Guests: David Obey, Bernie Sanders, Ed Rendell, Dave Weigel, Mark Potok, Ana Kasparian
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Welcome to the show, everybody. We‘ve got exciting news for you tonight.
It appears the Wisconsin protesters are winning. They are winning!
Governor Walker is on the ropes.
We‘ve been waiting for polls to come out in Wisconsin, and now they are in.
And they are really bad for Walker.
Now, a recent Rasmussen poll—now, they tend to lean Republican, and even they show that Governor Walker is in trouble. It said that 57 percent of Wisconsin voters disapprove of his job performance.
And another poll of Wisconsin voters shows that just 43 percent of people have a favorable view of Governor Walker, whereas 53 percent have an unfavorable view. Now, that puts Walker‘s unfavorable ratings up 18 points from November, when it was just at 35 percent. So his unfavorability going through the roof.
And when you get more specific with the voters, it just gets worse for Governor Walker. Sixty-five percent of people in Wisconsin think that Governor Walker should compromise with the Democrats, which he absolutely refuses to do. Sixty-eight percent of Independents are in favor of compromise. When you lose those Independents, you‘re in a lot of trouble.
But do you know who the public supports? Unions, it turns out. Look at this poll.
Fifty-nine percent of people have a favorable view towards public employee unions as a whole. And it‘s the same favorable number for teachers unions. Very much in favor of their unions, specifically the teachers.
All right. Now, those polls may be getting the Republicans in the state—getting to the Republicans in the state legislature. It looks like they‘re a little nervous.
“The Wall Street Journal” reports that, “Conservatives in Wisconsin are”—there it is—“getting nervous that three Republican state senators may defect on the collective bargaining reform vote.”
They may defect. They‘re on the ropes.
God, you stood out there for so long in the cold and the winter and the snow. But look, it‘s paying off. The people are on your side. Stay strong.
Now, meanwhile, the Senate Democratic leader shot down a report that some of his own members who are hiding out in Illinois, of course, would return to Wisconsin, although Democrats did once again reach out to Governor Walker, offering to negotiate with him at the Illinois state line, which is unique, interesting. It‘s a fair offer.
And guess what Walker did with it? Boom! No way! Of course. He never compromises, and it looks like it‘s going to hurt him.
Look, at some point, you‘ve got to be getting out there and making a deal.
And Governor Walker won‘t do it.
Do you know what he complained about? He complained the state Senate Democratic leaders might be taking secret calls from labor leaders.
Dude, you just got a secret call from David Koch. Who are you to bring up that issue? I guess that‘s what happens when you‘re desperate.
Look, when this thing began, no one believed. The national politicians didn‘t believe, all those other people in Washington, they didn‘t believe. But there were some people in Wisconsin who went out there in the cold, and they believed.
And guess what? They‘re having an effect.
Look, even if Walker doesn‘t bend on this, some of those state Republicans might bend and you might win on this specific issue. And if you don‘t, it‘s spreading nationwide anyway.
We‘ll talk about that in the next segment as well.
But let‘s stay in Wisconsin right now. Joining me is former U.S.
Congressman from Wisconsin, David Obey.
Congressman, you were shut out of the state capitol building for a while last week. What was your reaction to that? And what‘s your reaction to Governor Walker and the stance that he‘s been taking?
DAVID OBEY (D), FMR. U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, there‘s no question that Governor Walker has been hurt substantially by his actions and by his stubborn refusal to compromise. But the real injury is to the state.
The governor began his term by talking about making Wisconsin open for business and attracting jobs to Wisconsin. No thoughtful businesses are going to try to come to a state where you have the kind of turmoil that we‘ve exhibited the last three weeks. This is a very serious matter that not only impacts the future of a few politicians, but it really has a huge negative effect on the entire state.
If the governor really cares about this state, and cares about future economic growth and labor peace in this state, he will find a way to overcome his instincts and compromise. If he doesn‘t, I‘m convinced after being—I was in places like Luck, Spooner, Rice Lake, not exactly hotbeds of union activity, but I‘m telling you, I‘ve never seen crowds like that before.
And it is apparent to me that if the governor does not engage in meaningful compromise, he will be recalled, because when you go after the juggler and try to put workers out of business, that is when they will mean business in the way they respond.
UYGUR: Whoa. You just said “recall.” Really? Do you think the governor, I mean, not only will not win reelection, you think there‘s some chance he‘s going to get recalled?
OBEY: Re-election is four years away. And I frankly dislike intensely the idea of recalls, whether it‘s for state legislators or for governors.
But when someone with the power of the governor oversteps that line as much as he has, and when he becomes so abusive of the dignity of workers, when he becomes so abusive of their basic rights to defend themselves in the economic arena, then you‘re left with very little choice. I mean, it is a year—the governor has to be in office for a year before anyone can try to recall him, but the fact is that if the governor still has the possibility of defusing this, but if he doesn‘t use this opportunity to provide meaningful compromise, rather than insisting on abject surrender from the Senate 14, the Wisconsin 14, then I think it‘s pretty clear to me that you will have stirred up the kind of anger that will be longstanding. And I think the governor will wind up being one of the principal political victims.
UYGUR: Congressman, for the Wisconsin 14 that are outside right now in Illinois, they have no incentive to come back in, do they? I mean, because if you think about it and you look at those polls, my God, the people are on their side.
If they now surrender for no apparent reason, that would be really, I think, dispiriting to the people that were protesting out there for such a long time, especially when it looks like the people of Wisconsin have their back. So it doesn‘t look like that‘s going to be the issue.
Is it the Republican state senators that have to say at some point, hey, I don‘t care what Walker is doing, I‘ve got keep my job, I‘m going to get thrown out here?
OBEY: Well, I think that there is a strong incentive for those 14 Democrats to come back to Madison because they want to move forward and do things that are constructive for the state of Wisconsin. But right now they‘ve been given no choice, because every time—and I‘ve talked to the state senators numerous times every day since this has started. And I know they have tried again and again to try to look for common ground with the governor.
But every time that something gets put on the table, it winds up being yanked. The governor holds a nasty press conference, the Speaker of the House—or the majority leader, Fitzgerald, put out nasty, ridiculing letters. People should be looking for ways to cool it and work this out rather than escalating the anger, which is what the governor is doing by his stubbornness.
UYGUR: Right, but he would be crazy to give in to that stubbornness. I mean, the Wisconsin 14, if Governor Walker gives no concessions, they can‘t possibly come back, can they?
OBEY: Those 14 members of the Senate right now are heroes to the average working people in the state. What workers tell me is, “It‘s been one hell of a long time since I‘ve seen some politicians really stand up for workers and mean it.”
And these people are demonstrating that they mean it. And people are both surprised and extremely pleased by the fact that they‘ve shown the guts that they‘ve shown.
UYGUR: And are you proud that this seems to be spreading throughout the country, fighting back? And now it looks like some governors, Republican governors, are stepping back and saying whoa, whoa, whoa, I don‘t want any part of this fight?
OBEY: I‘m proud of the fact that you had in Wisconsin people finally say they were mad as hell and they‘re not going to swallow it anymore. I mean, it is one thing to suggest to workers that they need to cut back their wages or their health coverage in order to help the state budget. They‘ve already—those public employees have already said they‘re willing to do that. But at this point, what the governor is continuing to insist on is that those workers be put out of business in terms of their ability to gather together and work collectively to protect their own economic interests at the bargaining table.
Also remember, when teachers gained the right in Wisconsin to engage in collective bargaining, they gave up the right to strike. Would people really like to see teacher strikes come back to Wisconsin because the state has welched on half of that deal?
UYGUR: Right. And look, this is an attack on the middle class. And that‘s what the American people are wising up to. We‘re going to talk more about that in the next segment as well.
OBEY: No question.
UYGUR: Yes. Go ahead, Congressman.
OBEY: There‘s no question about that. Every pressure in this economy for the last 20 years has been a downward pressure on wages.
The only thing in the economy that is the slightest upward pressure on wages for the average worker is the ability of workers to try to bargain collectively, and that‘s what the governor wants to take away. That will result in an even larger transfer of income up the income scale. And as far as I‘m concerned, that is not just an economic issue, it becomes an assault on the moral underpinning of enlightened capitalism.
UYGUR: All right. Congressman David Obey, thank you for joining us tonight.
OBEY: You bet.
UYGUR: And there‘s a lot of people who agree with him, as we‘re going to explain in the next segment. Scott Walker woke up a sleeping giant in the unions and the working class of this country. And this war on the middle class has national impact. We‘ll show you how Michael Moore and Warren Buffett actually agree on this issue.
And Ed Rendell and Senator Bernie Sanders on how to turn Wisconsin into a national win for the Democrats.
Plus, is Congressman Peter King on a crusade against Islam? Hundreds of Muslims protest his “Muslim extremism hearings.” Even the celebrities join in.
We‘re going to find out if the hearings are bigoted.
And Michele Bachmann takes on Obama‘s “gangster government” on “Meet the Press.” I‘ll take her on in a minute.
UYGUR: The Republicans want you to believe that America is broke. They want you to think things are so bad, that there‘s no other option than their Draconian budget cuts. It‘s been one of their main themes in recent weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: We‘re broke. Broke going on bankrupt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY: We have to reform Medicare because it costs too much and it is going to bankrupt us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Because Obamacare will bankrupt the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because we followed Greece into democracy does not mean we need to follow them into bankruptcy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: False, false, false. False, false, false. False. It‘s all false.
We‘re not broke, nor are we going bankrupt. And I‘m not the only one who thinks this.
Get a load of these strange bedfellows. Michael Moore and Bloomberg News both agree that America is nowhere near broke.
Here‘s Moore in Wisconsin over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash! It‘s just that it‘s not in your hands!
(CHEERING & APPLAUSE)
MOORE: It has been transferred in the greatest heist in history from the workers and consumers to the banks and portfolios of the uber-rich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, that‘s totally true. And Republicans say we face financial ruin because we‘re in debt.
But Bloomberg News says the U.S. is not going broke or going bankrupt. It says that almost every government is in debt, which makes sense. That‘s normal operating business. You take a little bit of debt, and sometimes you pay it off.
You‘re only broke when people won‘t lend you money anymore. And that‘s far (ph) for the case for the U.S.
Other countries are loaning the U.S. money at historically low interest rates. The real problem is that our tax rates are badly skewed.
If we ask the very wealthy to share the pain of these economic times, then we could balance the budget as we did during the Clinton years. Now, everybody knows this. The whole financial market knows it. Otherwise, they wouldn‘t lend us the money at those incredibly low rates.
So, you see, this isn‘t about whether we can pay our bills, but about how the wealthiest Americans avoid paying their share.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: They have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: The GOP says the only way to balance the budget is to do it off the backs of the middle class. But having done so, they present the Democrats with a great opportunity to stick up for the middle class.
Democrats can come riding to the rescue here, but that means they have to fight for your priorities and not the priorities of the wealthy political donors. Here‘s what Warren Buffett said about that.
“There‘s class warfare, all right, but it‘s my class, the rich class, that‘s making war. And we‘re winning.”
Michael Moore and Warren Buffett agree. Every sensible person in the country agrees. Fighting for the middle class is the right thing to do, and it‘s also an obvious winning political strategy. It‘s easy, it‘s gift wrap for the Democrats.
Now, the question is, will they do it? It‘s a good question.
Joining me now is Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Pennsylvania governor and NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell to answer that question.
Senator Sanders, how would the Democrats stick up for the middle class and fight back for them?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, the clear issue is a pretty clear issue. What the Republicans want to do is throw hundreds of thousands of kids off Head Start. They want to substantially cut back on Pell grants, which will impact millions of college students. They want to cut back on heating assistance programs. They want to cut back on pregnancy prevention programs, et cetera, et cetera.
This is a real vicious attack. The Republican budget in Washington is against working families and low income-paying people.
Meanwhile, the top one percent are doing phenomenally well. Their effective tax rate, at 16 percent, is at lower than at any time in recorded history. They have gotten hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.
In my view, instead of attacking middle class and working families, you‘ve got to ask the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes. If we simply do a five percent surtax on all income over $1 million, you can do away, cover all of the cuts that the Republicans have put into their budget.
You don‘t have to cut back on children, the sick, the elderly or the poor. Ask the people earning more than $1 million to pay a five percent surtax on income above $1 million. Go after the oil companies who have loophole after loophole. You do those things, you don‘t need any of the cuts that the Republicans are talking about.
UYGUR: Well, Governor Rendell, will the National Democratic Party have the courage to do that? Will they say, hey, you know what, let‘s put a surtax on people making over $1 million, let‘s end the oil subsidies, and let‘s fight for—let‘s not go, oh, we tried, oh, look at that, the Republicans won again?
ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think so. I think the polls are fairly overwhelming now after Wisconsin. And I think Wisconsin has been a catalyst.
And I think the national Democrats should pivot and, number one, do what Bernie said, close the loopholes, first of all. There‘s nobody out there who thinks that the loopholes make sense. Nobody thinks that corporations should be able to shelter their income from taxes because they invest abroad. Let‘s close those loopholes.
Let‘s take away the subsidies from the Exxons and the oil companies that are making unbelievable record profits. Virtually every American agrees on that, Republican or Democrat.
So those are things that I think are easy to do. And we should do it, and we should speak up.
And I do believe I disagree with Bernie slightly. I think we do have to cut some problems.
We certainly ought to cut a lot of military spending, wasteful spending, spending that Secretary Gates has indicated is unnecessary. And there is some waste in social programs.
And you don‘t go after heating assistance for low-income people. You don‘t go after education. But you try to trim those programs that aren‘t reaching their mark. You‘ve got to do a little of both.
The key for us is to say there‘s got to be shared sacrifice, because right now, Cenk, the sacrifice is all one-sided. It‘s on working families and on the working poor as well.
UYGUR: Well, I want to come back to that soon, but you mentioned something very interesting. You said, Governor Rendell, nobody believes that. But they actually just had a vote on it in Congress, and the Republicans won on the loopholes.
They voted to keep the loopholes for the oil companies. So why don‘t you guys call them out on it? I mean, the Republicans are vicious to Democrats. Why don‘t the Democrats come out and say these Republicans are bought lock, stock and barrel by the oil companies? They‘re sold out.
RENDELL: Well, if I can jump in before Bernie—I know he wants to be heard in this—I think that‘s the mistake we made in the 2010 election. We ran as—tried to be Republican-like. And everywhere we tried to do that, we lost.
We should have stood up for the things we believed in and tell the people the absolute truth. And then if we lose, at least we lost fighting for things that we believe in, that are our core principles.
And it‘s time for us to go back to the core principles, what made us Democrats, and stand up and put those before the voters. Don‘t try to be imitation Republicans.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, Senator Sanders, look, I want to go over that point, right? And Governor Rendell mentioned it.
If there was a deal, and they said, hey, you know, we‘re going to cut spending a little bit, but we‘re going to also raise taxes a little bit, maybe your surtax idea, would you go for that? Is that a possibility? And is that even possible that anyone would even suggest that in Washington?
SANDERS: Governor Rendell is right. There is waste in government. And I didn‘t mean to suggest that we can‘t make judicious cuts in a number of areas. Certainly, including the military, whose budget has almost tripled since 1997.
So I do think you need to make some cuts. But, on the other hand, when the wealthiest people are becoming wealthier, paying very low effective tax rates, have received huge amounts of tax breaks, they have got to participate in the effort to lower this deficit. It cannot simply be on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable.
UYGUR: Well, let me stay with you, Senator Sanders.
What is going wrong here in Washington? Because what we had was an immediate $800 billion tax cut. There was really almost no fight over that.. They got that right away.
Now, when you go to balance the budget, they say you can only do spending cuts. Only spending cuts. So you‘ve already lost, because now we‘re arguing—Democrats and Republicans are arguing over the size of the spending cuts.
Why do the Democrats lose that framing battle every single time? I want to ask both of you.
Senator Sanders, you start.
SANDERS: Well, I think—look, I was on the floor of the Senate for eight-and-a-half hours talking about those issues. And I think that the problem is, is that big money has just a huge impact on both political parties. And I think it‘s fair to say that many Democrats have lost their way and no longer see their function as representing working people or the middle class, but share the goal of the Republicans, unfortunately, in representing the wealthy and the powerful.
UYGUR: See, that‘s an interesting indictment of some Democrats. And I think I totally agree with that.
Governor Rendell, what do you think?
RENDELL: I agree with Bernie as well. I think some people in our party have forgotten about their roots and forgotten what we‘re fighting for, and forgotten fundamental fairness.
Look, this interim budget battle and the long-term battle over the president‘s budget next year are going to be very, very telling. And it is my hope that every Democratic senator in the Senate, of course including Independent Senator Sanders, will stand up and say, hey, don‘t even talk to us about tax cuts when you‘re giving subsidies to the oil companies. Don‘t even talk to us about spending cuts when you‘re not closing loopholes that are so unfair.
Talk about those thing, then we can maybe do this interim budget. And then next year, let‘s go back to taking away the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent in this country, because it‘s fair, the people support it across the board.
UYGUR: You know, I hope that the White House is listening to you guys. I hope that they come out and go, hey, wait a minute, nobody likes those. Real Americans, Governor Rendell is right, Senator Sanders is right. If we‘re going to the spending cuts, you‘ve at least got to give us back these subsidies that we‘re giving to the largest oil companies in the world.
RENDELL: It‘s ridiculous. Ridiculous.
SANDERS: The only thing that I would add to what Ed said—and I agree with everything that he said—is the Republican proposal in the midst of a horrendous recession, with unemployment extraordinarily high, will cut—cut hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
RENDELL: And, you know, that‘s not theory. If I can jump in, Cenk, that‘s not theory.
Remember this past month‘s job report? Two hundred and twenty-two thousand public sector jobs created. That‘s great news.
The net was 192,000 because we lost 30,000 public sector jobs. That is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg of what we‘re going to lose when these budget cuts go through not only in Washington, but in state capitols alike. We‘re going to lose hundreds of thousands of public employee jobs.
UYGUR: All right.
Senator Sanders, Governor Rendell, thank you both very much for joining us this evening. Really appreciate it. It was a great conversation.
All right. Now, Michele Bachmann calls the Obama administration gangsters again. But she also brought a strange prop with her. We have one for her, too. That should be fun.
And when you think of a warm and fuzzy man, do you think of this guy? Apparently, a lot of Americans do. That‘s interesting. Who ranked warmer, Michele Obama or Chris Christie? We‘ll have that answer for you.
CENK UYGUR, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: New Hampshire House Republicans are trying to pass a new law that would prevent college students from voting in the state. The lawmakers said, they‘re just trying to prevent fraud, which they claim can happen when hundreds of college student swarm a polling place. Yes, that sucks when voters swarm the vote. So, if these sounds like a GOP plot to keep young people from voting because they happen to be Democrats, well, it turns out that‘s exactly what it is. Listen to what the States Speaker of the House William O‘Brien, a Republican, told some local Tea Partiers about young voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM O‘BRIEN, NEW HAMPSHIRE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They go into these general elections they‘ll have 900 same-day registrations, which are the kids coming out of school and basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish voting as a liberal. Now, that‘s what kids do. They don‘t have life experience and they just vote their feelings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That‘s awesome. He just admitted it. I don‘t know if he knew he was on tape or not. He‘s like, we can‘t have the damn liberals voting. We have to figure out a way so the only we vote and they don‘t. So, the next time you hear about fraud and A.C.O.R.N., et cetera, they have no interest in that. They‘re just trying to prevent Democrats from voting as you saw right there with your own eyes. Now, Michele Bachmann went on “Meet the Press” and dodged just about every question. Like Sarah Palin doing the vice presidential debate, she apparently thought answering the questions was just optional. Instead, she immediate went to her bag full of crazy, pulled out a talking on how Obama‘s health care plan had a secret $105 billion in it that only she could see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: We‘ve taken one step forward and two steps back. Because we‘ve found now that $105 billion have all been implemented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Am I the only one who gets crept out by her maniacal stare? A feeling, she‘s trying to burn a whole towards souls. And that was one of the worst props I‘ve ever seen. What was the point of that? It just had a number on it. All right. You know what, two can play that game. Now, here‘s how much proof she offered to back up her claim of the secret $105 billion. Then she goes back to talking about Obama‘s gangster government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Is it appropriate to refer to the government as a gangster government and question whether this president loves America?
BACHMANN: Well, I said, I do believe that actions that have been taken by this White House, I don‘t take back my statement on gangster government. I think that there have been actions that have been taken by this government that I think are corrupt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, here‘s what she offered as proof of Obama‘s corruption.
Here‘s our IQ. You know what, it turns out props are kind of fun.
All right. Now, two things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But Republicans like Jan Brewer are actually choosing between the two which is amazing. We‘ll tell you how tax cuts might be costing some people their lives in Arizona. That‘s a very serious story. And David wind up on recall effort against Jan Brewer in Arizona because of those unbelievable cuts. And Sarah Palin rips Kathy Griffin and they both gain from it. We‘ll show you how.
UYGUR: What is a human life worth? How about 96 human lives? In Arizona, there actually is a price. It‘s $1.7 million. It would cost at most 1.7 million to save the lives of 96 people. Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer made $61 million in cuts in 2009 to the state‘s Medicaid program. In October, the money to fund some types of life-saving transplants like heart, liver and bone marrow transplants finally dried up. In her budget this year, the governor went after the state‘s Medicaid program again. Brewer proposed to cut $541 million from the already strapped program. By dropping 280,000 Arizonians from the rolls and offering no help to the transplant patients.
Governing is about choices. What would you do? Would you spend $1.7 million if it would save 96 of your neighbors? Forty-four year-old Douglas Gravagna was denied a heart transplant after the budget cuts went into effect. He told Reuters, quote, “Governor Brewer signing death warrants. That‘s what she‘s doing. This is death for me.” Gravagna is one of the 98 people whose chance of prolonging his life was essentially ended by a stroke of Governor Brewer‘s pen. Now, I just said 98. And earlier I was saying 96. Why? Because there were 98 of them. Now there are only 96 left. Two have died since Medicaid cuts went into effect in October. At least one of those deaths is believed to be the direct result of Governor Brewer‘s budget decisions.
An unidentified man who needed a liver transplant died on December 28. A spokesperson for the Arizona Health Sciences Center, said his death was, quote, “most likely the result of not receiving a transplant.” Quote, “It‘s impossible to say with 100 percent certainty whether patient would have died anyway, but we do know that his condition has gotten more severe since he was taken off the list.” But this is not a simply a matter of whether you cut or you don‘t cut. There are choices being made. For example, Governor Brewer gave away $538 million when she signed a business tax cut package into law.
Now, that includes lowering the corporate tax rate from seven percent to five percent, tax credits for job creation and restarting Arizona‘s job training program. Now, you might agree with some of those proposals and not agree with others. But they are choices. Look at what she did, she took away $538 million from Medicaid and gave $541 million in business tax cuts. And I‘m asking you, are you comfortable with a government that have says 96 people are not going to get life saving treatment because corporations need an extra two percent tax break? Imagine if someone you knew and cared about were in that 96?
Is that the kind of government you want? Apparently for some Arizonians, it is not. Because they have started a drive to recall Governor Brewer. They need almost half a million signatures by May, up climb to be sure. But they‘re not going quietly, they held a demonstration in Phoenix on Saturday. They were joined by a group of transplant survivors who came to voice their support for the Arizona 96.
Joining me now is Slate Dave Weigel, Dave is also an MSNBC contributor. Dave, are these Medicaid cuts particularly draconian? I mean, to me, it seems like taking people off the transplant list because you ran out of money for the Medicaid program, I mean, really, are the people of Arizona behind that? That seems crazy to me.
DAVE WEIGEL, SLATE: Well, the governor seemed to acknowledge this after not acknowledging it. After saying, this was the cut, this was off the table. She did propose creating a fund, I think $150 million to pay for some life-saving surgeries. And I don‘t think you can look at that proposal and say, stories like this are were responsible for that. And this is really galvanizing for people because who, you know, lost this last election to Jan Brewer, because they were unable to convince the rest of the state that the cuts she was making were going to affect everyone negatively unless they were coming into the state to employ lots of people theoretically for a business.
UYGUR: But Dave, you know, that‘s an interesting part. You look at all the different polls. And when you ask people, hey, would you like to do cuts or would you like to get tax more, it‘s actually kind of even. When you ask generically, do you think taxes should be raise? Actually, surprising them or people as we showed on this program, say absolutely, you know, but if you actually go to the specific cuts and you say, I am going to cut Medicaid, people are going to die. They say oh, no, no, no I don‘t want that at all. So, are they missing it here? When you elect a republican who says they‘re going to cut, this is what they cut.
WEIGEL: You know, it is. This is pretty universal. I mean, this recall is a lot like what‘s happening in Wisconsin, if Democrats get their way. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker has proposed cutting a lot of things from the budget in order to, you know, in part pay for tax cuts including those things is kicking some people off badger care, their health care plan. And it‘s not getting as much attention as this, but, you know, when I was in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, that‘s some of the protests in the capital, I meet at least one person who said, if this happens, I‘m getting my life span cut as possibly cut in half because I have bone cancer. Not getting as much attention but that is where the prioritization comes, you know, if you elect republican governors, the goal is to have everything trickled down, cut taxes and there‘s going to be pain at most of these lower levels of society, but hey, maybe eventually they‘ll get a job that can play for health care and it won‘t be the state‘s problem anymore. I mean, that‘s the theory, it just becomes tougher to explain when people drop dead.
UYGUR: And Dave, look, does she even work because she has to brag as she cut spending, but a lot of these people wind up in the Emergency Room anyway. And in the Emergency Room, they wind up costing more money in some cases. So is it just kind of transferring the money around but getting to brag about cuts?
WEIGEL: It‘s tough because a lot of these problems would be solved if the economy rebounded. And that‘s not something I think state governments have as much control over as they would like. I mean, Arizona has been attracting people to the state, you know, you‘re getting from other states that aren‘t doing as well for a very long time, having a lot more to do—well, having something to do with right to work loss, having something to do with low taxes, having a lot to do with the fact that it‘s Arizona and they can get away with a pretty good quality of life. They‘ve got people relocating there.
It isn‘t always as necessary, but this is, I mean, I think of Arizona, I also think of North Dakota which is probably going to have a $700 million surplus this year. North Dakota is not taking that surplus and pouring it into anything that you might support. I mean, they actually had a vote recently on whether to freeze four-year college tuition. Freeze four-year college tuition because they had this surplus who has failed by a landslide. That‘s not where the priorities are. The priority is getting this money and giving it back to taxpayers in the hope that these problems are going to get sorted out by free markets.
UYGUR: And, you know, my final point on this is, look, those tax cuts is a competition among the states, too. It‘s like trying to attract a football team. What they do is, they say, all right, I‘ll give you more cuts, I‘ll give you more cuts or I‘ll fund the stadium. You know, all the states wind up hurting each other. And it‘s a terrible idea that winds up hurting their actual constituents.
All right. Dave, we‘re going to keep track on this and we‘re going to see if these recall efforts in Wisconsin and Arizona gain traction, too. Thank you for your time tonight.
WEIGEL: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: All right. Now, as Congressman Peter King on a witch hunt against Muslims, the top expert on hate groups says, yes. He joins me ahead. And the Charlie Sheen soap opera rolls on. After a week of winning in tiger blood, is he getting a new TV offer? Oh, come on! Ana Kasparian has more on the best reality show on TV ahead.
UYGUR: A big part of winning elections is connecting with the people. Quinnipiac University, polled registered voters on their feelings for national political figures. All right. Now, here‘s the top three. Number one, Michelle Obama. All right. She‘s the first lady, they have warmth feelings towards her, it makes sense. Number two, President Bill Clinton. Popular president. I get it. Now, this is where it gets weird. At number three, in a poll about warm feelings, Chris Christie. What? When you think warm and fuzzy, do you really think of this man? The man who is becoming a rising star for Republicans for being a bully? That‘s fascinating. On the other hand, Rudy Giuliani came in fifth. So, this is how much I think about that poll. Giuliani, warm and fuzzy? I don‘t think so. We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: One lawmaker calls it a witch hunt. And it‘s already now in protest. Almost 1,000 people demonstrated in New York Times Square over Congressman Peter King‘s plans to hold hearings this week on quote, and this is his quote, “The extent of the radicalization of American Muslims.” Congressman King denies that he‘s unfairly singling out Muslims even as he refuses to accept democrat proposals to broaden the hearings beyond Muslims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: This is not an attack on Muslims, but the fact is the enemy right now is within the Muslim community. A small percentage, but it‘s there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, to give this some context is not exactly before Congressman King has expressed strong opinions about Muslims in America. In 2007, he told Politico, there are, quote, “Too many mosques in this country.” And that there‘s been a quote, “Lack of full cooperation from too many people in the Muslim community.” Now, what is that mean, too many mosque? What do think happens to a politician if they do that to any other religion. If they said, there are too many churches, you think they can survive? Too many churches. How about if there‘s too many Jewish temples? And they decided to hearings on that. How would that work out for that?
But Muslims I guess you can attack, it‘s no problem at all. Now, let me introduce real facts here, so that Congressman King can be educated. Last month, the Triangle Center on terrorism and Homeland Security released the results of his study of home grown terrorism since 9/11. Quote, “tips from Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of the 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.” That includes some prominent cases like the Times Square bomber. And which key information from Muslim Americans lead to their arrest. So, how‘s that for cooperation? And here was another thing.
There‘s been an explosive rise in the number of hate groups over the last year. But those are on the extreme right, having nothing to do with Muslim groups. The study report from the Southern Poverty Law Center puts the number of active U.S. hate groups at more than 1,000 for the first time ever. Congratulations, America. Topping the list, the Ku Klux Klan with 221 related groups. They‘re followed by neo-Nazis groups, 170 of them nationwide. And that doesn‘t make any sense. So, why is this Congressman King not focused on those groups and those threats?
With me now is Mark Potok, he‘s the director of the intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mark, let me be direct. Is this set of hearings by Congressman King a waste of time?
MARK POTOK, DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, the way they‘re organized, yes, I think there are wastes of time in a little worse. The reality is that Peter King does not come to this with clean hands at all. You know, I mean, he is a fellow who has described, you know, 85 percent to 90 percent of the Muslims in America or the mosques in America as being fundamentalists, tied to Jihadist and so on. So, you know, I mean, what this whole episode reminds me of this, imagine if Keith Ellison, the only Muslim congressman in the country, were to call hearings on evangelical Christians, so that we could look in to this milieu that produces so many abortion clinic bombers or something along those lines. You know, I think it‘s obvious that Congress would quickly be surrounded by people with pitch forks and flaming brands.
UGYUR: Well, let‘s talk about that. You know, is that, if you were going to do an actual hearing on all the different threats in the country, what would you focus on?
POTOK: Well, I think that it is a reasonable thing to take a look at how people become radicalized. We see that in the group, so I‘m more normally—frequently. You know, young people who in some way, move from typically being fairly stable people to adopting extremely radical believes and ultimately to undertaking terrorist action. So, you know, I think that is an absolutely legitimate topic that ought to be lift up. But when you single out of community like this which by all accounts including law enforcement accounts is a community that cooperates a very high levels with police despite what Peter King has suggested, it makes no sense. You‘re simply antagonizing the community, essentially calling it names and in effect ensuring or working to ensure the community, in fact, will not cooperate with you.
UYGUR: How about the signs of the other hate groups? You know, we mention in the intro a little bit there, numbers, what‘s their status?
POTOK: Well, hate groups have been growing in this country steadily for the last ten years or so, and I think mainly around the idea that this country is losing its white majority. We‘ve seen particularly in the last couple of years, really, explosive growth on the radical right in general. And so called, anti-government patriot groups, hate groups and other types of extreme groups. And I think this is very much tied to that idea that somehow the country is not the country that some people think it once was.
UYGUR: All right. Mark Potok, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. Now Sarah Palin bounces on Kathy Griffin, is that a bad thing or it‘s kind of fun? Ana Kasparian is live in L.A. She‘s going to tell us why they might both win from this fight.
UYGUR: Now, for some stories that cross over from of politics to pop culture. Let me bring in my Young Turks co-host Ana Kasparian who is at Los Angeles. Now, the Kathy Griffin and Sarah Palin story is a perfect example of how politics and pop culture meet. Ana, what‘s going on there?
ANA KASPARIAN, CO-HOST, “THE YOUNG TURKS”: Well, Cenk, Sarah Palin is going after Kathy Griffin. Griffin who has a long history of making fun of the Palin family is said to play a Palin-like Tea Partier on the upcoming episode of “Glee.” When asked about the episode, Palin went off on Griffin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, Kathy Griffin can do anything to me or say anything about me because, you know, she‘s kind of this—she‘s a 50-year-old adult bully really is what she is. Kind of a has-been comedienne and she can do those things to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Comedienne. Ana, why do you think they‘re getting into this cat fight?
KASPARIAN: Oh, it‘s so obvious that it‘s a publicity stunt. I mean, Kathy Griffin and Sarah Palin are doing a great job of a piggy backing off of one another for publicity. I mean, think about it. Sarah Palin attacks Kathy Griffin. She gets some news coverage on it. Kathy Griffin attacks Sarah Palin‘s family, she gets some news coverage out of it. It‘s perfect.
UYGUR: Yes, it makes sense. And that‘s how politics and pop culture, you know, if they‘re trying to sell books or trying to get TV shows, which they‘re both trying to do, that‘s how it works. All right. Now, give me the latest on Charlie Sheen real quick.
KASPARIAN: OK, Cenk. Now to the latest on Charlie Sheen. Warner Brothers officially ended Charlie Sheen‘s contract with “Two-and-a-Half Men” earlier today. But don‘t worry, Sheen‘s fans, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has had talks with Sheen about possibly hosting a TV show on his network, HDNet. Cuban told ESPN, quote, “I‘ve reached out and we‘ve had some conversations and we‘re going to work on doing some things.”
UYGUR: All right. That‘s going to be interesting. Maybe, it‘s things like Sheen‘s corner. I don‘t know if you saw that today, like, I‘ve got torpedoes of truth! What do you think, can he make a good talk show host?
KASPARIAN: Look, let me just tell you one thing, OK. TYT has some serious competition with Charlie Sheen Sheen‘s Corner. I mean, that‘s real good stuff.
UYGUR: All right. How much cocaine do you think Charlie Sheen has done?
KASPARIAN: Enough to kill “Two-and-a-Half Men.”
UYGUR: Duh! I love it! All right. OK, I got it. I got it Ana.
All right. Thank you. We really appreciate it, Ana. Thanks for watching.
And you know what, “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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