everybody can get more skills. I mean you don`t
have to go to college and spend $200,000 to get more skills. There are
things people can do. The community colleges, you can find programs that
are where - community colleges will align with businesses because
businesses need such and such a worker so they`ll help programs. I mean
you have to do a lot of research. It`s not going to land in your lap. But
that is the way the economy is these days.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, but I wonder about that, Bryce, in part, because, you
know, so I don`t want to move away from this idea that part of the
responsibility for individuals to invest in themselves, but it`s also an
investment in the sort of broader perspective to have a good workforce.
Should there be government -- part of what the president said was college
loans, and he doesn`t mean just, you know, come to Wake Forest University
and get a B.A., he does mean making available community colleges.

COVERT: Well, I want to point out that when we`re talking about skills,
even among high-skilled jobs, the ones that are dominated by women are paid
about $470 less a week than the ones dominated by men. So we are still
talking about are we valuing the high skill jobs that women can get and
tend to get. But of course, I mean I think we want to help women move into
stem fields, for example. They`re in high demand, they`re incredibly
important skills and we see women are less represented there. And we also
see not only a smaller pipeline, but it dribbles out. Women do not stick
with it and I think it`s because it conflicts with family, there`s a lot of
discrimination. There`s a lot of stuff that works against them.

HARRIS-PERRY: We can spend all day on the stem thing. Because on the one
hand, yes, more women in stem but also why should stem be the only ones -
like this goes back to your point of valuing what kinds of labor.

After the break, the state passing legislation to make criminals out of
mothers. My letter of the week is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: This week the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill that
would allow drug addicted pregnant women to be prosecuted as criminals.
Now, the bill would permit a woman who used illegal drugs during pregnancy
to be charged with assault if her child is born addicted to or harmed by
the drug. And to be charged with homicide if the child dies. It would
also allow women to avoid those charges if they volunteer for drug
treatment. But before Tennessee`s governor makes it official with his
signature, I wanted to urge him to consider that this proposed solution may
only exacerbate the problem that his state is trying to solve.

Dear Governor Bill Haslam, it`s me, Melissa. Now, I understand the
magnitude of the crisis facing your state and how daunting it must feel.
Last year a report found that in Tennessee babies born addicted to opiate
drugs that their mothers took during pregnancy was higher than ever before.
But governor, as you think about what you`re going to do with that bill
that`s on your desk, please take a moment to consider that punishment is no
substitute for protection. Particularly when the threat of that punishment
could put the health and well-being of vulnerable people, both the babies
and their mothers, at even greater risk.

As you have already no doubt heard from the national medical groups that
have weighed in on this bill, this proposal could have the exact opposite
effect of its intent of improving health outcomes for babies of drug-
addicted mothers. According to a statement released by the American
Medical Association, pregnant women will be likely to avoid seeking
prenatal or open medical care for fear that their physician`s knowledge of
substance abuse or other potentially harmful behavior could result in a
jail sentence rather than proper medical treatment.

So, governor, any government intervention to address drug dependency among
pregnant women and their children must treat that addiction like what it
is, a disease. And helping mothers to battle their disease requires a
treatment-based approach that must first do no harm by ensuring they`re not
deterred from prenatal care. That could reduce the effects of addiction on
their babies. Besides, even as a law enforcement measure this bill is
remarkably short-sighted because it targets only those women who use
illegal drugs during their pregnancy. Yes, it is true that 30 percent of
mothers of drug dependent babies born in Tennessee used illegal drugs
specified by the bill, but it is also true that 42 percent of mothers of
babies used legal drugs prescribed to them by a doctor for legitimate
treatment. And another 20 percent actually used both.

So not only would your law criminalize only certain types of drug abusers,
it would also completely overlook the primary driver of the epidemic of
drug-addicted babies in your state. What`s more, you already have evidence
that criminalizing drug-addicted mothers simply doesn`t work. For years
Tennessee was already allowing women to be charged if their newborns tested
positive for drugs, but over the last decade there was a ten-fold increase
in babies in your state born addicted to opiates. Governor, here`s the
good news. You need not look for an alternate policy approach for your
state.

After all, the very same state legislature that proposed the bill you are
currently considering are ready task, a safe harbor law last year that gave
mothers addicted to prescription drugs priority in line for treatment
programs and also assured them that they would not lose custody of their
children if they disclosed their drug use. So, here`s - Why not instead of
sign a law that would expand that intervention to include protection for
all mothers battling addictions during their pregnancy. I think that would
be just a much better use of your pen. Sincerely, Melissa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We are now in the final stretch of tax season, so maybe
you`ve been seeing commercials like this.

(BV(

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been (POUNDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been waiting on my check. You need to do
something about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want my stuff back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard there was a company out there that could get
your check in 30 seconds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That is a commercial from a few years back for the tax
preparation company "More Money Taxes, formerly out of Memphis, advertising
a refund check in just 30 seconds. If that sounds a little sketchy to you,
well, it was. Last year the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to shut the
company down, alleging that employees there prepare fraudulent returns that
cause their customers to incorrectly report their federal tax liabilities
and underpay their taxes and charge customers bogus and unconscionably high
fees. Unfortunately, according to advocates, what "More Money Taxes" was
up to is not uncommon. More than half of all tax preparers for this tax
season are not subject to any kind of licensing or training regulations.
They just have to register for an identification number. And the ease of
getting into the business combined with the more than $300 billion in
anticipated tax refund money has made tax preparation ripe for predatory
practices that target low income communities, especially individuals who
qualify for the earned income tax credit.

Joining me now to explain why this happens and what we can do about it is
Stephen Black, Director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility
at the University of Alabama. He`s also the founder and president of
Impact Alabama, which trains students to provide free tax preparation
services for low income families. Good morning, Stephen.

STEPHEN BLACK, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Good morning. Thank you for having
me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. So start with the earned income tax credit.
Explain why that is such an issue in this predatory practice.

BLACK: Well, that`s the basis for the entire industry. Something that a
lot of people don`t appreciate. The earned income tax credit is the single
largest federal anti-poverty program. And I think it really doesn`t get
that much attention and press because it`s one of those rare initiatives,
probably the singular substantive federal tax initiative policy that enjoys
bipartisan support. President Reagan was a big supporter, President
Clinton grew it. It`s a refundable credit to families. I think it`s not
controversial to say, sort of welfare reform because it leaves the debate
about welfare to the side. You only qualify for it if you`re working and
most of it goes to working parents raising adults. It`s a huge amount of
money that pours into low income communities in about an eight-week period
in the last part of January through March all over the country. The
challenge is between 65 and 70 percent of these families feel as though
they need professional help. They`re intimidated by the IRS, they don`t
want to mess up, they don`t want to get it wrong and they don`t have access
to CPAs, to accountants the way upper income families do because CPAs are
not in the business of doing very simple returns where you don`t even
itemize the return.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so when you say professional, though, I mean
this is a pretty elastic term of professional, right? We were just looking
that for tax practitioners who are subject to the Treasury standards, about
308,000 of them who are doing taxes. But when it comes to these folks who
are these unenrolled preparers, folks who just need to get an I.D., there`s
actually more of them. So they`re professional only to the extent that you
have to pay them to do it?

BLACK: This is the majority of tax preparation around the country that
serves working class Americans, working paycheck to paycheck. It`s
literally like the Wild West. And people use the word regulation and
commercial tax preparers say, well, this is going to be bad for our
business. It`s going to - it literally will not be. Regulation really
isn`t the best word. The best word is just basic licensing and training
the way if you want to open a hair salon in any state in the country, you
have to pass a test and get a license. If you want to do nails, you have
to pass a test and get a license. If you want to prepare taxes for
families charging them on average $300 for about 30 minutes of work that`s
not very difficult, signing the most important document they sign all year,
there`s no training requirement, there`s no licensing. It`s literally the
Wild West in every state other than four.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So you`re talking about $300 and $400 fees for a
half an hour worth of work. That`s a $600 to $800 an hour level. I mean
even sort of high level CPAs typically don`t charge that.

BLACK: That`s absolutely right. You can talk to the National Association
of Certified Accountants. The average $100,000 a year family, which is not
the average family, but the average $100,000 a year family pays between
$150 and $200 to have their taxes done with itemization from a trained
certified accountant. The average single mother working at Walmart making
$19,000 a year raising two kids, goes into one of these places with a W-2,
no itemization and will come out $300. $300 is a lot of money for me to
waste in 30 minutes.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: But if you`re making $18,000 a year raising children, it`s painful
and it`s really abusive.

HARRIS-PERRY: I couldn`t help but notice that the "More Money" commercial
also had a particular sort of veilance to it that felt like there are some
communities being particularly targeted here.

BLACK: Oh, absolutely, there`s no question. And a lot of them will be
very clear about it. And liberty tax is another one. I think H&R block is
the most legitimate, and they in fact are not against additional training
requirements because they do train their staff more. Sometimes I think
they get a little too expensive, but that`s my opinion. But the other mom
and pop operations and the chains that have kind of sprung from the H&R
block model, who specifically prey on low income communities, and a lot of
them just African-American communities, they open up in strip malls next to
payday lenders and title pawn shops and literally, they`re not even there
by the end of April.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

BLACK: You can`t find them. A lot of times they don`t even sign the
returns for the people.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, they just - they pop up and then they`re gone. We
really wanted to get that information out. Stephen Black in San Jose,
thank you so much for joining us.

BLACK: Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

Also here in New York thank you to Bryce Covert, Rick Newman and Nomi
Prins. Now, Christina is going to stick around a little bit. Maybe she`ll
say intersectional again.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up to President Obama on the legacy of LBJ and the
limits of presidential power. Does he still believe that yes we can?
There`s going to be more "Nerdland" at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Back, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

On Thursday, it seemed as if we were going to be treated to some vintage
Obama. The president addressed the civil rights forum in Austin, Texas,
honoring the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed by President
Lyndon Johnson.

And the president wraps buoyed by the 7.1 million enrollees in Obamacare
was in classic Obama rhetorical form. He started with the self deprecating
humor in which he reminds us that whatever criticism we have in the press
or public, the first lady has likely already expressed them in the
residence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michelle was in particular
interested of a recording in which Lady Bird is critiquing President
Johnson`s performance. And she said come, come, you need to listen to
this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: He also gave us some of that delicious Professor Obama
affect too, as he offered a compelling history lesson about Johnson`s first
legislative priorities after unexpectedly assuming the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil
rights bill. In one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a
president should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy
they might be. To which it is said, President Johnson replied, well, what
the hell`s the presidency for?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Then, the next key ingredient in the Obama formula, when the
president makes his trademark turn from a specific story, Lyndon Johnson`s
in this case, to a broader theory of democracy and government by the
people. It`s always my favorite part because no other president has so
eloquently and routinely included social movements in his telling of the
American story.

Here, President Obama reminds us that LBJ could act only because he was
compelled to act by the people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white,
students and scholars, preachers, and housekeepers, whose names are etched
not on monuments but in the hearts of their loved ones and in the fabric of
the country that they helped to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, at this point, close followers of the president`s
speeches know what is coming, right? It`s what follows the mention of the
elderly Anna Nixon Cooper who cast her vote on election vote. It`s what
followed the invocation of Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall at the
second inauguration. Come on, you know what is next, Nerdland -- yes, we
can. Right?

It`s the moment the president assures us of the ability of the American
people to change ourselves, our nation, our world, as we bend that arc of
history toward justice -- and here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Those of us who have had the singular privilege to hold the office
of the presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and
it can be slow. Frustrating, and sometimes you`re stymied. The office
humbles you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait a minute, what? This is the "yes, we can" part, Mr.
President. Your giving me slow and frustrating and stymied and humbling?
OK, OK, maybe it`s up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You`re reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a
relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions made by those
who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully
vindicate your vision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: A relay swimmer? OK, I`m going to need to hit pause here
because our president has changed the ending on us in a very interesting
way. Facing the last midterm election of his presidency with no other
election in his personal future, our soaring optimist is turning a more
jaundiced eye on the American project.

Now, he is still firmly an American exceptionalist who insists on a
fundamentally optimistic view of the American project, but as he discussed
LBJ`s legislative legacy, it was easy to sense that he was distressed that
his own legacy would not contain these sorts of civil rights achievements,
not because he didn`t want them, but because he faced a 112th, 113th and
likely a 114th Congress far more intransient than anything even the master
of the Senate, Johnson himself, could have imagined.

And so the president left us on Thursday with hope, always with hope, but
maybe a more tempered hope and one that leaves us not declaring "yes, we
can", but asking, can we still?

At the table, Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of "Democracy
Now." Raul Reyes, a columnist at "USA Today", Christina Greer, who is
assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, and Juan --
I`m sorry, they spelled it very strange (ph) in there-- Cartagena, who is
president and general counsel of Latino Justice. Sometimes the pronouncers
are actually harder for me.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRY-PERRY: You know, they do like this highlight reel of me destroying
everyone`s name.

But I actually want to start with you because if we are, as the president
suggested here, swimming in a relay, are we winning in terms of achieving
that more perfected union?

JUAN CARTAGENA, LATINO JUSTICE: Well, we`ve got a lot of work to do,
obviously. I think the issues that are concerning the civil rights
movement in general have to take into account everything that`s happening
on the immigration front. Incredible challenges that we have in ensuring
that Latinos are also receiving equal treatment under the law.

If it is a relay race, then the next person grabbing this baton better pay
attention to this issue. That is premiere civil rights issue as we`re
going forward.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I like that you immediately started to expand the
definition of civil rights. Raul, I want to come to you in part on this
because I think if we think about civil rights exclusively about African-
American politics, then the president has a strong, but certainly not an
LBJ level record, right, on this. But if we think about civil rights more
broadly, particularly around LGBT issues, this presidency, the years of
this presidency will be remembered as expansive.

RAUL REYES, USA TODAY: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: On the creation -- not solely because of policies he himself
passed, but a new environment which he helps to create. And I wonder if
when you`re an elected official, you have to not be a member of the group
for which you are expanding the rights. Like being the southern white
gentleman helps LBJ to do race rights and being the straight black
president helps President Obama to expand LGBT civil rights.

REYES: Maybe. I mean my impression of the speech, I came away from
watching it that it was so realistic in the sense that he made references -
- he talked about history moving backwards, which the first thing I thought
about was the Shelby County decision. He also mentioned very
pragmatically, he said that passing laws is only the first step, which is a
nod to the circumstance.

You know, in LBJ`s time, we had bigotry and discrimination and racism that
was codified into law so the policy fight was very easy from a progressive
standpoint of good versus bad. Now, we still have all of those issues, but
they`re in a much more subtle way. So, it`s a harder fight. It`s a
tougher lift for him to move ahead.

And maybe -- I see what you`re saying. Maybe sometimes when you`re not at
the center of those issues, maybe it is a little easier as a leader, as a
lawmaker to see the calculus and to move on that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Amy, I sort of like this President Obama rhetorically
better. I love -- I loved the yes, we can, especially for campaigning,
like I said that as a strategy. But I appreciate that he tempered the sort
of performance of hope that he often does by suggesting, man, this is hard
and we may not be making much progress right now.

AMY GOODMAN, DEMOCRACY NOW: Well, I think the key word there is "we",
because with this whole looking back 50 years to LBJ, I think the critical
point is you have to go beyond LBJ as even Obama referenced to the
movements. It wasn`t LBJ that did this. It was the movements that forced
him to. The minute he`s signing the civil rights act in July, you have
John Lewis, now the congressman, then a leading civil rights activist once
again protesting with Diane Nash and the other remarkable people fighting
already for the Voting Rights Act that would come the next year.

And right now, with President Obama, it`s not really about what he`s going
to do. It is about what people are going to push him to do.

And I think clearly right now, the movement that is pushing the hardest,
that is the most organized, is the immigrants` rights movement. And the
question is not so much what is Obama going to do but what are people
demanding.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I always look at the Civil
Rights Act and voting rights act and the immigration act -- I can see him
moving into this. We saw George Bush do this in 2006 when he started to
break away from Cheney. You start to think about your legacy.

But I think as a Democratic president, Obama is also looking at the big
picture, right? So, we know there`s FDR and the New Deal. There`s LBJ and
the Great Society. And there`s nothing really with Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, there`s welfare reform. There`s a massive prison
industrial complex.

GREER: So these are the things that as a Democratic president we can`t
really hang our hats on, right? We`ve got Monica, we`ve got welfare, we`ve
got prisons and we got NAFTA/KAFTA and ignorance on Rwanda, right?

So, if Obama is trying to have a an FDR, an LBJ and BHL movement, sort of
as a Democratic president, this idea of Obamacare, this idea of immigration
reform really needs to happen. But I really wonder if he`s sort of fallen
into the George Bush trap, which is you`re obviously going to really start
about immigration reform essentially your last two years in office. And,
it`s too little too late.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, one of the things I like about the way that
you set up this notion of the Democratic president, we have this incredible
piece of Adam Serwer did for the MSNBC where he is trying to rethink
Johnson. I just want to read this. It`s kind of long but let me read from
the piece here.

"Perhaps the simple explanation which Johnson likely understood better than
most was there is no magic formula to which people can emancipate
themselves from prejudice, no finish line that when crossed awards a
person`s sole with a shining medal of purity in matters of race. All we
can offer is a commitment to justice in word and deed that must be honored
but from which we will all occasionally fall short. Maybe when Johnson
said it`s not just Negroes but all of us who must overcome the crippling
legacy of bigotry, he really meant all of us, including himself," right?

So, this suggests that that same tempered notion that President Obama was
giving us, when we look back at LBJ, we see these great legislative
accomplishments, but it is always still just partial. It`s never fully
there.

CARTAGENA: Definitely. That`s the matter of legislation. You can only
take it to a certain point. Behavior has to change, and that behavior has
changed in many, many ways.

I mean, Obama symbolizes so many things of the civil rights movement. Now
the question is for us in this diverse country that we now live in, given
all the challenges we currently have, how do we translate those promises
into today`s realities.

HARRIS-PERRY: And one way that we might be able to do it would be through
the vote, which of course we know is at the moment being challenged. So
when we come back, President Obama minces absolutely no words in his Friday
speech that drilled the GOP.

But, seriously, you must go read Adam Serwer`s piece up right now on
MSNBC.com entitled "Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero but also a
racist."

This morning, if you read this one thing, you will have done something good
for your brain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT: This Civil Rights Act is a challenge
to all of us, to go to work in our communities and in our states, in our
homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So let`s be clear, the real voter fraud is people who try to deny
our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. And I`d just say,
there have been some of these officials passing these laws have been more
blunt. They say this is going to be good for the Republican Party. Some
of them have not been shy about saying that they`re doing this for partisan
reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama yesterday giving the keynote
address at Reverend Al Sharpton`s National Action Network`s Annual
Conference. Reverend Sharpton, of course, also hosts the program "POLITICS
NATION" right here on MSNBC.

And I have to say, when I saw the president, I thought he`s got Ludacris
back on his play list because he had a certain -- I mean, have you ever
seen him not mincing words about voting rights in this way?

GOODMAN: It was so important what he said -- 147 million votes cast, 40
people were indicted for fraud. We`re talking about a nonexistent issue.

But what is extreme problem because there is an extreme problem is that
people are losing their right to vote. What people got their heads bashed
in for 50 years ago, right now, they`re cutting -- what is the
justification for saying we`ll give less time for people to vote,
especially for working people. I mean, when you go in the morning to vote,
if you don`t get there at 6:00 and you work all day and you have to go back
to where it is that you live, you`re not going to be able to live. What
can justify, I don`t care, Democrat or Republican, cutting back on people`s
ability to get to the polls.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. As you point out, that in no way would address voter
fraud. Like having a shorter number of hours to cast one`s vote would have
no impact on someone -- like we expect fraudulent people to show up more at
noon than 6:00 a.m.

REYES: The great lie of all this -- when you do talk about voter fraud,
these voter ID requirements that they`re passing, these other pieces of
restrictive legislation, that wouldn`t impact it anyway because most of
that tends to occur when it does at very instances, like through mail-in
votes. It does --

CARTAGENA: Absentee ballots.

REYES: Right, absentee ballots. But I just think it`s so important that
the president was up there calling it out for what it is. And, you know,
so much of the time when we talk about civil rights legislation, the Voting
Rights Act, it`s often in the sense of black and white. But as we go
forward in the future, the reason that -- the damage that Shelby County
decision is particularly damaging for the Latino community is the greatest
growth of the Latino population is throughout the South and Southeast, the
states that no longer have the preclearance.

So, it`s not just going to be an issue for African-American voters, it`s
going to be increasingly an issue for the Latino community.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, the politics of this are important. I mean, Christina,
I want to look at sort of the president`s approval ratings by race over
time. And you see that, you know, he starts particularly with African-
American and Hispanic voters sort of way up, again, particularly with
African-American voters. You see it declines a little bit from 100 to 75.

But the important little blip I want you to see for both Hispanic and
African-American voters is in 2012, it kind of ticks back up. And it seems
to me that part of the reason, Christina, that happens is because that is
when kind of the discourse about the attacks on voting become very clear.
It becomes not just a referendum on President Obama but a referendum on
whether or not we all have the right to vote. You see that uptick.

And I wonder if in part his like courage and forth rightness which may in
part be sincere is also political, is also about saying this is the thing
that really gets people to understand why they have to show up and vote.

GREER: Right. And this is the thing that will hopefully get people to
show up and vote in 2014, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, `tis the problem of midterms.

GREER: And I think we also just have to ask ourselves, where are the
Democrats on this larger conversation, right? We have the president versus
the Republican Party. But, you know, not to throw water on the parade --
they`re in there.

But let`s clear -- but there are many Democrats on local and state levels
who actually it behooves them not to have more people in the voting
process, right? They`re not as actively out there diminishing the vote the
way certain Republican legislators are, but the Democrats know their base,
they know who turns out. And especially if you`re in a district where it`s
a Democratic district and you really only have to worry about your primary,
not your general. You`re actually not that interested in bringing new
voters in. They`ll likely be Democrats if they`re Latino, depending on
where you are, but they could go for some one else.

So I`m just bringing up the point that Democrats, if you`re interested in
moving this conversation forward, you need to do a lot more and not just
put it on the Republicans to say, well, they`re the ones trying to limit
the vote.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This for me is -- we`re going to spend an hour on this
tomorrow because this is a central issue, but hearing the president just
refuse to -- I mean, for him to frame it as a partisan issue, for him to
frame it standings there at National Action Network, but let me ask one
thing about this. As much as it was exciting, would LBJ have been invited
to speak at SCLC? Is there a capture of the movements that are meant to be
pressing presidents and lawmakers when the presidents and lawmakers are
president -- does that make sense?

CARTAGENA: It does. But thank God if President Johnson had at LBJ, the
exposing we`re giving this particular audience, this particular topic
yesterday is enormous and well-deserved. I mean, yes, he was pumped up,
look at the audience. Pumped up, look who introduced him.

But he`s speaking clearly what everyone already knows. I mean, you hit the
nail on the head. The 2012 election was a clear indication that this was
done for clearly partisan reasons. Everyone knows it.

The hard -- I`ve worked on voting cases for 30 plus years. You piss
somebody off when you tell them they can`t vote. They`ll go back to their
house, get their ID and bring back their cousins and everybody can stand in
line. This wonderful picture of people standing in line just trying to
exercise that right because they can see it for what it is.

GOODMAN: I think the Republicans understand that, that 2012 there was a
lot of anger and also it goes to what media pays attention to. And when
people get angry, they`re going to do something about it. So, short term
they may win somewhere, but long term I think Democrats and I think it`s a
key point you`re making, incumbents, even Democratic incumbents don`t want
to expand it, they want to keep who voted them in.

HARRIS-PERRY: And long term that structural piece -- yes, it`s good to rev
people up, but you want to talk about who`s dealing with structures.

Up next, the essential civil rights player in the Obama administration who
also has been listening to Ludacris lately. He`s getting louder and
clearer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m pleased to note the last five years
have been defined by significant strides and lasting reforms, even in the
face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive
adversity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: And we`re bolstering our across-the-board civil rights enforcement
efforts to ensure that our work is as strong and as effective today as ever
before. Over the past three years, the department`s civil rights division
has filed more criminal civil rights cases than during any other period in
its history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was Attorney General Eric Holder speaking at the
National Action Network`s annual convention on Wednesday.

And while President Obama has not had the major legislative achievements
like LBJ`s Civil Rights Act, here`s what he has done. President Obama
appointed an attorney general who has aggressively enforced existing civil
rights law and has made strides to correct past errors. Those
accomplishments include endorsing a proposal to shorten prison sentences
for many nonviolent drug offenders that would change the face of the
criminal justice system as we know it.

He sued both Texas and North Carolina to block voter ID laws that would
make it more difficult for minorities to vote, and he has issued a
directive expanding government recognition of same-sex marriages to all
federal courtrooms, prisons and some federal benefits programs just to name
a few of things he`s been up to.

So while we may not appreciate the accomplishments of this administration
until, say, a decade hence, that`s because so much of the civil rights work
is happening in the Department of Justice. I kept asking myself, is Eric
Holder the Obama that we had been hoping for? Like, right, there`s a way
in which -- but of course he works for President Obama. I mean, you can`t
-- I think it`s not really fair to separate them. But he is like, yes, I
sue you and you and how about you don`t put them in jail and you get to
vote. Like he`s very -- he`s doing that work.

GREER: I think he may be the greatest addition to the entire Obama
administration, and I think in the long term the work that he is doing now,
the foundational work that he`s doing will actually pay off in dividends
and actually help Obama`s legacy, right, because we know right now on
immigration reform or deportations which we`ll talk about later, many
people have been disappointed in this president.

But I think Eric Holder with the appointments that he`s made for
individuals beneath him, U.S. attorneys across the country, sort of
younger, more diverse people, the issues that he`s raising and fighting
for, I think, you know, especially with the courts, plural, that we have
and the lack of judges that sort of aren`t in positions that are filled
because of Republican holdouts and the Supreme Court and they`re leaning to
the right consistently, I think the fights that he`s starting we`ll see pay
off in hopefully five, ten, 15 years.

HARRIS-PERRY: You said one thing I don`t want to miss which is about the
other attorneys in the DOJ. We may not as a public recognize it but those
who don`t want to see these policy reenacted absolutely recognize it.

And what happened with Debo and the blocking of that really incredible
civil rights advocate to one the civil rights division of the Department of
Justice was -- I mean, it`s almost like as soon as I see somebody fighting,
I go, oh, wait a minute, that must be something interesting that`s
happening there.

GOODMAN: I mean, what`s important here though is that it was the Democrats
who ultimately blocked him. This was -- yes, of course, the Republicans
were opposing him but it was the Democrats who joined with them in the
Senate when they didn`t even need 60 votes. They just took him down and
that really goes to this bigger point about where the Democrats are today,
that it`s not just about President Obama or Eric Holder and also very
interesting to hear the attorney general saying that he alone as an
attorney general today, no other attorney general has been treated by
Congress like he has been treated, going to the issue of race.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, actually I want to listen to him in this interaction
with Gohmert earlier this week because it was one of those moment you get a
sense of how ugly the treatment has been.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I realize that contempt is not a big deal
to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight.

HOLDER: You don`t want to go there, buddy. You don`t want to go there,
OK?

GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?

HOLDER: No.

GOHMERT: About the contempt?

HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think
that it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that
that was not a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Man, I was standing on the side, yeah. You don`t -- you
don`t want to go there.

CARTAGENA: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That was kind of a lovely moment.

REYES: Yes. And I was so glad that you showed the earlier clip of Holder
saying that no one else has been treated as he was, which I was a little
surprised that he went there. But when I see Eric Holder now, I just think
back to when Alberto Gonzalez was attorney general.

Now, he presided over the DOJ when it was totally politicized.
Partisanship was pretty much a requirement to get into the DOJ at that
time, there was all these different scandals. And yet, during that time,
Democrats held back at going after him because there was that sense that,
well, he`s the first Latino attorney general and that would look bad.

And yet, now, with Attorney General Eric Holder, if anything, it seems as
though Republicans are emboldened to go after Attorney General Holder as an
African-American, that gives them this free rein for this -- really, he`s
right -- unparalleled disrespect that he is enduring in this office.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it could be about him being African-American, I think
there`s a hypothesis that`s at the table. I think the other possibility is
that it could be about how aggressively he and effectively he is at the
core of implementing this.

When we come back, I`m going to come to the issue you tried to take us to
on the very first question, which is immigration and the extent to which
civil rights as a central issue of our day right now is about immigration.

We`re going to ask this question, why is there a hunger strike in fronting
of the White House right now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Half a century later, the law`s LBJ passed are now as fundamental
to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution, and
the Bill of Rights. They are foundational, an essential piece of the
American character.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: When President Obama was at the civil rights summit on
Thursday praised Lyndon Baines Johnson`s signature accomplishment, the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, he also touted what came after it, the Voting
Rights Act, Fair Housing act and immigration reform. That last one,
immigration reform, is something that President Obama has also placed high
on his agenda, but it`s something he hasn`t been able to accomplish despite
bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate and calls for immigration
reform by prominent Republicans like Jeb Bush.

And in the meantime, President Obama has continued the trend set by another
Bush, President George W. Bush, with his administration`s aggressive
detention and deportation of unauthorized immigrants from the United States
since he took office in 2009. According to Vox.com last year, undocumented
immigrant removal occurred at a pace of 1,010 persons per day. If the
deportations continued at the pace here, that means that the 2 millionth
deportation likely happened sometime in the middle of last month.

In the last seven days, new pressure has been applied to the president to
bypass congress and use his executive power to stop or at least slow
deportations and detentions. There was last Saturday`s day of action
during which protesters rallied across the country. The president spoke in
Austin on Thursday. Some immigration reform activists chained themselves
to a statue of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the University of
Texas campus. At least three people were arrested.

And the cry for the president to take executive action is being issued
right in front of his own house. Three people have staged a hunger strike
since Tuesday in front of the White House, demanding their loved ones be
released from immigration detention. One of the activists, 18-year-old
Cynthia Diaz, is taking time away from her studies at the University of
Arizona to protest the detention of her mother, Ria del Rosario Rodriguez
who has been in detention since March.

Cynthia joins us now from Washington.

Nice to have you.

CYNTHIA DIAZ, HUNGER STRIKE ACTIVIST: Hi. Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Cynthia, you are currently right now hunger striking, is
that right?

DIAZ: Yes, that`s right. This is my fifth day.

HARRIS-PERRY: So tell me why. Why are you hunger striking?

DIAZ: I am doing this hunger strike for my mom. She was unfairly deported
on May, 2011. When ICE raided our home, it was a Saturday morning. I was
15 at the time, and I have a younger brother who was 13. I was woken up by
my dad`s screaming out, Cynthia, they`re taking your mom.

And I was confused because I didn`t know what that meant so I went to my
front yard and there I saw ten ICE officers all over my front yard and I
saw my mom being handcuffed and pushed into a van. And then the door shut
and we were really confused. My brother heard everything but he didn`t
leave his room because he didn`t want to see what was happening.

That was really traumatizing for me because, like I said before, I was only
15 at the time.

HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about being confused, were you aware of your
mother`s status as an unauthorized immigrant?

DIAZ: No, I didn`t know. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I
have a brother and my dad who are U.S. residents, but I didn`t know until
they took my mom that, you know, she was undocumented.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you`re an American citizen. You have U.S. permanent re
residents in your family. How -- and yet you have not eaten in days
because you are trying to get your president and your government to let
your mom out of detention.

This is a trite question but sort of -- how are you feeling both physically
and politically at this moment?

DIAZ: This morning, I woke up a little sore, so that means my body is
reacting to the lack of food. And I`ve been -- it`s been tough. This is
my first hunger strike. I haven`t eaten in five days.

But I`m still, you know, trying to stay strong and push forward and try to
call out President Obama because we are in his front yard.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia, stay with us, don`t go away.

But I don`t want to come out to the table here. When you asked us to come
to this issue from the beginning, and part of why we wanted Cynthia`s voice
here is so often when we talk about immigration reform, it`s like -- it`s
like this big theory up here. This is about families and moms and dads and
children and --

CARTAGENA: It`s about mixed status families. For every unauthorized
immigrant in a family household, you`ll have citizens, you`ll have lawful
permanent residents. What happened here with this young woman`s family was
aggressive, outrageous, unconstitutional actions probably by ICE and home
raids.

We should know. My office sued ICE and got a major settlement out of ICE
to actually apply the Fourth Amendment doing home raids. What a marvel,
incredible application of the Constitution. ICE has been doing this
forever.

And now, to see this young woman talk about this in this way, I am so happy
you put them on the air. We have to continue to talk about people like
this were destroyed by these policies.

GOODMAN: "The New York Times" just did this great expose that here, you
have President Obama saying, we`re going after the criminals, we`re going
after the gang bangers, it`s not like we`re going after the students and
the grandmothers.

But the fact is --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GOODMAN: -- two-thirds of the people who are being deported, and we`ve hit
this unbelievable 2 million deportation mark just within President Obama`s
administration, two-thirds of them are either involved with minor criminal
offenses like they ran a red light, a traffic violation, or no criminal
offense at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: The only criminal offense is the status offense, is the
undocumentation.

REYES: Just for the record, we also hear a lot about detention. You know,
detention is prison. When you`re in detention, you don`t get due process,
you often don`t get a chance to make a phone call. You are separated
physically. You might be in a different state. Many of those detention
centers are privately run. So, there`s no accountability, no transparency
so in many ways it`s worse than prison. In this country, we have people in
our prison system who are convicted murderers and rapists who are treated
better than moms and dads who are in detention. So, just be clear,
detention is prison.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia, let me come back to you for a moment. Have you had
a chance to talk with your mother, and where is her case right now?

DIAZ: Yes, I talked to her last night. Right now she`s in San Luis,
Arizona. She is in a private detention center. She does tell me that it`s
really cold there, the beds are really uncomfortable. The food is not
pleasant at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia Diaz in Washington, D.C., I want to say two things.
As someone who thinks of myself as committed to questions of activism, I am
incredibly proud of you for taking action, for being an activist on this
question.

As a mom and my bet is, although I have not spoken to your mom, but just as
a mom, at some point, I want to ensure that you are also caring for
yourself. I am so proud of you for hunger striking here, but I also, I
just want to make my mom appeal that at some point, please continue to care
for yourself as you work to liberate your mother, please.

DIAZ: That`s what I`m doing, thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Cynthia Diaz in Washington, D.C.

Up next, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says race is the reason for
immigration reform being stalled.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We are still waiting and waiting and waiting for Washington
to do something about immigration reform, all to no avail. And there are
those who feel that race is one of the reasons why.

One of those people, it seems, is House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who
said this at her press briefing on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think race has
something to do with the fact that they`re not bringing up an immigration
bill. I`ve heard them say to the Irish, if it were just you, this would be
easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, so that wasn`t mincing words. The whole Obama
administration and the Democrats, that leadership, that notion of race
being part of it, and I think we talk an awful lot about Latino immigration
but also about black immigration from the African diaspora.

But the idea that immigrants are these racial others.

GREER: Right. I said this when I was on the show a few weeks ago. The
face of immigration is a Latino face, right, and that sort of when many
people Americans think about immigration as an idea, it`s just Mexico,
right?

We have to also be very clear, there`s loads of undocumented immigrants
from Canada who are here and we know that there`s lots of immigration from
people all over the world. I particularly work on Caribbean and Africa,
but, you know, Asia, South America, wherever.

So I think it`s really problematic the way the entire immigration debate
has been framed because it turns into a Latino versus America problem. But
I think the fact that Nancy Pelosi, and maybe it is because it`s a midterm
election year and we know that many people see it as an off year in the
sense that they don`t have to turn out, this may actually mobilize and
motivate certain Democratic individuals to actually come out, so we`ll see.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, here you have the politics of it happening up here
strategically but in terms of the policy, is there anything the president
can unilaterally do? Here`s a young woman who is not eating because she
needs the president to do something.

REYES: There`s quite a number of things the president can do using his
executive authority. He could end the secure communities program, which is
a very controversial program which is basically a pipeline into detention.
He could end the 287-G program which is pretty much deputizes all these
local law enforcement officers with no immigration training and makes them
ICE agents. He could also expand the number of people who are eligible for
deferred action.

Now, he can`t do it for everybody, and granted none of these measures would
be permanent. He cannot give anybody citizenship. But there are things he
can do. And, you know, the number 2 million, we`ve been hearing it for so
long, but when you actually put it in perspective, 2 million people is the
size of the population of West Virginia, of Nebraska. It`s more than those
states, and more than 12 or 15 other states.

When you think about the devastation that has wrought on our communities,
it`s hard to wrap your mind around it.

HARRIS-PERRY: And as much as 2 million matters, I almost don`t care if
it`s 2 million or if it`s just Cynthia`s story, when you hear that story,
it`s so appalling.

GOODMAN: You know, Melissa, I was thinking about President Obama last
night when he was at the play, "A Raisin in the Sun", right? "A Raisin in
the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry taken from Langston Hughes poem, I just want
to read three lines from that poem. What happens to a dream deferred, does
it dry up like a raisin in the sun or fester like a sore and then run and
hues ends by saying or does -- he says maybe it just sags like a heavy load
or does it explode.

This is what President Obama and the Republicans and Democrats have to deal
with, with the immigrant rights movement, the injustice of 2 million people
being deported, the vast majority have not committed a crime. They are
here. And who is talking about this? Jeb Bush.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I was going to say --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let`s listen to Jeb Bush because it is sort of
stunning that the point that you just made has been made by Jeb Bush.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The way I look at this, and this is
not -- you know, I`m going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it.
They cross the border because they had no other means to work to be able to
provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law. But it`s not a felony.
It`s kind of -- it`s an act of love. It`s an act of commitment to your
family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So everybody stay with me because we`re going to come back
and talk about if in fact the world is going to explode because Jeb Bush
and Amy Goodman agree on this question when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So what you heard Jeb Bush saying there just a little bit
earlier before the break was not an anomaly, he really meant it. Here he
is on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This last week I made some statements about immigration reform that
apparently generated a little more news than anticipated. The simple fact
is, there is no complete between enforcing our laws, believing in the role
of law, and having some sensitivity to the immigrant experience, which is
part of who we are as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I don`t hate that. Is that -- so is that the solution
for the Republican Party, to sort of regain a foothold as a party that can
grow as opposed to one shrinking demographically?

CARTAGENA: I would hope the Republican Party would admit the fact it`s
intentional and a part of many of the colleagues to isolate and single out
Latinos in the way they`re doing.

I mean, it would be nice with Jeb Bush to also say and admit, yes, some of
my colleagues have made a mistake.

Think about what happened in Alabama -- Alabama, we have a federal judge
written an opinion that anti-immigrant in the debate in the Alabama`s
legislature was code for anti-Latino. It means it`s pretty clear in any
way, shape or form.

Let`s have a Republican also have an honest discussion about race and
immigration.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the other piece, I guess I want to push back, is that
there`s always the sort of, OK, let`s talk about immigration, and that will
be about getting the Latino vote. First of all, Latinos are single issue
voters, who only vote on open immigration policy, which is empirically
false.

GREER: And the data says that Latino actually vote for economies -- the
economy, jobs, schools. There are so many other issues --

HARRIS-PERRY: They`re voters.

GREER: Right, they`re multidimensional voters, right.

REYES: But it is amazing we are at this point where Jeb Bush is, you know,
out in public with that. Nancy Pelosi in her remarks, she also compared
the immigration enforcement policies we currently have, she compared that
to the interment camps of the Japanese during the war.

So who is holding the radical position in this policy discussion? It`s the
Obama administration. It`s really time for them to rethink the whole
enforcement policy because it`s a failed policy. It`s futile and
politically, it`s just been absolutely fruitless.

HARRIS-PERRY: That interment camp language is so important. You guess
that assumption that certain identities are simply enemies of the state.

GOODMAN: What the White House is weighing inside, maybe they`ll just
extend stopping deportations from the dreamers, the young people. Let`s
make no mistake about it, going back to the civil rights movement. The
reason they got that is because they were sitting in, like Cynthia, they
were fasting.

President Obama was a community organizer. He responds to a demand, the
demand has been from the right for a long time. Now, those who help to
elect them are making demands. They haven`t for a long time. They were
demobilized.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GOODMAN: Right now, you see in that most powerful movement now is the
immigrant rights movement and he has to figure out what to do.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is really I think the perfect point to end on for this
hour. We started with LBJ, this notion of a movement that pushes a
president to great civil rights work, ending with an 18-year-old girl who
is not just fasting, but hunger striking, not eating for five days, because
her mother is imprisoned.

REYES: These people are the conscience of the immigrant rights movement.

HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed. Thank you to Amy and Raul, Christina and Juan.

And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m
going to see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. "New York
Magazine" writer Jonathan Chait, yes, he`s coming to Nerdland. We are
going to have ourselves a conversation about race, politics and President
Obama.

Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."

Hi, Alex.


END

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MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
April 12, 2014

Guests: Bryce Covert, Christina Greer, Nomi Prins, Rick Newman, Stephen
Black, Amy Goodman, Raul Reyes, Juan Cartagena, Cynthia Diaz

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, is President
Obama winning his leg of the relay swim?

Plus, beware of the pop-up tax man.

And hunger strike at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But first, separating fact from fiction when it comes to the politics of
the wage gap.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This week Senate Democrats tried
unsuccessfully to pass their Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the wage
gap between men and women workers. This, of course, set the nation to
talking about women and work, and you can`t really talk about working women
in America without thinking of Rosie. Rosie Riveter, the we can do it
figure of World War 2. Rosie answered the call of her nation by trading in
her apron for a riveting gun. As millions of young men left home to do
battle for democracy overseas, millions of women took up their place in the
factories of the defense industry, fighting for democracy right here at
home. 310,000 women worked in the aircraft industry alone, where almost
none had worked before. Yes, Rosie and her sisters in the fight for
democracy were critical to the war effort and a grateful nation thanks
these efficient, sacrificial, hard-working women with deafening applause
and paychecks half the size of the men who worked alongside with them.

And never fear, when the war ended, these loyal women workers who toiled
for half pay were indeed rewarded with a promotion to the most important
job of all. Domestic technician. Yes, once the men came home from war,
Rosie was told to go home and to rebuild the nation another way, by making
babies and buying consumer items and, man, Rosie did a damn good job at
that too. Let it never be forgotten that it was the Rosies who gave birth
to the baby boomers. It`s interesting then that Democratic women in the
Senate framed their failed vote on Paycheck Fairness Act in terms of war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D) MARYLAND: We`re leading an American revolution,
just like Abigail Adams encouraged us. If they forget the ladies, we`re
here to fight. So I said square your shoulders, put your lipstick on and
let`s fight another day.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D) WASHINGTON: We deserve more than to be left fighting
the same uphill battles for justice we`ve been fighting for decades and
decades.

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D) WISCONSIN: Opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act
is a war on progress in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: It also probably won`t surprise you to hear that the
Republicans blocked the bill. They said it was not about real policy, but
a transparent political stunt to draw more women voters to come out in
November. Now here`s what the Paycheck Fairness Act would have done. It
would require some companies to report salary information to the government
and would prohibit retaliation against employees for telling one another
how much they make. It would also expand opportunities for workers to sue
their employers over wage discrimination. Now, workers can sue already,
thanks to the Equal Pay Act, but it`s a hard road to take. And a woman has
to know that she`s being paid less. She has to find another employee
making more money for the same job and she has to be willing to risk,
torpedoing her own career in order to do so. She has to find a lawyer
willing to take her case. That`s not an easy thing to do when workers win
only a third of the time in equal pay cases. The Paycheck Fairness Act
would address that to some extent by narrowing the grounds on which an
employer can claim that the disparity is due to legitimate business
reasons, but it still puts the onus on the workers to sue a system that has
not yet closed the wage gap. And that`s why, frankly, I kind of agree with
the Republicans. You know, they said that the act is a little more a piece
of political fluff than to lure women voters and, you know, because for all
the talk of women making 77 cents on every dollar that a man earns, wage
discrimination is simply not the only reason. The reality is in fact far
more complicated. Just look at the White House. Republicans made much hay
over the fact that women working at the White House earn on average 88
percent of what men working at the White House make. And they asked about
it on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that men and
women in the White House are paid the same level -- the same amount for the
same level of job, but the problem only comes when you do the math.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you look at the aggregate
and this includes everybody from this most senior levels to the lowest
levels, you`re averaging all salaries together, which means including the
lowest level salaries, which may or may not be, depending on the
institution, filled by more women than men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Probably not a great idea to engage in mansplaining -
mansplaining, but let me just say, that what Carney said here is, in fact,
exactly the problem for women nationwide. Women as an aggregate make less
money than men and that`s because they`re more likely to work those lower
level jobs. Women make almost two thirds of workers who make a minimum
wage or less, and women account for nearly three-quarters of workers in
tipped occupations like waitressing where the federal minimum is only $2.13
an hour. Women congregate in lower paying fields. Nine out of ten college
majors that offer the least lucrative careers are dominated by women.
Fields like early childhood education and social work. And then there are
the disparities even within similar fields. Nurse midwives, for example,
are 95 percent women and they are paid less than half as much as ob/gyns
who are 50 percent men. Maids make less than janitors. And according to
data compiled by Bloomberg, the highest paid women at major corporations
made an average 18 percent less than the highest paid men in part because
women tend to have lower level see suite positions and not that top CEO
gig.

So disparity is complicated and due to a variety of reasons that require a
variety of solutions. Like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,
guaranteeing paid parental leave, instituting Universal Pre-K. Joining me
now, Bryce Covert who`s the economic policy editor at ThinkProgress and a
contributor at "The Nation," Rick Newman, who`s columnist at Yahoo Finance.
Christina Greer, who`s assistant professor at Fordham University and author
of "Black Ethnics Race: Immigration and Pursuit of the American dream."
And Nomi Prins who`s the senior fellow at Demos and author of a great new
book "All the President`s Bankers, the Hidden Alliances That Drive American
Power." So nice to have you all here.

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Thank you.

NAOMI PRINCE: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Bryce, I`m going to start with you. So, on the one hand,
like I`m down with the Paycheck Fairness Act - (INAUDIBLE) It will make
things worse. But I`m not completely against the Republicans` point that
it`s maybe a little more politics than it is substantively getting to this
complicated set of questions.

BRYCE COVERT, THINK PROGRESS: Yeah, I want to give the Republicans two
points. One is that I do think the idea that the Paycheck Fairness Act or
the Lilly Ledbetter Act are silver bullets that will just close the wage
gap. That just doesn`t live up to reality. We need, like you said, I
loved all the solutions that you put forward.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, my liberal utopia that I would build.

COVERT: I would build it with you. I also think that they have a point.
You know, they have been pushing back on the idea that there is a wage gap.
I wouldn`t give them that point, but I would give them the point that it`s
complicated and saying that the 77 percent earnings that women make
compared to men is all discrimination, is misleading. And I think that
that number gets thrown around without a whole lot of context.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, so on the one hand, like I want to be able just to
make that point because it`s so important that it`s not just, you know, the
male manager up there, you know, HR manager who`s making a decision to pay
the little woman less. On the other hand, it doesn`t mean that
discrimination like - you know, that sort of base of discrimination is
gone. It does in fact continue to exist in the workforce.

NOMI PRINS, AUTHOR, "ALL THE PRESIDENT`S BANKERS": Well, exactly. And as
you mentioned, the power relationship in the workforce, particularly at the
positions that are higher in companies and in the companies that themselves
make more money, for example, in banking, the top six banks have always
been run by men. The managing partners are traditionally mostly men and
that has been the case historically. So, and that`s where the money is.
So you filter that out through the issue of the framework of why women also
don`t have as much money as men in terms of their paychecks. Well, they
also don`t have as much power. And that is a big part of the complexity of
the issue.

HARRIS-PERRY: So let me take that point around power, Christina. And come
in part to what I see as maybe the most distressing thing that happens when
we do the aggregate - men versus women. And that is that we forget that -
or what that can do is generate a sense of false solidarity that all women
are all necessarily in the same circumstance of unfairness. So even if
there`s a general sense of unfairness, if in fact my H.R. manager or my
direct supervisor or the woman whose kitchen I clean is a woman, she
nonetheless might be engaging with me in a way that is unfair as her
employee.

GREER: Right. I think the historical context is really important.
Because we also - we constantly throw around this 77 cents to a dollar
conversation, but we do also know that there`s a very real racial divide
also within this, right? So if white women for the most part are making 77
cents on the dollar, we know that black and Latina women are making much
less.

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let me show you those numbers. So do we have -
Because 77 is the number we`ve been hearing. But when we look at the race
gap, the wage gap from African-American women, if we compare it to white
men`s earnings, they only make 64 percent of what white men earn. 89
percent of what black men earn and 82 percent of what white women earn. So
we see African-American women on the bottom there. Bu then also look at
Latinas. And the earning for Latinas there - for compared to white men is
53 percent, right? And that is probably not because there are Latina CEOs
who are being paid less. That has everything to do with a structured
market that puts those women, black and Latina women in a different ...

GREER: But it`s also - a structured market, right? When we think about
FDR, I mean the way he was able to get the new deal passed, is to really
just sell black women down the river literally, right? And so he excludes
domestic workers. So, now we have a historical conversation about wealth,
right? Wealth, race and gender that goes across time and so we see people
sort of stuck in sectors. I mean not just early childhood education and
social work, but we also see the replication of poverty and replication of
lower wage jobs. So I think we also have to make sure we historicize some
of these inequities. Because they are not going to erase overnight. I
mean I, you know, I do somewhat agree with the Republicans, but there is
something to be said about symbolic legislation every now and again.
Right? I mean we saw this with Apartheid legislation in the `80s and, you
know, it seemed ridiculous, but over time it can sort of move progress a
little bit more.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is an interesting point, that even as I have a
critique of the Democrats on the Paycheck Fairness Act, the fact is I don`t
have any idea what the right might be offering as an alternative.

RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO! FINANCE: That`s right. Well, let`s think about a way
you might actually get something like this to pass. I mean here`s an idea.
So, one GOP objection is look, we can`t put yet another burden on
businesses. There`s actually some legitimacy to that. I mean if you talk
to business owners, they really are drowning in regulation. So here`s a
way you can construct a win-win. OK? So, you know what? If you`re the
Democrat, you know,, we`re going to give you that point. Let`s take away a
few outdated regulations on business, and believe me there are plenty ...

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

NEWMAN: And say we`re going to put a new regulation on them. Let`s take a
few regulations off of them. How does that sound? Could you - is this a
possible win-win position? I mean this - It`s not that hard to get to ....

HARRIS-PERRY: This is the balanced budget theory, right? Right?

NEWMAN: This is called a compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right, right.

NEWMAN: If you really want to pass a law, make a compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s a dirty word in D.C. these days, in part because part
of what they want to be able to do and we`ll get to this, is to say we
presented this, the other side is against it, right? And so part of the
question is how well does that serve folks who are actually doing the work
in these communities, in these corporations. When we come back, we`re
going to talk more about the pay gap debate coming out of the Texas
attorney general`s office.

But first, the departure of one of the top women in the Obama
administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
publicly announced her resignation Friday after five years that focused
largely on the Affordable Care Act. She was widely criticized after a
troubled rollout of the healthcare.gov website, but as she leaves office,
the administration has exceeded its goal of 7 million people signing up for
health care during the initial open enrollment period. President Obama
praised Sebelius and nominated Sylvia Matthews Burwell who`s de factor of
the White House office of Management and Budget as her successor. In her
farewell speech, the secretary reflected on her work on the ACA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are on the
front lines of a long overdue national change, fixing a broken health
system. Now, this is the most meaningful work I`ve ever been a part of.
In fact, it`s been the cause of my life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s look at one specific example of a wage gap, the Texas
attorney general`s office. Assistant attorney generals who are men make
more on average than those who are women. Now, that is something that`s
come up and been a bit of a topic of a debate because in Texas the Attorney
General Greg Abbott, is running for governor. The attorney general`s
office has defended itself by saying discrepancy stems from differences in
how long the men have been licensed and have worked at the agency. Not so,
says Professor Bethany Albertson and assistant professor of government at
the University of Texas in Austin. Writing in "Texas Monthly" she says
"Based on my analysis it turns out that each additional year of experience
corresponds with a $992 increase in salary, if you`re a man. But if you`re
a woman, the increase is about $200 less or $798 per year of experience.
This discrepancy per year of experience shows just how insidious a gender
wage gap can be. So, I`d love this research by Professor Albertson in part
because it`s indicative of that, you know, on the one hand you have
Abbott`s office like Carney saying oh, no, it`s not discrimination, it`s
just this other thing. But when you look at it, no, each additional year
of experience has a steeper curve for men than for women.

COVERT: Absolutely. Women -- people often say, oh, well, you know, it`s
differing levels of education, let`s say. But women graduate from college.
The first year out they are making less than men despite their grades,
despite their college. And then no matter what higher degree they take on,
they will make less than an average man, so they get a Ph.D. They`re still
making less. They get an MBA, they`re still making less. So, we always
see these discrepancies even within groups.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, that was an AUW study that in part showed that
discrepancy for college grads coming straight out and that idea that on the
one hand it is that traditional labor market question where women`s
domestic work is not valued as private work and therefore isn`t valued as
public work, but it is also that even if they`re taking the same job. So,
we were talking in the break a little bit about the idea that transparency,
which is part of the Paycheck Fairness Act could help this issue.

PRINS: Yeah, and I think that part of it isn`t getting discussed as much
and it should be discussed a lot more. Because if you know as a woman or
as anyone in a work environment what someone else is making for the same
level that you have, then you have the ability to go in and fight. It
should be fair, everything should be fair. That would be a great
situation. But if you at least are armed with a bullet, the ammunition to
go in and say, you know what, that guy is making that much money to do what
I do. In fact I`m actually doing it more, but let`s just leave that aside.
That guy is doing -- I want to be at the same level because in many cases,
particularly as you go on up the ladder on the corporate side and in these
institutions where more money is swirling around anyway and it doesn`t even
come out in the wage gap because it`s in bonuses and other forms of
compensations, you need to know so that you have the ability to fight. And
that`s a very important part of this act, which is a shame that it didn`t
get through.

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait, I want to push back a little on something that you
said earlier. At one point you said, and at first, I was going with you,
because I am a fan of actually getting things done and this idea of trade-
offs seemed right. But then the more we were kind of thinking and talking
about it on the break, I thought wait a minute, we don`t make trade-offs on
basic fairness. This isn`t a regulation, right, this is about paying
workers in a fair way for doing the same kind of work and providing
transparency so that if they`re not being paid that way. So, I just - I
want to go back and ask a little bit about that because you framed it as
regulation. And I`m wondering if there is another way to think about this.
Because we don`t think of basic human or civil rights as regulations.

NEWMAN: Well, this is messy. I mean we`re talking about all these
different ways. You can`t exactly put these in two columns on the piece of
paper and say here`s the women, here`s the men. It`s that simple to break
down. I was just talking about how to pass a law. With, you now, laws are
never perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: Full house ..

NEWMAN: Laws are never perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

NEWMAN: They`re always messy.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

NEWMAN: But I, you know, this is - we`ve just shifted this conversation
away from policy solutions a little bit and you`re talking about women
themselves in the workplace. And I think one thing that`s important to
point out here is it`s never been a better time for women to take this
matter into their own hands when they can. They can`t always do that. But
sometimes they can. There is more support than there has ever been. A lot
of attention like we`re giving it right now, thanks in part to, you know,
people putting legislation in force and President Obama drawing attention
to this, to this fairness issue. This argument in Texas is terrific. It`s
great that it`s getting this attention. And I`ll bet you things change.

HARRIS-PERRY: So ....

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: But let me suggest that I think that`s both true and not
true, which is to say I agree that we have made enormous progress,
particularly for women in the workforce. I`m not quite with the end of men
as a theory. But that`s we`ve also seen a regress in labor rights in
general. And so I just think for workers in general in this moment with
the very slack labor market, it`s hard to make an argument about the power
of any laborer to negotiate vis-…-vis, right, their employer at this
moment.

GREER: Well, I mean we know that we`re right now in a moment where it`s a
war on poor people. It really is a war on women. I mean the fundamental
principles of American democracy are not based on fairness, they`re based
on economic inequality. And so, for us to sort of not really think about,
you know, the 1700s, 1800s and all the ways, in which the fabric of this
nation is about. So this economic inequality and making sure that the
exclusion of others to a certain extent benefits you.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is an argument vis-a-vis chain on race but you`re
making it around gender. That there is - that even though we have the kind
of soaring ideals in our rhetoric, that in practice we have always seen
this kind of interweaving inequality.

GREER: Right. And we know that this intersectionality exists. So if it
exists not just on a black/white spectrum, not just on a male/female
spectrum, right? And so you have all these other groups now that are into
it. And so, for us to start these conversations, yes, they`re productive,
but like the policies themselves, there isn`t going to be a magic bullet
and it`s going to take a series of various policies but also it`s going to
take even more time, right. And so the question is how long do women have
to wait, right? I mean a student just wrote a fantastic paper about how
women are taxed on sanitary products, because it`s a luxury good. So even
these minor things just erode at women`s sort of financial security.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love that you said intersectional because there`s a little
bit of a drinking game that goes on in my control room around the use of
the word intersectional. It`s almost always me, but see, it was my guest
this time.

Up next, the type of Republican lawmaker Democrats just love to hate. The
argument that Democrats love to make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKULSKI: It brings tears to my eyes to know how women every single day
are working so hard and are getting paid less. It makes me emotional to
hear that. Then when I hear all of these phony reasons, some are mean and
some are meaningless, I do get emotional. I get angry, I get outraged, I
get volcanic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So if you`re a political party trying to get women to the
polls, Democrats have at least a two-pronged strategy. One, to offer
policies that they can say will improve the lives of women, like the
Paycheck Fairness Act, we`ve been talking about, but the second prong is to
sit back and just let Republicans say stuff like what one Missouri state
representative said this week in defense of a proposed 72-hour waiting
period for abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE REP. CHUCK GATSCHENBERGER (R ) MISSOURI: Even when I buy a new
vehicle, this is my experience again, I don`t go right in there and say I
want to buy that vehicle and then you walk -- you know, you leave with it.
I have to look at it, get information about it, maybe drive it, you know, a
lot of different things, check prices. There`s a lot of things that I do -
into a decision, whether that`s a car, whether that`s a house, whether
that`s any major decision that I put in my life, even carpeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Even carpeting. So, look, there are -- you know, I don`t
want to - I don`t want to - by the notion that all women are pro
reproductive justice, they aren`t. But even women who oppose abortion may
not really like a state representative, oh, well, you know, it`s kind of
like you`ve got to at least make as much sense as I do when I buy a car or
carpeting. Like isn`t this precisely the kind of strategy that Democrats
are like, yeah, just keep talking because you end up being alienated.

NEWMAN: You wonder if some of these people have ever met a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, they all have daughters.

NEWMAN: Have they ever talked to one?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

COVERT: Well, I think interestingly in that clip he`s kind of making his
own point. We don`t regulate his decision to make a car or to buy
carpeting. They`re big decisions and we don`t tell you how to make it.

But look - yeah, I think ...

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, I love that. Men could all have a 72-hour waiting
period before being able to purchase a car. That ...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

NEWMAN: Don`t make an impulse run.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, don`t make an impulse - right.

COVERT: But yeah, there`s this strategy that`s just sort of saying back
and leaving them - say - the things that they are going to say, but what
that does, is it ends up putting you on a defense, right? You`re always
sort of playing on the extremist`s turf and it`s harder, I think, to move
from that and then say, but here`s what we`re going to do proactively.
Here`s our vision. Here`s the bills we want to pass that don`t just react
to Todd Akin or this guy.

But they try to build the progressive utopia.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that`s - don`t say - I`m not that I think President
Obama is trying to build a progressive utopia, but he`s gotten so
increasingly progressive in his discourse around this. I want to listen to
him in his weekly address which was released today talking about kind of a
broad agenda for women`s policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: House Republicans
won`t vote to raise the minimum wage or extend unemployment insurance for
women out of work through no fault of their own. The budget they passed
this week would force deep cuts to investments that overwhelmingly benefit
women and children, like Medicaid, food stamps and college grants. And, of
course, they`re trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 50th or so
time, which would take away vital benefits and protection from millions of
women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So this is so great, right. I mean so the agenda - women`s
agenda now, Medicaid, food stamps, college grants and, come on, there`s 7.1
million people now signed up for ACA.

GREER: Well, I think the real long-term damaging effects, you know, as a
professor is that these bickering arguments back and forth really do turn
off young voters, the young potential voters, right. So when we`re trying
to actually get young people to care about not just financial aid but their
own bodies and what regulations mean, all they hear are sort of ignorant
comments by some, not all Republicans. And then when Obama tries to make
the counterargument that, well, women need welfare or they need certain
provisions from the government, then they`re just like wasn`t he supposed
to provide that as the president? So there`s not a lot of context.
There`s sort of these, you know, these shortcuts and these little cues and
snippets and so the larger argument is somehow getting lost. And I think
we`re in jeopardy, actually, of alienating a much larger group of people.
Not just youth, but also people who aren`t really in the political process
- in the discourse.

HARRIS-PERRY: So are we right now failing to talk to women voters like
adults?

PRINS: Well, I think that`s -- by putting these side issues and wage isn`t
a side issue, but by talking about these little sort of skirmishes with the
Republicans and Democrats and making it politicized as opposed to about
greater democracy, greater power, greater equality, these are all things
that on an economic basis help drive America forward. Women, people of
different race, all of us together should be part of a more equal
democracy. We don`t have that. These are pieces of trying to build that.
And when we have that, the times we`ve had that, even when Rosie the
Riveter was doing her riveting, and if - we actually had a more equal
democracy. We had more -- even though there was a wage gap between women
and men, there was also a sense of building the country together and
distributing power a little bit more than we`ve had in other periods of
history and we have now.

HARRIS-PERRY: But then also Jim Crow, right? So ...

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, but right, right - no, but that`s all - I mean I think
that`s in part always the question of when we tell a historical narrative,
sort of from whose perspective do we sell it? Right? So, there`s a way in
which like - I love Rosie and I love the idea of Rosie the Riveter and as
you pointed out the sets of policies around workers that emerged from that
new deal. But then also recognition, right, that where my grandmother is
working in the 1940s is in someone`s kitchen, which does not end up getting
covered under those labor policies.

When we come back, it is like deja vu all over again when it comes to
courting the women`s vote. Some history may definitively and definitely be
repeating itself. But first, another update on a key part of the
president`s agenda, raising the minimum wage. More states are actually
acting on their own. On Monday, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill to
increase the state`s minimum wage to $10.10 by the year 2018. Governor
Martin O`Malley is expected to sign the bill. There are some drawbacks,
though, one of them being that the legislation doesn`t raise the minimum
wage for tipped restaurant workers whose rate will remain at $3.63 an hour.
On Thursday, Minnesota lawmakers approved a bill to gradually raise the
minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 for large businesses. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So we know that there`s a current political obsession with
getting more women to the polls, but it is not new. Just check out this
NBC "Nightly News" segment from October 15th, 1996, which if you were to
change the hair styles just a bit seems like it could have run last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was no accident that Hillary Rodham Clinton
happened to be in Tucson, Arizona, today.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Solidly Republican Arizona is suddenly winnable for
Democrats who worked hard to exploit the gender gap.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arizona Republican women for Clinton/Gore.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Targeting women voters in ads and through 5500 faxes
sent each month to influential women around the country, they have turned
lifelong Republicans like Teddy Langafi (ph) into Bill Clinton activists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, send those faxes out to get people to the polls. So,
you know, we`ve been thinking a lot as we`re going into the midterms, going
into the next presidential election about the idea of a woman candidate at
the top of either the Democratic or the Republican ticket as a way of
attracting women. But if we go back to kind of the question of the
economic fairness for women workers, it seems to me that part of your
argument is whether you`re Democrat or Republican, woman or male candidate,
you are really in the pockets of big business in ways that might make it
tough for identity politics to translate into leftist policy.

PRINS: Exactly. It`s a good conversation and useful, but the fact is that
relationship, the symbiotic relationships between anyone who sits in the
Oval Office, anyone who is appointed, not elected as Treasury Secretary and
the people that run the most profitable corporations and the banks in this
country are really dictating a lot of the policy. And because they are so
similar, because they have the wealth behind them, because they require
each other`s wealth and power to stay in their positions or to attain those
positions, the policy itself gets dictated through those alignments. And
so these - we`re trying to chip away with the other issues on the outside
of what`s a very central core of alive power between corporations and
people in the White House.

HARRIS-PERRY: So one can be happy to have Yellen, for example, in the Fed
position, but her being a woman does not necessarily lead to different
monetary policy.

PRINS: Exactly right. She`s doing exactly what Ben Bernanke did and she
has no choice. And anyone in that position whether they are a woman or a
man would be doing the same thing, which is subsidizing the banking system
at the expense of the greater and broader populations.

NEWMAN: We have - Something is really important here. I mean there has
been a shift in the balance of power in the economy away from employees and
workers to employers, and especially big employers. It`s not hopeless for
workers, but really important to know is we`re talking about, you know,
policies that will improve things. The thing that will improve people`s
position, men and women both, is more skills, the skills that matter. This
is just crucially important today. You know, just saying can you please
pay me a little bit more isn`t getting anywhere for men or women alike.
What gets you somewhere say I have some new skill that`s going to help the
company. Here`s what I can contribute. I`m going to make a better
contribution. This is how -- this is how people get ahead these days.
It`s really important to keep in mind.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, interestingly - it`s interesting, because in part like
immediately you start thinking about different kinds of work that are
related there, so there`s a way in which if you are the Walmart greeter or
the McDonald`s cashier, and we know this - I know we think these are
teenagers, these are not, right, these are adult workers. We want new
skill do you bring - so, if you`re in that part of the labor market, you`re
kind of stuck in this minimum wage space. But if you`re in another part of
the labor market, it actually might be a fine time to be able to negotiate
because there are lower numbers of high skilled workers, right, compared to
the jobs that are available.

NEWMAN: It depends where you are geographically. And it depends what
industry you`re in, but everybody can get more skills. I mean you don`t
have to go to college and spend $200,000 to get more skills. There are
things people can do. The community colleges, you can find programs that
are where - community colleges will align with businesses because
businesses need such and such a worker so they`ll help programs. I mean
you have to do a lot of research. It`s not going to land in your lap. But
that is the way the economy is these days.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, but I wonder about that, Bryce, in part, because, you
know, so I don`t want to move away from this idea that part of the
responsibility for individuals to invest in themselves, but it`s also an
investment in the sort of broader perspective to have a good workforce.
Should there be government -- part of what the president said was college
loans, and he doesn`t mean just, you know, come to Wake Forest University
and get a B.A., he does mean making available community colleges.

COVERT: Well, I want to point out that when we`re talking about skills,
even among high-skilled jobs, the ones that are dominated by women are paid
about $470 less a week than the ones dominated by men. So we are still
talking about are we valuing the high skill jobs that women can get and
tend to get. But of course, I mean I think we want to help women move into
stem fields, for example. They`re in high demand, they`re incredibly
important skills and we see women are less represented there. And we also
see not only a smaller pipeline, but it dribbles out. Women do not stick
with it and I think it`s because it conflicts with family, there`s a lot of
discrimination. There`s a lot of stuff that works against them.

HARRIS-PERRY: We can spend all day on the stem thing. Because on the one
hand, yes, more women in stem but also why should stem be the only ones -
like this goes back to your point of valuing what kinds of labor.

After the break, the state passing legislation to make criminals out of
mothers. My letter of the week is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: This week the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill that
would allow drug addicted pregnant women to be prosecuted as criminals.
Now, the bill would permit a woman who used illegal drugs during pregnancy
to be charged with assault if her child is born addicted to or harmed by
the drug. And to be charged with homicide if the child dies. It would
also allow women to avoid those charges if they volunteer for drug
treatment. But before Tennessee`s governor makes it official with his
signature, I wanted to urge him to consider that this proposed solution may
only exacerbate the problem that his state is trying to solve.

Dear Governor Bill Haslam, it`s me, Melissa. Now, I understand the
magnitude of the crisis facing your state and how daunting it must feel.
Last year a report found that in Tennessee babies born addicted to opiate
drugs that their mothers took during pregnancy was higher than ever before.
But governor, as you think about what you`re going to do with that bill
that`s on your desk, please take a moment to consider that punishment is no
substitute for protection. Particularly when the threat of that punishment
could put the health and well-being of vulnerable people, both the babies
and their mothers, at even greater risk.

As you have already no doubt heard from the national medical groups that
have weighed in on this bill, this proposal could have the exact opposite
effect of its intent of improving health outcomes for babies of drug-
addicted mothers. According to a statement released by the American
Medical Association, pregnant women will be likely to avoid seeking
prenatal or open medical care for fear that their physician`s knowledge of
substance abuse or other potentially harmful behavior could result in a
jail sentence rather than proper medical treatment.

So, governor, any government intervention to address drug dependency among
pregnant women and their children must treat that addiction like what it
is, a disease. And helping mothers to battle their disease requires a
treatment-based approach that must first do no harm by ensuring they`re not
deterred from prenatal care. That could reduce the effects of addiction on
their babies. Besides, even as a law enforcement measure this bill is
remarkably short-sighted because it targets only those women who use
illegal drugs during their pregnancy. Yes, it is true that 30 percent of
mothers of drug dependent babies born in Tennessee used illegal drugs
specified by the bill, but it is also true that 42 percent of mothers of
babies used legal drugs prescribed to them by a doctor for legitimate
treatment. And another 20 percent actually used both.

So not only would your law criminalize only certain types of drug abusers,
it would also completely overlook the primary driver of the epidemic of
drug-addicted babies in your state. What`s more, you already have evidence
that criminalizing drug-addicted mothers simply doesn`t work. For years
Tennessee was already allowing women to be charged if their newborns tested
positive for drugs, but over the last decade there was a ten-fold increase
in babies in your state born addicted to opiates. Governor, here`s the
good news. You need not look for an alternate policy approach for your
state.

After all, the very same state legislature that proposed the bill you are
currently considering are ready task, a safe harbor law last year that gave
mothers addicted to prescription drugs priority in line for treatment
programs and also assured them that they would not lose custody of their
children if they disclosed their drug use. So, here`s - Why not instead of
sign a law that would expand that intervention to include protection for
all mothers battling addictions during their pregnancy. I think that would
be just a much better use of your pen. Sincerely, Melissa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We are now in the final stretch of tax season, so maybe
you`ve been seeing commercials like this.

(BV(

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been (POUNDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been waiting on my check. You need to do
something about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want my stuff back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard there was a company out there that could get
your check in 30 seconds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That is a commercial from a few years back for the tax
preparation company "More Money Taxes, formerly out of Memphis, advertising
a refund check in just 30 seconds. If that sounds a little sketchy to you,
well, it was. Last year the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to shut the
company down, alleging that employees there prepare fraudulent returns that
cause their customers to incorrectly report their federal tax liabilities
and underpay their taxes and charge customers bogus and unconscionably high
fees. Unfortunately, according to advocates, what "More Money Taxes" was
up to is not uncommon. More than half of all tax preparers for this tax
season are not subject to any kind of licensing or training regulations.
They just have to register for an identification number. And the ease of
getting into the business combined with the more than $300 billion in
anticipated tax refund money has made tax preparation ripe for predatory
practices that target low income communities, especially individuals who
qualify for the earned income tax credit.

Joining me now to explain why this happens and what we can do about it is
Stephen Black, Director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility
at the University of Alabama. He`s also the founder and president of
Impact Alabama, which trains students to provide free tax preparation
services for low income families. Good morning, Stephen.

STEPHEN BLACK, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Good morning. Thank you for having
me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. So start with the earned income tax credit.
Explain why that is such an issue in this predatory practice.

BLACK: Well, that`s the basis for the entire industry. Something that a
lot of people don`t appreciate. The earned income tax credit is the single
largest federal anti-poverty program. And I think it really doesn`t get
that much attention and press because it`s one of those rare initiatives,
probably the singular substantive federal tax initiative policy that enjoys
bipartisan support. President Reagan was a big supporter, President
Clinton grew it. It`s a refundable credit to families. I think it`s not
controversial to say, sort of welfare reform because it leaves the debate
about welfare to the side. You only qualify for it if you`re working and
most of it goes to working parents raising adults. It`s a huge amount of
money that pours into low income communities in about an eight-week period
in the last part of January through March all over the country. The
challenge is between 65 and 70 percent of these families feel as though
they need professional help. They`re intimidated by the IRS, they don`t
want to mess up, they don`t want to get it wrong and they don`t have access
to CPAs, to accountants the way upper income families do because CPAs are
not in the business of doing very simple returns where you don`t even
itemize the return.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so when you say professional, though, I mean
this is a pretty elastic term of professional, right? We were just looking
that for tax practitioners who are subject to the Treasury standards, about
308,000 of them who are doing taxes. But when it comes to these folks who
are these unenrolled preparers, folks who just need to get an I.D., there`s
actually more of them. So they`re professional only to the extent that you
have to pay them to do it?

BLACK: This is the majority of tax preparation around the country that
serves working class Americans, working paycheck to paycheck. It`s
literally like the Wild West. And people use the word regulation and
commercial tax preparers say, well, this is going to be bad for our
business. It`s going to - it literally will not be. Regulation really
isn`t the best word. The best word is just basic licensing and training
the way if you want to open a hair salon in any state in the country, you
have to pass a test and get a license. If you want to do nails, you have
to pass a test and get a license. If you want to prepare taxes for
families charging them on average $300 for about 30 minutes of work that`s
not very difficult, signing the most important document they sign all year,
there`s no training requirement, there`s no licensing. It`s literally the
Wild West in every state other than four.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So you`re talking about $300 and $400 fees for a
half an hour worth of work. That`s a $600 to $800 an hour level. I mean
even sort of high level CPAs typically don`t charge that.

BLACK: That`s absolutely right. You can talk to the National Association
of Certified Accountants. The average $100,000 a year family, which is not
the average family, but the average $100,000 a year family pays between
$150 and $200 to have their taxes done with itemization from a trained
certified accountant. The average single mother working at Walmart making
$19,000 a year raising two kids, goes into one of these places with a W-2,
no itemization and will come out $300. $300 is a lot of money for me to
waste in 30 minutes.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: But if you`re making $18,000 a year raising children, it`s painful
and it`s really abusive.

HARRIS-PERRY: I couldn`t help but notice that the "More Money" commercial
also had a particular sort of veilance to it that felt like there are some
communities being particularly targeted here.

BLACK: Oh, absolutely, there`s no question. And a lot of them will be
very clear about it. And liberty tax is another one. I think H&R block is
the most legitimate, and they in fact are not against additional training
requirements because they do train their staff more. Sometimes I think
they get a little too expensive, but that`s my opinion. But the other mom
and pop operations and the chains that have kind of sprung from the H&R
block model, who specifically prey on low income communities, and a lot of
them just African-American communities, they open up in strip malls next to
payday lenders and title pawn shops and literally, they`re not even there
by the end of April.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

BLACK: You can`t find them. A lot of times they don`t even sign the
returns for the people.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, they just - they pop up and then they`re gone. We
really wanted to get that information out. Stephen Black in San Jose,
thank you so much for joining us.

BLACK: Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

Also here in New York thank you to Bryce Covert, Rick Newman and Nomi
Prins. Now, Christina is going to stick around a little bit. Maybe she`ll
say intersectional again.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up to President Obama on the legacy of LBJ and the
limits of presidential power. Does he still believe that yes we can?
There`s going to be more "Nerdland" at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Back, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

On Thursday, it seemed as if we were going to be treated to some vintage
Obama. The president addressed the civil rights forum in Austin, Texas,
honoring the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed by President
Lyndon Johnson.

And the president wraps buoyed by the 7.1 million enrollees in Obamacare
was in classic Obama rhetorical form. He started with the self deprecating
humor in which he reminds us that whatever criticism we have in the press
or public, the first lady has likely already expressed them in the
residence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michelle was in particular
interested of a recording in which Lady Bird is critiquing President
Johnson`s performance. And she said come, come, you need to listen to
this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: He also gave us some of that delicious Professor Obama
affect too, as he offered a compelling history lesson about Johnson`s first
legislative priorities after unexpectedly assuming the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil
rights bill. In one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a
president should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy
they might be. To which it is said, President Johnson replied, well, what
the hell`s the presidency for?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Then, the next key ingredient in the Obama formula, when the
president makes his trademark turn from a specific story, Lyndon Johnson`s
in this case, to a broader theory of democracy and government by the
people. It`s always my favorite part because no other president has so
eloquently and routinely included social movements in his telling of the
American story.

Here, President Obama reminds us that LBJ could act only because he was
compelled to act by the people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white,
students and scholars, preachers, and housekeepers, whose names are etched
not on monuments but in the hearts of their loved ones and in the fabric of
the country that they helped to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, at this point, close followers of the president`s
speeches know what is coming, right? It`s what follows the mention of the
elderly Anna Nixon Cooper who cast her vote on election vote. It`s what
followed the invocation of Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall at the
second inauguration. Come on, you know what is next, Nerdland -- yes, we
can. Right?

It`s the moment the president assures us of the ability of the American
people to change ourselves, our nation, our world, as we bend that arc of
history toward justice -- and here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Those of us who have had the singular privilege to hold the office
of the presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and
it can be slow. Frustrating, and sometimes you`re stymied. The office
humbles you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait a minute, what? This is the "yes, we can" part, Mr.
President. Your giving me slow and frustrating and stymied and humbling?
OK, OK, maybe it`s up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You`re reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a
relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions made by those
who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully
vindicate your vision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: A relay swimmer? OK, I`m going to need to hit pause here
because our president has changed the ending on us in a very interesting
way. Facing the last midterm election of his presidency with no other
election in his personal future, our soaring optimist is turning a more
jaundiced eye on the American project.

Now, he is still firmly an American exceptionalist who insists on a
fundamentally optimistic view of the American project, but as he discussed
LBJ`s legislative legacy, it was easy to sense that he was distressed that
his own legacy would not contain these sorts of civil rights achievements,
not because he didn`t want them, but because he faced a 112th, 113th and
likely a 114th Congress far more intransient than anything even the master
of the Senate, Johnson himself, could have imagined.

And so the president left us on Thursday with hope, always with hope, but
maybe a more tempered hope and one that leaves us not declaring "yes, we
can", but asking, can we still?

At the table, Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of "Democracy
Now." Raul Reyes, a columnist at "USA Today", Christina Greer, who is
assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, and Juan --
I`m sorry, they spelled it very strange (ph) in there-- Cartagena, who is
president and general counsel of Latino Justice. Sometimes the pronouncers
are actually harder for me.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRY-PERRY: You know, they do like this highlight reel of me destroying
everyone`s name.

But I actually want to start with you because if we are, as the president
suggested here, swimming in a relay, are we winning in terms of achieving
that more perfected union?

JUAN CARTAGENA, LATINO JUSTICE: Well, we`ve got a lot of work to do,
obviously. I think the issues that are concerning the civil rights
movement in general have to take into account everything that`s happening
on the immigration front. Incredible challenges that we have in ensuring
that Latinos are also receiving equal treatment under the law.

If it is a relay race, then the next person grabbing this baton better pay
attention to this issue. That is premiere civil rights issue as we`re
going forward.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I like that you immediately started to expand the
definition of civil rights. Raul, I want to come to you in part on this
because I think if we think about civil rights exclusively about African-
American politics, then the president has a strong, but certainly not an
LBJ level record, right, on this. But if we think about civil rights more
broadly, particularly around LGBT issues, this presidency, the years of
this presidency will be remembered as expansive.

RAUL REYES, USA TODAY: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: On the creation -- not solely because of policies he himself
passed, but a new environment which he helps to create. And I wonder if
when you`re an elected official, you have to not be a member of the group
for which you are expanding the rights. Like being the southern white
gentleman helps LBJ to do race rights and being the straight black
president helps President Obama to expand LGBT civil rights.

REYES: Maybe. I mean my impression of the speech, I came away from
watching it that it was so realistic in the sense that he made references -
- he talked about history moving backwards, which the first thing I thought
about was the Shelby County decision. He also mentioned very
pragmatically, he said that passing laws is only the first step, which is a
nod to the circumstance.

You know, in LBJ`s time, we had bigotry and discrimination and racism that
was codified into law so the policy fight was very easy from a progressive
standpoint of good versus bad. Now, we still have all of those issues, but
they`re in a much more subtle way. So, it`s a harder fight. It`s a
tougher lift for him to move ahead.

And maybe -- I see what you`re saying. Maybe sometimes when you`re not at
the center of those issues, maybe it is a little easier as a leader, as a
lawmaker to see the calculus and to move on that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Amy, I sort of like this President Obama rhetorically
better. I love -- I loved the yes, we can, especially for campaigning,
like I said that as a strategy. But I appreciate that he tempered the sort
of performance of hope that he often does by suggesting, man, this is hard
and we may not be making much progress right now.

AMY GOODMAN, DEMOCRACY NOW: Well, I think the key word there is "we",
because with this whole looking back 50 years to LBJ, I think the critical
point is you have to go beyond LBJ as even Obama referenced to the
movements. It wasn`t LBJ that did this. It was the movements that forced
him to. The minute he`s signing the civil rights act in July, you have
John Lewis, now the congressman, then a leading civil rights activist once
again protesting with Diane Nash and the other remarkable people fighting
already for the Voting Rights Act that would come the next year.

And right now, with President Obama, it`s not really about what he`s going
to do. It is about what people are going to push him to do.

And I think clearly right now, the movement that is pushing the hardest,
that is the most organized, is the immigrants` rights movement. And the
question is not so much what is Obama going to do but what are people
demanding.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I always look at the Civil
Rights Act and voting rights act and the immigration act -- I can see him
moving into this. We saw George Bush do this in 2006 when he started to
break away from Cheney. You start to think about your legacy.

But I think as a Democratic president, Obama is also looking at the big
picture, right? So, we know there`s FDR and the New Deal. There`s LBJ and
the Great Society. And there`s nothing really with Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, there`s welfare reform. There`s a massive prison
industrial complex.

GREER: So these are the things that as a Democratic president we can`t
really hang our hats on, right? We`ve got Monica, we`ve got welfare, we`ve
got prisons and we got NAFTA/KAFTA and ignorance on Rwanda, right?

So, if Obama is trying to have a an FDR, an LBJ and BHL movement, sort of
as a Democratic president, this idea of Obamacare, this idea of immigration
reform really needs to happen. But I really wonder if he`s sort of fallen
into the George Bush trap, which is you`re obviously going to really start
about immigration reform essentially your last two years in office. And,
it`s too little too late.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, one of the things I like about the way that
you set up this notion of the Democratic president, we have this incredible
piece of Adam Serwer did for the MSNBC where he is trying to rethink
Johnson. I just want to read this. It`s kind of long but let me read from
the piece here.

"Perhaps the simple explanation which Johnson likely understood better than
most was there is no magic formula to which people can emancipate
themselves from prejudice, no finish line that when crossed awards a
person`s sole with a shining medal of purity in matters of race. All we
can offer is a commitment to justice in word and deed that must be honored
but from which we will all occasionally fall short. Maybe when Johnson
said it`s not just Negroes but all of us who must overcome the crippling
legacy of bigotry, he really meant all of us, including himself," right?

So, this suggests that that same tempered notion that President Obama was
giving us, when we look back at LBJ, we see these great legislative
accomplishments, but it is always still just partial. It`s never fully
there.

CARTAGENA: Definitely. That`s the matter of legislation. You can only
take it to a certain point. Behavior has to change, and that behavior has
changed in many, many ways.

I mean, Obama symbolizes so many things of the civil rights movement. Now
the question is for us in this diverse country that we now live in, given
all the challenges we currently have, how do we translate those promises
into today`s realities.

HARRIS-PERRY: And one way that we might be able to do it would be through
the vote, which of course we know is at the moment being challenged. So
when we come back, President Obama minces absolutely no words in his Friday
speech that drilled the GOP.

But, seriously, you must go read Adam Serwer`s piece up right now on
MSNBC.com entitled "Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero but also a
racist."

This morning, if you read this one thing, you will have done something good
for your brain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT: This Civil Rights Act is a challenge
to all of us, to go to work in our communities and in our states, in our
homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So let`s be clear, the real voter fraud is people who try to deny
our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. And I`d just say,
there have been some of these officials passing these laws have been more
blunt. They say this is going to be good for the Republican Party. Some
of them have not been shy about saying that they`re doing this for partisan
reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama yesterday giving the keynote
address at Reverend Al Sharpton`s National Action Network`s Annual
Conference. Reverend Sharpton, of course, also hosts the program "POLITICS
NATION" right here on MSNBC.

And I have to say, when I saw the president, I thought he`s got Ludacris
back on his play list because he had a certain -- I mean, have you ever
seen him not mincing words about voting rights in this way?

GOODMAN: It was so important what he said -- 147 million votes cast, 40
people were indicted for fraud. We`re talking about a nonexistent issue.

But what is extreme problem because there is an extreme problem is that
people are losing their right to vote. What people got their heads bashed
in for 50 years ago, right now, they`re cutting -- what is the
justification for saying we`ll give less time for people to vote,
especially for working people. I mean, when you go in the morning to vote,
if you don`t get there at 6:00 and you work all day and you have to go back
to where it is that you live, you`re not going to be able to live. What
can justify, I don`t care, Democrat or Republican, cutting back on people`s
ability to get to the polls.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. As you point out, that in no way would address voter
fraud. Like having a shorter number of hours to cast one`s vote would have
no impact on someone -- like we expect fraudulent people to show up more at
noon than 6:00 a.m.

REYES: The great lie of all this -- when you do talk about voter fraud,
these voter ID requirements that they`re passing, these other pieces of
restrictive legislation, that wouldn`t impact it anyway because most of
that tends to occur when it does at very instances, like through mail-in
votes. It does --

CARTAGENA: Absentee ballots.

REYES: Right, absentee ballots. But I just think it`s so important that
the president was up there calling it out for what it is. And, you know,
so much of the time when we talk about civil rights legislation, the Voting
Rights Act, it`s often in the sense of black and white. But as we go
forward in the future, the reason that -- the damage that Shelby County
decision is particularly damaging for the Latino community is the greatest
growth of the Latino population is throughout the South and Southeast, the
states that no longer have the preclearance.

So, it`s not just going to be an issue for African-American voters, it`s
going to be increasingly an issue for the Latino community.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, the politics of this are important. I mean, Christina,
I want to look at sort of the president`s approval ratings by race over
time. And you see that, you know, he starts particularly with African-
American and Hispanic voters sort of way up, again, particularly with
African-American voters. You see it declines a little bit from 100 to 75.

But the important little blip I want you to see for both Hispanic and
African-American voters is in 2012, it kind of ticks back up. And it seems
to me that part of the reason, Christina, that happens is because that is
when kind of the discourse about the attacks on voting become very clear.
It becomes not just a referendum on President Obama but a referendum on
whether or not we all have the right to vote. You see that uptick.

And I wonder if in part his like courage and forth rightness which may in
part be sincere is also political, is also about saying this is the thing
that really gets people to understand why they have to show up and vote.

GREER: Right. And this is the thing that will hopefully get people to
show up and vote in 2014, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, `tis the problem of midterms.

GREER: And I think we also just have to ask ourselves, where are the
Democrats on this larger conversation, right? We have the president versus
the Republican Party. But, you know, not to throw water on the parade --
they`re in there.

But let`s clear -- but there are many Democrats on local and state levels
who actually it behooves them not to have more people in the voting
process, right? They`re not as actively out there diminishing the vote the
way certain Republican legislators are, but the Democrats know their base,
they know who turns out. And especially if you`re in a district where it`s
a Democratic district and you really only have to worry about your primary,
not your general. You`re actually not that interested in bringing new
voters in. They`ll likely be Democrats if they`re Latino, depending on
where you are, but they could go for some one else.

So I`m just bringing up the point that Democrats, if you`re interested in
moving this conversation forward, you need to do a lot more and not just
put it on the Republicans to say, well, they`re the ones trying to limit
the vote.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This for me is -- we`re going to spend an hour on this
tomorrow because this is a central issue, but hearing the president just
refuse to -- I mean, for him to frame it as a partisan issue, for him to
frame it standings there at National Action Network, but let me ask one
thing about this. As much as it was exciting, would LBJ have been invited
to speak at SCLC? Is there a capture of the movements that are meant to be
pressing presidents and lawmakers when the presidents and lawmakers are
president -- does that make sense?

CARTAGENA: It does. But thank God if President Johnson had at LBJ, the
exposing we`re giving this particular audience, this particular topic
yesterday is enormous and well-deserved. I mean, yes, he was pumped up,
look at the audience. Pumped up, look who introduced him.

But he`s speaking clearly what everyone already knows. I mean, you hit the
nail on the head. The 2012 election was a clear indication that this was
done for clearly partisan reasons. Everyone knows it.

The hard -- I`ve worked on voting cases for 30 plus years. You piss
somebody off when you tell them they can`t vote. They`ll go back to their
house, get their ID and bring back their cousins and everybody can stand in
line. This wonderful picture of people standing in line just trying to
exercise that right because they can see it for what it is.

GOODMAN: I think the Republicans understand that, that 2012 there was a
lot of anger and also it goes to what media pays attention to. And when
people get angry, they`re going to do something about it. So, short term
they may win somewhere, but long term I think Democrats and I think it`s a
key point you`re making, incumbents, even Democratic incumbents don`t want
to expand it, they want to keep who voted them in.

HARRIS-PERRY: And long term that structural piece -- yes, it`s good to rev
people up, but you want to talk about who`s dealing with structures.

Up next, the essential civil rights player in the Obama administration who
also has been listening to Ludacris lately. He`s getting louder and
clearer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m pleased to note the last five years
have been defined by significant strides and lasting reforms, even in the
face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive
adversity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: And we`re bolstering our across-the-board civil rights enforcement
efforts to ensure that our work is as strong and as effective today as ever
before. Over the past three years, the department`s civil rights division
has filed more criminal civil rights cases than during any other period in
its history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was Attorney General Eric Holder speaking at the
National Action Network`s annual convention on Wednesday.

And while President Obama has not had the major legislative achievements
like LBJ`s Civil Rights Act, here`s what he has done. President Obama
appointed an attorney general who has aggressively enforced existing civil
rights law and has made strides to correct past errors. Those
accomplishments include endorsing a proposal to shorten prison sentences
for many nonviolent drug offenders that would change the face of the
criminal justice system as we know it.

He sued both Texas and North Carolina to block voter ID laws that would
make it more difficult for minorities to vote, and he has issued a
directive expanding government recognition of same-sex marriages to all
federal courtrooms, prisons and some federal benefits programs just to name
a few of things he`s been up to.

So while we may not appreciate the accomplishments of this administration
until, say, a decade hence, that`s because so much of the civil rights work
is happening in the Department of Justice. I kept asking myself, is Eric
Holder the Obama that we had been hoping for? Like, right, there`s a way
in which -- but of course he works for President Obama. I mean, you can`t
-- I think it`s not really fair to separate them. But he is like, yes, I
sue you and you and how about you don`t put them in jail and you get to
vote. Like he`s very -- he`s doing that work.

GREER: I think he may be the greatest addition to the entire Obama
administration, and I think in the long term the work that he is doing now,
the foundational work that he`s doing will actually pay off in dividends
and actually help Obama`s legacy, right, because we know right now on
immigration reform or deportations which we`ll talk about later, many
people have been disappointed in this president.

But I think Eric Holder with the appointments that he`s made for
individuals beneath him, U.S. attorneys across the country, sort of
younger, more diverse people, the issues that he`s raising and fighting
for, I think, you know, especially with the courts, plural, that we have
and the lack of judges that sort of aren`t in positions that are filled
because of Republican holdouts and the Supreme Court and they`re leaning to
the right consistently, I think the fights that he`s starting we`ll see pay
off in hopefully five, ten, 15 years.

HARRIS-PERRY: You said one thing I don`t want to miss which is about the
other attorneys in the DOJ. We may not as a public recognize it but those
who don`t want to see these policy reenacted absolutely recognize it.

And what happened with Debo and the blocking of that really incredible
civil rights advocate to one the civil rights division of the Department of
Justice was -- I mean, it`s almost like as soon as I see somebody fighting,
I go, oh, wait a minute, that must be something interesting that`s
happening there.

GOODMAN: I mean, what`s important here though is that it was the Democrats
who ultimately blocked him. This was -- yes, of course, the Republicans
were opposing him but it was the Democrats who joined with them in the
Senate when they didn`t even need 60 votes. They just took him down and
that really goes to this bigger point about where the Democrats are today,
that it`s not just about President Obama or Eric Holder and also very
interesting to hear the attorney general saying that he alone as an
attorney general today, no other attorney general has been treated by
Congress like he has been treated, going to the issue of race.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, actually I want to listen to him in this interaction
with Gohmert earlier this week because it was one of those moment you get a
sense of how ugly the treatment has been.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I realize that contempt is not a big deal
to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight.

HOLDER: You don`t want to go there, buddy. You don`t want to go there,
OK?

GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?

HOLDER: No.

GOHMERT: About the contempt?

HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think
that it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that
that was not a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Man, I was standing on the side, yeah. You don`t -- you
don`t want to go there.

CARTAGENA: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That was kind of a lovely moment.

REYES: Yes. And I was so glad that you showed the earlier clip of Holder
saying that no one else has been treated as he was, which I was a little
surprised that he went there. But when I see Eric Holder now, I just think
back to when Alberto Gonzalez was attorney general.

Now, he presided over the DOJ when it was totally politicized.
Partisanship was pretty much a requirement to get into the DOJ at that
time, there was all these different scandals. And yet, during that time,
Democrats held back at going after him because there was that sense that,
well, he`s the first Latino attorney general and that would look bad.

And yet, now, with Attorney General Eric Holder, if anything, it seems as
though Republicans are emboldened to go after Attorney General Holder as an
African-American, that gives them this free rein for this -- really, he`s
right -- unparalleled disrespect that he is enduring in this office.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it could be about him being African-American, I think
there`s a hypothesis that`s at the table. I think the other possibility is
that it could be about how aggressively he and effectively he is at the
core of implementing this.

When we come back, I`m going to come to the issue you tried to take us to
on the very first question, which is immigration and the extent to which
civil rights as a central issue of our day right now is about immigration.

We`re going to ask this question, why is there a hunger strike in fronting
of the White House right now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Half a century later, the law`s LBJ passed are now as fundamental
to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution, and
the Bill of Rights. They are foundational, an essential piece of the
American character.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: When President Obama was at the civil rights summit on
Thursday praised Lyndon Baines Johnson`s signature accomplishment, the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, he also touted what came after it, the Voting
Rights Act, Fair Housing act and immigration reform. That last one,
immigration reform, is something that President Obama has also placed high
on his agenda, but it`s something he hasn`t been able to accomplish despite
bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate and calls for immigration
reform by prominent Republicans like Jeb Bush.

And in the meantime, President Obama has continued the trend set by another
Bush, President George W. Bush, with his administration`s aggressive
detention and deportation of unauthorized immigrants from the United States
since he took office in 2009. According to Vox.com last year, undocumented
immigrant removal occurred at a pace of 1,010 persons per day. If the
deportations continued at the pace here, that means that the 2 millionth
deportation likely happened sometime in the middle of last month.

In the last seven days, new pressure has been applied to the president to
bypass congress and use his executive power to stop or at least slow
deportations and detentions. There was last Saturday`s day of action
during which protesters rallied across the country. The president spoke in
Austin on Thursday. Some immigration reform activists chained themselves
to a statue of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the University of
Texas campus. At least three people were arrested.

And the cry for the president to take executive action is being issued
right in front of his own house. Three people have staged a hunger strike
since Tuesday in front of the White House, demanding their loved ones be
released from immigration detention. One of the activists, 18-year-old
Cynthia Diaz, is taking time away from her studies at the University of
Arizona to protest the detention of her mother, Ria del Rosario Rodriguez
who has been in detention since March.

Cynthia joins us now from Washington.

Nice to have you.

CYNTHIA DIAZ, HUNGER STRIKE ACTIVIST: Hi. Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Cynthia, you are currently right now hunger striking, is
that right?

DIAZ: Yes, that`s right. This is my fifth day.

HARRIS-PERRY: So tell me why. Why are you hunger striking?

DIAZ: I am doing this hunger strike for my mom. She was unfairly deported
on May, 2011. When ICE raided our home, it was a Saturday morning. I was
15 at the time, and I have a younger brother who was 13. I was woken up by
my dad`s screaming out, Cynthia, they`re taking your mom.

And I was confused because I didn`t know what that meant so I went to my
front yard and there I saw ten ICE officers all over my front yard and I
saw my mom being handcuffed and pushed into a van. And then the door shut
and we were really confused. My brother heard everything but he didn`t
leave his room because he didn`t want to see what was happening.

That was really traumatizing for me because, like I said before, I was only
15 at the time.

HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about being confused, were you aware of your
mother`s status as an unauthorized immigrant?

DIAZ: No, I didn`t know. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I
have a brother and my dad who are U.S. residents, but I didn`t know until
they took my mom that, you know, she was undocumented.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you`re an American citizen. You have U.S. permanent re
residents in your family. How -- and yet you have not eaten in days
because you are trying to get your president and your government to let
your mom out of detention.

This is a trite question but sort of -- how are you feeling both physically
and politically at this moment?

DIAZ: This morning, I woke up a little sore, so that means my body is
reacting to the lack of food. And I`ve been -- it`s been tough. This is
my first hunger strike. I haven`t eaten in five days.

But I`m still, you know, trying to stay strong and push forward and try to
call out President Obama because we are in his front yard.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia, stay with us, don`t go away.

But I don`t want to come out to the table here. When you asked us to come
to this issue from the beginning, and part of why we wanted Cynthia`s voice
here is so often when we talk about immigration reform, it`s like -- it`s
like this big theory up here. This is about families and moms and dads and
children and --

CARTAGENA: It`s about mixed status families. For every unauthorized
immigrant in a family household, you`ll have citizens, you`ll have lawful
permanent residents. What happened here with this young woman`s family was
aggressive, outrageous, unconstitutional actions probably by ICE and home
raids.

We should know. My office sued ICE and got a major settlement out of ICE
to actually apply the Fourth Amendment doing home raids. What a marvel,
incredible application of the Constitution. ICE has been doing this
forever.

And now, to see this young woman talk about this in this way, I am so happy
you put them on the air. We have to continue to talk about people like
this were destroyed by these policies.

GOODMAN: "The New York Times" just did this great expose that here, you
have President Obama saying, we`re going after the criminals, we`re going
after the gang bangers, it`s not like we`re going after the students and
the grandmothers.

But the fact is --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GOODMAN: -- two-thirds of the people who are being deported, and we`ve hit
this unbelievable 2 million deportation mark just within President Obama`s
administration, two-thirds of them are either involved with minor criminal
offenses like they ran a red light, a traffic violation, or no criminal
offense at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: The only criminal offense is the status offense, is the
undocumentation.

REYES: Just for the record, we also hear a lot about detention. You know,
detention is prison. When you`re in detention, you don`t get due process,
you often don`t get a chance to make a phone call. You are separated
physically. You might be in a different state. Many of those detention
centers are privately run. So, there`s no accountability, no transparency
so in many ways it`s worse than prison. In this country, we have people in
our prison system who are convicted murderers and rapists who are treated
better than moms and dads who are in detention. So, just be clear,
detention is prison.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia, let me come back to you for a moment. Have you had
a chance to talk with your mother, and where is her case right now?

DIAZ: Yes, I talked to her last night. Right now she`s in San Luis,
Arizona. She is in a private detention center. She does tell me that it`s
really cold there, the beds are really uncomfortable. The food is not
pleasant at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: Cynthia Diaz in Washington, D.C., I want to say two things.
As someone who thinks of myself as committed to questions of activism, I am
incredibly proud of you for taking action, for being an activist on this
question.

As a mom and my bet is, although I have not spoken to your mom, but just as
a mom, at some point, I want to ensure that you are also caring for
yourself. I am so proud of you for hunger striking here, but I also, I
just want to make my mom appeal that at some point, please continue to care
for yourself as you work to liberate your mother, please.

DIAZ: That`s what I`m doing, thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Cynthia Diaz in Washington, D.C.

Up next, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says race is the reason for
immigration reform being stalled.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We are still waiting and waiting and waiting for Washington
to do something about immigration reform, all to no avail. And there are
those who feel that race is one of the reasons why.

One of those people, it seems, is House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who
said this at her press briefing on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think race has
something to do with the fact that they`re not bringing up an immigration
bill. I`ve heard them say to the Irish, if it were just you, this would be
easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, so that wasn`t mincing words. The whole Obama
administration and the Democrats, that leadership, that notion of race
being part of it, and I think we talk an awful lot about Latino immigration
but also about black immigration from the African diaspora.

But the idea that immigrants are these racial others.

GREER: Right. I said this when I was on the show a few weeks ago. The
face of immigration is a Latino face, right, and that sort of when many
people Americans think about immigration as an idea, it`s just Mexico,
right?

We have to also be very clear, there`s loads of undocumented immigrants
from Canada who are here and we know that there`s lots of immigration from
people all over the world. I particularly work on Caribbean and Africa,
but, you know, Asia, South America, wherever.

So I think it`s really problematic the way the entire immigration debate
has been framed because it turns into a Latino versus America problem. But
I think the fact that Nancy Pelosi, and maybe it is because it`s a midterm
election year and we know that many people see it as an off year in the
sense that they don`t have to turn out, this may actually mobilize and
motivate certain Democratic individuals to actually come out, so we`ll see.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, here you have the politics of it happening up here
strategically but in terms of the policy, is there anything the president
can unilaterally do? Here`s a young woman who is not eating because she
needs the president to do something.

REYES: There`s quite a number of things the president can do using his
executive authority. He could end the secure communities program, which is
a very controversial program which is basically a pipeline into detention.
He could end the 287-G program which is pretty much deputizes all these
local law enforcement officers with no immigration training and makes them
ICE agents. He could also expand the number of people who are eligible for
deferred action.

Now, he can`t do it for everybody, and granted none of these measures would
be permanent. He cannot give anybody citizenship. But there are things he
can do. And, you know, the number 2 million, we`ve been hearing it for so
long, but when you actually put it in perspective, 2 million people is the
size of the population of West Virginia, of Nebraska. It`s more than those
states, and more than 12 or 15 other states.

When you think about the devastation that has wrought on our communities,
it`s hard to wrap your mind around it.

HARRIS-PERRY: And as much as 2 million matters, I almost don`t care if
it`s 2 million or if it`s just Cynthia`s story, when you hear that story,
it`s so appalling.

GOODMAN: You know, Melissa, I was thinking about President Obama last
night when he was at the play, "A Raisin in the Sun", right? "A Raisin in
the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry taken from Langston Hughes poem, I just want
to read three lines from that poem. What happens to a dream deferred, does
it dry up like a raisin in the sun or fester like a sore and then run and
hues ends by saying or does -- he says maybe it just sags like a heavy load
or does it explode.

This is what President Obama and the Republicans and Democrats have to deal
with, with the immigrant rights movement, the injustice of 2 million people
being deported, the vast majority have not committed a crime. They are
here. And who is talking about this? Jeb Bush.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I was going to say --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let`s listen to Jeb Bush because it is sort of
stunning that the point that you just made has been made by Jeb Bush.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The way I look at this, and this is
not -- you know, I`m going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it.
They cross the border because they had no other means to work to be able to
provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law. But it`s not a felony.
It`s kind of -- it`s an act of love. It`s an act of commitment to your
family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So everybody stay with me because we`re going to come back
and talk about if in fact the world is going to explode because Jeb Bush
and Amy Goodman agree on this question when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So what you heard Jeb Bush saying there just a little bit
earlier before the break was not an anomaly, he really meant it. Here he
is on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This last week I made some statements about immigration reform that
apparently generated a little more news than anticipated. The simple fact
is, there is no complete between enforcing our laws, believing in the role
of law, and having some sensitivity to the immigrant experience, which is
part of who we are as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I don`t hate that. Is that -- so is that the solution
for the Republican Party, to sort of regain a foothold as a party that can
grow as opposed to one shrinking demographically?

CARTAGENA: I would hope the Republican Party would admit the fact it`s
intentional and a part of many of the colleagues to isolate and single out
Latinos in the way they`re doing.

I mean, it would be nice with Jeb Bush to also say and admit, yes, some of
my colleagues have made a mistake.

Think about what happened in Alabama -- Alabama, we have a federal judge
written an opinion that anti-immigrant in the debate in the Alabama`s
legislature was code for anti-Latino. It means it`s pretty clear in any
way, shape or form.

Let`s have a Republican also have an honest discussion about race and
immigration.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the other piece, I guess I want to push back, is that
there`s always the sort of, OK, let`s talk about immigration, and that will
be about getting the Latino vote. First of all, Latinos are single issue
voters, who only vote on open immigration policy, which is empirically
false.

GREER: And the data says that Latino actually vote for economies -- the
economy, jobs, schools. There are so many other issues --

HARRIS-PERRY: They`re voters.

GREER: Right, they`re multidimensional voters, right.

REYES: But it is amazing we are at this point where Jeb Bush is, you know,
out in public with that. Nancy Pelosi in her remarks, she also compared
the immigration enforcement policies we currently have, she compared that
to the interment camps of the Japanese during the war.

So who is holding the radical position in this policy discussion? It`s the
Obama administration. It`s really time for them to rethink the whole
enforcement policy because it`s a failed policy. It`s futile and
politically, it`s just been absolutely fruitless.

HARRIS-PERRY: That interment camp language is so important. You guess
that assumption that certain identities are simply enemies of the state.

GOODMAN: What the White House is weighing inside, maybe they`ll just
extend stopping deportations from the dreamers, the young people. Let`s
make no mistake about it, going back to the civil rights movement. The
reason they got that is because they were sitting in, like Cynthia, they
were fasting.

President Obama was a community organizer. He responds to a demand, the
demand has been from the right for a long time. Now, those who help to
elect them are making demands. They haven`t for a long time. They were
demobilized.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GOODMAN: Right now, you see in that most powerful movement now is the
immigrant rights movement and he has to figure out what to do.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is really I think the perfect point to end on for this
hour. We started with LBJ, this notion of a movement that pushes a
president to great civil rights work, ending with an 18-year-old girl who
is not just fasting, but hunger striking, not eating for five days, because
her mother is imprisoned.

REYES: These people are the conscience of the immigrant rights movement.

HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed. Thank you to Amy and Raul, Christina and Juan.

And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m
going to see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. "New York
Magazine" writer Jonathan Chait, yes, he`s coming to Nerdland. We are
going to have ourselves a conversation about race, politics and President
Obama.

Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."

Hi, Alex.


END

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