All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 15, 2014
Guests: Imara Jones, Mattie Duppler, Carl Hart, Brian Beutler
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
There are new developments tonight in the standoff between a Nevada
rancher and the government agency he has owed for 20 years. The
confrontation between the government and heavily armed militia members who
support Cliven Bundy and his family`s insistence on not paying the Bureau
of Land Management for cattle grazing rights ended without a shot fired.
We are finding out tonight just how far Bundy`s supporters were ready
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were actually strategizing to put all the women
up at the front. If they`re going to start shooting, it`s going to be
women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by
these rogue federal officers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: When the government wisely backed off, rather than let
something as horrible as that happen, the Bundy family and their supporters
declared victory, even though the BLM and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
says, it isn`t over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We can`t have American
people that violate the law and just walk away from it. So it`s not over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For their part, the Bundy family sees themselves not as
welfare cowboys, mooching off the government and breaking the law, while
other ranchers pay their dues, but as victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s these agencies making these codes and saying
they`re laws, and then they have got law enforcement and judges and prisons
and courts and everything to enforce those laws, when none of them have
been legislated and they`re all unconstitutional.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All of them.
And that sentiment is why so many showed up to support the Bundys as
they stuck it to those tyrannical bureaucrats.
And when it comes to tyrannical bureaucrats to stock it to, if you
think the Bundy family is worked up about the Bureau of Land Management,
wait until you see what the Republicans think of the IRS.
The RNC picked today to file a lawsuit against -- accusing the agency
of illegally stonewalling their requests for documents. Senator Ted Cruz
tweeted out #abolishtheirs, #taxday in three words. And Congressman Steve
King -- and I really love this one -- sending out an e-mail noting that --
quote -- "Abolishing the IRS would not only remove the burden on taxpayers
to fund their services, but also on the IRS` reign of political witch-
hunting," adding, "Please stand with me today and send $25, $50, $100, or
whatever you can this tax day."
There is perhaps no greater villain for conservatism than the tax man,
and here is the reason why.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And I think the simplest and best solution
is, we need to abolish the IRS.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: It`s time to abolish the IRS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I thought, I would like to get rid of the IRS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time for a change, and America has awakened
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HAYES (voice-over): Most people don`t feel that warmly towards the
Internal Revenue Service. They`re the folks that many are writing a check
to on this very day. But without the IRS, or something like it, we
wouldn`t have a government.
In fact, it`s the cornerstone upon which the entire edifice of the
federal government is built. And that is precisely the reason
conservatives have so consistently taken a sledgehammer to it.
In fact, they have been at it for years. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich
focused much of his agenda as speaker on abolishing the agency, even
launching a national Scrap the Tax Tour.
In 1998, House Republicans voted on the Tax Code Termination Act,
which intended to scrap the IRS as we currently know it.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The truth is, no tax
expert in America actually understands the entire code.
REP. STEVE LARGENT (R), OKLAHOMA: It`s too complex. It`s too
onerous. It needs to go. I think we need to pull it out by its roots.
HAYES: Under George W. Bush, Republicans were at it again, trying to
get rid of the tax code with the Fair Tax Act of 2003, and 2005, and 2007,
Today, the Fair Tax Act of 2013 lives on. It would also abolish the
IRS, the income tax, and repeal the 16th Amendment that allows for the
income tax in the first place. In other words, goodbye to the last hundred
years of American governance.
That, however, is an uphill battle, even for an empowered right wing.
So, instead of getting rid of the IRS, Republicans have very successfully
hollowed out and hamstrung the agency. George W. Bush did his part by
slashing the number of lawyers who audited wealthy Americans. Today`s
Republicans are picking up right where he left off.
The House subcommittee last year pushed to cut the IRS` budget by 24
percent, despite the warnings the cuts would devastate the agency. And
even though they didn`t get their 24 percent cut, in the bipartisan deal
passed late last year, the agency`s budget will be $950 million less than
it was in 2010.
But conservatives don`t just go after the agency`s budget. Equally
important is destroying its reputation. They want every American to loathe
and fear the IRS as much as they do. They warned of an army of IRS agents
who would be collecting Obamacare fines.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Anybody want to fire some IRS agents?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PAUL: Why don`t we start with the 16,000 IRS agents that are going to
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HAYES: For almost a year, they have gone to war with ex-IRS official
Lois Lerner over allegations the IRS improperly targeted conservative
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: When I look at this Lois Lerner,
IRS babe, I see somebody who is miserable, mean, vindictive, unhappy, and
HAYES: But, of course, this is not about Lois Lerner. This is about
the fact that not only is the IRS tasked with collecting taxes from wealthy
people; it`s now tasked with regulating the dark money in our elections
that wealthy people use to elect people to gut the tax code and the IRS.
KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It`s
either Lois Lerner or the general counsel of the IRS or somebody at the
White House saying, or somebody at the Treasury saying, the IRS better get
on Crossroads GPS.
HAYES: Conservatives recognize that one of the only things standing
between us and a genuine plutocracy are thousands of anonymous bureaucrats
doing the basic work of enforcing our nation`s laws.
HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor former Congressman Barney
Frank, Democrat from Massachusetts.
Congressman, it seems to me that there`s this kind of category error
in which people rail against the complexity of the tax code, and members in
Congress do that, and then hold the IRS responsible, as if the IRS was the
one who wrote the tax code, when, in fact, it is those same people in
Congress who have written the tax code. The IRS is just the ones enforcing
BARNEY FRANK, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that`s absolutely right. And
let`s be very clear. Let`s call the Republicans` bluff on this.
You cited these efforts to reform the tax code and you cited 2003,
2005. Let`s be very clear. In 2003, in 2005, the Republican Party
controlled the presidency under George W. Bush, they had majority in the
House, in a majority in the Senate. In fact, the longest period we have
had in many decades of one party being in total control of the House, the
Senate, and the presidency for six years was during the Republican rule
from 2001 through 2006, and they didn`t do it.
So let`s drop this pretense. They are bluffing. In fact, many of the
special provisions in the code that are complicated and protect special
interests, they put there. It`s also the case, by the way, that this
notion that, you know, let`s abolish the code. Well, how are they going to
pay for all their wars?
How do they plan to pay for that Iraq war which President Bush pushed
so hard and the Republican Congress voted for? A lot of my Democratic
colleagues, I think mistakenly, supported them. Are they going to run that
on a bake sale or by donations? It`s obvious nonsense.
And, by the way, as to this enforcement of the tax code, remember what
the IRS is trying to do? They are trying to say that you should not be
getting the charitable deduction if your so-called charity is, in fact, a
front for a political contribution machine. And they have -- and it was
all going to be done at first.
And there was some suspicion it might have been aimed only at
conservatives. But it`s now clear they were looking at both conservatives
and liberals. Does anyone seriously argue that we do not have these
frauds, that we do not have these political activist fronts posing as
The charities ought to be joining and objecting to that. And the last
point to make, and you talked about this, the more you shut down the IRS,
the more you restrict the IRS, here`s what will happen. If you are a wage
earner and you`re getting paid and your taxes are deducted, the
withholding, every week from your pay, it really doesn`t make much
difference to you whether there are a lot of agents, or small agents.
FRANK: You`re going to pay that full dollar because it`s deducted.
But if you are someone who`s manipulating various tax preferences, if
you are someone who`s very wealthy and has income from various sources and
you are trying to engage in these kind of offshore frauds or other frauds,
the fewer IRS agents there are, the more you are going to get away with it.
HAYES: That is exactly it. The more complicated your tax filing is,
and let me -- I want to show a picture that came today from Josh Romney,
tweeting out: "Hey, Senator Reid, here`s a shot of Mitt Romney paying
taxes. Does it every year. It`s how you get your paycheck."
And Mitt Romney`s taxes, of course, a bone of some contention. Now,
Mitt Romney is a perfect example of someone who has a lot of money, whose
tax returns are anomalous. He is not like 80 percent of wage earners,
And your point, Mr. Frank, is that the more complicated your taxes
are, the wealthier you are, the more complicated your taxes are, the more
incentive you have to try to defund and gut the body that acts,
essentially, as a regulator on your private wealth, and what you keep, and
what you pay to the government.
FRANK: And that includes, by the way, the people -- and we know this
is the case -- who are sending their money offshore, who are sending it --
and we finally did a good job trying to go after the Swiss banks, to
various Caribbean nations -- money that is earned in America and is sent
overseas and sheltered from taxes, if we don`t have IRS agents, we can`t
So, it`s for the -- and the more the wealthy get away with, the
greater the burden is on the wage earner. And let`s again be very clear,
the wage earner, the person who is working for whatever, making $40,000,
$50,000, $60,000 a year, he or she has no chance to evade taxes, because
those taxes are withheld from their paycheck.
HAYES: There is so much about the tax code, I think, that people
hate, and it`s easy to make the IRS the enemy, because, obviously, people
don`t like paying taxes, for totally understandable reasons.
FRANK: And I want to stress, if they were really serious about fixing
this up, they controlled Congress pretty tightly.
HAYES: Right. They could have done it.
FRANK: I was in the minority. They could have done what they wanted
to do. They want to complain about it and benefit from it at the same
HAYES: Former Congressman Barney Frank, always a pleasure. Thank you
FRANK: All right, coming up, we found something here at ALL IN that
we think, I really think, is the key to understanding these midterm
It`s an issue that all of a sudden a number of Republican candidates
have gone very quiet on. They`re not talking about it. Why they are not
talking about it, I will be explaining next.
HAYES: All right. So today is tax day. Get those in, filed in the,
well, next three hours and 45 minutes.
And there is an unholy alliance that`s come together to make sure this
day is as absolutely painful as possible for you. We will reveal who is
behind it and why they are doing it ahead.
HAYES: There is no surer tell in electoral politics, no better
indication a politician is fearful and anxious and on treacherous terrain
than when he or she refuses to answer a simple yes-or-no question about
whether they support a matter of major public policy.
And that is particularly true when it comes to Republicans and
Obamacare, because, on that subject, as you well know, they do not mince
words. They tend to say things like this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: In the long-term, we do have to repeal
Obamacare entirely. We now know the sad reality of Obamacare.
And don`t be surprised as Obamacare continues to unfold as the fiasco
it is if they continue to backpedal.
And the day of reckoning is coming. The day of reckoning is coming.
But the only real solution is to repeal this awful law.
Because Obamacare, as I said earlier, really is -- it really is the
symbol for all of the excesses of big-government liberalism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Big-government liberalism, says Republican Congressman Tom
Cotton of Arkansas, who hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor in
the U.S. Senate, this year.
But, in his state, unlike most other Southern states, Medicaid was
expanded under a tailor-made privatized version of the program called the
private option. Now, there are Tea Parties zealots in the state who tried
and failed to take away that health coverage for more than 150,000
Arkansans who are already benefiting from it.
But perhaps Congressman Cotton is realizing it`s deeply dangerous to
be one of those folks, to tell people he`s the going to take away their
health care as he travels the state running for Senate.
And so when he was asked about how he would repeal Obamacare, without
adversely affecting the 150,000-plus people in the state covered under the
Medicaid expansion, he answered like this: "We would repeal Obamacare and
replace it entirely with many reforms for our health care program. We want
every Arkansan, we want every American to have quality, affordable access
to health care."
"Many reforms for our health care program," huh, that is a new one.
What`s missing in that non-answer is, of course, a very clear answer
to the question, would you get rid of the Medicaid expansion in your state,
yes or no? And herein lies what I think we have found to be the soft
underbelly of the anti-Obamacare Republican candidates this year.
It is the Medicaid expansion. With a hat tip to "The Washington
Post"`s Greg Sargent, who noted a few more non-answers, including Terri
Lynn Land of Michigan, who`s running against Democratic Congressman Gary
Peters for Senate, and says she wants to repeal Obamacare, of course, but
when asked about Medicaid expansion, well, another word salad in the form
of a statement from her campaign.
Quote: "Terri believes health care should be affordable and accessible
to all Americans and we as a society have a moral obligation to help those
who are not as fortunate as their children."
Hmm. No answer on Medicaid expansion.
And our old friend former Senator Scott Brown, who`s taking another
run at the Senate, refused to answer whether he would support New
Hampshire`s Medicaid expansion, which was signed into law just last month.
Joining me now, Brian Beutler, senior editor at "The New Republic,"
where he has just written a piece on precisely this issue.
Brian, I have to be -- I am really surprised particularly at the Tom
Cotton case, because that is a red state. Everyone thinks that that`s
going to be a tough state for the Democrats to hold on. It`s a state in
which Obamacare, if you poll it as Obamacare, is not very popular.
And here he has a chance to say, yes, of course, full repeal, get rid
of it, get rid of the private option, get rid of the Medicaid expansion,
and he will not do it.
BRIAN BEUTLER, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Yes.
I mean, I think Arkansas is one of these weird cases, where you have a
conservative Southern state that expanded the Medicaid program, and so now
you have over 100,000 individuals, both, you know, poor, white, and black
voters, largely, who are benefiting from the program.
And so now Obamacare repeal entails Medicaid repeal, and Medicaid
repeal entails putting those people back on to the un-insurance rolls. So
it becomes a losing political proposition, as more and more people, you
know, discover that they can get treatment for their health conditions or
that they`re, you know, insured against all the other exigencies of
And it really is a -- you can`t run a political campaign saying you`re
going to take away those benefits from people.
HAYES: And the worm is turning here, because this is always -- I
remember a Bill Clinton line from way back when they passed the Affordable
Care Act, and they said, eventually, this is going to be a big political
winner for Democrats, because the other side is going to be running against
taking away people`s health insurance.
And it`s felt like that was a long time in actually coming, that the
law remained an abstraction, and then it wasn`t the law, it was the Web
site, and then it was the enrollment figures. And now there are people who
have health care, and if you want a full repeal, you have got to get up and
tell them, you`re going to take it away.
And that, I think, accounts for all this kind of mealymouthed nonsense
we are seeing from Republican Senate candidates.
I kind of sort of think, when we get further into the campaign, when
Democrats are on debate stages with Republicans, when Republicans are
holding press conferences and actually, you know, need to come up with
something better than what they have come up with so far, that you might
see an effort on behalf -- on the part of Republicans to sort of define
Like, back before there were these benefits, repealing Obamacare was
an abstraction and it just kind of meant getting rid of this thing that we
told you was so bad.
But, as time goes on, I sort of wonder if you might start seeing
Republicans start saying, well, we don`t consider the Medicaid expansion to
be exactly part of Obamacare. And we don`t consider, you know, the
expansion of insurance for kids who are 26 and under on their parents`
programs, that`s not really part of Obamacare either, and just kind of like
peeling back the onion, so, really, what they`re doing is just opposing,
you know, a handful of unpopular things...
BEUTLER: ... but that, when push comes to shove, they won`t be
actually able to say, no, we want to take your tax credits away, we want to
take your Medicaid away, we want to take you off of your parents`
There are a few Republicans I think who aren`t running in particularly
competitive states who will be able to say that, but not Tom Cotton, not
Terri Lynn Land, not Scott Brown.
HAYES: Well, here`s what surprising to me about this.
Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is considered the favorite on the
Republican side to challenge incumbent Kay Hagan, he of course the speaker
of the House of the state legislature in North Carolina, where he has been,
essentially, the quarterback as that state has passed a raft of very, very
conservative, right-wing legislation, he`s not specifically addressing
He`s very oblique. He says, North Carolina -- he says, he won`t say
what generally he wants to replace it. When speaking generally about the
issue, he says, of course, he wants some sort of safety net for preexisting
So here`s someone who, if you asked me to predict, would he be full-
throated in this, in North Carolina, where he is connected to a state party
that has gone to war against Obamacare, and even he refuses to just come
out and say that.
BEUTLER: I think that Democrats have -- they have a real onus to, A,
make sure that people who are, you know, benefiting from Obamacare, whether
it`s through the exchanges or through Medicaid or through their parents`
plans, are aware that it`s Obamacare that did this.
BEUTLER: ... it`s to -- because, you know, in Connecticut -- I`m
sorry -- in Kentucky and in some of these bellwether states, there`s not a
real clear branding of the exchange or whatever as being an artifact of the
Affordable Care Act.
They need to make that clear. I think that they also need to be, you
know, very clear about what Republicans have, you know, proposed for the
last three years. They have proposed repealing Obamacare, and when asked
about replacements, they have not actually wanted to create a health care
guarantee for everybody.
BEUTLER: They want to kind of create a sort of separate insurance
ghetto for people with preexisting conditions, and then not fund it. And
then for people who are healthy, as long as you, you know, you sign up for
insurance within the first two months of the passage of the law, and keep
your insurance and keep paying your premium, and you know, even if you lose
your job, then you can have insurance, but only then.
HAYES: And that to me is the political key here for Democrats, if
they`re interested in pressing the advantage, is to be aggressive and press
the advantage on exactly this. Are you going to -- very pointed -- are you
going to kick people off their coverage, are you going to kick off the
Medicaid expansion, will you stand in the way of the Medicaid expansion?
Those are real, actual, fair questions to ask one`s opponents in
debate, for the press to ask those candidates. And I hope we get some
clear answers as the debate continues.
Brian Beutler from "New Republic," thank you.
BEUTLER: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, Bain Capital, you remember Bain Capital, the firm
famously funded by Mitt Romney, has found a way to profit from heroin use.
We will talk about it next.
HAYES: You can say this for American capitalism. It is pretty
ingenious. And if there`s a dollar to be made in something, American
capitalists will find a way to make it.
That`s particularly true for a little financial company called Bain
Capital, founded and headed up for 15 years by Mitt Romney. What Bain does
is raise tens of millions of dollars, invest into businesses, give some
business advice, then sell their shares to the public at a profit, which
can produce stunning returns to its investors.
In other words, this is a company that became one of the top private
equity firms today. And in the process, they helped revolutionize American
capitalism, which has been a boon for private equity and some of their
shareholders, and often not so great for everyone else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: That Bain Capital acquired a company, in essence looted it,
and then laid off 1,700 people. Now, if that`s accurate and if there are
three or four or five examples like that, I think that`s troubling. I
think Governor Romney will have an ample opportunity to explain it.
And I think this will probably end up -- my guess is, at some point,
you all may want to ask him to do a rather in-depth press conference
explaining Bain Capital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was peak passive aggressiveness in the 2012 campaign from
Well, now comes news that Bain Capital, that same Bain Capital, is
betting on a new profitable trend in American life they can make some money
off, substance abuse, particularly the increase in heroin abuse.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, the number of heroin users increased by almost 180 percent
between 2007 and 2012. A lot of this increase in use has been happening in
the Northeast part of the country, which is why Bain paid $58 million to
acquire Habit OPCO Inc., the largest chain of substance treatment
facilities in Massachusetts, along with CRC Health Corp., which Bain bought
for $723 million in 2006, and which just happens to be the biggest provider
of methadone treatment in the country.
In 2012, it ran nearly 60 clinics in 15 states. Now, when I saw the
headline for this story, I think the idea that this was an outrage. Is
there no low to which predatory capitalism will not stoop?
But then I read the story, and I thought, well, people struggling with
heroin addiction need treatment. They probably need more capacity to help
them, so maybe this is in fact a capitalism success story in which the
incentives for making a buck are also in line with helping people in need.
Here to help me sort this out is Dr. Carl hart, a neuroscientist who
specializes in studying the effects of drugs, associate professor at
Columbia University, and author of the book "High Price: A Neuroscientist`s
Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs
So, what`s your reaction to this news?
DR. CARL HART, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I`m not surprised.
I mean, like you point out, there`s a buck to be made, and so that`s
what they do. That`s their business. And the problem, though, the concern
that we all have is that they may be cutting corners.
And cutting corners, being that they are not giving the patients the
best care that they could receive. That`s the major concern.
HAYES: Right. So the concern is that you have got nonprofit clinics.
And then you have got for-profit clinics.
And it seems conceivable that for-profit clinics could have all kinds
of perverse incentives, which is basically to get as many people as
possible, to keep them on methadone as long as possible, presumably,
because that`s your profit base, and also maybe not to give them as much
care or counseling as you would the nonprofit, when you`re trying to
basically get people in and out and give them the substance.
HART: Well, Chris, you just laid it out.
I don`t know if you need me here to explain this, because you just
pointed it out.
HART: Another thing that you didn`t say is that one of the things
that`s unique to methadone is that you usually have to come to the clinic
every day to receive your dose.
However, patients who are doing really well, they can sometimes get
take-home doses. But when you now have this sort of for-profit motivation,
now you have more people receiving take-home doses who probably did not
earn those take-home doses.
And then you will increase the likelihood of those people maybe
trading their methadone for something else or selling their methadone. So,
HAYES: Explain -- explain to me. Walk through that again, because
that`s interesting. There`s bills, I think, in five different states now
looking to regulate essentially what -- this kind of black market supply
that comes through the methadone clinics.
Why would a for-profit center have more incentive to give people a
take-home dose than a nonprofit center?
HART: Well, that means that you have -- you don`t have to see those
patients on a daily basis.
HART: And so now you can cut back on your staff. You don`t have to
have as many people manning the office.
HAYES: Right. This is a less labor-intensive way of administering
the drug than if -- and if you`re in the business of keeping labor costs
low and, you know, intake high, you might be incentivized to do that.
Yes, I want to say something about those proposed bills. One of the
things that concerned me is that there are a number of methadone programs
around the country that are doing it right. And so when you pass these
legislations or these bills, you punish those people as well. It seems
that we should go after the folks who are violating the rules, rather than
going, passing this broad, sweeping sort of bill.
And so I`m concerned when we start to talk about passing legislation.
Just deal with the problem as we identify the problem.
HAYES: Is there a frontier in terms of heroin treatment, or is it
something that we are getting better at as times goes on?
HART: Emphatically, no. Unfortunately, that`s -- obviously, we are
making some strides in research, but we are not that good in terms of drug
treatment in general.
There are a few programs, and they`re usually associated with
research, one, or top-notch universities. But, in general, most of the
drug treatment programs out here are woefully inadequate.
HAYES: Why are they woefully inadequate?
HART: Ignorance. And, in part, there`s so much ignorance in terms of
what we think about drug addictions in general.
So when we think about drug addiction, it`s like, why are people
addicted? Well, they`re addicted for a variety of reasons, ranging from
co-occurring psychiatric disorders to lack of skills, lack of alternatives.
And so when you have these methadone programs, a major component is
And that counseling is aimed to get at the bottom or the reasons for
the addiction. And, if you`re not, if you are not dealing with that, then
you`re not really providing treatment.
HAYES: It`s interesting, because what I`m hearing from you is a kind
of analogue to what a lot of people have said about the sort of trajectory
of psychopharmacological drugs in psychiatry and psychology, which is the
sort of reduction of the importance of talk therapy, right, and writing
prescriptions to solve people`s problems.
HART: Yes. Yes.
HAYES: And what I`m hearing from you is, look, folks that find
themselves in this situation, there`s probably a lot of stuff they need to
work out, and working that out and working with them to work that out has
got to be part of what the agenda is.
And bringing it back to here, it`s a little hard to see how a for-
profit business that has big private equity owners to answer to is
necessarily going to put in that extra muscle to make that happen.
HART: Yes. We already have a model of this in the prison industry.
I mean, the private prison industry is exactly the same as this model.
And so we know this. But the thing about the prison industry, we all are
appalled by that. But when we see drug treatment, we think that people are
doing good or they have good intentions. But one of the things that this
program, your program right now is highlighting is that it`s making
transparent that treatment providers are not necessarily in it for the good
of the patient.
HAYES: Right. And that -- maybe that, actually, in a weird way, is
Dr. Carl Hart from Columbia University, always a pleasure, man. Thank
HART: Good to see you.
HAYES: All right, coming up, a poor woman gets a job interview, has
no day care for two of her children. So what does she do? And how does
the law react? That incredible story is next.
HAYES: Today, a petition with 12,000 signatures was delivered to the
Maricopa County attorney`s office in Arizona, asking that charges against
this woman, Shanesha Taylor, be dropped.
Shanesha Taylor is a poor mother of three who on March 20 had a job
interview and a dilemma. She did not have day care for two of her kids, so
she allegedly made the decision to leave her children, 2 years old and 6
months old, in the car during her job interview.
A little more than 45 minutes later, the AP reports -- quote -- "A
witness found the infant crying hysterically and sweating profusely as the
temperatures inside the SUV exceeded 100 degrees. Taylor was arrested after
returning to the vehicle."
She has since been released on bail and indicted on two felony counts
of child abuse. She faces up to seven years in prison, the children now
reportedly in protective custody.
Now, I don`t think anyone believes it is a good idea to leave children
in a hot car. In fact, everyone is very, very lucky this story did not
have a much more horrible ending.
But here`s what`s happening in this case. A woman is taking seriously
the exhortation from politicians and pundits alike to get a job, to pull
herself up by her bootstraps in a state that, the folks at ThinkProgress
point out, has cut 40 percent of its total child care budget and has
between 2012 and 2013 seen a decrease in the number of children served for
every single child care program in the state, except for child protective
And at the end of this whole awful situation, a mother is separated
from her kids without a job, looking at up to a seven-year prison sentence.
If there is one thing American policy towards the poor is skilled and
efficient at, it`s unrelenting, it is punishing the poor. If you try to
cheat on your Earned Income Tax Credit, we will find you. If you walk
around your neighborhood with some marijuana on you, we will stop and frisk
you and we will find it and take you to jail. And if you leave your kids
in your car for a job interview, we will arrest you.
And where the system fails over and over and over again is at
supporting people, so that they do not find themselves in situations where
they are doing the things that we can punish them for.
HAYES: It`s April 15, tax day, which means the deadline for filing
your taxes is now only about three-and-a-half-hours away.
For most of us, dealing with filing those taxes is an incredibly
painful process, one filled with so much uncertainty that Donald Rumsfeld
himself considers it a known unknown, writing in a letter to the IRS today
that he has "absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax
payments are accurate."
For tens of millions of Americans, the tax process could be so much
easier if only anti-tax ideologues, like Grover Norquist and the tax prep
industry, would get out of the way.
Ezra Klein from Vox.com explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: There is a very simple way that tax
day could stop sucking for tens of millions of Americans. The IRS could
simply do their taxes for them.
The IRS already knows what you make, and they know what you`re
probably going to owe. So they do your taxes for you. They send you the
tax return and they let you make any changes you want. If you want to make
your taxes more complicated, great. If you don`t -- and most people don`t
-- you can simply sign off, and that`s it. You`re done.
Austan Goolsbee, an expert on taxes, he`s run the numbers on this
plan. He says having the IRS auto-prepare taxes would save Americans more
than $2 billion in tax preparation fees a year, and 225 million hours in
time spent preparing our taxes.
Imagine what you can do with all that time. If it sounds too good to
be true, consider this. It`s already how taxes work in Denmark and Sweden
and Spain. California did this as an experiment, and 98 percent of the
people surveyed in the program said they`d do it again.
You know who likes this idea a lot? President Ronald Reagan. You
know who else likes it? President Barack Obama. There`s legislation in
Congress right now that would make it law, making the IRS your friend.
But it keeps failing. Why? Because the people who make money doing
your taxes now, people like Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, they don`t want
the IRS destroying their business. Intuit make more than $1 billion every
year from TurboTax and related services.
So it was just good business for them to spend almost $2 million
trying to kill California`s experiment. And the more than $11 million they
have spent lobbying Washington in recent years, well, that`s just good
And Intuit`s got powerful friends, friends like Grover Norquist, king
of the anti-tax forces. He hates this idea, because if taxes are too easy,
then people won`t hate them as much. Norquist says the IRS is -- quote --
"trying to socialize all tax preparation in America."
Yes, because having the government use the information you`re already
giving them to prepare an automatic tax return that you can completely
ignore if you want to, that is totally what Karl Marx had in mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, yesterday, ProPublica detailed how over the last year,
public relations professionals and lobbyists with ties to Intuit, maker of
TurboTax, convinced a rabbi, a state NAACP official, a small-town mayor,
and other community leaders to write op-eds and letters to Congress with
remarkably similar language, arguing that having the IRS auto-prepare taxes
would hurt low-income people since they would have the resources to fight
The rabbi told ProPublica the former student who approached did not
disclose that she worked for a P.R. and lobbying firm with connections to
We reached out to Intuit about its lobbying and the ProPublica story.
In a statement, the company dismissed the story as -- quote -- "advocacy
journalism," said that the industry-backed system that is already in place
to help poorer families file taxes for free is superior to having the IRS
auto-prepare taxes, which Intuit says "minimizes the taxpayer`s voice and
instead maximizes revenue collection for government, and it`s an anti-
consumer policy that does not advance taxpayer rights."
We invited Grover Norquist to be a guest on the show. He was
But joining me now is the aforementioned Ezra Klein, MSNBC policy
analyst and editor in chief of the fantastic new Vox.com, and Mattie
Duppler, director of budget and regulatory policy for Americans for Tax
Reform. And that`s the organization that Grover Norquist founded.
Mattie, why do you want everyone to waste precious hours on their tax
returns? Why do you want to make people`s lives worse?
MATTIE DUPPLER, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Chris, why do you want to
point out that I was the second choice to Grover? It just hurts my
feelings coming on the show.
HAYES: I apologize.
HAYES: But I felt bad because we named him. And so I had to sort of
be like, well, we`re not just talking about him when he`s not in the room.
We did ask him.
Of course, we would have taken both of you. We love having you on.
DUPPLER: All right, thanks, Chris.
Well, listen, I know that this seems like an appealing argument to
make tax preparation simpler, but what we would like to focus on is making
taxes simpler. And that`s the problem here. This is a really convenient
tautology for people who want to grow the size of government by making the
tax code extraordinarily complex and then saying, no, no, we will take it
off your hands and we will make sure that we understand the complexities,
so you don`t have to. It`s putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.
HAYES: Ezra, your response to that?
KLEIN: I don`t understand that argument at all.
So, there are two things that I don`t actually understand about it.
One is that there is a good conversation to have. I would like to see
simpler taxes too. It is a separate conversation whether or not folks
should just get a pre-filled out tax return from the IRS.
But the other thing -- and I think this is actually an important point
when we talk about the tax system -- if you are somebody who has got one
job, you have one bank account and you`re taking the standard deduction,
the tax code is not incredibly complicated for you. Your taxes are not
You shouldn`t have to pay for tax prep. You shouldn`t have to spend a
lot of time worrying about it. The tax code gets really not simple at all
when you get up to real rich people who are doing a lot of sheltering in
sort of IRAs and different kinds of tax retirement accounts. The tax code
is not simple at all on the corporate side.
But for these folks, the tax code is reasonably simple. And we can
make it easier. So, yes, I`m all for making a simpler tax code. We should
have a conversation about that. But that`s no reason not to make life
easier for somebody making 45,000 bucks a year who takes a standard
And, Mattie, it seems to me like these two things get conflated a lot.
Even in the tape we played at the top of the show of people railing against
the IRS and tax code, the tax code is the product of Congress. And there`s
lots of stuff in there that`s horrible. There`s lots of stuff in there...
HAYES: ... that, across the ideological spectrum, lefties, righties,
libertarians, social conservatives, you can find stuff you hate in that
freaking tax code if you look for it.
HAYES: But that is a separate issue than there`s going to be someone
collecting taxes. We`re going to pay taxes in some way, so why not just
make it easy and simple?
DUPPLER: Well, because the question is, if we`re going to be
collecting taxes, do we want the person collecting them being the preparer?
And the answer is no. Ezra is talking about how there`s a lot of
simplicity for folks who are just taking the standard deduction. And
that`s true, but there`s free software and free preparing available for
them right now.
That population`s already served. So, what Ezra is saying is that we
need the tax preparation to be taken out of the hands of the people for
whom it is very complex and given to the IRS, which to me seems like an
extraordinary conflict of interests and, if it were a private enterprise,
would certainly be considered so.
KLEIN: But wait. We`re not taking anything out of anybody`s hands,
because I think this is something that gets distorted about this idea.
The IRS would send folks a pre-filled-out form. If you don`t want to
use that form, if you want to do your taxes yourself, if you want to have
TurboTax do them, if you want a tax preparer do them, you crumple up that
form and you throw it in the garbage. They`re no force of law behind it.
They`re not forcing you to send it in. It`s just something that, if
you find it helpful, you can sign off and you`re done, and if you don`t,
you don`t have to.
The people who have more complicated taxes, they want those taxes to
be more complicated. They want to itemize their deductions because it
saves them money. They`re not going to be somehow tricked by seeing a form
and realizing that they can`t do anything more.
And they`re certainly not going to be force of law. Again, this is
one of those ideas -- and it`s one reason I don`t understand, really, the
objection to it. It has nothing except for those who it would make life a
little bit easier, we just make life a little bit easier.
And if they want to do something different, they can. This is not a
coercive law. It is just making the tax system a little bit simpler for
people who don`t need a lot of help.
HAYES: Let me point this out also, Mattie. I think this is an
interesting part of this, is that, in some ways, for most people, taking
the standard deduction, wage earners, right, the IRS is already doing your
It`s called the payroll withholding. And, in fact, that didn`t always
exist. This is one of my favorite historical factoids, which is that
Milton Friedman, when he was working as a government economist, was the one
who came up with the idea of the government actually taking withholding,
because it actually increased the enforcement.
So, in some ways, you know, if you don`t trust the IRS at all, that`s
fine. I guess you don`t have to trust the IRS. But they`re already doing
this. They`re already mucking in your payroll every two weeks.
DUPPLER: Well, but, Chris, that`s not exactly true. When employers
are sending a W-2, it`s not going to the IRS. It`s going to the Social
And the IRS commissioner himself testified in front of Congress and
said, listen, we are not equipped to be able to do this kind of tax
preparation, because we don`t have the information. We don`t get the
information until late spring. And at that point, it`s way too late. So
you have got the agency itself saying, this is a problem.
HAYES: Well, you would change things, obviously.
DUPPLER: Well, you would have to change things, but the problem is,
if it`s such a simple and great idea, why hasn`t it been changed yet?
HAYES: Ezra has an answer for that.
KLEIN: It hasn`t been changed yet because your group won`t allow it
to be changed. You guys lobby Congress to keep it from happening, because
Intuit spends tens of millions of dollars a year keeping it from being
It`s very obvious why it won`t get changed, because there are a set of
interest groups who don`t want it to be, because, for ideological or
commercial reasons, they see the change as being bad for their interests.
It`s not because it`s impossible to do this.
DUPPLER: Well, it`s not bad for your interests.
KLEIN: California -- California did this. They had the ready return
system. It was a great program. It was a pilot ram; 98 percent of the
people liked it. Other countries do this. We know this is technically
HAYES: Ezra Klein from Vox.com.
Sorry to cut you off, Mattie.
DUPPLER: Chris, you`re killing me.
HAYES: Mattie Duppler, who is representing Americans for Tax Reform
on this tax day.
Thank you both.
KLEIN: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, an outfit called Mo` Money Taxes of Memphis,
Tennessee, was permanently barred from business, because they were charging
deceptive and unconscionable fees to low-income folks who needed tax prep
There are a lot of other outfits still out there and up to some
serious shadiness. We will talk about that ahead.
HAYES: Last week, "The New York Times" reported on how low-income
Americans often end up paying exorbitant tax prep fees, including a
supermarket cashier and college student named Brittany Dixon, charged
nearly $400 in fees for a half-hour of tax prep work, just one example of
how tax refunds that are supposed to go to the working poor have become a
huge source of income for the tax prep industry.
Joining me now, Imara Jones, economic justice contributor
So, poor folks need their taxes done, need tax prep, like a lot of
other people, particularly Earned Income Tax Credit, what`s the problem
with this business?
IMARA JONES, ECONOMIC JUSTICE CONTRIBUTOR, COLORLINES.COM: The
problem is that it`s based upon predatory behavior.
Like a lot of other industries, the tax preparation industry now
profits greatly from the poor. And one of the things is that we often
think that the poor are marginal to our economy, but increasingly now that
we have an upside-down economy, that -- where the 1 percent are driving
everything else, we have increasingly more and more people who qualify as
And we are finding ways -- the economy is finding ways to make lots of
money off of them.
HAYES: How do you make money -- if you`re a tax preparer, how do you
make money off a poor person?
JONES: You charge a poor person the same amount of fees that would
charge someone who makes $70,000, $80,000, or $90,000 a year.
And the problem, as...
HAYES: Well, how do you do that if they don`t have money?
JONES: Well, you often take it right out of the tax return.
HAYES: Right. Right.
So, the point is, they`re going there to get an Earned Income Tax
HAYES: Poor folks tend to be getting a big check from the government,
relatively big to their income over the year...
HAYES: ... around tax time. There`s this big pool of money sitting
there. And you say, sure, I will unlock that pool of money for you. I`m
going to take a toll.
JONES: The fees aren`t often disclosed up front.
And the problem is that, for a lot of these fees, it can be the
equivalent to one out of $5, $6, $7 that you get out of your tax return.
And for people who have marginal incomes, that`s really key, because this
money is pivotal. It comes at a really important time of the year, April.
It`s when they`re paying down Christmas debt, getting ready to go into the
summer, preparing -- doing things to prepare for school.
So this money is key. And it`s one of the only direct anti-poverty
programs that we actually still have left in the country. It was
implemented at the same time that we rolled back -- well, we canceled
welfare. Conservatives often then complain about a program that no longer
JONES: So it`s really pivotal. It`s one of the last things that we
have, and now -- it`s now become a giant target for big business to make a
lot of money off of.
HAYES: I remember there was a lot of outrage over things called
refund anticipation loans, in which tax preparers would say, OK, it`s
January 1 or January 2. You need that money now. We will give it to you,
but we`re going to charge you 30 percent interest.
That has successful -- there was a huge movement against that.
Regulation has basically gotten rid of that, right?
JONES: Yes, but the problem is that the tax preparation is just one
of the linchpins in this overnight financial system that springs up in poor
neighborhoods at a certain time of the year.
And so, if you lay this alongside of payday loans and auto title
loans, there`s a lot of way in which we are profiting, making double-digit
profits off of poor people by essentially loaning back to them the money
that they already make.
HAYES: So what is the solution here?
JONES: The solution is, there has to be greater regulation.
First of all, there`s not even a regulation of who can qualify as a
tax preparer. There are -- there has to be some regulation around who can
do this. There -- there has to be -- there are actually existing ways
through nonprofits and churches and other ways for people who are poor to
get their taxes prepared for free.
HAYES: Get them for free.
JONES: There`s no way they can compete against the marketing
JONES: So one of the things that could be really important is if the
government steered people to those free sources.
The second thing is that there just has to be a greater regulation of
how the poor are able to access the financial system, because the financial
system in Wall Street actually makes more money by not providing them
traditional services, instead of these nontraditional services which are
Imara Jones from Colorlines.com, thanks so much for being here.
JONES: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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