Date: April 21, 2015
Guest: Barack Obama, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Debbie Askin, Dr. Abhijit
Dasgupta, Jim Corcoran, Debbie Stabenow, Heather McGhee
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The president plays HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
I`ve just come from Washington, where I spoke with President Obama about
the threat of Iran and the news we`ve got U.S. warships that could
intercept an Iranian weapons convoy off the coast of Yemen, that and
Putin`s decision to sell advanced surface-to-air missiles to the Iranians
that could be used to guard nuclear weapons.
We begin tonight with the president`s declaration of war on his own left
led by Senator Elizabeth Warren.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love Elizabeth. We`re
allies on a whole host of issues, but she`s wrong on this. And when you
hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when
you dig into the facts, they are wrong.
MATTHEWS: Senator Warren is among a group of activists, unions and
environmentalists out there to kill a deal called the Trans Pacific
Partnership, the historic trade pact being negotiated now by the Obama
administration. The goal of the trade administration is to unleash an
economic boom by making it easier to sell goods, everything from Florida
oranges to Japanese video games.
Supporters of the deal, led by the president, argue that if we don`t write
the rules on trade with these countries, China will. We`ve brought you the
passionate voices against the deal -- Ohio Democratic congresswoman Marcy
Kaptur and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown on this show.
Here`s Senator Elizabeth Warren.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No more secret trade deals!
Are you ready to fight?
WARREN: No more secret deals! No more special deals for multi-national
corporations! Are you ready to fight?
WARREN: Are you ready to fight any more deals that say we`re going to help
the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind? Are you ready to fight
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, Hell, no,
to the trade deal. We now hear from the president and his view. Earlier
today, as I said, I had a chance to lead a discussion on this trade war
with a panel that included the president and some of his trade allies.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for inviting me to moderate this discussion. We have
Congressman Gerry Connolly from this area in Virginia. We have Jim
Corcoran -- kind of an Irish crow here -- Jim Corcoran, who`s head of the
Chamber of Commerce out here. We Dr. Dasgupta, who`s co-founder of a
health care startup, and we have Debbie Askin, who is founder of an IT firm
out here, right?
DEBBIE ASKIN, TEAM ASKIN TECHNOLOGIES: Yes.
MATTHEWS: So I want to ask you, Mr. President, obviously, the hot
question. U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren is out there saying things like
this about the trade agreement we`re going to talk about today. It`s going
to help the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind. She also says
it challenges U.S. sovereignty.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.
MATTHEWS: They are throwing the kitchen sink at this trade agreement,
which will involve 11 nations and ourselves on the Pacific rim. Why are
they saying these things?
OBAMA: Well, I guess they don`t want it to happen. And I love Elizabeth.
We`re allies on a whole host of issues. But she`s wrong on this.
And let me be very clear about my views on trade generally and why this is
so important. You know, I`m not somebody who believes in trade just for
trade`s sake. You know, I come from a state, Illinois, that was devastated
by the loss of manufacturing in many small towns.
I think that we had a stretch of a couple of decades where, in part because
of globalization, you had manufacturing moving to other places in search of
low wages, no environmental standards, no labor standards. So trade deals
haven`t always worked for us.
But what I`ve also always believed is that it`s important for us to be able
to export our goods, to make sure our businesses are competitive. That`s
good for American workers. That`s good for American businesses. It`s good
for America`s small business.
So when I came into office I said, What kind of trade deal would I like to
see? How would we revamp how we`ve done trade to make it work for America
and we know that we`d have strong, enforceable labor standards for other
countries that we trade with? We`d have strong environmental standards
with the countries that we trade with. We`d make sure that we had access
to their markets just like they`ve got access to ours so that it was fair
And we decided to start trying to craft a new kind of trade deal in the
largest market in the world because 95 percent of the customers for U.S.
businesses is going to be outside of the United States, and if we want to
compete and create jobs here in the United States, we`ve got to be there.
And the fastest growing, most populous region in the world is in the Asia-
Pacific region. So we`ve pulled together 11 countries to come up with a
high-standard, enforceable trade provision that has unprecedented labor
standards, unprecedented environmental standards, fixes a lot of the
problems that you had in things like NAFTA.
And ultimately, I would not be putting this forward if I was not absolutely
certain that this was going to be good for American workers.
OBAMA: Now, understandably, folks in labor and some progressives are
suspicious generally because of the experiences they saw in the past. But
my point is, don`t fight the last war. Wait and see what we actually have
in this deal before you make those judgments because what I know is that if
we are going to succeed as an economy where already about 11 million of the
high-paying jobs in the United States are directly related to exports
overseas -- and it`s not just big businesses, it`s small businesses like
are represented around this table -- then we`ve got to be able to craft the
kinds of trade deals that I`m talking about.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Congressman Connolly, the record of NAFTA, which was
about 50-50 in the U.S. Senate, and the House was a little moreso, but
there were more Democrats for NAFTA back then. Was NAFTA flawed in the way
that this new trade deal isn`t?
In other words, was it -- did it have reasons like people like Sherrod
Brown and Bobby Casey, who are out there now opposing this -- are they --
as the president said, they opposed it on the basis of how bad the last
Was the last deal flawed? Was NAFTA flawed?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Well, I think NAFTA wasn`t perfect.
And I do agree with the president. I think the agreement we`re looking at
now significantly improves upon that, and in fact, goes back in and makes
some improvements to the areas that critics are concerned about
But I wouldn`t call NAFTA a failure. NAFTA, in fact, opened up a lot of
trade here in North America. And you know, there have been some problems
in terms of labor standards and environmental standards, but I don`t think
it`s been pronounced as a failure.
And I think the narrative that all trade is bad, all trade agreements have
failed just isn`t true. You know, we have a trade surplus with 11 of the
14 trade agreements we have in place -- not a deficit, a surplus.
It`s not a secret agreement. It doesn`t favor the wealthy and leave
MATTHEWS: So Elizabeth Warren is wrong.
CONNOLLY: I think she`s absolutely wrong.
MATTHEWS: Why are some people like Chuck Schumer, who`s probably going to
be leader of the Senate -- which is he switching from a big city, financial
center, pro-trader, to being an anti-trader? Is that because of upstate
New York? What`s going on? I can`t figure this out.
OBAMA: I think you`ve got to talk to Chuck. But look --
MATTHEWS: Was NAFTA a good deal? Was NAFTA a good deal?
OBAMA: I think that NAFTA did a couple things that were important. It
integrated the North American economy. Mexico and Canada are important
trading partners for us.
OBAMA: We sell a lot of stuff to them. They sell a lot of stuff to us.
The problem with NAFTA that I identified when I was running for Senate,
long before I was in the Oval Office, was the labor agreements and the
environmental agreements were in a side letter. They weren`t enforceable
the same way that the business provisions were in the document, and you
could actually penalize somebody if they violated them. That`s fixed in
the trade deal that we`re looking at here.
But here`s the larger point that I want to make, is that the American
people are right to be concerned with growing inequality. American workers
are right that they haven`t seen their wages and their incomes go up in a
couple of decades, even though the economy has grown significantly. And so
I understand the anxieties that people feel.
And some of that has to do with globalization. A lot more of it actually
has to do with automation and just shifts in the economy away from
manufacturing towards services.
The thing is, though, that if -- if we are going to capture the future,
then we`ve got to open up markets to the kinds of things that we`re really
good at, that can`t be duplicated overseas. We`re good at innovation.
We`re good at services. We can create things that other countries can`t
We`re not going to be able to compete for low-wage manufacturing jobs
anymore. That ship has sailed. What we can do is compete for the high end
where we`re adding value, and the small companies that are represented by
the doctor and by Debbie, where it`s IT, it`s talent, it`s innovation --
that`s the kind of stuff that we can sell all around the world. And by the
way, we`re still doing good on manufacturing.
Look, Chris, think about it. I`ve spent the last six-and-a-half years
yanking this economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Every single thing I`ve done, from the Affordable Care Act to pushing to
raise the minimum wage, to making sure that young people are able to go to
college and get good job training, to what we`re pushing now in terms of
sick paid leave -- everything I do has been focused on how do we make sure
the middle class is getting a fair deal?
Now, I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good --
OBAMA: -- for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of
suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts,
they are wrong.
First of all, they call it a secret deal. We`ve done 1,700 briefings up on
Capitol Hill. It`s -- there`s a misnomer about fast track. Essentially,
what we`re -- the only thing we`re looking for is the same trade authority,
negotiating authority that almost every president in the post-World War II
era has had to be able to negotiate ahead of time. Congress lays out the
parameters for what the deal should be, then we go out and we finish the
negotiations. We bring the deal back --
OBAMA: -- and for a minimum of three months, everybody in Congress gets
to read the actual --
MATTHEWS: Why are they saying this stuff? Rosa Delauro --
OBAMA: I don`t know!
MATTHEWS: -- is saying stuff, Sherrod Brown --
OBAMA: You`ve got to talk to them.
MATTHEWS: They are saying -- they are saying this is a totally unfair
deal, it`s never been done before.
OBAMA: I know!
MATTHEWS: I want to bring in these Republicans -- no, you`re not
Republicans, all right? I thought you would be.
OBAMA: But the one thing I just want to say about this, though, Chris, is
that I am happy to debate this, and I`m sure Gerry and others are, based on
the actual facts.
OBAMA: This is the most progressive framework for trade we have ever had.
OBAMA: This requires us to have binding labor agreements. On the
environment, we`re actually negotiating with countries that almost have no
environmental standards, but suddenly, they have to pay attention to
excessive logging. They have to pay attention to excessive fishing. They
have to pay attention to how they`re protecting their oceans. They`ve got
to pay attention to wildlife trafficking.
I mean, we`re -- we`re embodying in this deal all the stuff that the
environmental community and the labor community for years has been talking
about as a requirement for them approving trade deals.
This is better than the Colombian free trade agreement, the Panama free
trade agreement and the Korea free trade agreement that we just passed a
couple of years ago.
So some of this has to do with, I think, people`s legitimate fears and
concerns. Some of it has to do with politics. You know, Democrats aren`t
adverse to, you know, making political arguments that aren`t always
entirely accurate. We do it less often than the other side.
MATTHEWS: Can we talk about these other --
MATTHEWS: You know, Henry Ford (INAUDIBLE) he used to say, If I asked
people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse, OK? Henry
Ford. So innovation.
How many people can you hire with better trade agreements? What good will
this do you guys out here? I want to know what the -- because we`re
hearing about the hollowed-out manufacturing base of the older cities where
I grew up, in Illinois, where there was this terrible loss of jobs in big
cities like Flint, Erie, Pennsylvania.
This is a booming part of the country. This has got Tyson`s Corner, the
most exuberant shopping mall in the world out here, world famous. You`ve
OK, let`s talk jobs. You got any?
MATTHEWS: You going to create any?
ASKIN: We`re currently exporting -- about 60 percent of our current
revenue is through exporting, and we are exporting knowledge workers. I
mean, it`s services -- and that`s what other governments, other countries
want. And by having the trade agreement, it will allow us to work in a
level playing field so that we understand and we`re all working with the
MATTHEWS: It isn`t this -- I`ve been reading about this, that people --
higher-paid people, better-educated, certainly -- they will be the winners.
DR. ABHIJIT DASGUPTA, ZANSORS HEALTH CARE ANALYTICS: Yes. I think
absolutely. What our company, Zansors, sells is, we`re creating innovative
new products for health care using low-cost sensors and mobile apps, and
being able to transmit that data to the people who need it, who are the
doctors and the caregivers.
MATTHEWS: Let me give you to Jim Corcoran. You`re the president of the
Chamber of Commerce here. By the way, I love the way you said the other
day, I didn`t get elected by the Chamber of Commerce and the Business
Roundtable, but here you are!
MATTHEWS: But here you are, with these people! I mean --
JIM CORCORAN, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA: And we`re
independent. We support people --
MATTHEWS: OK --
CORCORAN: -- who support businesses.
MATTHEWS: -- tell me about this part of the -- because there are parts
of country like, of course, the Silicon Valley, 128 in Massachusetts. We
know about that.
In this area, along the corridor (INAUDIBLE) people go to Dulles Airport.
They see it on both sides of the highway. What is it about this area that
works? Why is this place booming?
CORCORAN: Well, you know, it`s interesting. In Virginia -- and I think we
can say that Virginia is probably a microcosm of the United States economy.
We`re exporting about $35 billion a year in products, and it`s evenly split
between services and manufactured goods.
And I would say to your question, it`s -- it`s education, it`s technology,
it`s talent. We used to be the number one dairy-producing county in
CORCORAN: -- 50 years ago. It was by far the largest --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we`re Silicon east.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that knowledge-based economy Debbie talked about
just is so critical. But it`s an international economy we (INAUDIBLE) and
anyone who works in business here would tell you that.
OBAMA: But the one thing I think is important to point out, Chris, is
there is this notion that somehow, high-end knowledge workers -- they
benefit from trade. The average --
MATTHEWS: Is that true?
OBAMA: -- Joe six-pack doesn`t. What is true is, is that every worker
is going to need some skills. That doesn`t have to do with trade, that has
to do with the nature of the economy because even if there`s no trade, you
know, machines are going to displace routine work over time. And we`ve got
to make sure that all our workers are engaged in lifelong learning so that
they`re prepared for the new economy in which they are taking technology,
taking tools -- you go into a factory these days, and it`s all computer-
Now, the guys who used to be there, they`re hired now not because of brawn
but because they can work a machine. They can identify problems. They can
help develop new products.
But -- but this notion that somehow, it only benefits a handful -- I was
down in Panama, and while we were down there, Boeing signed an agreement
with a major airline down there, selling a whole bunch of airplanes, and
the deal is probably worth several billion dollars. Let`s say $10 billion.
Now, Boeing has suppliers everywhere in the country, and those suppliers,
that supply chain, involves small companies that are making specialized
parts. You can go into a little, small town far away from Seattle --
OBAMA: -- and you`ll find people who are benefiting directly. They may
not know it initially, but because of that order and all of the planes that
we`ve been selling over the years, in part because of free trade
agreements, in part because of things like the Export/Import Bank, that`s
benefiting manufacturing workers, not just service workers.
When you go into the agricultural sector -- you know, Gerry just said that
Fairfax has changed in terms of dairy, but we are still the preeminent
agricultural producer in the world. It is a huge part of our rural
So trade isn`t just benefiting San Francisco and Manhattan. Trade is
benefiting, you know, tiny towns in Iowa and in Nebraska and in Montana
because we produce food better than anybody else does, and other countries
But in order for us to be able to sell our beef in Japan, we`ve got to be
able to pry open those markets. And when I hear critics of the possibility
of us instituting the most progressive trade deal in our history -- their
answer, I guess, is the status quo. The status quo is not working for us.
You think about how many Japanese cars are being driven here in the United
States. You go to Tokyo, there`s not an American car in sight. Why would
we want to keep that status quo, as opposed to have a new deal in which
Japan has to open up its markets so that Chrysler, Ford and GM can start
competing in those markets?
MATTHEWS: Still ahead, more of my meeting with the president. What does
he say to the towns and districts hit hardest by trade, places like Flint,
Michigan, and north Philly, where I spent my early years? All those
factory jobs are gone. What happens now to those people? Will this deal
help them? What does he say to the Democrats in those districts?
And later, my HARDBALL interview with President Obama. What`s the
commander-in-chief say is happening right now as U.S. Navy ships are
blocking an Iranian convoy bringing weapons to Yemen?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Still ahead on HARDBALL, my one-on-one interview with President
Obama. We`ll hear from the President on this confrontation at sea with the
naval forces of Iran. It`s all coming up here. We`ll be right back after
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and part two of my discussion with
President Obama, as he makes his case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in
the face of opposition from progressive members of his own party.
I began by asking the president what happened to those good American
factory jobs where people could work and make a living straight out of high
MATTHEWS: If you go to my old neighborhood, where I grew up, in North
Philly, where it was -- my grandpa was the local Democratic committeeman.
MATTHEWS: But he worked in a factory two subway stops away. He could work
at a good job.
My uncle Charlie worked for Bud, Boeing, those big -- those -- you could
come out of high school at 17 and earn enough living for the whole family.
Yes, you know about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And, Gerry -- and that`s gone. And those people say, what
happened to that?
How come we`re not the winners?
The Democratic Party looks out for the losers, in many cases. You guys are
all the winners.
OBAMA: Wait, wait, wait, I`ll -- I want to correct that.
MATTHEWS: Well, help me out here.
OBAMA: The Democratic Party looks out for middle-class folks who are
playing by the rules, working hard and folks who are trying to get into the
And we`re happy when people succeed. I want -- I want these two small
MATTHEWS: What about the people that need help in those --
MATTHEWS: -- old industrial areas?
OBAMA: And the way we`re going to help them is to make sure that they`re
getting the education they need or their kids are, they`re getting the
training that they need. And we`re going to make sure that there are rules
of the global trading system that work for U.S. companies and U.S. goods.
And there`s one last part of this that we haven`t talked about, the
specific deal that we`re trying to organize, which is in the Asia-Pacific
Region, the big 800-pound gorilla out there is China. Now, China is not a
signatory to this deal. But China`s gravitational pull in that region is
They don`t play by the same rules. They, you know, are coercing a lot of
these smaller countries to enter into trade deals that exclude or
disadvantage U.S. companies, exclude or disadvantage U.S. workers, that
take our intellectual property. They don`t have high standards in terms of
labor or environmental protections.
And if we don`t get this done, if we`re not the ones engaged out there
writing the rules, and China is writing the rules in the fast-growing
market, the most populous region of the world, we`re going to be locked
MATTHEWS: I`ve got to end with one point.
There`s a pattern over the last 30, 40 years, I have noticed. Democratic
presidents, from Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton -- and he still supports TPP
-- I heard him over in Tokyo. He`s for it.
MATTHEWS: Why did the leaders of the country -- do you see a bigger
picture than the average senator?
I`m giving you a break here, because I think there is an argument here.
Does the national interest -- is there a bigger argument than, say, Ohio
vs. the country or Ohio vs. the future or Pennsylvania?
Because I look at those senators I do respect, and they disagree with you
OBAMA: Well, I --
MATTHEWS: What`s the difference in perspective?
OBAMA: I -- I think there are a couple of things.
One is that local congressmen, local senators, the -- they feel --
particularly if they`re Democrats, they feel the pain of folks who have
been displaced by trade in the past.
OBAMA: And that`s pretty, you know, powerful.
I mean, if you go through a small town that lost its main manufacturer, you
know, and you -- you talk to somebody who`s 55, 60, 70 years old and they
talk about the loss there of community and dignity --
OBAMA: -- of work, that`s a hard thing. So -- so, I understand sort of
what they`re going through.
But my point is we -- we have to understand what the answer is. We`re not
going to eliminate globalization. We`re not eliminating technology. We`re
not eliminating the fact that we`re going to have to train our workers
better and we`re going to have to compete.
The question is, do we do it under rules where we can succeed, or we do it
under rules that are set by China and do we lose?
And -- and one last point that I -- I`d add, part of what is part of the
package that we`re trying to promote right now is a significant expansion
of trade assistance that is provided to folks who do potentially get
displaced. It`s about double what it currently is, which means that we can
help more workers get retrained, work at community colleges. And that is
going to allow them to compete.
But we cannot simply cut ourselves off thinking somehow that us not
competing in 95 percent of the world is going to benefit us. And, you
know, I`ve got to say, Chris, that some of the information that has been
getting thrown out there plays into legitimate fears that Democratic voters
have, and progressives have, but it -- it`s simply not true. It`s simply
not the facts.
And I`m willing to go through, step by step, every one of the arguments
that they`ve made and knock them down, because they`re not accurate. They
may apply to previous trade deals. They sure don`t apply to this one.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton said -- I`ve got to be -- cause trouble here,
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton said yesterday the economy is stalling.
ASKIN: I disagree. I mean, I know we`re adding jobs. We`re actually
providing a -- we have a call center here in Virginia. And we are
providing call center support for our work that we`re exporting. So we`re
bringing that work in -- into the U.S., and it`s not going -- it`s not
MATTHEWS: Jim, she said small business is stalling in this country
CORCORAN: I`d say it`s growing at a slower rate, Chris. And --
OBAMA: Well, it actually --
OBAMA: And, actually, it has grown at a slower rate this quarter,
primarily because of weaknesses in Europe.
And the dollar has gotten strong because of the fact that we`re growing
faster than everybody else, which -- which raises one last issue that you
will hear a lot, and that`s this whole issue of --
MATTHEWS: I know, the currency issue, manipulation of currency.
OBAMA: And -- and I`ll just say this. We have pushed really hard to make
sure that China is not manipulating its currency and a couple other
And we`ve had some success. But what we are working with Congress on are
provisions that allow us to monitor this and -- and to make sure that folks
are not manipulating their currency.
We can`t do it, though, in a way that is so haphazard that it ends up
affecting the ability of our Federal Reserve, for example, to engage in
monetary policy to try to put people back to work.
But -- but the -- the truth is, is that we are the strongest economy among
the advanced economies right now. And the -- the main reason -- the main
way that we`re going to strengthen the economy and keep the momentum that
we`ve had over the last six years is to adopt the agenda that I`ve talked
Let`s rebuild our infrastructure all throughout this area. In this area of
Fairfax, they need a much improved transportation system. We could be
putting people back to work right now. We could be making sure that we are
expanding, you know, the kind of research and development around things
like precision medicine that the doctor talked about, so that individuals
are getting better health care. There`s huge growth in that area.
We know what to do, but part of the recipe for us succeeding and growing is
making sure that we write trade rules that benefit U.S. companies and U.S.
workers. And that`s exactly what this trade deal does.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: my exclusive one-on-one interview with the president,
as those U.S. Navy warships try to block Iran from delivering weapons to
war-torn Yemen. You will hear from the commander in chief himself.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Here now is my exclusive interview with President Obama.
MATTHEWS: Mr. President, we`re all watching what`s going on with the
How do we avoid -- it seems like the old Cuban Missile Crisis, where we`re
trying to send signals back and forth. What signal are you sending, as
commander in chief, to the Iranians?
OBAMA: Well, we`ve been actually very straightforward to them.
Right now, their ships are in international waters. There`s a reason why
we keep some of our ships in the Persian Gulf region. And that is to make
sure that we maintain freedom of navigation.
And what we`ve said to them is, is that if there are weapons delivered to
factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that`s a problem.
And we`re not sending them obscure messages. We send them very direct
messages about it.
My hope is generally that we can settle down the situation in Yemen.
That`s always been a fractious country with a lot of problems. It`s very
poor. And, right now, there are a lot of people inside Yemen suffering.
What we need to do is bring all the parties together and find a political
It is not solved by having another proxy war fought inside of Yemen. And,
you know, we have indicated to the Iranians that they need to be part of
the solution, not a part of the problem.
MATTHEWS: How do you keep a coordination with the Egyptians and the Saudi
navies? They also are in that area, and they might engage with the
Iranians. How do you avoid a confrontation there?
OBAMA: You know, ultimately, when it comes to the seas, we are obviously
the dominant force. And we`re coordinating closely with all of our allies
in the region, sending a message that, rather than another conflict in the
region, we need to settle this down.
MATTHEWS: What about the Iranians and the Russians? They just conducted
this -- they`re going to buy the S-300s. They`re going to use surface-to-
Doesn`t that put us in the situation and the Israelis in the situation
where, if they do go ahead and weaponize their nuclear program, they will
have a fantastic defense system against any attack on their nuclear
OBAMA: Well, you know, this is a sale that`s been pending for six years.
In fact, the Russians stopped it, at my request, as we were putting
OBAMA: -- the sanctions that ultimately brought the Iranians to the
You know, it`s of concern. We object to it, particularly because, right
now, we`re still negotiating to make sure that they don`t get a nuclear
weapon. But, as I said before, Chris, we have to keep this in perspective.
Our defense budget is just a little under $600 billion. Theirs is a little
over $17 billion.
Even if they`ve got some air defense systems, if we had to, we could
penetrate them. Now, my goal is not to resolve conflicts and tensions in
the region through more war. My goal is to make sure that we are able to
negotiate a deal that we can verify, that ensures that Israel is safe and
ensures that our -- neighbors like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries are
safe, and that there`s not a nuclear arms race in the region.
But, ultimately, it`s going to be up to the Iranians to make sure that they
-- that they come to the table prepared to memorialize what has already
been agreed to. There are details that have to be worked out. They could
walk away over these next three months. But if, in fact, we get a deal
that the world community can verify and trust, then that`s the best path
It`s not going to eliminate all the other conflicts that we may have with
OBAMA: -- including what we`re seeing with respect to Yemen or what`s
happening in Syria.
But what it does do is create a climate and an atmosphere in which
potentially we can start lessening some of the tensions.
MATTHEWS: Another area I know you care about -- I certainly do -- is
And on your feelings about watching those refugees, 950 people drowning,
just trying to find a life, and then also Kenya, a country we all care
about, a very moderate country, pro-Western, getting terrorized as college
kids, who are the hope of their families, getting killed because they`re
MATTHEWS: Are you going to still go to Kenya?
OBAMA: I am going to still go to Kenya.
Look, it`s a heartbreaking situation. There`s a lot of tumult and chaos
around the world right now. And part of our goal, as the world`s leading
superpower, is to work with partner countries to try to resolve conflicts,
to be ruthless in going after terrorism.
But we`re not going to do that by ourselves, and we`re not going to do it
just by deploying more Marines in every country that has these problems.
We`ve got to build up their capacity in these areas, so that they`re not
recruiting centers and safe havens for terrorist activity.
We`re seeing some success. In other areas, we`re still having problems.
Somalia is actually improving from where it was 20 years ago. But it`s
still not where it needs to be. And it still has these hotbeds of
terrorist activity that spill over into Kenya.
When it comes to the refugee problem from Libya, again, that results from
the fact that you have tribal conflicts and, in some cases, factions or
religious differences inside of Libya that are creating chaos.
But Libya actually has a lot of oil, has a lot of gas, a relatively small
population. They could be a successful country. So what we`re seeing in a
lot of these areas is failures of governance --
OBAMA: -- governments that have no civil society. They`re not creating
the kinds of economic policies that work for people.
And our solutions are going to be ones that we have to shape with the world
community, with the region. And some of it is going to take time.
But I always tell people we have to maintain some perspective on this. The
Middle East and North Africa are going through changes that we haven`t seen
in our generation. I think the Islamic world is going through a process
where they have to isolate and push out the kind of extremism that we`ve
seen expressed by ISIL.
And that`s a generational project. What our job is in the meantime is to
make sure that we are protecting Americans, we`re protecting our interests,
that we`re maintaining things like freedom of navigation, and that we`re
partnering with the best elements of those communities in order to be
It`s going to take some time. But I remind people that, you know, there
actually is probably less war and less violence around the world today than
there might have been 30, 40 years ago. It doesn`t make it any less
painful. But things can get better. We just have to be vigilant and we
have to have strong partners.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for your time.
OBAMA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
OBAMA: You bet.
MATTHEWS: When we return: reaction to what we heard from the president
And we will hear the other side of that trade fight that`s splitting
Democrats right now. Progressives are speaking out loudly against this
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the fiercest opponents of the proposed transpacific partnership trade
deal are usually President Obama`s natural allies, unions worried cheaper
wages abroad will further undercut their dwindling membership salaries here
at home, environmentalist and human rights advocates insists the deal
further opens U.S. markets to foreign companies that place profits over
worker safety and productivity over curbing pollution.
In my interview, the president called out Senator Elizabeth Warren for her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love Elizabeth. We`re
allies on a whole lot of issues, but she`s wrong on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me now from Capitol Hill is Michigan Senator Debbie
Stabenow, who has her own concerns about the deal.
Senator, I know you`re concerned about the currency manipulation here and
the president seemed to address that saying he`s going to moderating it and
they`re going to make sure that nobody is going to be manipulating currency
like the Chinese have done. Your thoughts on that?
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, Chris, first of all, the
language in fast track just isn`t strong enough and I should start by
saying we know we`re in a global economy. I want to make sure we`re
exporting products, not jobs.
And when you talk about currency manipulation, right now we`ve seen when
Japan was manipulating their currency that the Japanese auto companies
actually were making more profit by that artificial discount in their price
than they were on anything else. They sell to us, we can`t sell to them.
They`ve manipulated their currency. So we`re going to have to do fast
track authority on trade then we better have you have to enforcement to
make sure we can`t have countries manipulating their currency.
MATTHEWS: Are you one of the senators that the president was talking who
are just very pro-labor and anti-trade, because I notice your record is
pretty much you voted against the Columbia trade deal, you voted against
the central American deal, and you voted against the one in 2002. You do
have a track record of opposition.
So, is this just part of that, what you`re doing now?
STABENOW: Well, Chris, I have voted for trade agreements when they made
sense for people in Michigan, for businesses and workers.
MATTHEWS: Which ones?
STABENOW: -- and people in the country.
Korea -- and I`ll give a shout-out to the president. President Bush
negotiated a Korea trade agreement that was bad for manufacturing, the auto
companies. President Obama came in and fixed it. The UAW and the
automobile companies supported it, and I supported it as well.
So, there have been others. But frankly, we`re at a point in time where we
don`t need another race to the bottom on wages --
STABENOW: -- and environmental standards and so on. We need a race to the
top. You want to fast track something, fast track the middle class.
MATTHEWS: This has gotten rather ferocious. Senator Elizabeth Warren who
a lot of people respect, not just people on the left respect her a lot for
integrity, saying that this is basically going to help the rich get richer
and leave everybody else behind.
And then the president comes out today on our program tonight and says,
basically, look, don`t you trust me. I`ve been looking out for middle
class ever since I got to be president. Getting the jobless number down,
getting the economy back. Why would I be out hurting people who are
Who -- it seems like both believe what they`re doing. So, tell me what you
think of the president`s position. It`s at odds with you right now.
STABENOW: Well, Chris, I support this president. He has done more to get
us out of a hole and get us on the right kind of track in the economy than
any president I think maybe ever. I appreciate that he has enforced more
trade agreements than anyone else.
What I disagree in terms of the toughness of this fast track process.
Frankly, I`m never going to forget sitting in Greenville, Michigan, a
little town in west Michigan, when a company that makes refrigerators was
talking about moving -- moved to Mexico after NAFTA. We`re trying to get
them to stay and they finally said, senator, with all due respect, you
can`t compete with $1.57 an hour in wages.
Well, you know want, I don`t want to race down to that?
STABENOW: We want to race up and that`s what this is really about. It`s
not about trade. It`s about is it going to be a trade that increases the
middle class or loses the middle class?
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you, Senator Debbie Stabenow --
STABENOW: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: -- of Michigan. Please come back.
Let`s bring in the roundtable right now: former U.S. Congressman Harold
Ford, "Salon`s" Joan Walsh, and Heather McGee of Demos.
Congressman, let me ask you about this. This is a battle among people that
generally agree on most things. Democratic -- mostly progressives. I
mean, most of the progressives are against the president. What do you
think of this fight?
HAROLD FORD (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I hope the president prevails.
I think many of the concerns raised by my former colleagues, and Debbie and
I served in the Congress together, as well other progress are legitimate
Let`s try to address them quick. One, with regard to currency -- remember,
we engaged in extensive bond buying here in the U.S. in `09 to create
monetary easing to revive investment and spending and it did it. Now, you
have the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan doing the same thing
for their economies. Hopefully, we`ll stimulate spending there and give
people more power to buy things which we do export our goods there we`ll be
able to buy them.
Two, we talk about the labor concerns and environmental concerns. This is
the strongest labor and environmental concern package of protections that
we`ve seen in any trade agreement, to the president`s point he made
And three, when people talk about trade -- remember trade agreements and
trade are different. Some of the bad things have happened. Income
inequality have been exacerbated by a number of things, perhaps including
trade, globalization, technology, and I would argue flawed tax and
education systems in America have also contributed to it.
But most of these countries that we have a bad deal, we actually don`t have
a deal with. Trade agreements actually allow us to protect not only the
U.S. companies competing there but U.S. workers. Have they have been
I heard Trumka ask the question or Ed ask the question earlier. Will this
ensure that wages go down and jobs don`t leave? Of course you cannot
ensure that. But does this put the American companies and American worker
in a stronger and a better position? You bet it does. So, I hope it
MATTHEWS: So, you`re for it.
Let me go to Heather.
HEATHER MCGHEE, DEMOS: Well, I think I would love for there to be a little
more honesty about what this is really about. This massive deal is
actually not about trade. It`s about 14 things, and trade is the smallest
piece of it, right?
So, take something like the investors state provision which is what Senator
Warren has really said, this worries me because it allows multi-national
corporations and foreign companies to sue our government for the laws that
we pass. Well, those have been rising.
FORD: But this bill doesn`t allow for that.
MCGHEE: It does -- 150 in the past three years is a good example. Big ag
suing Mexico who is trying to address its obesity problem by taxing high
fructose corn syrup, right, and they won $100 million of taxpayer money
from Mexico. We don`t want that --
FORD: That concern is legitimate, but the text of the pact doesn`t allow
for that. It says that any trade provision -- any provision this trade
pact that contradicts U.S. law is not effective. It`s not -- it doesn`t go
So, I hear you, but I don`t know how it`s better for it to be written that
be the way it`s written in the pact that the president supports. That`s a
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: When I listen to you talk about it,
it sounds like a decent deal. But people who are reading it are saying
that language isn`t there yet. It`s not a done deal, and let`s also
separate the trade deal from the fast track provision because if it comes
back, the president said, you know, it`s not done, they will have three
months to read it -- great. They have three months to read it and they can
do nothing but vote it up or down. There can`t be any --
MATTHEWS: That`s been the case of the every trade deal ever done. It`s
WALSH: For the last several decades.
MATTHEWS: You can`t amend it to death.
MATTHEWS: Here`s my question about the Democratic Party. Democratic Party
wins when it`s a combination of all interest groups and something value
added, something bigger than that. With Bill Clinton, it was something
bigger than that.
When it devolves down to just interest groups, just its regional concerns,
its ethnic concerns, it dies and it loses. That`s my concern.
I think this president is trying to represent the whole country. By the
way, it`s hell of a debate. We`re going to continue it on this program.
The roundtable is staying with us.
When we come back, the other hot story the president talked about: Iran and
U.S. Navy`s efforts to block Iranian ships from delivering weapons to
Yemen. This could get hot.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow on HARDBALL, Senator Chuck Schumer is going to be with
us. The future leader of the Senate Democrats says he`s against the
transpacific partnership trade deal as it stands. He`ll be here tomorrow
to make his case.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back with our round table.
A dozen U.S. Navy ship are in the Arabian Sea monitoring nine Iranian ships
suspected of carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels inside Yemen.
As the president told me early today, the administration has put Iran on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What we have said to them is, is that if there are weapons
delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that`s a
problem. And we`re not sending them obscure messages. We sent them very
direct messages about it. My hope is generally that we can settle down the
situation in Yemen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman, this is hairy, and I just wonder what we`re going
to do here. We`re facing them down saying you can`t continue to carry that
material to Yemen.
FORD: You have to wonder what the Iranians are thinking as they hope that
the Congress will approve the framework that eventually gets worked out.
MATTHEWS: On the nuclear deal.
FORD: On the nuclear deal.
FORD: And if you`re the president, you have to worry deeply that this is
the only emboldens critics, Democrats, Republicans alike to approving the
deal, because in the middle of this deal, if the Iranians think the best
way to assure the American people and the U.S. Congress they need well is
perhaps send arms to people in Yemen whom we`re opposed to and want to
upset in that government, and --
MATTHEWS: And also to buy the state-of-the-art missile systems to shoot
Israel planes if they try to --
WALSH: As the president says, that`s been in the works for a long time.
This is a nuclear deal. This is a nuclear deal. It`s not an everything
On the other hand, I think there`s a lot of theater going here on both
side. They`ve got their hard liners. He`s got his hard liners. The ships
haven`t moved yet. I believe diplomacy will work in this situation, too.
FORD: I`m for an agreement, but I`m just saying --
WALSH: I know you are, I know you are.
FORD: -- this is not reassure Congress in any way --
MATTHEWS: You surprise me. Joan, you have taken an optimistic view of
geopolitics. I think it`s great. I love the way you talk.
Thank you, U.S. Congressman Harold Ford, Joan Walsh. We`ll be back to
battle the trade issue again and again. And Heather McGhee, thank you for
joining. You as well, you`re very aware on this issue more than I am.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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