Guests: Ed Rendell, Adam Green, Kerry Kittel, Robert Reich, Anna Kasparian
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Welcome to tell the show, everybody. We‘ve got an excellent program ahead for you guys.
Now, just minutes ago, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker officially rolled out his union-busting, aid-slashing budget. He started out with a valiant effort to pretend that the massive divisions of the past two weeks are just a friendly disagreement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: Each and every one of us gathered in chamber today holds a diverse set of beliefs, beliefs that we are passionate about sharing and that serve to guide our actions. We all want Wisconsin to be the very best it can be, yet because our experiences are unique, and our beliefs diverse, our paths sometimes diverge as we tackle today‘s challenges. But even at the height of our differences, we can and must keep our promise to the people of Wisconsin that they will always come first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Of course what he means is that he‘s going to keep his promise to the people of Wisconsin, except for the public employees, and, by the way, except for a lot of others, as we‘re going to show you in a poll in a minute.
And by the way, here‘s what he‘s going to do to the public employees -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Our state cannot grow if our people are weighed down paying for a larger and larger government, a government that paying its worker unsustainable benefits that are out of line with the private sector.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Out of line with the private sector, Scott Walker says. And he‘s not alone in his attack on the middle class.
The whole GOP wants to get in on the fun. They‘re on a warpath against working Americans.
House Speaker John Boehner lashed out at public employees as usual in a recent interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: In some of these states you have got collective bargaining laws that are so weighted in favorite of the public employees, that there‘s almost no bargaining. You know? We‘ve given them a machinegun and put it right at the heads of the local officials, and they really have had their hands tied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: A machinegun analogy. Really? You went there?
And by the way, do you remember what happened when the bankers needed money? We have to give it to them right way, or as my dad would say, right away. Otherwise, the whole world was going to blow up.
The teachers want to just keep the salary they have. In fact, they‘ve agreed to eight percent in pay cuts. They‘ve got a machinegun. That‘s what they‘ve gone.
And he makes it sound like taking away bargaining right is the only solution to budget woes, which is of course not true. And we‘ll give you a much better solution a little later in the show. But don‘t believe any of that hype that it‘s the only answer, is to always hit the middle class.
But Boehner wasn‘t done yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: I think what you see in these states is they‘re trying to bring some balance to these negotiations. That, and when you look at the pay of public employees today, and you look at their retirement benefits, they are way out of line with the many other working Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Also simply not true. We just told you yesterday in 2008, state workers earned 11 percent less—say it with me, John—less than private workers, who had a comparable level of education. And local government workers earned 12 percent less than their private counterparts.
Now, John Boehner and the Republicans think that if they push their false talking points enough, people will believe them. But it turns out—are you ready for this? -- that American people aren‘t buying it, and clearly so.
A new poll shows 56 percent of people oppose cutting public employee pay or benefits, and only 37 percent are in favor of it. Do you understand that? That is a huge margin. They don‘t want to cut public employees‘ pay. How clear do they have to make it to you?
And when it comes to collective bargaining rights, the numbers are
even more stacked against Walker and Boehner. Sixty percent of people
oppose collecting bargaining rights and just 33 percent are in favor of it
are opposed to, of course, getting rid of collective bargaining rights.
That‘s nearly a 2-1 advantage.
Read their lips. Don‘t take away collective bargaining, 2-1 advantage.
Now, if that wasn‘t clear enough, another recent poll has almost an identical result, finding that 61 percent of people would oppose a budget bill in their state like the one Walker‘s pushing in Wisconsin, and only 33 percent would be in favor of it.
Now, that‘s two polls. Let me do the math for you again. Both of them are almost 2-1.
So when you hear people like Governor Walker saying they represent the voters, it is not within miles of true.
Another one of Walker‘s budget-cutting measures is to cut education aid by $900 million. He just proposed that.
But do you know in that same poll we quoted earlier, only three percent of people are in favor of decreasing education funding? Three percent. Three percent. And he‘s cutting it by $900 million. What kind of sense does that make?
Now, finally, a separate poll broke it down even more simply, in case they weren‘t getting it. Sometimes they‘re a little slow.
They asked whether people sided with Governor Walker or the unions in Wisconsin in the collective bargaining dispute. Forty-two percent picked the unions and just 31 percent chose Governor Walker. Governor Walker for the fail again.
Look, the verdict is in. We‘ve been waiting for these polls all this time. Now they have come in droves, and they‘re all clear.
We are not for that. We‘re for sticking up for public union employees. We‘re sticking up for collective bargaining. And we‘re saying it clearly as the American people.
Americans are not on board with balancing budgets and by making working Americans take the hit every single time. That is not what they want.
All right. Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor and NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell.
Governor Rendell, first of all, now, politicians, they read the polls.
They say they don‘t read the polls, but come on. You read the polls. Governor Walker is reading the polls. The Republicans and the Democrats in Wisconsin are reading the polls.
When you see polls like that, what are the practical effects it could have in Wisconsin?
ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don‘t think Governor Walker is going to back down. I think he‘s in a position where he can‘t. But I think some of those Republican senators have to think long and hard about voting for the union-busting part of this budget.
Look, Cenk, one thing that is clear—and there are three things wrong with the budget that Governor Walker delivered. I mean, there‘s a lot more than three, but three major things.
Number one, it was political because he exempted the unions who supported him from any of the so-called reforms, the police and fire. And it shouldn‘t be that way if you‘re going to attack these and you say they‘re necessary to get finances under control. You should attack them across the board. Don‘t exempt the people who supported you.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, there‘s no shared pain. Look, there isn‘t a state in the union including my state of Pennsylvania that doesn‘t have to take some benefit reforms, have to make employees contribute more for some of their benefits. That‘s an essential. But people should understand that the contribution to the benefits that the governor is asking amount to an eight percent pay cut.
Now, that might be acceptable, except for the fact that there‘s no
shared pain in this budget. Businesses are seeing their taxes cut—cut -
not held at level, but cut by $67 million. That should be acceptable to any fair-minded person.
And thirdly, this is union-busting. You know, Governor Walker has told us we have to do this because the local governments and the school districts, they need the power to get rid of collective bargaining. But if that were the case, then why are these so-called reforms included, Cenk, reforms saying that any union member doesn‘t have to pay union dues, reforms saying that there has been an election every year to keep a union certified in a secret ballot election?
So, Governor Walker is—they‘ve lost even the patina this is about finances. This is about union-busting. Those reforms make it absolutely clear.
UYGUR: All right. So if we can‘t get through to Governor Walker, what‘s the correct strategy? Is it to go after some of the Republicans in the legislature in Wisconsin and to put pressure on them saying, hey, look, you‘ve lost the people, what are you going to do now?
RENDELL: Sure. What I would hope that our Democratic leaders in the Senate and House do is reach out to their counterparts and say look, the governor has taken an untenable position, the people have rejected it, they‘ve rejected it in, as you said, almost 2-1 amounts. Let‘s negotiate a fair resolution here, a resolution that puts Wisconsin back on firm financial footing, but that‘s fair and that is something that doesn‘t involve union-busting.
You know, this idea that Governor Walker said that you can‘t pin a negotiation, a collective bargaining negotiation with unions, that‘s ridiculous, Cenk. When I became mayor of Philadelphia, we had to, because we were facing the biggest deficit in any city‘s history, we had to have benefit reform, and we did. And we did it through the collective bargaining process.
There was a strike, but I took my case to the public and won because the public supported me. When I became governor, our employees didn‘t contribute a dime to their health care. They now contribute three percent of salary. We did that through the collective bargaining process.
It‘s just a joke that they‘re using that as an excuse. This is nothing more than union-busting, and it‘s unfair.
And by the way, when I became governor, I cut business taxes for six straight years, but when the recession hit and I had to lay off public workers, I stopped the cuts because I thought it was fundamentally fair that everybody share the pain.
UYGUR: Right. And there‘s no pain-sharing here. We‘re going to actually get back to that a little bit later in the program. But I want to ask you one more thing.
You know, I see these polls, I‘ve seen issues after issue. You see polls, and the American people are clearly on the progressive side on all those different issues. Yet, you see Republicans winning all across the country. They won the House, obviously, and at times in a deeply progressive state like Wisconsin. Now you have got the Republicans in control.
What‘s going wrong here? What are you guys missing? Why are the Democrats losing to these guys when it looks like you‘ve got the people behind you?
RENDELL: Two reasons.
Number one, first of all, these guys lied to the public. Governor Walker and the Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature never told the public that they were going to try to get rid of collective bargaining.
Had they done that, Governor Walker wouldn‘t have been elected governor. I think there‘s a poll that shows that. And the Republicans probably wouldn‘t control the legislature. That‘s number one.
But number two, we share some of the blame, Cenk, because our guys went out, a lot of them, and campaigned as Republican-like. We didn‘t stick up for education. We didn‘t stick up for the things we believe in, for the fundamental core of what the Democratic Party has been about. We tried to be Republican-light. And if the people are interested in Republicans, they‘re going to vote for the real Republicans, not the Republican-lights.
UYGUR: I think that‘s exactly right.
Governor Ed Rendell, thank you for your time tonight.
RENDELL: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: Always appreciate it. Yes.
RENDELL: My pleasure.
UYGUR: Now, with voters clearly on their side on this issue, some progressives are fighting back, and they‘re stepping up their fight against Walker‘s Draconian budget cuts in Wisconsin.
Today, the Progressive Change Committee and Democracy for America are launching a series of robocalls throughout Wisconsin to gauge voter interest in recalling several Republican state senators. It‘s very interesting, and here‘s a portion of one of the calls.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Scott Walker, State Senator Michael Ellis, and other Republican politicians just gave $117 million to corporations in tax cuts. And now they are asking underpaid teachers and nurses to pay for it.
That‘s just wrong.
Republicans are also trying to take away the right of people like me to negotiate for fair pay and benefits. Your senator, Michael Ellis, is one of them. Some voters are talking about recalling him from office and replacing him with someone else.
Press 1 if you would open to recalling him it if he keeps this up.
Press 2 if you wouldn‘t be.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. Now, for more on this campaign, let me bring in the man with a plan, Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Adam, what‘s the plan here? How do you want us to actually stop the bill that‘s going to kill collective bargaining?
ADAM GREEN, CO-FOUNDER, PCCC: Well, broadly speaking, the strategy can be summed up in three words, Cenk: offense, offense, offense.
The Democratic senators have played tremendous defense going to Illinois, going above and beyond what most people would expect. And the folks on the ground who have been going to rallies and making phone calls for Republican senators have been playing good offense, and the governor‘s poll numbers are in the tank. And as Governor Rendell just said, If the elections were held today, he would lose.
But what we‘re trying to do is go even deeper on offense against these Republicans and make this politically untenable for them. And if we can make a little bit of news right here on your show, we have our initial results back from these calls. These are calls to Republican voters, Republican districts who voted for Republican senators.
And so far, 59.7 percent of these people say if that if these Republican senators vote with Governor Walker, they will want to recall their local Republican senators. That‘s big news. And we‘re just going to keep on going on offense.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I like it when we break news on “The Young Turks” and on MSNBC as well.
GREEN: And “The Young Turks.”
UYGUR: That‘s true. That‘s a funny slip.
All right. But Adam, look, of course this is in essence a push poll.
Keep it real, right? But there‘s another reason why you‘re doing this.
It‘s not just to get the results, it‘s also to put pressure on these guys.
But why put pressure on these Republican state senators?
GREEN: OK. Well, first of all, push poll has a loaded meaning.
It‘s not a scientific poll, but what it is an attempt to gauge who would be on our side and who would be against us if there were an actual recall election. And again, 59.7 percent of the people, when given a little bit of information, say yes, sign me up. So, just to be clear on what this is. It‘s not pretending to be a scientific poll, but it is an organizing vehicle.
I actually forget what the rest of your question was --
UYGUR: You didn‘t like the “push poll” comment.
UYGUR: All right. No, Adam, here‘s the thing, right? I think the critical part of this is to get these guys to actually say, all right, you know what? I might lose. I might get recalled or I might lose by next election if I stand with Governor Walker.
Is that the plan here, for them to say hey, you know what, Governor Walker, you can go out on a plank on your own, but I have got to compromise here with the Democrats?
GREEN: Yes, absolutely. Look, what we‘ve seen for the last two years nationally is that horribly unpopular Republican ideas somehow keep getting pressed, and Republican politicians remain behind them because there‘s no accountability. There are no consequences.
And what we‘re trying to do here is create consequences. The people of Wisconsin have already done that in a big way, and we‘re piling on.
And they need to just feel the heat and say I cannot stand with this guy. I have to abandon this ship, or else I will be out of office.
So, I can tell you, there will be other tactics like this with us and Democracy for America coming this week. We‘re going to keep the pressure on, and the heat will get hotter for them in the days ahead. That‘s for sure.
UYGUR: All right, Adam. Thank you for joining us.
And listen, to borrow a phrase from Chris Matthews‘ show, that‘s hardball. That‘s how you play political hardball. That‘s when you say, hey, listen, your job is on the line. Then, all of a sudden, you know, people are a lot more interested in your argument.
And I think that‘s what Adam is doing here.
And we appreciate you joining us tonight.
GREEN: Yes, thanks. And the people of Wisconsin.
UYGUR: There you go.
Now, ahead, Scott Walker and the Republicans are demonizing American‘s teachers, but they won‘t stop defending bankers that we bailed out. We‘ll show you the real differences between teachers and bankers, and we‘ll talk to a 32-year Wisconsin teacher who was just let go.
Plus, is Mike Huckabee a birther? He repeatedly says that President Obama grew up in Kenya during a radio interview.
And one of these men recently said this: “I have defeated this earthworm with my words. Imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists.”
Which one is it? We‘ll tell you straight ahead.
UYGUR: The battle in Wisconsin is going straight to the question of what this country values. What‘s more important to us, teachers or bankers?
The GOP is very clear on this issue, and it turns out that many on the right don‘t value public employees or teachers very much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: Question: Teachers, public safety officers, the privileged elite?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Across America, Chris, we‘ve had a huge inversion. There may have been a time a century ago where public employees were mistreated or vulnerable and underpaid. If that was ever a problem, we have over-fixed it, not everywhere, but in many places. And as you know very well, public employees, most decidedly federal employees, but everywhere, are better paid than the taxpayer who pays their salary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I want my dignity! I want my respect! And I want my health care!
A bunch of people who feel entitled to be freeloaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I have no problem with teachers. Who doesn‘t want their teachers to make the most amount of money? But in a realistic, free enterprise sort of way.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: I love that, “in a realistic, free enterprise sort of way,” where they actually get their salaries cut, we pay them much less, and maybe we fire them. That‘s his idea of a realistic free market way.
By the way, did you catch the other stuff? “We‘ve over-fixed the problem.” Yes, we‘re way overpaying the teachers and the public employees, and they are better paid than the private sector.
Not true. For the 18th time, not true.
And they‘re freeloaders? Please.
Now, what does the right wing value? Of course, money and those who make it.
Now, here‘s a typical clip of Bill Kristol on Fox News rushing to the defense of Goldman Sachs when government lawyers were releasing their e-mails as part of a fraud information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: E-mails? I mean, what is that about? That wasn‘t leaked. The Senate Banking Committee, if I‘m not mistaken, simply released private e-mails from Goldman Sachs. It‘s an outrage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: An outrage! How dare they go after Goldman Sachs? Goldman Sachs must be protected at all costs.
So, are Republicans right? Are teachers overpaid and bankers underpaid?
Well, let‘s find out. On this program we show you the numbers, so you can make the decision on your own. But this one is going to be pretty easy.
Let‘s compare what teachers make in salaries to those of bankers.
For example, an average public school teacher‘s salary in the country is $55,350. In Wisconsin, it‘s $48,000.
How dare they? Look at that, privileged elite.
Now how about the Wall Street bonuses? Now, this is per employee in 2010.
Blackstone, $810,717 per employee in bonus. That‘s not just—that‘s not even their salary.
Greenhill & Company is $551,000. Deutsche Bank is $510,000. Lazard is $501,000. Goldman Sachs, poor guys. What are they doing all the way at number five there at $431,000?
And, of course, the overall bonus average across Wall Street per employee is $128,530. And that is, again, their bonus, not even their salary.
By the way, you may recall that a couple of those banks also got bailout money from the government—i.e., us, the U.S. taxpayers. Both Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank got it.
But, of course, teachers make too much money from the public, right?
The privileged elite that they are. Absurd.
All right. Now with me is Kerry Kittel. He‘s one of those high-paid teachers, except that he just got word that he‘s been laid off as a teacher in the New Richmond school district in Wisconsin. He‘d been a teacher for 32 years.
Kerry, what happened here? How did you find out that you got laid off? When does it go into effect? Tell me your story.
KERRY KITTEL, TEACHER: You bet. Thanks a lot for having me. A pleasure to be here.
We got layoff notices last Thursday. Our district employees, 204 people, certified teachers—that‘s district-wide—and every person received a layoff notice. That means that our contract will continue, our employment will continue, until the end of the school year, and effective July 1st those layoffs would take place—take effect if they were permanent.
The layoffs—the board made it pretty clear the layoffs were a direct reaction to the unknowns in Governor Walker‘s budget. Everybody knew big cuts were coming. So, they, acting on advise of counsel, decided to lay off everybody to meet some contract deadlines.
I believe they‘re going to do their best to call as many people back as possible, but until they get the governor‘s budget numbers and understand the depth of the cuts in Richmond, they‘re not going to be able to make a real projection. So, effective at the end of the year, those folks will be laid off.
But I fully expect the district to bring probably all but perhaps 20 of those people back. That‘s still an awfully big cut for our district.
UYGUR: Right. So, 20 teachers might be laid off, ultimately, but a lot of you are getting notices anyway.
All right. So tell me about the practical consequence of that for the teachers and for the students.
KITTEL: Well, for the students it‘s caused a lot of uncertainty.
They follow the news, and we talk about these issues.
I teach an American government class, and obviously it‘s a big issue in the state. It‘s kind of hard to avoid it if you watch TV in Wisconsin.
But they‘re concerned. I mean, students have asked me in the class, “Mr. Kittel, does this mean that we‘re going to lose advanced placement classes?” “Does this mean we‘re going to lose extracurriculars?”
And I tell them the possibility is very, very real. So there will be some real impact to students.
Obviously, if they‘re going to take 20 staff members away, class sizes are going to be increased. So that means less attempt—for example, reading programs in the low grades, low grades, if there‘s fewer people to do that, that‘s a direct consequence.
I‘m a secondary teacher in the high school. Our numbers probably average in the neighborhood of 25 to 28 per class right now. If they have significant reductions, we could be looking at 35, 38 in a classroom. And when you add additional students, it‘s difficult to give individual attention to those students that are in the room.
UYGUR: All right. Kerry, I want to know why you got into teaching, OK? Because the Republicans tell me it‘s because you‘re greedy and you wanted to make more than the private sector, and the poor bankers have got to get bailed out, but we‘re overpaying you.
So, was it the greed?
KITTEL: Well, not directly. I come from a family of teachers. One of my favorite uncles was a math teacher in a small district called Amery, Wisconsin, for a lot of years.
And I admired his work. I saw how much he enjoyed his work.
And as I grew older, I‘m a people person, and so I was thinking about those kinds of careers where you can combine the two. I actually was considering a career in journalism, and as I was working through the preparation, one of my instructors was a history professor, and he called me aside one day and he said, “Kerry, you‘re pretty good with people. You show good aptitude for subject matter. I think you‘d make a good teacher, and would you consider it?”
And I did, and finished in teacher preparation. And for the last 32 years I‘ve been able to do what I love every day with a great group of people.
UYGUR: Well, you know, as life turns out, if you were in journalism, you might have gotten laid off anyway. So it‘s tough times for everybody out there. Of course, except for the bankers.
They‘re doing great. They had record bonuses again this year.
All right. Kerry, I hope you‘re back there with the kids very soon.
We really appreciate you coming on here.
KITTEL: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, up next, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is desperately trying to sound cool, so he‘s throwing out profanities. Oh, it‘s sad and it‘s funny. We‘ll show you the clownish curses that he used.
And Charlie Sheen introduces his goddesses to America. This is must-see TV.
UYGUR: Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is desperate to avoid getting primaried by the Tea Party when he runs for re-election next year. The 34-year incumbent was trying to sound hip and populous when speaking in front of young Tea Partiers at Utah State University. So, he called health care reform, quote, “an awful piece of crap.” Damn, Orrin. And then even more embarrassingly, he called the health care bill, quote, “a one size fits all federal government dumbass program.” Come on, Orrin.
Are you serious, a dumbass program or should I call you oddity? Who are you kidding? There isn‘t a bigger establishment republican than you in the whole town. You have a kerchief, and now you‘re calling bills dumbass. Hatch, please. According to the University of Utah Statesman Newspaper, Hatch earlier apologized for the language. He said he doesn‘t swear often and then he would repent for using such harsh language. I don‘t know what that entails. I hope it‘s not that whipping thing. I think that‘s off the state, I don‘t think it‘s them.
All right. Is Mike Huckabee a birther? During appearance on the Steve Malzberg radio show, the host was trying to keep the ridiculous conservative theory alive. He wants to know why President Obama spent millions in court defending against having to present a birth certificate and all that same nonsense. Now, here‘s a response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MALZBERG, TALK SHOW HOST: Don‘t you think we deserve to know more about this man?
MIKE HUCKABEE, TALK SHOW HOST: I would love to know more, but what I know is troubling enough. One thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. But then, if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view in the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, there he said that Obama grew up in Kenya, not once but twice. In reality of course, President Obama was born in Hawaii and was raised in Hawaii. He did go to Indonesia for some years. Oh my God. Wait until they get a load of that. And by the way, just in case you‘re keeping track, the number of years that President Obama lived in Kenya would be zero. A spokesman for Huckabee commented today saying, it was nothing more than a misstatement. Of course, we meant that he grew up in Uganda. OK. He didn‘t say that last part, but you know they were thinking it.
All right. Now, just like they promised, Republicans are focusing on government waste and their starting with really, really big stuff. The GOP is officially reintroduced plastic foam coffee cups into house cafeterias. The cups were banned four years ago when Democrats made a symbolic push to make cafeterias more green. The program also called for biodegradable utensils and trays which are also being phased out. After taking power, Republicans said, the program was too expensive. What was it, 37 cents extra and didn‘t do much to help the environment, as if they care about the environment.
And an aid to Speaker John Boehner celebrated with this tweet. Quote, “the new majority, plastic ware is back. Yes, we‘re going to trash the environment. Styrofoam comes to leave them everywhere.” So, I guess its GOP for the win. Now the golf balls can have their freedom fries on their non-biodegradable plastic ware. That‘s stupidity squared.
Now, in the next segment, I‘m going to do something considered radical in Washington. I will tell you why we need to, are you ready for it? Raise taxes. Yes, I said it, and I‘ll prove my case when we come back. And Robert Reich tells us why the republican insists on cutting taxes makes no sense. Also, these men had been making headlines with some really crazy talk. I‘ll tell you just how much they have in common. And Rupert Murdoch just made an announcement that Beth Kennedy and the rest of the FOX News crowd might not be too happy about it.
UYGUR: The government is staying open for business for now. Today, the House passed a two-week extension of a funding bill that would include actually $4 billion of cuts from the federal budget. Now, by the way, the Democrats want a four-week extension and the GOP wanted only two weeks. Internally, we were taking bets here as to which side it would be closer on. Of course, everybody bet that it would be closer to the republican side. So, we thought maybe 16 days instead of 14 days. No, we were too optimistic. The Democrats accepted the republican version completely. And Steve King, right-winger in the House by the way voted against it anyway. It didn‘t defund Planned Parenthood yet. Not good enough. Now, republican say, we absolutely need these cuts because it‘s the only way to reduce the deficit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our goal here is to cut spending. When we say we‘re going to cut spending, read my lips, we‘re going to cut spending.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We need to cut spending now.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I believe that we need to keep the current tax rates at the level they are. I‘m introducing a bill today to do just that, but there‘s a real problem here with all of the spending that is not paid for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: They keep saying over and over, we need to cut spending, we need to cut spending. As usual, not true. They‘re presenting another false choice. There‘s another way to cut the deficit. One that they refuse to consider. We can raise revenue. Yes, that means raising taxes, and yes, are you ready for this? I hope you‘re sitting. I definitely think we should raise taxes. Now, let me show you how much money we can raise, if we raise taxes a little bit on the top earners in the country. Not teachers, not firemen or cops. The very top bracket in the country. In just two years, we could raise $91 billion by scrapping the Bush tax cut for the top two percent.
Another $23 billion by raising the estate tax. And $40 billion by raising capital gains taxes to 20 percent. The level that they were under President Clinton. By the way, that‘s still a comically low rate, but even that would do the job. Look, that took me two minutes, and I raised $154 billion. Now, I know conventional wisdom in Washington says, raising taxes is political suicide. You can‘t do it, but that‘s also not true. Look, the holes don‘t bear it out at all. Let me give you examples, in a just release New York Times, CBS News poll, people were asked, if you had to reduce your state‘s budget deficit, what would you do? Forty percent said that they would raise taxes. Twenty-two percent said they would decrease public employees benefits, 20 percent said they would decrease funding for roads and just three percent said, they would decrease funding for education. Now, do you get that?
Raising taxes means cutting public employee benefits. Of course, what they‘re trying to do in Wisconsin by nearly a two to one margin. Now, it also be cutting education by a more than 10 to one margin. Forty percent say, raise taxes, three percent said cut education. Come on! I keep asking you this because the numbers are so clear. How much clearer can they be? And now, that‘s people saying they would much rather pay more in taxes themselves than cutting funding for these important programs. Now, wait until you see how much people like raising taxes when it only applies to the rich. A national poll from CBS News, Vanity Fair asked people, what‘s the first thing you would do to balance the federal budget. Sixty one percent said they would raise taxes on the rich, four percent say they would cut Medicare, and three percent said they would cut Social Security.
Let me sum it up for you in one word. Overwhelming. They keep telling you have to cut Social Security and you‘ve got to cut your Medicare. When they ask you the American people, you say no, raise taxes on the rich. That‘s the only way to do it. I‘m asking you, do we live in a democracy or don‘t we? Why are politicians ignoring the clear popular will? Unfortunately, there‘s an answer to that. It‘s because they‘re representing the rich donors that got them elected and not you. All right. Joining me now is former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. He‘s now a professor at UC, Berkeley. Secretary Reich, great to have you here, of course.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Hi Cenk.
UYGUR: Hey there, I want to ask you, you know, they‘ll say, hey, you can‘t do this, you can‘t raise taxes. In Washington, people, you know, go crazy over this stuff. It‘s not feasible. Why do you think it might be feasible and how?
REICH: Of course it‘s feasible. Cenk, of course it‘s feasible. I mean, under Dwight David Eisenhower, President Eisenhower in the 1950s who nobody would have been accused of being a socialist, I mean, he was a republican, the income tax rate on the richest Americans was 91 percent. I mean, you know, we‘ve been here. We‘ve done this. You know, it‘s not a matter of soaking the rich. The other point that is not often talked about is that more income and wealth is now concentrated at the very top in America than we‘ve seen in 80 years. I mean, we have the top one percent is taking home over 20 percent of total national income. So if we don‘t tax people fairly, if we don‘t simply go where the money is, we can‘t. It‘s just a giant zero-sum game. I mean, it‘s just a middle class with no increase in income at all getting squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and losing public services that are vital to them at the same time.
UYGUR: And by the way, since 1979 for those of you at home that don‘t know this, the top one percent have nearly quadrupled their income, quadrupled whereas the rest of us have stayed right about even. And look at that, in the 1970s, the share of the top one percent for the national income was nine percent nation‘s wealth. Now it‘s 23-and-a-half percent. The highest level has been since right before the great depression. Now, Secretary Reich, this isn‘t just about getting about though, hey, let‘s you know, get the money from the rich because that‘s where it is and they accumulated all the wealth at the top. It also makes sense for the rich if we had more equal distribution of income because of the effect that it would have on the middle class. Tell us about that. Why do you think that‘s the case?
REICH: Well, because, you know, if the middle class gets a shrinking portion of total income as has been the case over the last few years, the middle class doesn‘t have the purchasing power Cenk, to turn around and buy the stuff that America can produce. And that means high unemployment, had been slow economic growth. I mean, we can‘t have an economy that is getting out of the gravitational pull of the great recession based upon the purchasing of the top one percent or top five percent or even top 10 percent. I mean, the way we actually grow the economy is through spreading the benefits of economic growth and economic change. You know, the top one percent or even the top one tenth of one percent would be better off with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than they would be right now with a large share of an economy that is going painfully slowly and is still having a hard time getting out of this great recession.
UYGUR: All right. And we know that partly because, you know, during the Clinton administration which you worked at, we created 22 million jobs, we had a booming economy when we had the higher tax rates and it didn‘t hurt the economy at all those higher taxes. You know, you made a great point in your last article on this issue that in 2005, 17 million people bought cars. In 2010, only 12 million people bought cars and in home sales went from seven-and-a-half million to 4.6 million. Now, if people are buying less cars, less home, less everything, how are corporations and rich people supposed to make money? I mean, it hurts everybody, doesn‘t it?
REICH: Well, Cenk, not only does it hurts anybody, Cenk, but also it breeds the kind of anger. I mean, some of the middle class people, lower middle class people, working class people are frustrated. They are anxious. They worried about paying their bills. They see people at the very top getting away with the, well, I mean, the equivalent of murder. I mean, look at what happened on Wall Street. There‘s not a single Wall Streeter who has actually been indicted or brought to justice after that huge implosion on Wall Street, and people get cynical and they get angry, and then they see, you know, Republicans are very good at channeling that anger towards what, government, immigrants, public employees? Well, an angry population and an angry populist could just as easily turn their anger toward the very rich. Again, it‘s in the interest of the people at the top to actually call for a more equitable distribution of the gains of economic growth, and a better tax system, a tax system that is fair.
UYGUR: All right. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, it‘s very clear. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
REICH: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, we‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Now, how‘s this for irony, FOX News‘ parent company, News Corp is bragging about being officially carbon neutral now. The company reached net zero carbon emissions by reducing energy use and using solar and wind power. Good for them. See, Rupert Murdoch proudly declared, quote, “the first major sustainability milestone for their company, and emphasized environmental commitments at Dow Jones, FOX entertainment and 20th century FOX.” Hmm. Now, which part of the company did he leave out? Oh, right. FOX News. Now, that might have something to do with the fact that FOX News denies climate change even exits. Now, remember, FOX News‘ Washington editors sent an e-mail to staffers, telling them to question the climate, quote, “the veracity of climate change data,” and then if they mentioned climate change, they should always point out that the three theories are based on data, that critics have called into question. I wonder if they‘re going to call their boss into question. That would be very interesting, right? Mr. Murdoch, I‘m calling you into question. I can‘t wait for that to happen. All right. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Arizona‘s joining the ranks of nine other states that are currently considering legislation that would allow students to bring guns to college campuses. Utah has already passed the law long licensed concealed weapons in public universities. But Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona, and Texas are all discussing the possibility of allowing concealed handgun licensed holders to bring guns on campus. Even Texas Governor Rick Perry, who apparently sometimes jogs with a handgun, says he‘s in favor of the idea. Of course he did. Look at this guy. Tough guy want to-be, ridiculous.
But Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce takes the cake when it comes to loosening up gun laws in his state. When asked about guns on campus proposal, he said, quote, “guns save lives, and it‘s a constitutional right of our citizens.” Guns save lives? This guy has the nerve to say that in Arizona of all places? The only way that easier access to guns could do more damage is by allowing them on college campuses. The mix of college students, guns and alcohol has already proven to a disastrous combination.
Just this January, 20-year-old Ashley Cowie was killed at Florida State University at a frat party when an AK-74 assault rifle owned by one of the fraternity members accidentally discharged and shot her in the chest. Evan Wilhelm who is also 20-years-old is charged with manslaughter in the shooting of Ashley and could face up to 15 years in prison. Police estimated that his blood alcohol content at the time of the shooting was about .10. Last week, Ashley‘s father Robert Cowie who is a registered republican testified in front of Florida‘s Criminal Justice Committee that was considering guns on campus bill. Listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT COWIE, FATHER OF KILLED STUDENT: As parents, we send our children to college campuses hoping that they are safe enough places, and that the university officials are doing all that they can to monitor the safety of our young people. When we packed Ashley‘s belongings into boxes to take her things to Tallahassee, we never expected to be bringing her home in a different sized box. This proposed change in the law will place an undue burden on the universities to keep our campuses safe. Ashley was shot to death during a time when the law prohibited weapons on campus. And still, this tragedy has occurred. Allowing guns in an atmosphere of college parties puts everyone involved at increased and undue risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Anyone still think allowing guns on college campuses is a good idea? Don‘t do it. It‘s a terrible idea. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Now for some fun and unusual stories, let me go to my Young Turks co-host, Anna Kasparian, Anna, I understand that Charlie Sheen has been in the news a little bit lately.
ANNA KASPARIAN, HOST, “THE YOUNG TURKS”: Absolutely. Two big stories in the news today. First of all, the anti-Gadhafi protests in Libya and, of course, Charlie Sheen. So, the British newspaper “The Guardian” put together this awesome quiz, whose line is it, Charlie sheen or Colonel Gadhafi? It‘s amazing, we pulled some of the toughest questions and we‘ll see how many you get right Mr. Uygur.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I don‘t know the answer to this, so I‘m prepared to get embarrassed right here on live television. Go ahead, Anna.
KASPARIAN: All right. Let‘s start with question one. Who said this? I have defeated this earthworm with my words, imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists.
UYGUR: That is so crazy, it has to be Charlie Sheen.
KASPARIAN: Good job. You‘re absolutely correct.
UYGUR: All right.
KASPARIAN: Let‘s go to question number two. Who said this? Life without dignity is worthless?
UYGUR: The problem is these are so crazy. I think they‘re all Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen.
KASPARIAN: Wrong again, Bob. That was actually Gadhafi.
UYGUR: All right.
KASPARIAN: All right. Let‘s go to question number three. These resentments, they are the rocket fuel that lives in the tip of my saber.
UYGUR: That‘s got to be Charlie Sheen.
KASPARIAN: You‘re correct, Charlie Sheen.
UYGUR: All right. Not bad. I went two for three. Not bad.
KASPARIAN: You didn‘t do too bad, I‘m actually pretty surprised. But you‘re a news man. You should know all this stuff anyway.
UYGUR: I know. You‘re right. You‘re right. Anna Kasparian from “The Young Turks,” thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. That was a fun little quiz. And of course, you can catch Anna and I every single day on TheYoungTurks.com. So, we look forward to that. You look lovely, Anna. And now, everybody else, thank you for watching. We appreciate it.
We‘ve got some great programming coming up for you. In fact, it‘s called “HARDBALL,” and it‘s awesome and starts right now.
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