PoliticsNation, Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 2, 2015
Guest: Dana Milbank; Jim McDermott; Karen Bass, Jared Bernstein, Maria
Teresa Kumar, Susan Milligan, Mark Hannah, Julia Cunningham
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed, and happy new year.
SCHULTZ: Happy new year to you too, buddy.
SHARPTON: And thanks to you for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, a new year and a new fight with the GOP. Next week,
Congress returns to work and for the first time since President Obama took
office, he`ll face a Republican-controlled Senate. Even before the ball
drops on 2015, Republicans were outlining plans to aggressively attack the
president`s signature achievements, while pushing a slew of right-wing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: First item up in the new
Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline.
We will use the power of the purse to try to push back against this
We certainly will have a vote preceding to a bill to repeal Obamacare.
The banking community will be looking at Dodd-Frank. I`ve called it
frequently Obamacare for banks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Hearings on the IRS?
MCCONNELL: You can bet on that, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: They`ve also vowed a response to the president`s action on
immigration, more hearings on Benghazi, potential cuts to Social Security
and Medicare. And they even want to go after the first lady`s efforts to
make school lunches healthier.
It`s an ambitious and vicious vision. Pushed by a Republican party
determined to react to a series of executive actions from an energized
president. But President Obama has a message for Republicans. He`s not
going to roll over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are going to be some
areas where we disagree. And, you know, I haven`t used the veto pen very
often since I`ve been in office, partly because legislation that I objected
to was typically blocked in the Senate even after the house took over --
Republicans took over the House.
Now I suspect there are going to be some times where I`ve got to pull that
pen out and I`m going to defend gains that we`ve made in health care. I`m
going to defend gains that we`ve made on environment and clean air and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The president enters 2015 with a stronger economy and a base
galvanized by his executive action. All of which have resulted in a 48
percent approval rating, that`s 13 points better than former President
Bush`s rating at the same point in his presidency as President Obama is
now. It`s a big year ahead with a lot on the line.
Joining me now is congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington and
Dana Millbank of "the Washington Post." Thank you both for being here.
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Happy new year,
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Good to be here.
SHARPTON: Happy new year to both of you.
MCDERMOTT: Same to you.
SHARPTON: Congressman, Republicans control both Houses of Congress for the
first time since President Obama took office. Will we see confrontation,
compromise, or both?
MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, Rev., in my other profession as a physician,
the rule is, listen to the patient. He`s telling you what is the matter
with him. When you listen to what the Republicans are saying, it sounds
like we`re going to have nothing but endless confrontation from here right
to 2016. They simply are not going to let the president be a success if
they can help it, because they think that will help the democratic
candidate in 2016. And they are going to do everything they can to bring
him down. I don`t see any spirit of compromise from the speaker on back to
the tea party guys.
SHARPTON: Dana, aren`t Republicans going to be under pressure, though, to
satisfy their base, now that they control both houses of Congress? Isn`t
that the real problem here?
MILBANK: Well, the Republicans are going to be pulled in every which
direction, Reverend. There will be pressure to pacify the base. There`s
going to be pressure exerted by the various presidential candidates. But
there`s also a lot of pressure on Mitch McConnell and on John Boehner to
actually get something done up there. They now have sole ownership of
Congress which is about as popular in the American public as venereal
So whatever this Congress does right now is going to weigh one way or
another for or against the Republicans. And if they are just seen as
throwing up obstacles, as making doomed efforts to repeal Obamacare, then
the public is going to punish them for that.
So I think they do -- they are under some pressure to actually compromise
with this president for the first time really in his presidency.
SHARPTON: You know, Congressman, today the "Wall Street Journal" reports
the president will shift his strategy in the coming year. Let me quote the
"The White House plans to pivot from President Barack Obama`s reliance on
executive actions in the coming year and invest more in a legislative
strategy, aimed at trying to advance key policy goals, with the new
Will Republicans be open to compromise and moderation, knowing that they
have to prove that they can govern now, Congressman?
MCDERMOTT: Well, I believe that the president has been open to compromise
for six years. He has tried -- in fact, some of us think he`s been a
little too open to compromise. But the Republicans have never been willing
to do it with him.
On very rare occasions, John Boehner went to leader Pelosi and said, look,
I need a few votes, I can`t get this bill passed on violence against women
or something like that, and I need a few votes. And we always gave them.
We stopped all the bad things. The debt limit, we got that through. We
did a lot of things when John Boehner finally came across.
Now, he does not have that problem now. So it`s all in his ballpark. And
I don`t know whether he can satisfy his base at the same time, as Dana
says, he`s trying to satisfy his base, who keeps him in the speakership and
he tries to get something done for the country so that the Republicans look
good going into 2016. That`s a very tough stretch for the speaker.
SHARPTON: I am also reading, Dana, "Politico" has a report that the
president`s plans for 2015 includes, quote, "President Obama will use his
state of the union address to roll out an agenda aimed at tackling
stagnating wages and helping Americans who feel left out of the economy`s
surge. Now, will this be central focus for the president and Democrats in
the next year, Dana?
MILBANK: Well, it will be, Reverend, and it has been. The thing is, it
hasn`t gotten traction because the president can get up there and say, yes,
indicators show that the economy is getting better and people didn`t feel
it. Well, people are beginning to feel it now, whether it`s because of the
market, because of the extraordinarily strong growth we`ve seen in the
economy right now, the jobs report, so the president has a lot more
credibility on this. And that`s why you see his approval rating improving
and it will continue to improve as long as the economy continues to improve
So Obama is in a much stronger position than he was just a couple months
ago. He sort of hit his low water mark with the midterm elections. And I
think he`s ready for a big fight now. And he`s got the wind at his back as
he prepares to do battle with this all-Republican congress.
SHARPTON: You know, Congressman, Republicans have vowed to do something in
response to the president`s action on immigration. They just don`t know
what. I mean, listen to speaker Boehner here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president, on the
other hand, has ignored the will of the American people, and he`s refused
to listen. We`re looking at a variety of options, both for right now and
when Republicans control both houses of the Congress next year. This is a
serious breach of our constitution, it`s a serious threat to our system of
government. We`ve not made decisions about how are we going to proceed,
but we are in fact going to proceed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You served with them, Congressman. How far do you think they`re
willing to go?
MCDERMOTT: I really don`t know, Rev. He is -- they are talking as though
the president didn`t get elected by a good majority in 2012. They say he`s
ignoring the wishes of the people. But he was elected by the people, by a
large majority who want some of these issues dealt with, that the
Republicans, who because of gerrymandering, control the Congress. They
don`t have a majority represented in the majority of the house of the
American people because of gerrymandering. Well, they can`t say that the
president isn`t listening to the people.
And I don`t see what they can do at this point, except to really throw the
budget and the whole financing system into a terrible mess. There really
is no other way to do it except through the budget. And they have already
tried it. They`ve shut the government down, it didn`t work. They tried
these things and I think they`re in a very tough spot. If I were them, I`d
pivot and I go look at infrastructure. Gasoline prices are down. It`s
just a great time to put a big infrastructure program out.
SHARPTON: Because many of these issues, Dana, were before the voters when
the president was re-elected with this wide margin. And then when you look
at the fact the hill is reporting on looming budget wars, let me read them.
The GOP has vowed to use control of the house and Senate to slash the size
of government, with entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social
Security a potential target for cuts. I mean, this is scary for a lot of
MILBANK: Yes. Well, good luck to them. You`re not going to achieve that
kind of change, whether it`s to the entitlement programs or to the tax
code, if you don`t have from both parties.
There do need to be changes to Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security,
but it needs to be something that`s done on a consensus basis. Now, are we
going to get to that kind of grand bargain? It really doesn`t look that
way. But for the Republicans to think they can use the power of the purse
to implement their agenda is just crazy thinking as we`ve seen from the
previous efforts that have resulted in shutdown.
It`s not going to turn out any differently whether they`re doing it on
entitlements or whether doing it on immigration and when they tried to do
it on Obamacare.
SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there.
Congressman, Jim McDermott, and Dana Milbank, thank you and have a great
2015 and a good weekend too.
SHARPTON: Coming up, lessons from "Selma," what the film is telling
millions of Americans about how to achieve real change in the fight for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not wait any longer! Give us the vote! We`re
not asking, we`re demanding. Give us the vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And the father who called the police so they could watch him
spank his 12-year-old daughter. Why did he do it?
Also, we`ll tell you why President Obama`s push to raise the minimum wage
just got a big boost from outside Washington. All that, plus my thoughts
on the death of legendary governor of the New York, Mario Cuomo, a
legendary figure. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, it was the biggest story of 2014 and it`s the civil
rights issue of our time. The task in 2015, how to turn the passion around
criminal justice and policing into lasting change. That`s coming up next.
SHARPTON: In 2014, we saw a national movement rise around the issues of
policing and criminal justice. But in 2015, we`ll need to turn that
passion into concrete, lasting change. The kind of change chronicled by
the film Selma which documents Dr. King`s fight for civil rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those that have gone before us say, no more.
CROWD: No more!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more.
CROWD: No more!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That means protest. That means march. That means
disturb the peace. That means jail. That means risk. And that is hard.
We will not wait any longer. Give us the vote! That`s right. No more.
We`re not asking, we`re demanding. Give us the vote!
CROWD: Give us the vote!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not asking. We are demanding. Give us the
CROWD: Give us the vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Dr. King`s movement wasn`t about speeches. It was about
achieving real, lasting change. The voting rights act of 1965. And it
leaves us with this question today. How do we translates the passion of
the protest against policemen`s conduct and problems in our criminal
justice system into real reforms?
Just a week ago, President Obama signed a law to track police shootings.
He`s also established a task force on police and community relations. And
other lawmakers are pushing a bill to require police to wear body cameras.
These are important steps, but at the start of the new year, this country
is at a tipping point, and we`ve got a lot of work left to do.
Joining me now, Congressman Karen Bass, Democrat of California. Thank you
for being here.
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me on.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, we`re even hearing conservatives like Rand Paul
talking about the need for criminal justice reform. So how can you and
other lawmakers now channel the energy of the protests and the rallies and
some of what a lot of us are doing, into legislation?
BASS: Well, first of all, I think it`s an exciting time period now. And
we absolutely have to act quickly. And so, for example, Rand Paul, Cory
Booker, several of us in the House are working on legislation to change
mandatory minimums. You saw what happened in California with proposition
47, which changed several offenses and reduced them from felony to
misdemeanor. So I think we are beginning to take a look at what we did
over the last 20 years, which was really crazy and it led to the massive
incarceration problem that we have today. And it`s time to roll back some
of the legislation.
A few years ago in California, we reformed the three strikes law. So the
time is now. We have to act quick. But believe me, we have several
legislative proposals to put forward. I have one specifically for students
in making sure that if you have a drug-related offense, you can qualify for
financial aid. Because right now you can`t. And here we are legalizing
marijuana around the country. We need to get our laws in step with what is
happening throughout society in terms of changing viewpoints.
SHARPTON: And one of the reasons that I asked you about the legislators
because everyone has a role here.
SHARPTON: And I talked about the "Selma" film. And people forget, you had
Dr. King in the south. You had Malcolm X in the north. You had whites,
blacks, you had (INAUDIBLE), Ella Baker, that were doing commune
organizing, you had Thurgood Marshall in the courts, Powell in the
Congress. All at the same time. It was never one person.
And when I see the tensions between groups now, older against younger and
other than or older than that and all kind of tactical differences that
excites me, because that`s real movement, because King used to call it
creative tension. And everyone, if they played their lane, we would get
where America needs to go.
BASS: Absolutely. And you know, there is a role for everyone. And that`s
what a movement is always about. Movement always has tensions, always has
factions. They certainly had that during the civil rights movement. And
my role right now as a legislator in Congress is to push legislative
proposals that I have worked on for years and now might be the time.
So one other issue that we have to look at, as people are being released
from prison in California and perhaps other reforms to take place, we need
to now have things in place in our communities so people can transition
back into communities and get employment.
Because at the same time as we were passing draconian laws that locked
everybody up, we also passed laws that prohibited people from voting,
prohibited people from working and we need to change all of that. A
comprehensive approach is absolutely what is needed right now.
SHARPTON: Now, one hopeful sign for reform, a recent poll found 86 percent
of Americans support requiring police to wear body cameras.
SHARPTON: And 87 percent support having independent prosecutors
investigate police shootings. How significant would be it to have
independent prosecutors overseeing these cases, Congresswoman?
BASS: Well, I think it`s absolutely essential. Especially in places like
Ferguson, where you know, you have a lot of conflict of interest in
different counties and all. But we also watched what happened in Staten
Island. And Rev., you remember Los Angeles in 1992 when we had a jury in
Simi Valley. Well, apparently, a lot of police live in Staten Island, just
like a lot of police lived in Simi Valley. And so, the fact that you would
have non-partisan bodies, you know, they were not biased, to make these
decisions, is highly suspect. So it`s really important that we have
independent bodies examining this.
SHARPTON: Well, it`s a huge story and a huge interest to many of us that
are involved, and we`ll be following it this year.
Congresswoman, Karen Bass, thank you for your time tonight. And happy new
year to you.
BASS: Happy new year to you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, what could be the real reason Speaker Boehner is
standing by that GOP lawmaker who spoke on the a white nationalist event?
But first, why is President Obama smiling? Is it because yet another
Republican governor may be crumbling on Obamacare? That`s next.
SHARPTON: Republican governors across the country are starting to see the
light and expand Medicaid through Obamacare. The dominoes have fallen in
nine red states so far. While four more have Medicaid expansion under
consideration. But the latest buzz is about deep red Texas. Yes, the same
deep red Texas where the incoming governor Greg Abbott has led the charge
in suing the federal government over the ACA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you going to hold the line on that
decision, or are you going to change your mind?
GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, we are. We`ve been holding the
line ever since we filed that lawsuit challenging the Obamacare expansion
of health care. We don`t believe the right thing to do is to buy into this
Obamacare mandated expansion of Medicaid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Hold the line. Remember the Alamo. Texas forever. But is
governor-elect Abbott, all hat and no cattle? "The Houston Chronicle"
reports that in a closed door meeting with state lawmakers, Abbott recently
asked about a compromise to expand Medicaid that Utah is working out with
the federal government.
So if Greg Abbott does change his mind on Medicaid, that would be agreed
news for Texas. The uninsured rate there is 22.1 percent, the highest in
the country. And nearly one million people could gain coverage if Texas
I hope governor-elect Abbott does the right thing and expands Medicaid.
But did he think we wouldn`t notice this Texas-sized switcheroo?
Nice try, but we Got You.
SHARPTON: Welcome back. Over three million workers in this country are
starting the year off with a raise. Twenty one states passed minimum wage
bills in 2014. Going into effect with the New Year. Giving workers an
average of $8 an hour and making a real difference in their paychecks. And
people will have more money in their wallets. As gas prices continue to
fall. The national average is now at $2.23 a gallon. 2014 was a huge year
for jobs and the economy. And America has a lot to celebrate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Be proud of what we`ve
accomplished. More jobs. More people insured. A growing economy.
Shrinking deficits. Bustling industry. Booming energy. Pick any metric
that you want, America`s resurgence is real. We are better off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But President Obama isn`t letting up and will push hard for
Congress to pass a national minimum wage bill this year. So what can we
look forward to in 2015? And what can we expect from republicans in
Congress? Will they help or hurt this recovery?
Joining me now is Jared Bernstein and Maria Teresa Kumar. Thank you both
for being here.
JARED BERNSTEIN, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES SENIOR FELLOW:
Thank you, Rev.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, CEO, VOTO LATINO: Happy New Year.
SHARPTON: Happy New Year to you, both of you.
SHARPTON: Jared, we now have a majority of states in this country, 29,
with a minimum wage higher than the federal rate. Isn`t this what people
need right now?
BERNSTEIN: No question about it. In fact, one of the things we`ve seen in
recent years is that one of the only ways that middle or low-wage people
are getting a boost is from measures like this. One of the things we
noticed last year was when states raised their wages, the lowest wage
workers were among the few who did a little better. Now, you`ve been
talking throughout the show and you just showed the president, about many
of the economic improvements we saw in 2014. And they are real. And we
got some momentum going into this year. But it`s fair to say that the
recovery has really yet to reach the middle class.
BERNSTEIN: At least when we get to the low wage workers, the minimum wage
is an important correction for that.
SHARPTON: Let me approach it this way, Maria. When you look at the fact
it`s been five years since the minimum wage was raised, and in that time,
here are five things that have gone up, electricity is up four percent,
rent is up seven percent, grocery, gross is eight percent. Childcare up 11
percent. College costs, up 20 percent. But the minimum wage has stayed
the same. How are people expected to make ends meet?
KUMAR: They can`t. That`s one of the reasons why the minimum wage
resonated so strongly during the midterm elections Reverend across party
lines. I mean, you saw in Arkansas, as a perfect example where they
elected the majority of republicans, but the minimum wage bill actually to
increase the minimum wage actually drew out individuals and said, look,
this is something that I don`t care if I`m a republican, or democrat or
independent, I believe that the minimum wage is actually going to boost me
and that`s one of the reasons why you`ll going to see so many republicans
talking about it, come not only for the 2015, but also 2016. But something
that Jared also mentioned, is that not only does the minimum wage help put
money in their pocket, but you`re also seeing the economic recovery when it
comes to gas prices. You`re expected roughly of having people basically
save about $3,000 over the next year because of the drop in gasses. That
means all of a sudden that they aren`t living paycheck to paycheck, but
instead they`re actually going to be able to hopefully save a little bit
and ease a lot of the stuff that you`re talking about, that it has
increased the cost of living.
SHARPTON: The minimum wage doesn`t have to be a partisan issue, Jared.
Four republican presidents since 1938 have signed bills raising the minimum
wage including both President Bushes. So why are GOP leaders right now so
resistant to raising the minimum wage?
BERNSTEIN: I mean, I think it`s a great question. Look, there`s
partisanship and there`s partisanship, what we have now is a lot worse than
what I myself remember back in some of those minimum wage increases that
you just referenced. Actually, if you poll this measure, if you pull this
measure, it does very well among republicans. Not as well among democrats,
but well over half support it. And that`s because it`s actually a pretty
simple way to help those at the bottom of the pay scale, who have the least
bargaining power, and you can do so without really costing the budget, the
federal budget anything. The problem is vested interests who have
tremendous influence in the federal debate, clearly less so at the
subnational level are blocking this thing and my concern is that they`ll
probably continue to do so this year.
SHARPTON: You know, Maria, this struck my attention because some on the
right are saying republicans should take credit for the economic recovery.
"The New York Times" says anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, quote, may
well have heralded a republican shift on the economy. He credited the
budding revival to the party`s austerity push.
He wants republicans to take credit for improving the economy. I mean,
does that sound right to you, Maria?
KUMAR: I mean, these are the same folks, I mean, let`s look actually at
where austerity programs are working. They`re not. Look at Europe when
the United States and Europe were basically feeling the same economic
crunch, the United States decided with the leadership of President Obama,
to invest in the stimulus. And he said that was the only way that we were
going to actually get out of this recovery, basically having the federal
government invest, invest, invest. Whereas what Europe decided to do was
basically pursue the path way of austerity and they`re suffering, they`re
not recuperating at all at the record clip of the United States is and
pursued the pathway of austerity. And they`re suffering they`re not
recuperating at all at the record clip of the United States is. And I
think what Grover Norquist needs to do is basically take a step back and be
a little bit honest with the American people.
SHARPTON: You`re the economist here, am I missing something? Do we have
Boehner to thank for this recovery?
BERNSTEIN: No, I don`t think you`re missing anything. What I think is
really odd, look, Rev, you have featured what I`m about to say more than
anyone. Almost every night here you`re playing clips of republicans saying
how President Obama is destroying the economy. I mean, for years now, you
have featured these folks, a parade on your show saying the President is
tanking the economy, everything he`s doing is working badly. Well, now the
economy is gaining some momentum, it`s starting to really gain some
strength. All of a sudden forget all that stuff about President Obama,
it`s due to our policies. So, this is patent non-sense and everyone should
have to --
KUMAR: Well, and they`re not acting anything, right? I mean, at the same
time they`re not even passing anything to actual point to. That doesn`t
make any sense.
BERNSTEIN: This is like, you have to be extremely cynical, even to make
this argument. So, I wouldn`t give it a lot of air time myself.
SHARPTON: And make sure you understand Jared stressed extreme. Jared
Bernstein and Maria Teresa Kumar, I`m going to have to leave it there.
Thank you both for your time. Happy New Year to you both again.
KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Reverend.
KUMAR: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, the father who called the police so they could
watch him spank his 12-year-old daughter. Is this an effective use of
Also the GOP revolt against John Boehner. There`s a new push to get him
out of the speakership. And what did back to the future to get right and
wrong about 2015? Our panel`s predictions and resolutions are ahead in
SHARPTON: Time for "Conversation Nation."
Joining me tonight Susan Milligan from U.S. News and World Report.
Democratic political analyst Mark Hannah. And Sirius XM radio host Julia
First, let`s talk about John Boehner, the speaker. Will he keep his job?
House republicans vote next week on whether John Boehner gets to stay in
charge. And a block of conservatives are reportedly trying to drum up some
opposition. Passing around a new poll that says 60 percent of republican
voters want someone new as speaker. Today one right-wing lawmaker talked
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE (R), OKLAHOMA: They`re frustrated that we just won
the biggest election in, and I don`t know, maybe American history, but it`s
at least the biggest in almost 100 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Right.
BRIDENSTINE: And at the end of the day, we`re governing as though we just
lost and enabling the President to continue trashing the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Mark, doesn`t this show that Boehner`s problems with the Tea
Party isn`t going away?
MARK HANNAH, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think you`re absolutely
right, Rev. Boehner is facing a mutiny within the ranks. The Republicans
are coming out and vocally expressing dissatisfaction. This doesn`t often
happen with the speaker of the house. And so like, let`s wonder aloud
here, who is actually in charge of the Republican Party? That radio show
you just played, Erik Erikson is sitting in for Rush Limbaugh. You had
Sean Hannity come out and say, that he`s unhappy with the way Boehner is
leading the party. So people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are
steering the Republican Party it would seem. And this is a big problem.
Because I think most mainstream Americans whether you`re conservative or
liberal, you think that Congress has been obstructionist enough under
Speaker Boehner. What republicans are saying is that they want a speaker
of the house that`s going to be even more obstructionist than this one.
SHARPTON: But Susan, the question that comes to mind, is this why he may
have stood by Congressman Scalise, who it has now been revealed spoke in
2002 at this white supremacist group? Because Scalise was his contact,
envoy, ally, with the Tea Party.
SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Right.
SHARPTON: Maybe this explains why he`s standing by this guy.
MILLIGAN: Yes, I think that`s part of it. Although, I don`t think Speaker
Boehner is in trouble. Because that wing of the party doesn`t have anyone
to offer up. There`s going to be some votes to sort of try to remind
Boehner that the Tea Party caucus is still there and still wants to be
heard. But these are sort of show votes, not unlike voting to undo the
Affordable Care Act. I don`t think Boehner is in any danger of losing his
position as speaker.
SHARPTON: But can you Julia get these tea partiers in line for some actual
JULIA CUNNINGHAM, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: I mean, I don`t know if we can get
them in line, but I think I see what they`re doing. And I agree with Mark
in the sense that it`s really up in the air right now. And I feel like
they need to unite in some way. And this is just rustling feathers and
this is what the Tea Party does.
HANNAH: Rev, one thing that the President has said, is that the
republicans have to show at this moment now that they have taken the
majority, they need to show that they can lead and that they can govern.
What these polls are showing, is that they can`t even govern their own
caucus, they can`t even govern their own party.
SHARPTON: But isn`t the problem, Julia, that these Tea Partiers are
playing to a different beast in terms of some of them are in very safe
districts and some of them don`t have to worry about re-election, whereas
others that want to run statewide are concerned about national elections,
have a different consideration?
CUNNINGHAM: Oh, no, I mean, that`s for sure. But I don`t know if it`s
really going to affect anything in that way. I think Boehner is going to
be fine in the long run. This is just doing this like to test buttons and
push it the way they want to push it.
MILLIGAN: Yes. I agree. And the thing that Steve Scalia says that I
think Boehner is in this position where he has to stand by him a little
bit, unless something else comes out. If a pattern comes out, I think it
becomes a different story. But I mean, here`s the issue here with Steve
Scalise, I don`t know anyone who thinks that he`s a racist, but it does
exposed another problem with the party of the sort of nuance -- of looking
the other way, of sort of not denouncing the people who say that Obama
isn`t really American or, you know, or that he was, you know, born in Kenya
or that he`s a Muslim. And it`s sort of looking the other way when you`re
speaking to an organization whose very name should sort of set up some
alarm bells. I think that that`s their deeper problem with this issue and
SHARPTON: Well, I think it smacks in the face of their autopsy and wanting
to reach out.
SHARPTON: But let`s move on. Now to a story that has a lot of people
talking, a Florida father called the local sheriff`s office to ask them to
supervise him spanking his 12-year-old daughter. The deputy`s report says,
quote, "He wanted me to stand by while he spanked her with the paddle. I
stood by as he spanked her four times on her buttocks. Since no crime had
been committed, this case is closed." One deputy said he supervised
spanking like this about a dozen times. Susan, what do you make of this?
I mean, is this the best use of police officer`s time?
MILLIGAN: No, you know, every single day when I`m reading stories on the
internet, one of them makes me say, what is wrong with people, and this was
that story today. I don`t know why the police got involved. I find it
very creepy that this man wanted any kind of an audience while he spanked
his daughter. Whether if he was trying to prove that he wasn`t abusing
her. I don`t know what it was. I don`t know why the police even
participate and have better things to do.
SHARPTON: But Mark, what does this say about our culture, when you have
another deputy saying he`s done it even more times? I mean, what is the
cultural statement here now where we have to call -- some feel they have to
call police to discipline their kid, that they need to spank them, so they
want to be observed by law enforcement?
HANNAH: Law enforcement should not be policing, you know, what`s
politically correct. It`s kind of ridiculous that they`re filling out
incident reports about this. And let`s think for a minute if you`re that
little girl or little boy that`s getting spanked. It`s already, you know,
kind of a drag to get spanked by your parent, but then to have a uniformed
police officer standing there supervising this process is just outrageous.
If you have enough forethought or enough self-control to call the police
and let them know you`re going to spank your child, you`re probably not
going to be crossing the line when you do it.
SHARPTON: Yes, Julia, that is what I was thinking about. What do you do
while you`re waiting on the police to come? And you call them to spank
your child. I mean, the waiting period has got to be a little awkward.
CUNNINGHAM: You know, I`ve not thought about that, Reverend, but that`s
incredibly awkward, you think it would have calmed down in that point. And
then maybe when the police officer showed up, maybe you have had given that
child a stern talking to, rather than also just stood there awkwardly while
this father parent spanked his child which is totally a red flag in the
SHARPTON: Yes. I mean, wait, get ready for your spanking as soon as the
police get here. Don`t go anywhere. Don`t you jump out that window?
CUNNINGHAM: Oh, and now we`re fine. Okay, that makes sense.
SHARPTON: Our panel stays with us. Set your DVRs because when we come
back, they`ll go out on a limb with their predictions for the New Year.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel, Susan, Mark, and Julia. It`s our
first show of the year. Time to make predictions for 2015. You know, back
in 1989, the producers of the Back to the Future II thought we`d all be
flying around on hover boards when the year 2015 rolled around. They
missed that mark on that one. But Mark, time to go out on a limb. What`s
your big prediction for this New Year?
HANNAH: Well, I`m just seeing how much the GOP is sort of splitting within
the ranks and I think the republican primary campaigns are going to devolve
into this side show, a media circus that basically represents some sort of
survivor-style reality TV show that gets sponsored by and hosted on
Newsmax. It`s just going to become completely mediated and completely
SHARPTON: So you`re predicting the GOP primaries will turn into a circus.
HANNAH: Oh, yes. Take the sort of economic Darwinism that the Republican
Party has espoused and I think it will going to turn into a political
Darwinism where you have people voting each other off and it`s just going
to be absurd.
SHARPTON: All right. Julia?
CUNNINGHAM: I`m looking forward to having a bowl of popcorn and just
watched all these bills trying to go through with Obama like ping-ponging
them back between the republican Congress. I can`t wait to see them sort
of trying to step forward and make claims and make bills and make passing
and trying to do something differently, but at the same point, trying to
agree with maybe Obama with giving more money like the Pentagon and, you
know, oil prices being down, and consumerism being up, I`m just curious to
see the back and forth that`s going to take place and it`s going to be a
back and forth.
SHARPTON: So in your opinion, nothing`s going to get through, there`s not
going to be any possibility of a crack in the door here to try to push
something sane through in the name of, we`ve got to show we can govern?
CUNNINGHAM: Well, that`s the thing. I`m sure there`s going to be some
things that slip through. Because let`s be honest, we`re going into an
election year. Everyone has to play a little nice. And I think people are
going to eventually agree on some things. But I think especially in those
first few months, especially waiting for the actual budget to come through,
there`s going to be a lot of pong happening.
SHARPTON: All right. Susan, your prediction?
MILLIGAN: I`m so much more optimistic of this. So many thanks. I think
first of all that we`re going to see a more confident and assertive
president. I also think we`re going to have to see more of a relationship
with the hill than a lot of people think. The temperature is actually
lower on the hill now that the republicans are running the Senate. And
they`re going to have to show they can govern. If it`s dysfunctional,
they`ll going to own the dysfunction. I also think that this year the
Buffalo bills have a season that takes them to the postseason. And of
course, I`ve been saying that for 15 years running now, but this is our
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll see if this is the year. Now that we`ve talked
about our predictions for the country. Let`s talk about our resolutions
for ourselves. About half of Americans make New Year`s resolutions, every
January, everything from shedding a few extra pounds, to kicking our
habits. Susan, what`s your resolution for 2015?
MILLIGAN: To have more fun, Rev. I mean, look at Harry Reid, he goes on
this exercise thing, he breaks a rib, he breaks some bones in his face.
This is what happens when you try to do self-improvement in the New Year.
I`m done with self-deprivation, I`m done with self-punishment.
SHARPTON: If -- gets back to the GOP primary, I know I`m going to have a
lot of opportunities here to come on and hurl out some attacks on the GOP
contenders and it`s going to be tempting to do that. I resolve to keep
those attacks purely substance-based and policy based and not go after them
CUNNINGHAM: I like to do instead of doing an actual resolution, I could
think of a positive statement. So this year I`m not going to compare
myself to other things. So, when I go to someone`s apartment, I see they
have a fireplace, I`m not going to go, why don`t I have a fireplace? I`m
going to be positive with all the great things I have this year.
SHARPTON: Well, I have a great resolution. My New Year`s resolution is,
I`m not telling anyone my New Year`s resolution.
CUNNINGHAM: Fair enough.
SHARPTON: And I`ve kept it so far. Susan, Mark, and Julia, thanks and
happy New Year and good luck with your resolutions.
HANNAH: Happy New Year, Rev.
CUNNINGHAM: Happy New Year!
MILLIGAN: Happy New Year!
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with my thoughts on the legendary former
Governor Mario Cuomo.
SHARPTON: We close tonight by remembering former New York Governor Mario
Cuomo who passed away last night at the age of 82. Governor Cuomo was a
passionate voice for liberal causes, a national leader who articulated a
proud way forward for the left at the height of the Reagan era. He was
governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994. And at the 1984
Democratic National Convention, Cuomo talked about those left behind by
President Reagan`s vision of America as a shining city on a hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. GOV. MARIO CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: There is despair, Mr. President. In
the faces that you don`t see, and the places that you don`t visit in your
shining city. Mr. President, you ought to know that this nation is more a
tale of two cities, than it is just a shining city on a hill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That speech electrified millions who were getting crushed by
Reagan`s trickle-down economics. Just two months later, Governor Cuomo
made history again by going to Notre Dame and giving a speech in support of
abortion rights, even though his own Catholic faith made him personally
opposed to abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: To assure our freedom, we must allow others the same freedom, even
if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be
sinful. When should I argue to make my religious value your morality?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: For years, Cuomo flirted with the idea of running for president,
but ultimately decided to stay in New York. His example inspired his son
Andrew to enter politics as well. Yesterday just hours before his father
passed away, newly re-elected Governor Andrew Cuomo honored his dad at his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: He couldn`t be here physically today, my
father, but my father is in this room. He`s in the heart and mind of every
person who is here. He`s here and he`s here, and he`s here. And his
inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what has brought this
state to this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: When I heard last night of the passing of Governor Mario Cuomo,
I thought about those three terms and the third years I`ve known him. We
disagreed, we debated, I marched on many of his policies and challenged him
on many things, but what I remember more than anything is, he was a big
man. He never reduced himself to pettiness. He always saw the bigger
picture. He never allowed himself to engage in name-calling. He played
chess while many of us play checkers. And I`ve learned when you play
chess, sometimes you give up a pawn or two to get the queen. I learned
that lesson from Mario Cuomo. May he rest in peace. He sleeps with the
giants in American politics.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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