UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 8, 2014
Guest: Amanda Terkel, Erica Payne, James Diossa, Tsedeye Gebreselassie,
Randy Richardville, Dawn Zimmer
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama going it alone. This
morning we begin with a progress report. President Obama has declared 2014
to be his year of action. And now we are in the 6th month, halfway through
that year. This past week has been a particularly active week for the
president, so we thought it was the perfect time to assess where he and his
administration are at this very political moment. What has President Obama
accomplished so far in this his year of action. What hasn`t he
accomplished, what can he accomplish. We are going to discuss all of this
and more with our panel in just a bit, but first, let`s take a step back
and assess how President Obama arrived at this stage of his presidency. In
the middle of year six where nothing is coming out of Congress, more
executive actions seem to be the president`s best and probably only chance
to inept his agenda. Every day Obama confronts a Republican dominated
House and a Senate where the Republican minority routinely uses the
filibuster to force Democrats to come up with a 60-vote super majority if
they are going to pass anything. And this has been the state of play since
the 2010 mid-terms. And so, the White House has had to think creatively.
Because this week we witnessed executive authority in action. Exhibit one,
the EPA. On Monday the administration announced far reaching EPA
regulations to curb carbon emissions, a 30 percent cut by 2030, that`s the
goal. Exhibit two, the administration announced this week to the young
undocumented immigrants from Obama granted temporary deportation waivers to
back in 2012. He now applied for two-year extensions. That is a move that
prompted outrage from the most powerful Republican opponent of immigration
reform in Congress. And now talk is rampant, and if the Republican House
keeps stonewalling on immigration through the summer, Obama will take
another dramatic executive action to impose some kind of reform on his own.
Also this week, Obama made no apologies about his decision to trade five
members of the Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl without giving Congress any
notification, something he reiterated in an interview with Brian Williams
on Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have a rule, a
principal that when somebody wears our country`s uniform and they are at
the war theater, and they are captured, we are going to do everything we
can to bring them home. And we saw an opportunity and we took it. And I
make no apologies for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President has been candid in admitting the last year was not
exactly the easiest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I admit it. Last year was rough. Sheesh.
OBAMA: At one point things got so bad the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So how did it come to this? In 2009 and 2010 Obama benefited
from huge Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate. Majorities
that allows them to get big things done. Like health care. Then came the
Tea Party backlash in the 2010 GOP midterm landslide followed by the
Republican debt ceiling brinkmanship in 2011. And the White House believed
that if they could just win in 2012, they`d "break the fever." You
remember that term - break the fever of reflexive and unyielding GOP
opposition. Losing in 2012 would scare the GOP into bending in at least a
few big issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The frustration I have right now is that we still need to break the
fever here in Washington so that this town operates and reflects those
values that are shared by people all across the country.
KORNACKI: But the 2012 election was more than a year and a half ago now.
And the fever is still raging and the White House has come to realize as
long as Republicans have power in Congress there just is not going to be
much action in the president`s agenda. This week political magazine
interviewed more than 60 people in the piece they called the Obama paradox,
the idea that the few years remaining in this presidency may give him a
feeling of liberation even as he is hamstrung by the realities and
constraints of Congress, Washington, the limits of his office. The article
depicts the president with a deep awareness of how precious his remaining
time in office is. He`s also apparently taken to convening salon evenings,
with artists and athletes and the celebrities and scholars, engaging them
in philosophical conversations late into the night. When a - told
political how Obama opined after one of those sessions, "Just last night I
was talking about life and art, big and interesting things.
Now back to the minuscule things on politics. President Obama appears to
have his legacy in his mind now as well. He talks about conceiving his own
version of a Clinton foundation that would benefit young people. Bright
lights of New York City beckon as he sets his sights on the home base when
he leaves office in 2017. Zero sum game, politics in Washington is
encumbered him, so now he is trying to short circuit Congress and forge his
own way, seeking creative approaches to leaving a lasting mark on the
country even if Congress won`t help him. Barack Obama finds himself in a
poignant moment in his presidency. With the mid-term ever closer and his
legacy on his mind, what can the president do now to create lasting change
in the country that will fulfill the promises he made in 2008 and in 2012.
Well, to help answer this, to assess all of this, I want to bring in
Richard Wolffe, he`s written several books on the president. The most
recent is "The Message: the reselling of President Obama." He`s also the
executive editor of msnbc.com. Amanda Terkel, she is the senior political
reporter managing editor with the "Huffington Post" and Erica Payne, she is
a public policy expert, president and founder of "The Agenda Project",
progressive political group. She joins us from Washington. Now, Richard,
let me start with you, because you know this administration so well. It
seems to me, and I`m not sure when the exact point this hit was. Maybe at
the start of this year and the late last year, shutdown. But it seems to
me, there has just been a realization on the part of the White House.
There has been sort of - you know, you can think back to the first term or
even start the second term, it almost felt for all that time that they were
building towards a moment when Republicans were going to be willing to
compromise and they didn`t want to do anything that was going to feed into
Republican characters. They didn`t want to do anything that was going to
Republican say, he`s running wild with executive power. And it just seemed
somewhere in the last six months, in the last year, they said you know
what, that moment is never going to come.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Right. I think that moment of
breech comes with the debt ceiling crisis because that was such a miserable
time. And, you know, if you are a Clinton person and heaven knows that
Clinton people are getting more vocal at this moment, you would say, well,
of course, this was going to happen. What were you thinking that you could
ever unite .
KORNACKI: This is the clinic - with angelic choirs that will open up .
WOLFFE: It`s a fairy tale, right? So, what do you end up with? You end
up in actually the Clinton - President Clinton situation, which is you have
to move by executive order, there is still one area, which is, I have to
say, immigration where they are trying to hold some things back and say we
will give you a little bit more time, maybe if Eric Cantor gets through,
and it`s Tea Party challenge, then it will all be different. I think in
the heart of hearts they know, that`s not true either. What you are seeing
now is a president who as you point out is very aware that he has got a
sense of mortality on him about his power, about his time in office and
maybe to look at that interview in 2012, just 2012 maybe was better make
up. But he looks a lot younger.
KORNACKI: We are all going to say this about president, but maybe it`s
just because if they have two terms there, there are eight years and
everybody ages in eight years, but I have the exact same reaction.
WOLFFE: Look at how he is talking about young men of color, look at this
and something really passionate and personal for him. The EPA emissions
standard. Very tough. He is preparing that legacy, but also the
unfinished business of those promises of that first term.
KORNACKI: Well, even in the political article we were starting in the
beginning there, even something as little as playing golf. Because, you
know, there was sort of a Republican joke. Like - the president is playing
golf all the time. And they cared about that, they cared about that image,
they cared about playing into that. It doesn`t seem like they care about
that anymore. Something - but amazing, let me - I want to get to like
immigration and some of the specifics later. Immigration is the one that
sort of - the big unknown right now. But just in general, I mean, because
I`ve heard this debate from time to time and I wonder if you can weigh in.
And just the idea of - has the administration really exhausted every
opening it could have, every opportunity it might have to get to that
moment of compromise with Republicans. Because everybody - you look back
at the Clinton years and the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton and they
opposed him about everything. But it was that moment when they got the
balance budget compromise. Clinton and Gingrich came together. Is there
anything that you see the administration hasn`t done? I hear a lot about,
you know, well, he could make more personal calls to members of Congress.
Is there anything you could see that they could do or could have done that
could have avoided this moment?
AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, you need the carrots and sticks
approach. And I think a lot of people were frustrated with the president
for a while. Because it was just carrots. Oh, we will compromise with you
before Republicans offered anything in return. And I think that frustrated
a lot of progressives. Now what Obama is trying is some sticks. You know,
Republicans don`t like when the president uses too much executive action
and goes around Congress. And so, what he is saying on things like
immigration is fine. You don`t like it, you guys can actually work on
passing some legislation and I won`t do this executive actions. And he`s
done that - he`s held that out, for example, on issues like gay rights and
the employment of nondiscrimination act. So, I think that he is trying to
finally say Congress, you guys can get something done otherwise, I`m going
to act without you. Congress so far - isn`t really taking that up, but at
least it`s nice to see him trying this.
KORNACKI: You know, so Erica, I wonder what you think of this. Because I
mean there has been some criticism of President Obama, you know, from the
left about, you know, maybe not being aggressive enough as president, maybe
trying too hard to compromise with Republicans. Seems they are out of the,
you know, let`s cultivate compromise mentality right now. What do you
think of the President Obama you are seeing right now?
ERICA PAYNE, AGENDA PROJECT: Well, I`m glad to see him getting loosened
up, but part of the problem here is we`ve got to go back and look at Rahm
Emanuel becoming chief of staff of the White House when President Obama
first went into office. Rahm Emanuel had lived through the Clinton years.
If anyone knew what the right wing of this country is capable of, it`s Rahm
Emanuel and the Clintons. And I think he just fundamentally did not
prepare President Obama for what he was going to face. You are never going
to break this fever. This fever has been going on since Bill Clinton went
into office. And we had - and blah, blah, blah. All of the things that
the right wing threw at him. You know, and I think President Obama very
naively thought - and I mean it`s the best spirit of hopefulness, but
thought he could come in and work with these people. The right wing of
this country wants to destroy everything that we think is great about this
country. They are never going to end. The fever is never going to be
broken and the best thing that President Obama could do to seal his legacy
is to actually build out the intellectual and communications infrastructure
of the left. That standing infrastructure. Right now, the right wing`s
main thing tank, the Heritage Foundation has a $77 million annual budget.
The Center for American Progress, which is the center left think tank, has
an annual budget of $39 million. The Heritage Foundation changed the face
of the country. Let`s build our ..
KORNACKI: So, I mean - you are - in terms of like a long-term impact, you
are thinking even beyond presidential literal - presidential power right
now. You are talking more about building up, you know, institutions
outside of government. That you see that as the more promising track.
PAYNE: Well, yes, I mean 100 percent. If you look at politics, it`s
basically like that picture of the iceberg where you can see the top little
bit of it and the ocean level, and then everything underneath it. The
conservatives after the gold water election, gold water defeat, they built
out a network of think tanks, the Federalist Society, CATO, AEI, the
Heritage Foundation. Those in combination with the chamber of commerce,
with the Koch brothers, that you see more - about that - that`s not, I mean
this whole infrastructure is the problem. And a legacy needs to address
that infrastructure problem.
KORNACKI: Let me - you know, we talk about the sort of mind set to
compromise. And again we see, look back at the Clinton years and there
were some compromises between the impeachment in the 1994, the rise of
Gingrich and all of that. And if you look back at the first term for
President Obama, especially that first two years, I mean the Congress of
2009-2010, that`s the most accomplished Congress, they pass more big
significant things than you have seen since the Great Society with LBJ. I
mean we lose sight of, you know, they were able to get health care, you
know, through Lilly Ledbetter, with, you know, stimulus and all these
things that happened. You know, the reality of Republican opposition sort
of has not changed. The difference is - that Democrats had votes in 2009
and 2010. I wonder if this is sort of - if the Obama presidency has been
almost like a teaching moment for Americans. For everyday Americans.
Because we think of the president as sort of all powerful. Our instincts
to think of the president as all powerful, and we have seen sort of the
limits of what an individual president can do. If you don`t have the votes
in Congress, if you don`t have 60 votes in the Senate these days, if you
don`t have a big majority in the House, what can you really do?
WOLFFE: I don`t know why anyone would not understand the system. Even my
kids in elementary school.
KORNACKI: More people vote in the presidential election than they don`t
vote in the mid-term, and that`s - if you want the president at the power,
you`ve got to give him the midterm.
WOLFFE: I think you`re looking at very high expectations for this
president. Expectations that he fueled and his campaign fueled, right?
Which, in many ways as you point out, they were able to meet, but the truth
is the expectations were even higher than that. Looking back, if you were
going to play the legacy game, is the country in a more progressive place
now than it was at the end of the Bush years? You`d have to say on issue
after issue, it is. And that`s exactly why you are seeing this kind of
backlash. Erica is right. Was there a conflict between saying we are
going to try to unite this country and find the areas of compromise, and
having Rahm Emanuel as your first chief of staff, absolutely there was.
But in any case if you are taking Rahm`s position, who could you compromise
with? They offered a third of the stimulus spending to tax cuts and the
Republicans still couldn`t give them more than one vote. You know, there
were no Republican votes at all for this president because they knew how
threatening he was in terms of realigning the political framework of this
country. But looking back, Obamacare is not going to go away. Even with
the Republican president, it`s too embedded, it`s rapidly changing. The
EPA changes, the ending of two wars. Pretty much every major thing, with
the exception of Guantanamo Bay and immigration reform, and you know that
this president is still working on those by executive order.
KORNACKI: And that`s - there are 2 1/2 years left in this presidency. We
have got the basic reality on Capitol Hill outlined here. You have got -
an immigration is the one I want to pick up specifically when we come back.
What I want to talk about, what can happen, what can the lasting impact of
the Obama presidency be on immigration and the couple of the big issues, in
these last 2 1/2 years. We will get to that as soon as when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In the coming months, let`s see where else we can make progress
together. Let`s make this a year of action. That`s what most Americans
want. For all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives. Their hopes.
President Obama at this year`s state of the union calling for 2014 to be a
year of action. So, the two big issues in terms of like executive action
by the president of the of action, that was sort of hovering over this
year, with number one, the EPA. And this week, the new regulations were
announced. The second thing is immigration, an immigration - we have been
talking about this, really, for his whole presidency, but especially since
the 2012 election. Because the 2012 election was the story of the sort of
younger diverse coalition that lifted the president that had shocked
Republicans who never thought he would get reelected. And now, of course,
Republicans were going to look at the long term futures, see where the
country was going demographically and say OK, we`ll give you immigration.
That`s the one we are going to compromise on. And the White House
absolutely thought that was going to happen. And here we are, it is now
early June 2014, it still hasn`t happened. And we are hearing about this
little window, Amanda, that I guess supposedly exist right now. Richard
eluded to it, in the last - in the last segment, we had Eric Kantor, the
House Majority leader has to get through a primary, if you can get through
that primary and the Tea Party challenge. Then maybe he`s free to put
something on the floor. Maybe John Boehner, won`t want to be speaker next
year, maybe he`s free too. If you don`t - if nothing happens here, if the
next month or two is just like the last 19 months, then the question is,
what can President Obama do? What conceivably would President Obama do as
president with an executive order on immigration? What does he have the
power to do? What do you think he could do?
TERKEL: Immigration is an area where we actually could do a lot through
executive orders, he could really reshape the immigration system. He has
deported more people than President Bush has. He doesn`t have to do that.
He could help determine who stays in the country or who make it harder for
people to be deported, make it easier, for example, for people who`ve
served in the military to be able to stay in the country. And there are a
lot of -a lot of little areas and sort of changing the culture, I think at
KORNACKI: Those deportations, too, is that- do you, I`ve always heard that
explained. That was - we were talking about this earlier. One of those
political things, where like you want to get some kind of buy in from
Republicans and you don`t want Republicans - the line from Republicans, we
don`t trust the president. Well, so, the whole idea of the deportations
was to show Republicans, hey, I`m tough on immigration. I`m going to
deport - and that hasn`t gotten them. Just as you think that`s one of
those areas where they look at now and they say being the tough guy has not
gotten me any credit. So, why be the tough guy?
TERKEL: Exactly. I mean they are still saying that we don`t trust Obama
to follow the law. We think he needs to be tougher on border security. He
has been tougher than President Bush and a lot of these - President Bush
who wanted to do immigration reform. And his party really would along with
it. So, I think that, you know, hopefully, I think many immigration
advocates are saying that President Obama - hopefully has realized how that
Republicans won`t go along and a time he is losing his chance and
Republicans, I am very skeptical that they are going to do anything in the
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know, I`m skeptical as well. I mean listening to that
rhetoric from Cantor and his primary and even allowing for the fact the
politicians frequently say one thing and do another. I`m having a hard
time seeing how he gets from point A to point B. But Erica, so OK, we are
talking about immigration here, but we say 2 1/2 years left in the
presidency. When you look at the powers of the presidency, when you look
at the power for executive orders, executive action, what is at the top of
your agenda besides immigration that you would like to see him do? Do you
think he should be doing?
PAYNE: Well, the first one is, I`d really like to see him come out kicking
and screaming to save the CFPD, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It has been under attack since it got put in. They are going to need some
protecting. So, that`s one thing in the legacy, but let me just mention a
minute on the immigration issue. What he has is not only the ability to
make an executive action, he also has an ability to time that executive
action. So, rather than waiting on this, I think the president should do
executive orders on immigration now. Because what that will do is force
Republicans who are still in these primary battles to pick a side and the
Tea Party potentially could beat these candidates and then all of a sudden
you have more transparency about who the right wing of this country is. I
think the Republican friends of mine from down south really don`t have a
concept of how these people are actually oriented. And I think the faster
we can bring transparency to Tea Party Republicans and to Republicans who
are Tea Party-like at this point, even if they think they are just
Republicans and they are not officially in the Tea Party. This is an angry
hateful mob of people who are trying to take over this country. So force
the issue. Time your executive actions in such a way that it will have
KORNACKI: So, Richard, what do you think the time table is? I mean we
keep hearing from the White House the idea where there is this window right
now. That maybe, you know, Congress will do - mock that up, but what do
you think the timetable is, when do you think we would see an executive
action from the president on immigration?
WOLFFE: I think it will be the summer. Because you are going to have this
one last gasp. Although you can do a lot with executive orders, you cannot
come up with a path to citizenship. So, it requires legislation and they
have got to give it one more try. Erica is not wrong. I mean now it`s
kind of crazy, you want more Tea Party Republicans in Congress, but that`s
going to be the defining vision going into the midterms. In all
likelihood, that`s exactly what Democrats and the president will end up
with. Because the actions on climate change, the actions on immigration
will lead to that. So, I think that you know, you are going to have this
one last effort in legislation. It`s not going to work. You are talking
about a Republican Party that opposes common core standards because it has
got Obama attached to it. So, you know, there is no compromise really
available any time the president backs anything and especially something
KORNACKI: And that`s you know, we talk about - we talk about these
executive actions, too. The other thing to just mention here, too, is the
difference between something like the Affordable Care Act where basically
when President Obama got reelected in 2012. The Supreme Court decision and
him getting reelected, and that settled it. This was going to be
implemented, this was not going to be repealed from that point forward.
When you talk about the executive actions, hey, if a Republican gets
elected in 2016 and becomes president then that Republican could undo in
one -you know, with one stroke of the pen everything that the president did
with an executive action. So that`s the downside of this thing. Anyway,
we are out of time. And I want to thank Erica Payne with the Agenda
Project, msnbc.com`s Richard Wolffe. Amanda Terkel, we will see you later
in the show. You may remember, when the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey came
on this show and alleged that Chris Christie was playing politics with
badly needed Sandy relief money for her city. Well, five months later,
she`s back today. Dawn Zimmer`s first live television interview since
coming forward, that`s ahead. But before that, we are continuing to follow
developing surrounding comedian Tracy Morgan. The truck driver who police
believed caused the crash that injured the former SNL star now faces
multiple charges in the six car accident. Police say his tractor-trailer
ran into Morgan`s limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike early yesterday
morning, killing one person inside. Morgan was traveling back from a stand
up tour in Delaware remains in critical condition in an intensive care unit
of a New Jersey Hospital. We will continue to update the story as details
KORNACKI: Central Falls, Rhode Island. Population 19,000 was once a
thriving industrial city, the kind of place that used to be the backbone of
America. Chances are there is or there was at least one factory town like
Central Falls in your state. The factory towns that fueled the growth of
the middle class after World War II. But the double whammy of the long-
term decline in American manufacturing and the economic meltdown of 2008
has left these cities reeling. Toss in some of Rhode Island`s notorious
political corruption and Central Falls has been slammed harder than just
about any of the older - other older manufacturing hubs. The unemployment
rate in Central Falls is a staggering 10.4 percent, that`s well above the
state and national average. Central Falls created a national firestorm in
2010 when they fired and then rehired all of its teachers after failing to
negotiate a contract. A year later the city was forced to declare
bankruptcy after years of corruption and mismanagement left it millions of
dollars in debt. And a new generation of leaders in Central Falls is
fighting for a turn around. This week, msnbc.com reporter Suzy Khimm
profiled Central Falls Democratic Mayor James Diossa and the city he is
trying to resurrect. Diossa is 28-years old, and he`s the town`s first
Hispanic mayor. He was elected in a special election in 2012 after the
previous mayor was arrested on corruption charges. Diossa is leading a new
band of young Hispanic elected officials and the city that is now 60
percent Latino. He wants to help people like his father who after 30 years
is going to lose his job at a local lighting factory when it shutters its
doors in September. Mayor faces tight budget constraints, too. A federal
judge is requiring the city to adhere to an austere budget in tax hikes
through 2017, in order to exit bankruptcy. But Diossa is spearheading
redevelopment projects that are drawing national attention. Last night
actor Alec Baldwin headlined a fundraiser for the struggling public
library. Actress Viola Davis, a Central Falls native, recently gave
$60,000 to her hometown high school. So, does the 28-year-old have what it
takes to confront the major economic challenge of our time, slow economic
growth and the generation of young people who feel they have fewer economic
opportunities than their parents?
KORNACKI: And joining me now is Mayor James Diossa, he is a Democrat from
Central Falls, Rhode Island. And Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us this
morning. And I have got to tell you, I know Central Falls a little bit. I
have been there a couple of times, but I really feel like I know it because
it`s - towns like Central Falls, the story of my family. My mother`s
family comes from Waterbury, Connecticut, the old brass capital of the
United States. Old - New England - have, and I know so many people even if
they don`t live in towns like Central Falls right now, their parents did,
their grandparents did. This really is such a big part of the story of
America. And I think there is a sentimental attachment there. People are
cheering for cities like yours to come back. So, you have been dealt, you
know, as mayor a really tough end here, in terms of trying to take the city
out of bankruptcy. It`s not the largest city. You don`t have a lot in the
way of resources to start with. I guess the question I have for you, I
think a lot of people might be wondering, is just - what is it that you
need as mayor, what is it that you need from the federal government, from
the state government to turn your city around and to bring it back? What
is the biggest thing you need?
MAYOR JAMES DIOSSA (D) CENTRAL FALLS, RI: Thank you, Steve, for allowing
me to join your show this morning. I think Central Falls went through, you
know, on a smaller scale what many big communities as you said are going
through. I think what the federal and state officials, could do to help
is, you know, send more resources to a lot of fix infrastructure in my
community like roads, bridges, sidewalks and part of that would allow to
stir the local economy, because it would bring in local contractors to be
able to fix these infrastructures. So, that`s a major critical point of my
administration. We understand that the street, sidewalks and all this
infrastructure was neglected for such, such a long time in our city.
KORNACKI: I wonder to, also, something else that I think people can relate
to all across the country is to get out of bankruptcy. The hole you guys
are facing. And so much of this had to do with sort of a long standing
pension and health care obligation that I think was, you know, $80 million
in outstanding obligation, something like that. You had, you know,
retirees in your city took a hit, it took a real hit in terms of their
pension, in terms of their health care cost. What has that done to the
morale of the community? When something like - it`s necessary to preserve
the solvency of the city, but it also - I mean the impact that`s got to be
so profound on ordinary citizens.
DIOSSA: It was definitely a difficult time during the bankruptcy. I was a
member of the city council. And I cannot describe how terrible it was
seeing old men and women who gave so much for our city, sacrificed their
lives, put their life on the line to see them get these huge cuts. There`s
few times where they would come up to me crying, talking about how they are
losing their home. Or they can`t put their kid through college.
KORNACKI: And what do you tell them? When they - and said that, what do
you tell them?
DIOSSA: You know, I was just making sure - you know, exactly what I`m
going to tell you now is that I`m going to do my best to be your voice.
I`m this counsel. Communicating with the bankruptcy. And unfortunately
it`s, you know, bad decision making in the past, false promises that
unfortunately the retirees suffer from.
KORNACKI: All right, James Diossa, the mayor of Central Falls, Rhode
Island, I`m cheering for you and I think a lot of people out there are as
well. Good luck to you. Thank you for joining us this morning. And don`t
go anywhere. Our interview with the woman who helped set off a firestorm -
on Governor Chris Christie. She is here live, we will talk with her, and
also Seattle is going to $15 an hour. Are we looking at the future of
minimum wage politics, or is it an outlier? That`s up next.
KORNACKI: You`ve heard a lot about the progressive wave supposedly
sweeping America lately. Senator Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Mayor
Bill de Blasio in New York City. And the French economist named Thomas
Picketty topped the American bestseller list. And have you heard of Ed
Murray? He`s the mayor of Seattle and he just led his city to approve the
highest minimum wage of anyplace in the country. This week, the city of
Seattle approved a $15 wage floor to take effect in steps over the course
of the next seven years. That is more than twice the current national
minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Seattle, of course, is in Washington State,
which has a $9.32 minimum wage, which is actually the highest in effect in
the country right now. It is a funny number, because it`s indexed to
inflation that rises by odd amounts each year. In Seattle, about a quarter
of the population currently earns less than $15 an hour, about 14 percent
live below the federal poverty line. One organization estimates that the
result in wage hike will pump more than half a billion dollars into low
income workers households in Seattle and the region. A movement to raise
the minimum wage begins with low wage workers organizing and demonstrating
throughout last year, but the deal to make it happen dates back to
September, that`s when then mayoral candidate Ed Murray, pledged to set a
$15 wage floor. And after this victory, he picked two leaders, one from
the business community and one from organized labor and gave them four
months to come up with a plan that would get to $15 an hour. And gave them
an ultimatum as "Bloomberg Business Week" reported this week, if they
failed, he vowed to present the city council with his own proposal, which
both sides were sure to hate. And so, they didn`t fail and last month Mary
presented their compromise plan to the City Council. And this week, it was
unanimously approved. But it`s not just Seattle.
In the last year, eight states have increased their minimum wages. The
most to do so in the single year since 2006. They are Delaware,
Connecticut, West Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota, Hawaii, Vermont and
Michigan. And that last one, Michigan is unique in that it passed through
a Republican legislature and was signed by a Republican governor. And it
came as a compromise to negate another effort to put an even higher minimum
wage on the ballot. An argument it`s now pending in court. But if you
look at those states, they tended to be blue states, which raises the
question, are we entering a new reality where blue states and blue cities
have high minimum wages and red states have lower ones? Well, you might go
from one with a really high minimum wage to a place with a much lower one,
just by traveling a couple of miles. Does it make sense? Does it make
much sense to have a patchwork of varying minimum wage laws across America?
Well, joining me now is the Republican majority leader of the Michigan
State Senate Randy Richardville. He sponsored Michigan`s recently enacted
raise to minimum wage and joins us from Southfield. Here in the studio is
Tsedeye Gebreselassie, she is a staff attorney at the National Employment
Law Project, Amanda Terkel with "Huffington Post" is back and - I will
start with you. Just on that question we raise at the end - So, Seattle is
going to $15. The state of Washington is $9.32. Michigan is going to be
phased up to $9.25 over the next four or five years, some states are down
at $7.25. What do we know from sort of an economist standpoint, what do we
know about the effect that it has when you know, you can be in on place,
it`s 15 bucks, and five minutes later, it`s $7.25? What effect does it
have on the economy?
TSEDEYE GEBRESELASSIE, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: Well, the effect
is it points towards the need to raise the minimum wage more broadly. So,
the federal minimum wage sets a floor. It`s way too low, it`s $7.25 an
hour, it has not kept up with the cost of living. And so, states have to
go higher, and many states have done so. In the next couple of years,
we`ll see 27 states that will have their minimum wages above the federal
level. And what`s happening now especially is that cities, the cities like
Seattle are going even higher. That would be the high cost areas where
even a state minimum wage of $9.32, yes, it`s the highest in the country,
but it`s not enough to make ends meet. And given that more and more
Americans are relying on these minimum wage jobs to support themselves and
their families that is what`s providing the impetus for this amazing
movement on minimum wage. So, it`s famous here.
KORNACKI: So, senator, I will go to you. Because the Michigan story as we
said in the intro - this is a unique story. Michigan is in terms of how it
votes in presidential elections, we think of it as a blue state and in
terms of how it`s governed right now, it`s a red state, it`s, you know,
Republican state legislature. It`s a Republican governor. And yet you
guys just increased the minimum wage. It looked to me watching this from
afar, that you were basically trying to forestall a larger increase to the
minimum wage that was going to be on the ballot that was likely to be
approved. Right now the state is at 7.40, the ballot was going to put it
at $10.10. Instead, you guys are phasing it to 9.25 in the next four
years. Am I getting that right, was the main goal for you in advancing the
legislation, to say, hey, something is coming down the pike here and just
we don`t want it to be as high as this ballot?
STATE SEN. RANDY RICHARDVILLE: No, it wasn`t that we didn`t want it to be
high. We wanted it to be responsible. The increase was, first of all,
very poorly worded. It was a California company that came in and a lot of
outstate money and hiring volunteers to go out and not tell the whole
story. We have tip wages here for restaurant folks. Waiters and
waitresses. It`s $2.75 an hour plus the tips. They wanted to move that to
$10 an hour, $10.10 plus the tips, which would have in some restaurants
multiply their payroll by 400 percent. It was irresponsible. There are
other factors that we put in, and if this hadn`t been done in Michigan in
seven or eight years. And part of the problem was the consumer price
index. You know, we`ve never indexed this in the past. So, instead we
wait several years until the thing is out of whack and then we try and make
up for it. The nice part about this legislation, I think, the responsible
part is that we put a consumer price index into it, so we don`t have to
deal with this every seven or eight years.
But instead, every year, there is an increase.
KORNACKI: The deal is that after 2018, it can go up - it goes up with the
CPI. It can be a 3 1/2 percent increase. I think if you cap it - but if
unemployment goes over, as it, I think 8 1/2 percent. There is no minimum
wage increase. You were listening to senator and I saw you were shaking
your head there. What were you shaking your head at?
GEBRESELASSIE: Well, I was shaking my head, you know, the ballot initiative
that would have gone to 10.10 would have also raised the minimum wage for
tipped workers as the senator pointed out, which is really key. Right now
in Michigan, the tip minimum wage is $2.65 an hour. So, if you are a
waiter and a waitress, that`s what your employer pays you and your tips are
supposed to make up the difference to bring you up to the full minimum
wage. That is a very unstable way to live, and that`s why seven states.
Have abolished the subminimum wage for tip workers. States including
Washington, California .
KORNACKI: So, the idea of - a waiter or waitress at a restaurant is going
to make the full minimum wage now?
KORNACKI: That`s the idea behind it?
KORNACKI: And the tips on top of that?
GEBRESELASSIE: And then tips are in addition what they make.
KORNACKI: That`s a huge difference in terms of what they are taking home,
GEBRESELASSIE: That`s a huge difference. And it`s so - I mean tipped
workers have twice the poverty rate as the workforce as a whole. The
majority are women, so this is very much a pay equity issue, and what the
ballot initiative would do, is raise the minimum wage to the same as the
full minimum wage. It`s a simple ..
KORNACKI: So, Senator, what do you say in response to that? When you look
at what the actual hourly rate is for a waiter or waitress in a restaurant,
you know, it seems - it`s an extraordinary low number and that`s a lot to
make up for in tips, isn`t it?
RICHARDVILLE: You know, not really. What we did. We took the restaurant
kind of folks together, we took Democrats, we took Republicans, small
business people. Those that are affected by tourism, young people also.
The youth rate would have accelerated way beyond what small businesses can
afford for the summer. It was a very poorly worded ballot initiative. And
so, what we did, we just said look, people are interested in this. Let`s
sit down. And by the way, I think this is what people are clamoring for.
Not all around Michigan - not only in Michigan, but around the country.
For Republicans and Democrats to put the political crap to the side, work
together and come up with something. If you take a look at the vote total,
I think ten of the 12 Democrats in the Senate voted for it. I think it was
14 Republicans. It was bipartisan work. We left the politics at the door,
we put something together that we managed our own state`s pay. We don`t
need people from California or Florida or Seattle or any place else coming
in to our state telling us what we should pay our people. So, we agreed,
and I think what we did was very responsible and I`m proud of that work.
KORNACKI: All right, we - I have got to squeeze a break here. And I want
to pick this up on the other side. I want to find out if can figure out
what exactly this level is. I`ll talk about that. And I want to bring
Amanda to talk about national future on minimum wage. We`ll be right back
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So ask your Senate. Ask your representative in the House, do you
support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour? If they say
yes, tell them good job. You know, they don`t hear that that often.
OBAMA: So, give them a pat on the back, give them a hug. Let them know,
way to go. That`s the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s President Obama earlier this year calling after Congress
to act on raising the federal minimum wage. Actually we were talking about
the year of action earlier, minimum wage for imposing a $10.10 minimum wage
on federal contractors, actually, was one of the executive actions that
President Obama took this year. But Amanda, I mean we were talking about
this with you earlier on the show. And it seems like an extension of it
where the idea of raising the minimum wage seems to be stalled in Congress.
And I mean we heard, you know, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum,
there are a few Republican voices out there saying, hey, look, we need to
be the party of blue collar people, this is one of the things we have to
do. Do you see any more wiggle room there at the federal level or is this
something where just basically, hey, it`s up to states and cities right now
because nothing is coming out of Congress?
TERKEL: I don`t think anything is going to come out of Congress, but what
President Obama is doing that is important, is he is bringing it up as a
national conversation. And so, we are seeing more states look at it. We
are seeing more people at the state and local levels bring it up. We see
with Seattle, $15 an hour wage. By the way, it seems high, but if the
minimum wage were indexed to inflation and accounting for productivity
gain, this should actually be at $22 an hour. So, 15 is great, but it`s
not as high as it could be. No one is really talking about that. But
President Obama has made this an issue and it is something that`s being
discussed and people are asking the lawmakers why don`t you support this?
Because it is incredibly popular across the board. So, I think that is
KORNACKI: So, actually Amanda talks about the $15 number for Seattle.
This is - this is something I wonder about. Where is the level because you
always hear whenever minimum wage is increased .
KORNACKI: Anywhere, you are always here. But is it going to cost jobs? Is
it going to automatically cost jobs? And I know there is a lot of research
out there that it says a lot of these hikes don`t do that. But there has
to be a level somewhere. There has to be a rate of increase where the
average business of the average restaurant or whoever it is, is looking at
this and saying you know, at this point that`s too much. I don`t want to
add the other worker. I just want to squeeze more out of what we have.
Where is that level?
GEBRESELASSIE: Well, we have reached - as Amanda said, if there was an
extra productivity, it would be much higher. And while $15 an hour is
citywide minimum wages new, we`ve seen $15 and hour loss, and we`ve seen
that they have not caused job loss. So, if you look at airports in San
Jose and St. Louis and San Francisco, those airport workers get $15 an hour
plus benefits. If you look at Washington, D.C., they instituted a living
wage law for their security guards a decade ago and that transitioned what
was an $8 an hour poverty wage industry to one that pays more than $15 an
hour and nothing bad has happened, the sky has not fallen. So, we
definitely have not reached it.
KORNACKI: Well, so senator, the flip side of that question, I asked you,
is we always talk about well, what damage to the economy, what damage to
jobs could increase the minimum wage? But - so, you guys are raising over
the next years, do you think this is actually going to have a positive
impact on your economy? What you are doing out there?
RICHARDVILLE: Oh, yeah. I definitely think it will. And part of the
reason is -- why I think it should - appreciate that it`s a national
conversation, but each state should look at this separately. Because we
have different kinds of economy. In Michigan the summer economy as far as
tourism is hugely important. And we have high school kids, we have college
kids working their way through college, working their way through the
summer. And that has to be considered separately. We have senior citizens
that can only make a certain amount of wages that like to go out into the
workforce, like to be there. So, you have to carve out different places in
this economy to do this the right way. And each state has a different
economy, and different segments of that economy, that`s why we in Michigan
said, you know, a California-based firm or people out of Washington, D.C.
are not going to come in here and tell us how to run our economy. Our
unemployment rate, just 3.5 years ago was 14.2 percent. Now it`s 7.5.
We`ve cut it just about in half. We think we know what we are doing here
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Michigan state senator Randy
Richardville and to Tsedeye Gebreselassie with the National Employment Law
Project. Much more ahead including our interview with Hoboken New Jersey
Mayor Dawn Zimmer. She is back here today, she and Governor Chris Christie
were in the news together this week. We will talk to her about that and
everything else that`s happened since she came forward. That is coming up
shortly. Plus, the role Obamacare is playing in a key Senate race. It is
not what you are used to hearing. Our exclusive report from a pivotal
battleground state. It`s all still ahead.
KORNACKI: If you watched this show over the last five months, you probably
know a little bit about our next guest. The allegations she made at this
table have threatened Chris Christie`s presidential aspirations and sparked
a federal investigation. Here also at the heart of that eternal
investigation that Governor Christie has been claiming exonerates them.
Well, the mayor who started all of this - Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken New Jersey
is back here today. What have the last five months been like for her? Has
things changed for Hoboken? Has she talked to Chris Christie at all? We
will ask her all of that and a whole lot more when Dawn Zimmer joins us for
her first live television interview since January. That is next.
KORNACKI: We have a new chapter to tell you about the story that exploded
into public view on this show five months ago. That is Shaun Donovan, he
is President Obama`s HUD secretary speaking at the podium in a public park
this past Monday. Right behind him is, of course, New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie. Donovan was in New Jersey to handout some big checks,
money for the winners of something called, the Rebuild by Design
competition. This was basically a contest between cities and towns that
were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. HUD set aside a big chunk of money and
asked them to think about how they could protect themselves from flooding
damage in the future. In the cities that deemed to have the smartest most
innovative blueprints would win a cut of that money. Donovan was there to
announce the three winning entries from New Jersey including this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECY SHAUN DONOVAN, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Again, I want to
acknowledge Mayor Zimmer of Hoboken, Mayor Turner of Weehawken, and Mayor
Fulop of Jersey City for the integral role they`ve played, the leadership
that they`ve displayed in creating this proposal. Can I ask the mayors and
the team to stand as well?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It was very quick, but maybe you caught her name. Standing
there with her back to the camera, getting a shout out from Shaun Donovan,
yes, that is Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey and yes, that`s
Chris Christie standing on stage and clapping along with everyone else.
And yes, if you know the story about Dawn Zimmer and Chris Christie, this
was a very surreal scene. One the "New York Times" described in the
headline this week as simply awkward. It was on this show back on January
18Tth that Mayor Zimmer alleged that Christie`s lieutenant governor had
pulled her aside in May of 2013 and explicitly told her that Hoboken would
only receive the Sandy recovery funding that Zimmer wanted if the mayor
expedited a proposed commercial redevelopment project. The Rockefeller
project it`s called that at that time was represented by the law firm of
one of Christie`s closest confidants, Davis Samson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER HOBOKEN NJ: The bottom line is it`s not fair for the
governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the city of Hoboken because he
wants me to give back to one private developer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Samson was until recently the Christie appointed chairman of
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a powerful agency that`s
been at the heart of the other major scandal that has enveloped the
Christie administration over the closure of those access lanes to the
George Washington Bridge last fall. Samson has denied any wrong-doing in
this matter. When she appeared on our show, Zimmer provided copies of e-
mails that showed a lobbyist from Samson`s law firm trying to arrange a
conference call with Samson and top city officials to discuss the
development project. E-mails that Samson himself was copied on. She also
shared entries from her personal diary that she said she wrote as the
threats to withhold Sandy money were being made. Previously, Zimmer had
been one of the Christie`s most prominent Democratic allies in New Jersey,
but in her diary, she writes of coming to view in a very different light.
"My beloved governor who wants to run for president cannot understand it.
Why is he so concerned about Rockefeller? What has he promised them? What
have them promised him? I cannot figure it out. But I have no option, but
to stand up to him. Dawn Zimmer`s allegations against the Christie
administration rocked the political world and thrust her and her small city
into the national spotlight. A day after appearing on this show, she was
called to the office of the United States attorney for New Jersey where she
shared her story and her diary entries. Christie cam and its allies have
challenged Zimmer`s credibility, pointing out that she`d waited eight
months to come forward with her story and that in that time, she would
continue to make positive public comments about Christie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY BARBOUR, (R) GOVERNOR OF MISSISSIPPI: My big - compelling except she
repeatedly and repeatedly sent out tweets praising Governor Christie. I
don`t think she is going to succeed in shaking Christie down on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Christie`s lieutenant governor also emphatically denied
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. KOM GUADAGNO, (R) NEW JERSEY: Mayor Zimmer`s version of our
conversation in May of 2013 is not only false, but is illogical and does
not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And then there was the Mastro Report that is the internal
investigation that was conducted at taxpayer expense by a law firm that the
Christie administration had already retained to represent itself. When
that report was released at the end of March, Christie declared himself
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R ) NEW JERSEY: The fact of the matter is that I had
nothing to do with this and as I said from the beginning in this report has
supported exactly what I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That Mastro Report came down hard on Zimmer, concluding that
"our investigation found that Mayor Zimmer`s allegations are in material
respects demonstrably false. They are contradicted by contemporaneous
documents, other witnesses` accounts in her own prior statements, in some
the subjective perception she may have do not match objective reality as
reflected in the hard evidence uncovered during our investigation. Ms.
Zimmer was not actually interviewed by Christie`s lawyers for that report.
Her lawyer refused writing that, "We question whether it is appropriate for
the governor`s office in essence to be investigating itself, particularly
when an investigation of the same subject matter is being conducted by the
U.S. Attorney`s office. The status of that federal investigation like all
federal investigations is shrouded in mystery. We know that federal agents
have been in Hoboken to talk to members of Zimmer inner circle, her local
officials. The Hoboken city council also voted to waive attorney-client
privilege for - on redevelopment issues. A man named Joe Maraziti, and
that allowed Maraziti to meet with and speak openly with federal
prosecutors. Zimmer`s press secretary has said that the mayor told
Maraziti about her encounter with Christie`s Lieutenant Governor on the day
that it happened. Hoboken is one of the most densely populated cities in
America. In the height of Sandy, 80 percent of that was under water. When
she was on our show back in January. Zimmer explained why she felt her
city needed more recovery money and why without more help from the Christie
administration, HUD`s Rebuild by Design competition was her best bet for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAWN ZIMMER, MAYOF OF HOBOKEN: We now have an international team including
a couple of Dutch firms and working with us to create a comprehensive plan
that truly protects the entire city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And this past Monday, Dawn Zimmer got that money. $230 million
from the Obama administration to mitigate future flooding problems in and
around Hoboken. And it`s been five months since Zimmer became a central
player in the scandals that have threatened Chris Christie`s political
future. From a legal standpoint, we still don`t know where her allegations
against the Christie administration are going if they are going anywhere at
all. With that big check she won from HUD this week, Zimmer has scored at
least one victory here. And now here to talk about that victory and what
her life has been like these past five months in her first television
interview since January, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Welcome back to the
And I have got to tell you, I was saying this to you in the break before
you came out here, but I have received more emails, more feedback, more
comments in the last five months about how is Dawn Zimmer doing? What is
happening in Hoboken? What became of the story? What`s the next chapter?
This is the question I am asked most often. So, I think there is a lot of
interest in hearing from you today. And I guess I will start -- you know,
we sort of set it up there with this -- you know, your city and it`s a
little complicated, but there`s sort of a joint bid, your city, two other
cities around it, Jersey City and Weehawken, New Jersey, but $230 million
from the Rebuild by Design competition for future flooding mitigation in
You were talking about this on the show back in January how you wanted to
win this -- you wanted and thought your city needed to win this
competition. So tell us, what does it mean for Hoboken now, now that you
have won this? What is going to happen in Hoboken that wasn`t happening
ZIMMER: Well, this is a tremendous opportunity. It`s really a historic
opportunity for Hoboken and I`m looking forward to working with Weehawken
and Jersey City. I mean, we now have the opportunity to comprehensively
protect the city of Hoboken, that means protecting our residents,
protecting our businesses, protecting residents in the housing authority,
the critical assets that our community share like the PATH train that was
down for three months and devastated our community, Northwestern Sewage
Authority that provides sanitation services that on the border between
Hoboken and Weehawken, tremendous, historic opportunities.
KORNACKI: Do you think that coming forward and the publicity generated by
that about what Hoboken was dealing with, do you believe that that
impacted, helped you win this?
ZIMMER: I really can`t speculate about that. But I can say that this was
a great proposal. It was really -- it`s a fantastic proposal that really
demonstrates urban area. If you have a comprehensive plan that we can live
with water, that we -- and quite frankly, I mean, Hoboken and Weehawken,
we`re on the front lines of climate change.
I mean, our city, not only did we experience Hurricane Irene and Sandy, we
have had five significant flood events since Sandy. So we are dealing with
flooding on a regular basis. And you look at the climate change assessment
report, and it shows. I mean, those downpours, they`re happening. I mean,
over the last 50 years, the downpour events have increased by 70 percent in
the northeast. So, it`s something that we have to deal with. And I`m so
excited that this plan will give us the opportunity to really
comprehensively protect our cities.
KORNACKI: And when you were on the show in January, you were still --
while you were making the allegations, you were also appealing to Governor
Christie and his administration for help with this. But did you have any -
- did you receive any help from them? Did you have any coordination with
them as you were preparing this bid in the last few months and as you were
ZIMMER: Well, I mean, I think Governor Christie and his team made a
decision that we were not going to take a public position on any of the
proposals. But they did help with coordinating and helping them move the
KORNACKI: So I`ve got to ask you this, you -- we showed the picture, we
showed the video from this past Monday at that event, and I mean, it`s just
when you know the back story here it`s very surreal, I think there`s a word
we used to watch that.
But you are in the audience. Shaun Donovan asked you to stand up and get
some applause. Chris Christie, there he is cheering for you. He`s
probably 15 feet away from you on stage. Did you talk to him at all? Did
you have any encounter with Chris Christie last Monday?
ZIMMER: I didn`t have the opportunity to talk to him, but I can just say
that, you know, I`m absolutely thrilled. This is a tremendous opportunity
for the city of Hoboken. And, you know, what I`m focused on -- I mean, we
celebrated on that day, and now we`re moving ahead. I mean, what`s
important is getting this done and implementing this.
And so I`m committed to working with the Christie administration, work with
my city council, working with the federal government. I have got a meeting
with HUD next week and we want to move and get this implemented as
expeditiously as possible, because I mean, I will tell you, Hoboken
residents every time it rains, they are scared. They are nervous. And,
you know, at the community meetings that we had for this Rebuild by Design
project, people would come up to me, literally, some people came up to me
in tears saying this was a great proposal, but can it really happen, can
you really get it done? And yes, we can get it done. We absolutely can
get it done.
KORNACKI: Did he -- I wonder, was there coordination or was there any
communication before that event last Monday? I am always curious how these
things come about? Did the governor`s office know you were going to be
there? Was there any -- you know, we don`t want to be on the stage with
Dawn Zimmer, we don`t them to cross paths? Was there anything like that
going on before this event?
ZIMMER: I really don`t know what the -- I mean, I just know that I was
invited and I was glad to be there, glad to be there.
KORNACKI: No, I`m sure you were.
Well, we reached out to the governor`s office -- just, you were going to be
on the show and we let them know, and they provided us with a statement. I
do want to run part of this -- there was a lengthy statement. I want to
run part of it by you. They were making the claim, they were making the
point, and we heard this from them back in January.
Hoboken received -- they`re saying in terms of all the Sandy funding, it`s
received prior to this, Hoboken received nearly $70 million in federal aid
from various funding sources in addition to more than $68 million in
private insurance for a total of approximately $138 million in recovery and
rebuilding resources. Mayor Zimmer in Hoboken requested over $100 million
in hazard mitigation funding, or roughly over one third of all available
So I do want to ask you about this, because this came up a lot after you
were on the show in January. One of the things the administration was
saying was you know, Dawn Zimmer is saying Hoboken didn`t get enough, but
Dawn Zimmer requested an enormous, almost ridiculous amount of money.
They`re saying that one-third of all the hazard mitigation funds. And by
the way, Dawn Zimmer did pretty well compared to other cities.
What is your response to hearing those numbers?
ZIMMER: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, what we need to do is really
protect Hoboken for the future. And as far as the funding that we received
to help us with going forward, I don`t agree with those numbers and that`s
why I am just absolutely thrilled that we won this competition. And we
worked extremely hard. I knew it was an opportunity. I had the teams in,
all of the teams, back in August and invited them to Hoboken. It was
actually my son`s birthday, but I took the day, presented them with, you
know, our plans, what happened in Hoboken, what we were proposing at the
time and luckily the OMA team took an interest and we worked with them, we
gave them all the information that we had. And, you know, when I was out
there advocating and having community meetings, I`m very proud that we got
nearly 60 letters of support from the community and that`s what made it
happen. And, so, you know, that`s my focus is really -- you know, and I
know that the governor has a job to do, I have a job to do, and that`s what
we need to focus on now is really getting this done and getting it
KORNACKI: OK, so you where siting - where you were sitting right now back
on January 18, the next day you were in the U.S. attorney`s office. The
administration and the Christie administration had an awful lot to say
about you publicly. They had an awful lot to say about you in the Mastro
Report, the supposed internal investigation. There is a lot that has
happened for you. And there`s a lot that has been said in the last five
We have to squeeze a break in here, but I want to go through that and find
out what these last five months have been like for you. I will take a
break, we`ll ask you about that when we come back.
KORNACKI: All right, we are back with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
And so, we`ve said this -- you were on our show January 18, the next day
you met with the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, you met with federal
prosecutors in Newark. And I know this is a sensitive subject in terms of
what you can and can`t say about this, but I just wonder if from a general
standpoint, is it your sense that there is an active investigation still
going on here?
ZIMMER: You`ll have to -- that`s a good question, but you will have to ask
the U.S. attorney. Yeah, I can`t comment on that at all.
Working from another angle, though, you`ve heard in the last few months
Chris Christie is out there saying I`m exonerated. Hey, I had this report
done, I`m exonerated -- when you hear him say I`m exonerated, what`s your
reaction to that?
ZIMMER: Well, I mean for me, I`ll just step back and say that, you know,
after I did the interview with you, you know, I left here and I was bracing
myself and I was -- you know, I knew it was going to be tough and it`s not
easy to have the national press questioning your integrity and. your
honesty. And so but I will tell you what took the edge off was Haley
Barbour when he accused me of being a lady mayor. I mean .
KORNACKI: Are you guilty of that charge?
ZIMMER: I`m guilty. So, you know, it`s was silly, it was just plain
silly. And then my kids did love it that I got onto the Daily Show because
of his comment.
But, I mean, yeah I mean, it just -- that took the edge off and quite
frankly, you know, Hudson County politics is -- you know, it has prepared
me. It`s a tough place. You know, I don`t know what it`s like to run in
Mississippi, but it`s tough in Hudson County. So...
KORNACKI: Well, so, here`s something I think people -- remember there`s
the Haley Barbour comment, and we played it a little bit earlier -- but you
know, this Mastro Report. This was the -- you know, taxpayer funded
internal investigation. It is a law firm that was already representing the
administration, the Christie administration in its dealings with federal
prosecutors, other investigative bodies, and they did this internal
investigation. This is why he is calling himself exonerated.
This is the press conference where the lawyer who ran that investigation,
Randy Mastro, revealed his findings. He talked about you. And this is the
sort of thing that you have been hearing the last few months. I want to
just play to remind people that this is what Randy Mastro had to say about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDY MASTRO, ATTORNEY: Mayor Zimmer`s subjective perceptions do not match
the objective reality reflected in the hard evidence that we uncovered in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That characterization of you -- I mean, we`ve heard that. We
heard that in that press conference, we`ve heard that from others defenders
and allies of Chris Christie. What do you -- what`s your reaction to that
ZIMMER: Well, you know, for a long time -- I will be honest with anyone, I
didn`t want to read the Mastro Report, but I did read through it. And what
I was surprised about was how I was portrayed as obsessive in an unhealthy
way. And, you know, quite frankly I will -- you know, basically I`m
passionate about protecting the city of Hoboken, I`m passionate about
making sure that our city is protected for the long-term about climate
change and that`s my job is to look out for the city of Hoboken. And I
will never apologize for that and I`ll never stop, you know, forging ahead
trying to, you know, get this implemented as quickly as possible. So I was
surprised at how my advocacy was portrayed in a very negative way.
KORNACKI: So what, I mean, obviously you knew and we had talked to you
before you came on the air January 18. You knew this was going to be a big
deal when you said this on January 18. Did you know how big of a deal it
was going to be and what has there -- is there anything in particular that
surprised you about what`s happened since January 18th?
ZIMMER: I mean, yeah, I was expecting that it was going to be tough and
but basically, I mean I have a job to do. I went back and focused on the
Rebuild by Design process. I had a budget to pass and my son had a bar
mitzvah. I mean, it`s -- look, I went back to my - you know, my life and
doing my job and .
KORNACKI: And what`s life like in Hoboken, though? Because I mean the
dynamic here that is interesting is this is a pro-Christie town or at least
it was in 2013. The city that you`re the mayor of, they voted for you. It
also voted for Chris Christie. Is there -- have you come across
resentment? Are there Christie defenders saying I can`t believe you would
do that to him? What`s been the mood, what`s been the reaction among the
people who elected you?
ZIMMER: Well, yeah, but reaction has been very, very positive. I mean,
people come up to me on the street and thanked me. And so -- you know, of
course on social media, I will get different kinds of feedback. You know,
are they Hoboken residents, I don`t know. But that always happens on
But generally, like, as far as people coming up to me, I have never had
anyone in Hoboken come up to me and say why did do you this? I`ve had
people, you know, be very, very positive.
KORNACKI: And did you expect other - there would be other elected
officials, other public figures after you who would come forward and say,
hey, something like this happened to me too? Are you surprised? We
haven`t really heard any more stories like that. Are you surprised by
ZIMMER: Yeah - I mean - not really. I mean, it`s a hard thing to do.
KORNACKI: Have you heard anybody privately -- privately come up to you and
said, hey look, I don`t want to say anything, but it kind of sounds
familiar, has the ring of ...
ZIMMER: I think I`m not going to talk about that.
KORNACKI: OK, sounds like there might be a little bit more there. So, is
there anything that is particularly disappointed you about the reaction
that you have gotten, whether it`s something that`s been said about you by
the Christie camp, whether it`s people maybe you thought would be publicly
defending you. Is there anything that`s disappointed you about the last
five months, about the fallout from this?
ZIMMER: I`m really just focused. Like I said, I mean, it is what it is.
And I`m focused on moving Hoboken ahead, really excited to be working with
Weehawken and with Jersey City and this is that plan that is going to
really help our three communities and I am completely committed to moving
ahead and getting this implemented as quickly as possible.
KORNACKI: You were also -- one thing that was striking to people listening
to you back in January was even as you were making the allegations, you
were still talking positively about some of the things Chris Christie had
done as governor. You were -- you know, this is somebody again you had had
a political alliance with, you worked pretty closely with him before all of
this sort of went down. So I wonder now after these past five months, after
they have taken their shots at you, certainly you made your allegations
against them, what is your assessment of Chris Christie right now? What is
your assessment of Chris Christie as a leader and as a person?
ZIMMER: Well, I mean, one thing I will say about Governor Christie is I
will always be thankful for the help that his administration gave in our
hospital. I mean, that was one of the biggest challenges facing our city.
And the Christie administration definitely played a role in helping us. I
mean, there were more things that we had to get done, but that was a major,
major challenge facing our city. And I will always appreciate that.
KORNACKI: If he were sitting here right now, if you had the chance, you
know, he wanted to talk to you, you had the chance to talk to him, what
would you say to Chris Christie.
ZIMMER: Well, you know, I would say that I am thankful that our
administrations are working together and that I am committed to working
together moving forward. And in fact just last week I had a great meeting
with the new executive director, Ronnie Hakim, of New Jersey Transit and
you know working through some issues on observer highway and making that a
complete street and she had a fantastic idea of how we could integrate it
into the New Jersey Transit station. And so we are working together. And
that`s what we`re -- you know, I`m committed to doing it, and I know that
the governor cares about the state of New Jersey and that this is great for
the state. And that -- you know, I`m confident that his administration is
going to move ahead and work with us to get this done.
KORNACKI: Would you ask him to call you a lady mayor?
KORNACKI: It`s now part of the vocabulary, I guess. Hoboken Mayor Dawn
Zimmer, I really appreciate you coming back on the show today. As I said,
I think a lot of people had a lot of curiosity about this, and I appreciate
you taking the time and answering the questions.
And congratulations on Rebuild by Design. I know, you know, I`m a former
resident of Hoboken. And I mean, those scenes from Sandy were just
terrible to watch and then the stories were terrible to hear. So,
hopefully that`s something that can never happens there again no matter
what else anybody thinks of all of this.
Anyway, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, I appreciate it. Ana also, we should know that
we invited Governor Christ and members of administration to appear on the
show. We`ve invited them multiple times. In the invitation, consider it
standing invitation. It`s an open invitation. If they ever want to come
on. Feel free.
The embattled Democrat in a swing state that voted for Mitt Romney facing a
tough political environment in 2014 and she is running on Obamacare. Our
exclusive report from one of the biggest Senate battlegrounds this year.
It`s up ahead. You are not going to want to miss it.
KORNACKI: North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan made headlines last month when
she used the confirmation hearing for Sylvia Burwell, the new secretary of
Health of Human Services, to trumpet the benefits of the Affordable Care
Act. And to point out that half of million people in her state are
currently missing out on those benefits because North Carolina has refused
to expand Medicaid. That`s an effort that Hagan`s Republican Senate
opponent, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis has helped to lead. So, that`s
right, a battleground Senate race in the state that Mitt Romney carried in
2012. And the Democrat is not running away from Obamacare, she is running
on it. So we had to send msnbc.com`s Irin Carmon in North Carolina this
week to find out what`s going on and to talk to Senator Hagan about her
embrace of healthcare reform as she fights for her political life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: A lot of candidates in tough races are
running away from the Affordable Care Act and you are running towards it.
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D) NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I think you look at the benefits
that it has given to so many people. I hear stories all the time from
people who now have access to coverage whereas in the past they didn`t
because of a preexisting condition. Thom Tillis will take us back to a
time if he repeals this bill, where people wouldn`t have access, women
would automatically pay more for their insurance premiums than men.
Seniors would pay thousands more for their prescription drug coverage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We will have much more from our exclusive report from one of the
year`s biggest Senate battle ground states, that`s right after this.
KORNACKI: Any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the most
closely watched case of the year. The court is going to decide whether the
chain store Hobby Lobby can deny employees health insurance coverage for
birth control as required by the Affordable Care Act. The arts and crafts
megastore claim that it has the right to exercise its religious opposition
to certain forms of birth control. But while - used to be on business like
Hobby Lobby trying to deny birth control access to their employees, there
has been a little fanfare around the fact that millions of women around the
country have benefited from expanded insurance coverage for contraceptive
care under the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, a wide range of
preventive care must be covered by insurers with no out of pocket cost.
That means no copays. For women it includes a variety of reproductive
health services like birth control. So, now every month when a woman goes
to the pharmacy to fill her monthly birth control prescription, instead of
having to pay a copay of $10 or $20, or $30, she doesn`t have to pay a
single cent. It is still being phased in and not every kind of birth
control is covered under every insurance plan, but according to federal
data. 47 million women already have access to preventive reproductive
health care with no out of pocket cost. Recent study by the IMS,
Institution on Health Care Informatics found that American women saved
nearly half a billion dollars on birth control just last year, with the
average woman saving around $270. But will these pocket book savings have
an actual political pay off for Democrats in November? Think back to for
example 2001 when President George W. Bush sent Americans a tax rebate
check with a letter from his administration and the public credited him for
the extra cash they were getting back in their pockets.
But when President Obama reduced the tax rates on Americans individual
paychecks, voters didn`t notice the savings in the same way. He didn`t get
any political credit. So, the question is, when months after month, women
go to the pharmacy and walk out with the monthly supply of birth control
without having to pay anything out of pocket, are they going to credit
Obamacare? Well, to help answer that question, we sent msnbc.com reporter
Irin Carmon and one of our "UP" producers to North Carolina, one of the
biggest Senate battle ground states of 2014. Democrat Kay Hagan is in a
dead heat with Republicans Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. The
Affordable Care Act and reproductive health care are two of the biggest
issues in the race, and here is that exclusive report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. AMY BRYANT, NORTH CAROLINA: Prior to the Affordable Care Act women
without insurance or women with insurance that had high copays had to pay a
lot out of pocket, high upfront cost for the most effective forms of birth
control and for birth control in general.
CARMON: Have you ever had trouble paying for the birth control when you
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t afford birth control. It`s too expensive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had to pay through Planned Parenthood. There was
no - I had no other recourse but to have to get low cost birth control
through Planned Parenthood.
EMMA AKPAN, PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTIVIST: The beginning of 2013 was when I
went to the pharmacy and I was expecting to pay $30, but it was free.
Now because of the Affordable Care Act, she can have access to birth
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I know a lot of people say well, that`s only $20
or $25 bucks. Well, when you are living month to month, and you have more
months and you have money, it makes a big difference if you don`t have to
pay that $25, $40, $50 copay.
BRYANT: I have definitely seen women be able to access the best forms of
birth control, more women being able to use long acting reversible methods,
which in the long run are cost saving, but upfront have a very high cost.
CARMON: Is that going to be a part of your campaign, this conversation
about the cost saving that women will experience under this coverage?
HAGAN: You know, I think preventive treatment makes a difference. And
birth control is preventive as are wellness exams, cancer screenings,
vaccinations. So, that is one piece. And once again, my opponent has said
he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take us back to a
time that an individual had a preexisting condition, they would be denied
care, they would be denied the ability to buy health insurance. Which
would mean - if this bill was repealed, women would no longer have access
to no cost birth control, which is an economic issue.
STATE SPEAKER THOM TILLIS, (R-NC), SENATE CANDIDATE: The second day that I
was speaker of the house, we passed the house bill, too, the Health Care
Freedom Act and it was to direct our attorney general to join the other
states, over 2,000 states, to try and repeal it through the courts. We
subsequently denied medicate expansion. We prohibited state exchanges.
We`ve done everything within our legal power to try and stop this bill.
And I believe I`m going to be the 51st senator on majority that`s going to
repeal this bill.
CARMON: What about the no cost birth control?
LINDA ANGELE: You know, I think it`s not that expensive. I personally
don`t think it`s something that we need to do. The country needs to do. I
think people can do it for themselves.
CARMON: What do you think they can do for themselves, specifically?
ANGELE: Pay for their birth control. It`s not that expensive.
MELISSA REED, PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTION FUND: This election year will be
spending more in North Carolina than we ever have before. What we found
was in the state of Virginia when Ken Cuccinelli was running for governor,
that our political work was very, very powerful and very effective. So, we
know that when we make a strong investment here politically, that women
will win, that the candidates that support women`s health will win.
ANGELE: I think the Democrats are waging the war on women. They really
do. They are putting us down. They are making us look like we can`t take
care of ourselves, like we have got to have them to stick up and take care
of us. Republicans think we can do it ourselves. We are smart, we are
CARMON: Are the women you know paying attention to the race?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them.
CARMON: So, what do you think is going to happen this fall? What`s your
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Republicans will become more powerful.
While I love my president and I am so proud he`s in office, we need people
in Congress to help him. And we need people in our legislature that can
KORNACKI: And we should note that we also reached out to Senator Hagan`s
Republican challenger Thom Tillis and asked him for interview. The
campaign did not respond to our request. But here to talk about that
report, and what is happening in North Carolina, the premier - one of the
premier battle grounds of the 2014, Irin Carmon has returned to join us and
also at the table, back with us Amanda Terkel, the politics managing editor
with the "Huffington Post." So, Irin, welcome back from North Carolina.
So, this - watching that video, one thing that struck me was, I think it
was two of the last three questions. We just played right there. The sort
of sense of discouragement that you are encountering among women. Do you
think people are paying attention? Some of them are. What do you think is
going to happen in November? Well, I think it feels like there is this air
of almost resignation that there has been this Republican wave that hit
North Carolina and that for all of the tension sort of being generated
around these issues, for all of the actual benefits from the Affordable
Care Act, that are being delivered right now, these connections are not
CARMON: Well, see, as you`ve covered on the show before, there was an
enormous political change in North Carolina that has stacked the odds
against Democratic wins in general. Look at the state level, you know, and
at the federal level.
So, I think .
KORNACKI: And it all happened in 2012, right?
CARMON: Right. It started in 2010, it was a coordinated campaign. It
involved a lot of money. Our pope who was working with - you know, the
governor at this point, helped that political change. You have a
progressive base. We went out to Moral Mondays. There`s a really great
grassroots movement happening. But the odds are really tough. I mean
there is a lot of money on the other side and a lot of the folks who are
benefiting the most from these kinds of benefits are the ones who have the
most barriers to getting out and voting. You know, even if we saw people
on the street and ask them to talk, I have to go pick up my kids, you know,
I`m late for my job interview. All of these challenges, that people have,
they are not really sitting around and thinking, you know, I`m going to get
out to vote for Democrats.
KORNACKI: Is it - Is there an awareness? I wonder if there`s like sort of
the base - awareness, because the broader atmosphere on sort of women`s
house issues in North Carolina that this is - the context for what we are
sort of talking about here, Thom Tillis supporting the person who had
constitutional limit - here`s the motorcycle, you know, technicality.
CARMON: Can you say that word?
KORNACKI: I mean you know, you know, the idea of blocking Planned
Parenthood from state - there`s been a lot that has been happening on this
front, you say, since the Republicans got complete control of the state in
2012. They have done a lot, they`ve tried to do a lot. They are talking
about doing a lot. Has that translated into an awareness, a sort of a
heightened awareness, a heightened sensitivity particularly among female
voters, or do they not know that that`s happening?
CARMON: A lot of the women we encountered are aware of that. And I think
that there is a playbook here that has worked. We saw it very prominently
in 2012 when this contraceptive benefit was being discussed very hotly. We
saw it again in 2013 with Terry McAuliffe when Planned Parenthood putting a
lot of money and really managed to successfully run on these issues. And
then we also, you know, we are going to see whether it still works.
There`s also the Colorado race where they are going to make personhood an
issue. You saw the Republican candidates there running fast from his
support of personhood. In North Carolina you don`t really see Thom Tillis
retreating from his opposition to Medicaid expansion, to the Affordable
Care Act in general. He support for personhood. He said, yes, me too. To
a Republican forum, in which everyone discussed whether states can ban
birth control. So, they don`t seem too worried and if Democrats can sort
of marshal that same energy from people saying hold on, women`s health is
an essential part of preventative care. It`s a human right, it`s an
economic benefit, it`s not women lying back and taking sex pills for fun.
This is about people planning their families, it`s about their individual
autonomy and their economic wellbeing.
KORNACKI: Well, so, it made it - sort of in terms of the national picture
then, what we are seeing in North Carolina from Kay Hagan, this is I think
the final margin in 2012, it was two points, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama
by North Carolina. Of course, Obama carried it in 2008. This is - it`s a
swing state, but it`s a Republican friendly swing state, so it`s a little
striking to me to watch Kay Hagan running on the Affordable Care Act,
running on the benefits the way she is. Specifically, you know, when it
comes to talking about women`s health aspects of the Affordable Care Act in
general, is this, is what we are watching Kay Hagan do in North Carolina,
something - you said Terry McAuliffe in Virginia in 2013. Is this a
national strategy for Democrats or is this something that`s like - because
Georgia is a competitive senate race this year. Are they going to talk
about it in a more conservative state - Arkansas, Mark Pryor, is this
something that they are not going to talk about in certain states, but are
going to talk about another ones?
TERKEL: We will see it I think as we head into the general election.
Women who are unmarried, younger women, under 55, women of color, tend not
to vote as much in midterm elections. Democrats need to get them out to
counter the Republican voters that do tend to come out. They also are
hoping to get some Republican more moderate women. There are Republican
women who are pro-Choice. And they - and I think that Democrats think that
they can perhaps win some of them over. Thom Tillis is a very, very
conservative candidate. He is one of the few Republican candidates out
there, not only running under this anti-choice platform, but also in anti-
gay platform. You are not hearing that as much these days. So, I think
that we will see that more, I think that Kay Hagan is sort of more - as
unique in that she has been going on this for a while. Probably more than
you`ll see Mark Pryor going on this, but this is that something that
Democrats want to do. They want to drive a wedge between Republicans and
CARMON: Well, it`s fascinating, too, because, you know, this issue of
Republican moderate women, the one Republican woman who agreed to do an
interview with us, who you see at the end of our package, I asked her, you
know, is she prolife, and she refused to answer. And I said do you wish
that the Republican Party would talk less about "social issues?" And she
said yes, but it`s not my place to tell them. And I said aren`t you a
party activist? You`re the president of a Republican Club, she said it`s
not my place. So, it really depends on women like that who are alienated
by how their party talks about women to make the difference in this all.
KORNACKI: Well, I want to - we`ve got to squeeze a break in here, but when
we come back, I want to ask you a little bit more about what - some of the
conversations you had while you were in North Carolina. So, some on the
underground reporting you did. Because I think this is - I mean it`s
almost a laboratory in a way. Because this is the ultimate swing state. I
want to find out a little bit more about what you saw and what you heard.
We`ll ask you about that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRYSTAL PRICE, MORAL MONDAYS PARTICIPANT: I`m 27. I got two kids and I
was not approved for Medicaid and I don`t make enough to be able to afford
CARMON: If you had health insurance, what would be different about your
PRICE: I would be healthy and my kids - they are getting healthy. They
are the main thing. But I would be able to take medicine and be able to
maybe have the surgery I need.
CARMON: So, tell me, why do you need a surgery?
PRICE: I have cervical cancer and I have - cyst on my ovaries and a
hysterectomy would actually benefit me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was a little bit of Irin`s reporting from Raleigh, North
Carolina during the Moral Monday demonstrations this - Irin, tell us a
little bit more. So, Crystal Price, 27 years old, cervical cancer. Tell
us a little bit more about her story and how this relates to the Affordable
CARMON: I was really inspired by her story. She is somebody who became
activated through the fast food workers movement. She works at Wendy`s.
She`s a single mother, she has two kids. Now, under the children`s health
insurance program, her kids have coverage which she says in that video,
that`s very important to her, but she doesn`t. And she has cancer as age
27. Cervical cancer is something that the malignancy of it can be
mitigated by earlier detection if she had been getting regular pap smears,
perhaps if she had had access to the HPV vaccine. A lot of this is very
preventable. And now you have her own legislator - looking her in the face
and saying you do not deserve coverage. Not only are they not expanding
Medicaid, the state legislature is now proposing various cuts to Medicaid
that can throw off 15,000 people.
KORNACKI: Well, so, and so, we were asking earlier about the awareness of
women`s health issues in North Carolina. That`s the other major issue
right now, is the expansion of Medicaid going to be Affordable Care Act?
And we - Kay Hagan is very explicitly making this a big part of her
campaign. What is your sense talking to people in North Carolina? How is
that? Has that penetrated beyond activists? Are sort of everyday people
in North Carolina, are they aware, hey, we can have that a lot better in
the Affordable Care Act. Why aren`t they doing that? What`s your sense of
CARMON: I think there`s some misinformation out there, outside of
activists where they think that they are going to have to pay a lot more
for it than the fact that, you know, at most it`s going to be 90 percent in
20/20. I think there`s this feeling like, oh, the federal government is
going to charge us so much money. The Republicans have done a very good
job in that kind of misinformation. And I`ve seen that in a lot of states
that I visited that are not expanding Medicaid. But I think Moral Mondays
cannot be underestimated. There`s this incredible coalition of grass roots
politics that is happening out there. And they`re talking about women`s
health, they are talking about unemployment benefits. They`re talking
about abortion rights including women`s health. They`re talking about the
Medicaid expansion. And these are all really linked. I mean we know that
women make up a majority of the - of low-income people who would qualify
for Medicaid. We know that women`s health would also be included under the
Medicaid expansion including access to contraception. So these issues are
very much intertwined.
KORNACKI: And what, Amanda, when you look at the question of Medicaid
expansion, I remember when the Supreme Court ruling came down in 2012 and
said, why the states now have the option if they want to do it or not.
There were a lot of people back then who were saying, well, of course,
they`re doing to do it. It`s basically - it`s free money. The hospital
industry is going to want this, there`s no way - I don`t think a lot of
people back then necessarily thought that, you know, two plus years later,
two years later, this is where we would be. What is it going to take to
get a state like North Carolina, to get all 50 states on board with
Medicaid expansion? Is it just inevitability to you or is there a missing
TERKEL: Well, high speed rail was also free money that many states
TERKEL: So I think that, you know, I think we shouldn`t underestimate how
many -- how some Republicans are so opposed to Obamacare and will be
opposed to anything, including free money. It`s free in a year. The
states won`t have to pay much, even after that. And I think that they -
you know, some of these Republicans who have national ambitions. These
Republican governors need to show that they`re against Obamacare at any
cost, and including the Medicaid expansion. They`ve done a very good job
messaging this. And I think things like the Moral Mondays and getting some
of these people who need this care the most to speak out more and go to the
polls is really important.
KORNACKI: And Irin, also we looked at the - so, Tilis versus Kay Hagan,
every poll I`ve seen, this is basically dead even. This is one - if
Republicans win this race, they`re path is -- it`s not complete, but their
path to getting Senate take over, it`s a lot more sturdy than if they`re
not able to beat Kay Hagan. They really think they can do - they need to
beat her. It seems to me there`s issue here with Republicans are hoping
that, you know, President Obama`s approval rating is not that good in North
Carolina. And they want that to sort of be the formula in this election,
you know, you don`t like where we are right now, that President Obama vote
- you know, don`t vote for the candidate from this party. The flipside, is
that, though, is talking about all the stuff that`s been happening at the
state level in North Carolina, from the Republican governor, Republican
state legislature, the Democrats are saying if you don`t like what`s
happening in Raleigh, if you don`t like what the Republican government in
this state is doing, don`t elect the guy who`s been the sort of the head of
it legislatively, Thom Tillis. Did you get a sense talking to people how
that argument is sort of playing out?
CARMON: Some people to be very aware of what was happening at the state
level. And Democrats are going to do absolutely everything they can to
hang what happened in the last two years at the state level around Thom
Tillis` neck. He was the speaker of the house. It`s not an implausible
case. They`re going to say how do you feel about these things that
happened in the middle of the night? I heard a lot of people talk about
teacher salary, this is a huge issue. They`re concerned that they`re
losing their teachers to other states. I think, you know, a wild swing
like that definitely has a risk of a backlash. This was not incremental
change, this was an overnight takeover with a very radical agenda.
KORNACKI: Well, this as we say, this is basically, you know, Kentucky and
North Carolina I think they are the sort of the two premiers in the race in
the country for slightly different reasons. But this is one, obviously,
we`ll be watching a lot between now and November. Irin, thank you for that
report. It was really interesting. What should we know today? Our
answers right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. It`s time to find out what our guests think we
should know. Amanda, I`ll start with you.
TERKEL: A federal judge in Wisconsin overturned the state`s ban on
marriage equality. The state is trying to stop that. But now, not
including Wisconsin, there are 19 states plus the District of Columbia
where states can have marriage equality.
KORNACKI: All right. 19 and 50, probably one of these days. Irin.
CARMON: Looking ahead, Monday and Thursday there are going to be decision
days at the Supreme Court, including Hobby Lobby, the case that will decide
whether your employer cannot cover your birth control based on the
KORNACKI: OK, that will be big news when it comes down. And I know, never
bet on the horse that wins the Kentucky Derby.
KORNACKI: It`s never ever going to win the Belmont stakes again. I want
to thank Amanda Terkel and Irin Carmon. Thank you for getting up this
morning. Thank you for joining us at home. We will see you back here next
weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. But coming up
next, it`s Melissa Harris-Perry. Today on MHP Melissa welcomes California
Senator Barbara Boxer. Questions about guns, immigration and of course,
Hillary Clinton. There`s a lot to get to next in Nerdland. And we will
see you next week here on "UP."
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