Guests: Bernie Sanders, Steve Clemons, Ed Rendell, Ari Berman, Matt
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Americans are paying less in federal taxes than they did under President Bush. We‘re going to expose the Republican on taxes tonight. Senator Bernie Sanders regulates.
Down in Florida, new Tea Party Governor Rick Scott is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the sick and the poor, but it‘s hard to believe how harsh his proposals really are. Ed Rendell joins us to talk about the new crop of radical Republican governors.
And on Egypt, just as the protests break a new record, the Obama administration is backing off of calling for immediate reform. Disaster. I‘ll tell you what can actually turn this revolution around to finish it.
And Fox News, fear-mongering over Sharia law, spreads to the legal department. It‘s not just Beck spreading the misinformation. We enter their fact-free zone tonight.
On Thursday, the Republicans in the House are going to unveil their new round of spending cuts. They say they will cut over 15 percent of discretionary spending from the domestic budget, including the money needed to regulate the banks.
How convenient. Golly gee willikers. We ran out of money. We‘re going to regulate the banks.
They also want to cut money for food safety. Yes, who needs safe food?
All right. Now, why do we need these so-called—well, they‘re definitely drastic, but why do we need these so-called cuts? Because they just blew up our budget over these massive tax cuts.
Republicans are addicted to these tax cuts. Every time they run for office they promise more of them. And they love to tell you that the Democrats want to take more of your hard-earned money, even after President Obama signed an $800 billion tax cut deal.
Well, this weekend, the president unfortunately fed the Republican tax cut freak-out machine with this comment --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS: Do you deny that you‘re a man who wants to redistribute wealth?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely.
O‘REILLY: You deny that?
OBAMA: Absolutely. Bill, I didn‘t raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That, of course, revved up the right-wing blogosphere, and of course they immediately started calling President Obama a liar. They pointed to the 0.9 percent Medicare tax that people making over $200,000 will pay starting in 2013 -- they got him—and the tobacco tax Obama signed shortly after taking office as well. Wow!
And, of course, the infamous tanning tax. How will the republic survive all of these new taxes? Yes, Snooki and John Boehner will have to pay a bit more to maintain their orange glow.
But I don‘t think anyone really believes these are major tax hikes. Now, let‘s take a look at what is really going on with taxes. I love doing this show, because I get to give you the real facts.
For the third year in a row, Americans are paying less in federal taxes than they did under George W. Bush. Pause. Did you get that? You‘re paying less taxes under Obama than Bush.
Income tax payments this year will be almost 13 percent lower than in 2008. Corporate taxes will be down by a third. In fact, as a percentage of the economy, taxes are at their lowers level since—wait for it—
1950. I don‘t know if you know this, but that was 61 years ago. And taxes over the past couple of decades are nothing compared to what they were throughout most of the 20th century.
Today, the top marginal tax rate in America is 35 percent. Now, let‘s put that in some sort of historical perspective.
In 1944, the top tax rate was 94 percent, and it stayed at 91 percent or higher for a 13-year stretch from 1950 to 1963. Now, remember those are the years that a lot of people, including the conservatives, believe were the Golden Age of America. Now, even by the time Ronald Reagan was elected, the top tax rate was still at 70 percent.
Now, am I saying that I want taxes to be at 70 percent or 94 percent? No, I‘m not saying that. Look, it hurts me to pay taxes, too. It hurts everybody. Nobody likes to do it, but we need some sort of balance here.
We can‘t be at a 61-year low, and we also can‘t be at 94 percent. But they don‘t listen to reason. They‘re like, no, cut it, cut it!
We‘re at record lows. Should we stop cutting now? No, cut it!
OK. Come on. Balance the reason. Balance the reason.
That‘s what we try to explain on this show. It hasn‘t gotten through to the Republicans yet, but we‘re going to keep trying.
Joining me now is Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Senator Sanders, do you agree that our tax base is a little out of whack right now?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (II), VERMONT: Well, what I believe, that at a time when the wealthiest one percent earn more income that can the bottom 50 percent, when the middle classes is in steep decline, what we have seen in recent years are huge tax breaks that primarily benefited the very wealthiest people in this country.
Cenk, what you got today is somebody like Warren Buffett, one of the richest guys in the world, pointing out that his effective tax rate—that is, the real taxes that he actually pays—are lower than his secretary‘s. And, at fact, at 16 percent, is lower than many police officers or teachers or nurses.
So what we have seen are massive tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country helped drive up the deficit and the national debt. And then, what our Republicans friends are saying is, gee, we have this huge national debt. We‘re going to have to cut Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security and everything else. So I think that‘s totally absurd and hypocritical.
UYGUR: And right now we‘ve broken another record. We‘re back to the 1928 numbers right before the great crash, of course, for the top one percent owning about 24 percent of the nation‘s wealth.
UYGUR: And that is wildly disproportionate.
But now we get to the very important question. What can you do about it?
SANDERS: Well, there‘s a lot that we could do about it. For example, right now, according to a congressional study, we‘re losing about $100 billion a year in revenue because corporations and the wealthiest people in this country are putting their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, and other countries.
There‘s a picture that I‘ve seen we have on the Budget Committee of one building. It‘s a four-story building—I‘ll get it the next time I‘m on the show—a four-story building which “houses” 18,000 companies. Got that? And all that that means is that these companies are using that address as a way to establish residency in the country and not pay taxes to the United States.
Last year, ExxonMobil, which made $19 billion in profits, in 2009 paid zero federal income taxes. In fact, they got a $156 million rebate. General Electric paid nothing in taxes. Chevron paid nothing in taxes.
Bank of America paid nothing in taxes.
So if we are serious about dealing with our deficit crisis in a way that is fair, and not on the backs of the middle class or working people or low-income people, you‘ve got to end those loopholes. We‘ve got to ask the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes, we‘ve got to do away with corporate loopholes.
UYGUR: But Senator Sanders, when you go to fix those loopholes, when you go to say hey, wait a minute, you can‘t go to the Cayman Islands and get all these tax breaks, et cetera, who stops you?
SANDERS: Oh, you‘re going to have virtually every Republican on line.
And here‘s what it‘s about, Cenk.
After everything is said and done, the bottom line is that what these guys are about is representing the wealthiest people in this country. I mean, they want to repeal—I mean, I want people to hear this. They want to repeal the estate tax which would provide over a 10-year period $1 trillion in tax breaks to the top .3 of one percent.
You got that? Top .3 of one percent. The very, very, very wealthy.
And then they have the nerve—our Republican friends have the nerve to come back and say, oh, we are really worried about the deficit and the national debt. That‘s total hypocrisy. These guys are working night and day to benefit large corporations and the wealthiest people in this country, and we‘ve got to rally the American people to say enough is enough.
UYGUR: But Senator Sanders, they put you guys in a rhetorical hole, right? Because every time they come into office, they lower taxes, whether it‘s the corporate taxes, whatever it might be, taxes on the top one percent. And then when you come in office and you say, well, I‘ve got to fix this, our budget is a mess, they say, ah-ha, Democrats are raising your taxes! So how do you get out of that conundrum?
SANDERS: Well, I‘ll tell you how we get out of it, Cenk. I mean, this has to do a lot with media.
I mean, I think you portrayed the scenario correctly. But we have to understand that asking the wealthiest people in this country—in a recent 25-year period, 80 percent of all new income went to the top one percent. To say to the people on top who are doing fantastically well, these Wall Street CEOs, et cetera, that they have got to pay their fair share of taxes, we have got to understand that taxes millionaires and billionaires is very different than taxing the middle class and working families.
With the middle class in decline, I support tax breaks for working families. But to say that we continue to give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country whose incomes are soaring, I think that that is absolutely absurd because it drives up the deficit, asks our kids to pay that deficit off, or cuts back on desperately needed programs for the middle class and working families..
UYGUR: All right. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SANDERS: Good to be with you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, next, Governor Rick Scott of Florida wants to gut programs for the homeless and leave sick people to fend for themselves. Tonight, I‘ll introduce you to the convicted felon governor who now wants to rob the poor.
Just when we thought the protests in Egypt were dying down, a quarter of a million people show up in Tahrir Square. I have the answer to how they can finish the revolution. That‘s next.
UYGUR: The Egyptian protests are back. It keeps going back and forth.
First, I thought Mubarak was out when the military stepped in and removed the pro-Mubarak forces. And I remember I tweeted it out. I was like, “Oh, my God! I think he‘s going! He‘s going!”
And then Mubarak bunkered down. He said, I‘m in the palace, I‘m not going anywhere, I‘m going to stay here for seven months. And it looked like he was going to wait them out.
And this morning, I was like, I don‘t know, I think maybe Mubarak‘s going win out here. And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere today, Wael Ghonim!
He‘s the guy who put together a Facebook page that got over 400,000 people interested in these protests. He was basically kidnapped by the Egyptian police, held blindfolded for 12 straight days. He comes out of jail, gives an incredible, inspiring speech, and the place goes nuts.
Today, Egyptians loudly rejected the government‘s approach to change. The BBC reporting the largest protests yet in Egypt. The Associated Press reports a quarter of a million people in Tahrir Square today.
Egypt‘s vice president warned that the protests cannot be allowed to continue for a long time. Otherwise, he would lose his job and be tossed out on his ass.
Now, meanwhile, the “L.A. Times” reports that the Obama administration is, of course, backing off of calling for immediate reform in Egypt. Shwang-wang-wang.
I mean, come on, man! Just when the protesters get warmed up, the Obama administration comes in and says, no, no, no. No immediate reform. And they even warned on Monday that a precipitous exit by Mubarak could set back the democratic transition.
Now, you tell me how that makes any sense. We can‘t have the dictator leave because then we would set democracy back? That doesn‘t make no kind of sense.
That‘s the administration saying, hey, you know what? It looks like he‘s going to survive. We‘re going to throw in our lot with the dictator we‘ve been going with all this time.
Look, right now we‘re at a point—we‘re at a half a revolution. And you see the swings going back and forth.
So, the question is, what can make the difference? I‘ve got the answer for you. It‘s called money.
Look, the difference between the trade embargo that we hit South Africa with during apartheid, and the difference between Iraq when we hit them with sanctions, when Saddam Hussein was still in charge, is that there were different sets of people that it was affecting. When you did it in Iraq and it was just Saddam Hussein, he was like, yes, whatever, who cares? Right?
When you did it in South Africa, there was a ruling class that was wider. And they said, well, I don‘t like losing money. And when they got unhappy about losing money, they told the apartheid government, you better step, get, get, and we got reform.
Now, in Egypt, the ruling classes is the upper class of the military, the political class, and the business establishment. Those are the guys we have to influence. And what is the demand of this ruling class in Egypt?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE BIG LEBOWSKI”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want the money, Lebowski.
(END VIDEO CLIP, “THE BIG LEBOWSKI”)
UYGUR: That about sums it up.
And Mubarak has been able to deliver the money to them better than the other guys have. And how did he do that? It‘s because Mubarak is rumored to have $40 billion to $70 billion.
Do you know how many private jets he has? He has a fleet of nine Gulfstream jets worth over $110 million. And you know who paid for that? The United States government paid for it.
In other words, U.S. taxpayers paid not just for seven or eight. That would have never done. Nine private jets.
And how did we do it? Partly through the $28 billion in aid that we‘ve given to Egypt since 1975. But that‘s also a good thing.
Now, how is that a good thing, that we‘re following all this money? Because through that money, we have influence. If we wanted to, we say to those military leaders that are critical, hey, I could give you the $1.3 billion a year that I give to the Egyptian army every year, or maybe I don‘t give it to you.
Look, unless we cut that money off, we‘re playing pat-a-cakes. OK?
They‘re not going to listen to reason. They‘re not going to be like, oh, that‘s a swell argument, Vice President Biden. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I had not thought of that.
No, they want the money. Look, this is what the Egyptian army will say this no matter what—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE BIG LEBOWSKI”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don‘t care. We still want the money, Lebowski.
(END VIDEO CLIP, “THE BIG LEBOWSKI”)
UYGUR: Now we‘re having fun.
Look, that‘s where the rubber hits the road. And so we can help by starting to cut off that money to the Egyptian army to create real pressure on them. But the protesters can also help.
You know, it‘s not just going in the streets. I‘ve got to be honest with you, if they went into the banks, they went into the businesses, they went into the stock market, peacefully, and they just sound down and said, look, we‘re not going to let you continue to make money off this tyranny, off this dictatorship, it could make all the difference. If you don‘t hit them where it hurts, their pocketbook, you‘re never going to get people entrenched in power to agree to change.
All right. Now with me is Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program and the New America Foundation.
Steve, is it all about the money, Lebowski?
STEVEN CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think a lot of it is about the money. But I think the other problem—I mean, it would be very interesting to see you running the White House sometime and see how this would work.
UYGUR: I agree.
CLEMONS: Part of the problem is it‘s very hard to know who you‘re going to cut off. To a certain degree, we‘ve been saying we want the army to protect the people, to be a neutral arbiter and do something. If you cut off their money, they‘re not going to be quite as willing to do that.
The real problem I see is you‘ve cut off the money to Mubarak and his franchise, and I think you send a very powerful signal. But as you just said, he‘s sitting on $70 billion and something like 30 homes, very nice homes around the world, including several in the United States, on here in Washington, D.C.
So part of the problem is those that have already have a lot, and so certainly cutting off money is a very big part of the deal, and it creates a pressure point. I just think it‘s a blunt instrument and that we‘ve got other problems in the Egyptian franchise right now that aren‘t easily solved by that. So I don‘t mean to throw cold water on your idea, but I sense there‘s some problems.
UYGUR: All right. Well, I‘m going to go back at you then. OK?
CLEMONS: All right. Go ahead.
UYGUR: So, first of all, I get it, you‘re never going to move Mubarak, the same as Saddam Hussein before we invaded. Right? You can do all the sanctions in the world. That isn‘t going to hurt his pocketbook. He‘s fine. Right?
UYGUR: But we‘re trying to reach that ruling class. Maybe perhaps we can affect their pocketbook. When they get unhappy, then they say to Mubarak, hey, listen, big guy, it‘s been nice knowing you. Right?
So who is that ruling classes? Let‘s talk about that first.
CLEMONS: That ruling class is a very big ruling class. And frankly, the $1.3 billion going on is small change in a country like Egypt, with a large population, 80 million people, very large, $2,000-a-person GDP. But at the upper end you‘ve got ultra-wealth.
And those ultra-wealthy establishment, what I‘ve been calling the establishment this last week on MSNBC, has been waiting for evidence that the Mubarak franchise is really out of business. And it‘s not getting that signal.
And so they‘re hedging their bets. So, the bets, if you do want to squeeze them, then international isolation, or some form of sanctions, things that basically do damage, if you will, or put pressure on the systemic economic environment that they feed off of.
Unfortunately, that may also hurt a lot of poor people, of which, you know, half of the population in Egypt are under World Bank poverty standards. So, at that level, you want to find a way to get at those folks that have a lot. And I think when they see that, you know, that their world is crumbling there, then you may have them, you know, come back our way and move away from the—I guess the Mubarak and the National Democratic Party.
UYGUR: Steve, now, see, I think we‘re getting somewhere now, because, look, when you talk about that ruling class, you‘ve got to hit them in the pocketbook. Look, there‘s some things that we can do.
You know, $1.3 billion isn‘t chump change, I see what you‘re saying.
It‘s not like that changes the whole equation.
UYGUR: Sanctions could do a lot more, but we‘re not doing any of that. Right?
And what the protesters could do is, you go sit in one of those rich guy‘s factories for a week and don‘t let him run that factory. All of a sudden, he‘s not going to be too happy about that, and all of a sudden he‘s going to be motivated to say, I‘ve got to change this one way or another.
So, one, am I right about that?
CLEMONS: I think that anything that the protesters can do, as you just said, to go into one of these establishments and to get the establishment in Egypt to recognize that their future has to be embedded with those that are calling for political change in Egypt, that would be vital and very important.
And I think that, frankly, I disagree with Frank Wisner, who said that Mubarak should stay. Mubarak has to go, or Mubarak has to be so neutralized and put in a box, that there‘s no fear there.
I was just talking to a senior White House officials about these negotiations, because there is concern in the White House that they don‘t want Suleiman and the other appointees of Mubarak to get too comfortable and to think that they‘re just doling out favors to these people that come in from the opposition. They said this is not a dinner to which others were being invited. This is more like a potluck, where everybody has a share of the action and have it.
But the problem is I haven‘t seen the evidence that the establishment in Egypt has really gotten the fact that it‘s going to be a potluck, as opposed to a dinner that they control.
UYGUR: But Steve, I haven‘t gotten the message that the establishment in Washington, D.C., sees that we need to take action, because now Obama is saying, oh, no, I‘m going to back off here, and I‘m going to say Mubarak can stay. We haven‘t done anything to cut their funding. We haven‘t done anything in terms of sanctions.
It looks like we‘re on the side of Mubarak and the dictator. Doesn‘t it?
CLEMONS: Well, no. I mean, I know that the White House doesn‘t see it that way. I think they see themselves as trying to put pressure and to keep every day moving along.
But, you know, on the money side—
UYGUR: I mean, they don‘t see it that way, but let‘s look at the facts. I don‘t care how they see it.
UYGUR: The reality is they haven‘t done any of that.
CLEMONS: Well, look, I wrote a blog post today on “The Washington Note” where I said this is looking more like regime adjustment, not regime change. And that‘s what the people in the streets want, is very clear, definitive break with the past. And thus far, they‘re not getting it. And I think—I worry that the White House is gong to be blamed in the end if we don‘t get real change, because we have made bets that were with the wrong equation.
I don‘t think things are lost yet. And these kinds of transitions really take a long time. They don‘t happen overnight, they can be unpredictable.
I think the White House is committed to keeping Suleiman off his balance just enough to keep things going, but I don‘t know if it‘s manageable in that kind of way. And I think U.S. influence, unfortunately, even despite this great segment, and even with the money, I think American influence is minor given the other storms there.
As you saw what happened in Tahrir Square today, those people got up, went back into that square, and said we‘re not satisfied. That‘s not because they‘re looking one way or the other at what the United States is doing. They‘re not accepting the deal.
And I think that‘s the most important weight on the establishment. And what the establishment, those people with money and want to benefit an Egypt in the future, have to look at the fact they can‘t continue to toss their lot in with the Mubaraks.
UYGUR: All right. I agree with you, and I love that they didn‘t stop. So all the power to them to push for real democracy.
Steve Clemons, thanks for joining us. Really appreciate it.
CLEMONS: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now it‘s desperation time for Republicans.
They‘re saying it‘s time to go back to a Bush for 2012.
Oh, come on! Are you serious?
And Bristol Palin is following in her mom‘s footsteps. Oh, no! Not again! Her big announcement, next.
UYGUR: Now we bring you another edition of “Red States Gone Wild.”
This time from Alabama, at a Republican Party breakfast yesterday, State Senator Scott Beason urged his party to take action on illegal immigration, saying they had to “empty the clip and do what has to be done.”
Beason said that the quote was taken out of context. In which context does that quote make any sense?
Well, he said in the moment, it made “perfect sense.” All right.
Apparently, it was all part of a joke about how you can tell the political beliefs of a liberal, a conservative, and an armed southerner when they‘re confronted by a mugger in New York City. Yes, that makes it better. Shoot the mugger and kill him, not shoot the immigrant, even though he was standing in the middle of an immigrant conversation and somebody got confused.
Oh, the violent analogies. You know? It‘s tough to keep them straight.
Now, conservative leaders have a new 2012 crusade—drafting Jeb Bush. Good luck.
“The National Review” has put J.B. on its cover. And “NRO” writer Rich Lowry has a new conventional wisdom-making piece, laying out at least eight reasons that George Bush‘s little brother should run in 2012. I can have fun with this all day long, but I just highlight number four, quote, “the Bush rehabilitation has begun.” Really? When did that happen? I must have missed it entirely. But don‘t get me wrong. I love it, man. I told you I‘m bored you drafting Jeb. If it‘s my dream, 2012 tickets for the Republicans.
Jeb Bush and Liz Cheney, Bush Cheney. It has a certain ring to it. I think I remember that from somewhere. But look, if you‘re a conservative, you might want to think twice before taking Larry‘s political advice. Remember how what worked out for him in 2008? This is what he said then, quote, “I‘m sure I‘m not the only male in America, who with Palin dropped her first wink sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, hey, I think she just winked at me.” By the way, this is the creepiest thing I ever read. All right. And he continued, “and her smile, it was so sparkling, it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts around through the screen and ricocheted around the living rooms of America.”
And then it ricocheted at the ballot box, too. Sending independent voters straight to the Obama-Biden column. So, nicely done, Lowry. Now, Sean Hannity has attacked the White House Super Bowl menu but it had it coming, claiming it‘s incompatible with Mrs. Obama‘s pushing American children to eat healthier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: She wants Wal-Mart to lower the price of fruits and vegetables and reduce fats, and sugars, et cetera. She‘s lecturing schools on smaller portions, healthy offerings, like carrots and apple slices, no French fries or soda. Let‘s go to the list of what they had, let‘s say, bratwursts, kielbasa, cheeseburgers, deep-dish pizza, German potato salad. Twice not once, twice-baked potatoes, Snyder‘s potato chips and pretzels chips and dips, multiple dips.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Aha. The Obamas ate the wrong food! In fact, the Obamas hate food freedom. They want to force-feed Americans arugula while gorging on deep-dish pizza and twice-baked potatoes. But here‘s my question, which one is it? Are they guilty eating of broccoli or Buffalo wings? Or are they guilty no matter what they eat? Hannity then threw it to his great American panel, which by the way, is the goofiest name for a panel in the history of television. Even “South Park” couldn‘t have come up with a name more over the top. Now, to the credit of the panel, they totally called Hannity out on this, and that‘s when he lost it on team America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If she had had arugula and goat cheese, you would just have been having a field day sort to speak.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think she‘s right. I think she‘s right. Let‘s say she had gone to Obama, her husband and said, we‘re going to have a healthy Super Bowl, he would have said not on your life, I will be crucified by Sean Hannity. We need to have kielbasa, we need to have burgers. And by the way, that is actually really healthy food. What they had in the White House is healthier because.
HANNITY: It‘s not healthy food.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, it is. Because you‘re happier when you eat it.
HANNITY: Oh, OK. It‘s good for your emotional.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Happiness makes you healthy.
HANNITY: So, if I eat and I big weigh 600 pounds, it makes me happy and then I‘m going to get sick and die of a heart attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Die of a heart attack is very conservative. So, Hannity thinks foods that are high in fat and sodium are not healthy. So, is he against Americas children ballooning to 600 pounds as he said there, dying from heart attacks? Because if he is, then he‘s on the same side as Mrs. Obama.
This is clown of the earth, man. He also once criticized Barack Obama for eating—having mustard on his hamburger. Come on, man. Find real criticism. There‘s got to be something out there. Stop talking about what they‘re eating.
All right. Florida‘s new Tea Party governor is going to the extreme. He‘s trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the quote, “catastrophically sick.” What a sweetheart. Former governor and NBC News Political Analyst Ed Rendell on the new crop of republican governors going to the extreme. That‘s next.
UYGUR: Florida‘s new tea party governor has put out his radical new budget, he unveiled in a mega church, packed with whooping and hollering Tea Party activists, the whole thing was like a campaign event complete with thank use for the Tea Partiers for getting him elected. So much for being governor of everyone. The headline of Scott‘s budget is that he wants to cut corporate taxes. I mean, really cut them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT ®, FLORIDA: We‘ll reduce the business taxes from 5.5 percent to three percent. Completely.
.and we will completely phase it out by 2018.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Corporate taxes in the zero. Now, it‘s worth pointing out there when corporations get tax breaks, someone has to pick up the slack, so it‘s the regular taxpayers who pick up the tab. Honestly, the Republicans have put together a bit of a brilliant strategy. They push to cut corporate taxes, cutting corporate taxes, and then, to push more of a tax burden on regular citizens, then those—get mad about taxes, and conservatives who then cut corporate taxes, and around and around we go. This is the republican 101 strategy. You say one thing, but you mean the exact opposite.
For example, Rick Scott is calling his budget, quote, “a jobs budget,” except that his budget actually cuts 13,000 jobs over two years. But it‘s cool, because Scott‘s promising 700,000 jobs, and a pony for everyone. Sometime in the future, after those wonderful no corporate taxes trickle down to all of you. Rick Scott says the Florida legislature needs to pass his radical budget, quote, “for the kids,” except that his budget cuts 10 percent from per-student spending. The budget also trims to that in public safety. It cuts $82 billion from the state‘s prison system. That‘s sounds disastrous.
But the real people who are paying are the very poor. Scott wants to take $3 billion from Medicaid over the next two years. And reduce the, quote, “medically needy program serving the catastrophically sick as the Miami herald put it.” But taking from the catastrophically sick isn‘t even the worst disgust to it. The governor also wants to gut the state‘s homelessness assistance office, and with the December 21st observance of homeless person‘s Memorial Day. Look, that‘s just gratuitous, man. There can‘t be any clearer example of the hatred of the poor that the Tea Partiers people feel. Populist. These guys pretend to be populist?
This crowd hates the poor so much, that not only do they want to cut help from the homeless, they don‘t even want to recognize they exist. Well, I was going to ask you this very simple set of questions. What do you think happens when you shut down the homelessness assistance office? Do all the homeless people pack up and move to another state or another country? What do you think happens when you cut jails? Do criminals just commit fewer crimes?
What happens when someone who is catastrophically sick is butted from the rules of the catastrophically sick? Do they get better? No, all these problems then come back to haunt you in much worse ways. The homeless fall into the streets. So do the criminals, so do the sick. Is this the republican version for our future? Ironically they‘re the ones obsessed with redistribution of wealth, right up to the top. Now, take a look at this. This is Florida‘s tax rate, one of the most regressive in the country. You‘re not seeing it wrong. The poorest people pay the most, almost 14 percent. The richest people pay the least, about two percent. I‘m sure the chart in Somalia looks it very similar. Look, this lord of the flies type of barbarism where you rob the poor to pay the rich has to have a limit, and if it does, we‘re apparently going to find that limit in Florida.
Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, he‘s now an NBC News political analyst. So is there a limit? I mean, if he does this, do the voters of Florida at some point wake up and go, my God, what have we done?
FORMER GOV. ED RENDELL, PENNSYLVANIA: Sure. You know, the interesting thing about cutting the budget as the answer to all problems, the interesting thing is when you poll it, people are all in favor of reducing government spending, but then when you get specific, all of a sudden, it isn‘t so hot anymore. You know, people are specifically against cuts to this, cuts to that. We had a demonstration for education when I was governor, trying to increase education spending in the midst of the recession, and a woman had a poster, and it said, I didn‘t know cutting the budget meant firing my child‘s teacher. And when it gets personal, when it‘s an older person you know, when it‘s a criminal who‘s committed a crime against your family that gets released from prison, those things stir people up.
When the income gap—the people of this country have been very, very passive about the widening of the gap in income, but eventually we‘re going to reach the breaking point. And I think it‘s not just Florida and other states when we‘re trying to balance budgets on the backs of people who really have legitimate needs. And by the way, it‘s not just the poor anymore. Cenk, do you know, I‘ll just asking a rhetorical question. How many Pennsylvanians out of the 12.5 million get food stamps?
UYGUR: That‘s an excellent question. I think I might have actually once known the answer, but go ahead. Well, how much is it?
RENDELL: It‘s 1.2 million. So, one out of 12 Pennsylvanians get food stamps. Ten years ago, people would have said food stamps are just for the very, very poor. It isn‘t t anymore. These programs affect and help everybody. Cut programs for autism, and you‘re cutting into the heart of middle-class families trying desperately to pay for the services their kids need. So, this is not just an assault against the poor. It‘s really going to be an assault against virtually everyone in society. And there has to come a point where it breaks the tolerance of the public.
And look, understand that governors, both republican and Democrats alike, you know, in ‘08, ‘09 and 2010, we all made different cuts. I cut $3.5 billion out of the Pennsylvania budget. I closed down 116 out of 780 budget lines, meaning those programs were closed down. So a lot of the cuts have already been made. If there are more cuts, and there have to be more cuts, but if they‘re reckless cuts, it‘s going to create an incredible social imbalance, and I think it‘s going to create real unrest.
UYGUR: And it‘s not just in Florida. It‘s all throughout the country, Scott Walker next is another republican governor, this is what he said when we were talking about public employees. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and the taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: This is another line of attacks. They see federal employees, unions, Chris Christie is doing it in New Jersey, Scott Walker, all across, and all I know, it‘s not that we cut the corporate taxes, it‘s not we cut the taxes for the rich. It‘s the unions and the laborers and the workers that are the problems.
RENDELL: Well, first of all this idea of demonizing government workers is silly. Government workers do not by and large, they don‘t get rich salary. They get average salaries. The benefits package is a little better, and there has to be changes for the better to make them more realistic. I a democratic governor, a proud progressive, I came in and made our employees contribute to their health care costs for the first time, but that‘s because every citizen does. And changes have to be made and should be made, but this idea that there are government employees living off the fat of the land making super salaries? That‘s crazy.
And by the way, you can cut government employees left and right, and it‘s not going to solve the depth of the budget problems we have. So we should stop scapegoating teachers. You can be mad at teachers unions, you can be mad at—state unions. I‘m not sure that‘s fair, but don‘t be mad at the individuals. They‘re hard-working people, just like people who work in the private sector. And they have families and children to support, and they take care of their parents, just like people in the private sector.
UYGUR: All right. Governor Ed Rendell, thank you so much for your time tonight.
RENDELL: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, the democratic leadership council helped Bill Clinton win the White House in 1992, but now it‘s dead. So, where is the soul of the Democratic Party today? Have the libs won? Well, we‘ll going to debate that ahead.
UYGUR: Wondering what to do now that Sarah Palin‘s Alaska has been canceled? Are you afraid about how you‘ll get your fix of America‘s most visible frontiers, outdoors, media pushy family? Don‘t worry, hope is on the way. Bristol Palin is writing a memoir, according to the Hollywood reporter for $17 and 50 cents, all the wisdom for Bristol‘s 20 years of life can be yours. That includes her experience as the daughter of Sarah Palin and Todd Palin, a teenage pregnancy, and on again/off again romance with baby daddy Levi Johnston and a stint on “Dancing with the Stars” and her time as an abstinence advocate after it was too late.
The memoir is 304 pages long and goes on sale in June, 304 pages? Has she even lived 304 weeks yet? What the hell she‘s going to fill it with? Oh my God, and today Suzy said, Bobby took my pen, and I really didn‘t like that. Oh, I‘m on page seven. By the way, my son who is 6-months-old will soon be coming out with a memoir. Now, that everybody is doing it. We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: One of the Democratic Party‘s most powerful forces over the past 25 years is about to shut down their operations. The democratic leadership council was formed in the wake of Walter Mondale‘s resounding defeat in 1984. His goal was to move the party towards the so-called center, curry favor with corporations and to win elections. And honestly, it achieved that goal when one of its former chairmen, Bill Clinton, won the presidency. But now the group is going out of business. Why?
Because I think their victory was so overwhelming the DLC basically became the DNC. That was fun. OK. And how did that happen? Well, I think the corporations basically took over the Democratic Party, not every person who‘s a democrat of course but a lot of the leadership, so then they didn‘t need the DLC anymore. The victory was complete. That‘s my opinion. Now let‘s get two others.
With me now is Ari Berman, contributing writer for “The Nation” and author of “Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics.” And Matt Bennett, vice president for public affairs for a Third Way. My sense is you guys are going to disagree, so we‘re going to have some fun. Now, Ari, did the DLC and now third way brings important strength and values to the Democratic Party?
ARI BERMAN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, “THE NATION”: Well, I‘m sure that Matt will argue that they did. I think they had a good run in the 1990s when Bill Clinton associated himself with the new democratic movement and pushed their agenda of balance budgets and free trade. And I reached to the business community. It didn‘t work so well in the Bush administration when a lot of DLC leaders for example, people like Joe Lieberman, people like Evan Bayh supported the Bush administration in terms of the war in Iraq and other policies, and a lot of Democrats wanted a different approach and more confrontational thought to the Bush administration, and they rallied around new leaders like Howard Dean, new groups like moveon.org, the Obama campaign came along, and brought a lot of grassroots energy, a lot of new blood in the Democratic Party, and the DLC did not have as much of a role as it had to play in years past.
UYGUR: Matt, the DLC was closely connected to the Clintons. William Daley is from the Third Way and now a few steps for the Obama. Are you guys basically the DLC of the Obama crowd?
MATT BENNETT, THIRD WAY: Well, I wouldn‘t put it that way. They were formed in the ‘80s, as you said in the set-up in a very different time in American politics. We were formed, we were launched in the middle of the period Ari just discussed where it was 2005, there was tremendous anger over the Bush administration. We took a very different course the DLC did when they were launch. But the basic kind of principles that were fighting for, they‘re pretty similar. And we are proud to be the inheritors of their broad legacy.
UYGUR: So, Matt, let‘s talk about that, you know, as I said in the intro, there are basically the corporate folks in the Democratic Party on one. Am I being unfair?
BENNETT: Yes, that‘s being unfair. I think it‘s being ridiculous. We‘re called that all the time by the folks on the kind of internet left, and that is a charge that gets leveled a lot, but it‘s just not true, and it‘s not fair, the bottom line is we believe, like President Obama believes that we need to have private sector economic growth in this country. We thought that the State of the Union hit exactly the right notes and we‘re very pleased with the direction he‘s taken his presidency. And the leadership of the country, that isn‘t corporatist. That‘s simply about growing the economic pie that will benefit the middle class.
UYGUR: Now representing the internet left Ari Berman.
BERMAN: Well, in terms of Third Way and the DLC formally has a constituency on Capitol Hill, but the question is, who speaks for all those rank-and-file activists outside of Washington, all those people that worked so hard for Barack Obama in 2008, that need to be brought back into the fold in 2012. And I don‘t really think that‘s the DLC‘s job and it‘s not really Third Way‘s job. And the Obama administration while it moves to the quote, unquote, “center,” has to remember all those people that worked so hard to get him elected. And if it just leverage is one community over the others, it‘s going to have a hard time not only governing, they‘ve been also getting re-elected in 2012.
UYGUR: All right. Matt, look, just real quick here. When the Clinton folks moved to the center, I thought it was the actual center. Well, I think a lot of people agree with that, balancing budgets, I agreed with that, but now when Obama moves to the right, it seemed that we were already massively right, weren‘t we? I mean, you already think that‘s the center of the country, giving away an $800 billion tax break?
BENNETT: Well, no, look, there‘s a difference between negotiating for what you want and fighting for the things that are on your agenda. Obama made clear, and we strongly agreed that the tax break for the rich was not something he wanted to do. It was a bad idea. All three of us can agree on that and the president does, too. He did it because he needed to get tax breaks done for the middle class. And need to do a bunch of other things on his agenda that he wanted to move through the lame-duck Congress. And at the end of the day, we thought that was a good thing to do. But there‘s a very big difference between fighting for things on your agenda and cutting deals where you have to. And I think that falls in the latter category.
UYGUR: All right. We‘ll going to leave the last we‘re with Matt. Thank you guys, Ari Berman, Matt Bennett, great pleasure having you both on.
And when we come back, more FOX News nonsense, fun for everybody.
UYGUR: Well, the fair and balanced network is at it again. Yesterday morning, FOX and Friends turned to one of their legal analyst‘s Peter Johnson Jr. for some in-depth analysis for the future of Egypt‘s government. This guy is awesome. Because he didn‘t even bother to look up the actual laws of Egypt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER JOHNSON JR., FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: And we have to understand, to begin with Sharia Law is the law in Egypt. It‘s the basis for all law. They have some other types of law mixed in Napoleonic code and other things, but that‘s the basis of all law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Sharia Law is the basis of all law in Egypt? Not even remotely true. I love that they call this guy a legal analyst. The Egyptian judicial system is based mostly on French legal concepts and methods. Judges are familiar with civil law system and the principles review process. And judicial reviews are inherently cherished and respected. Also, Egypt‘s penal laws are entirely western not religious oriented rules. Family courts in Egypt can apply Sharia law, which is really just religious law in family matters. But here‘s a fun twist, Coptic Egyptians who are Christians can apply Christian law in their family courts. Wow! Egypt run by Christian law according to the five standards, I didn‘t know that. And by the way, they might love that over there. Unfortunately, that wasn‘t just the only straight-up law of the day. Next is Scholarly Research concluded that Islam and democracy aren‘t compatible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Scholarly Research on this issue over the year is democracy and Islam, are they compatible, and most scholars on the subject have said that they‘re not compatible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Well, I know one person that definitely does not agree with the FOX legal analyst that Islam is incompatible with democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the debates really centers around the fact that people don‘t believe Iraq can be free. That if you‘re Muslim or perhaps brown-skinned, you can‘t be self governing or free, I‘d strongly disagree with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. I couldn‘t have said it any better myself.
“HARDBALL” starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Transcription Copyright 2011 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of