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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Judson Phillips, Dan Gross, Adam


CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.

It‘s 6:00 p.m. in Washington, 30 hours before the United States government shuts down, maybe.  At this point probably.

Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be back at the White House at 7:00 p.m. Eastern,  But there‘s no reason to think another round of talks will make any difference as long as the GOP continues to play bait-and-switch during these negotiations.

Today, President Obama issued a rare veto threat against yet another sham bill from the Republicans.  That‘s a very good thing.  The bill would keep the government running for another week.  The Republicans are disguising it as a bill to fund the troops and daring the Democrats to vote against it.


REP. HAL ROGERS ®, KENTUCKY:  If you vote against this bill, you are voting against the troops.


UYGUR:  What nonsense.  Now, by shutting the government down, you would be taking away the pay of the troops.  Now, to their credit, the Democrats saw it as a political sham and called them out on it.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER:  For them to want to disguise their bad proposal by hiding behind our troops is really a disservice to our troops.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  This is a cynical ploy to use our troops, to the try to impose the Republican agenda through the budget process.


UYGUR:  Well, it‘s also GOP 101.  I‘ve seen it for 10 straight years now hiding behind the troops.

Now, what‘s becoming increasingly clear in all this budget battles is that, for Republicans, the fight is about ideologies, not about the numbers.  They don‘t care about a few billion here or there.  What they really want to do is ram through those policy riders, attached to the budget that cuts social programs that don‘t fit their conservative agenda.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  We have bent, bent and bent as much as the caucus will bend.  The only things holding up an agreement are two of their so-called social issues: women‘s health and clean air.  This is an extreme agenda that has nothing to do with a funding bill.


UYGUR:  Now, all of that is true.  Extreme agenda, it has everything to do with those riders, and they bent and bent and bent.  Those riders, by the way, target the EPA.  They keep it from regulating greenhouse gases.  They also defund Planned Parenthood and everybody knows this.

Look, it‘s why protesters gathered today outside the capitol in support of Planned Parenthood and a woman‘s right to choose.

Perhaps the only true moment of clarity spoke when Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke on the House floor and tried to blame Democrats for the country‘s financial mess.  The Democrats were not having it.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER:  Let us look at why we are where we are to begin with.  You know -- 


CROWD:  Bush!  Bush!  Bush!

CANTOR:  We are—


UYGUR:  That was awesome.  When he said, let‘s look at how we got here, the Democrats started chanting “Bush, Bush, Bush.”  Oh, I love that.

We ought to find a guy who did that and give him a medal.  That was a great chant.  And did you notice the look on Cantor‘s face, like, oh, yes, oops, I shouldn‘t have brought that up.

And look, I want you guys to remember that.  Don‘t ever forget how we got here.  Bush and the Republicans destroyed our economy.  They cost us 8 million jobs.  They started a giant recession and handed us an enormous deficit.

So, you‘ll excuse me if I don‘t pay much mind to their nonsense ideas on the budget now.  That‘s my take.

But let‘s get other takes here.  Joining me now is A.B. Stoddard, associate editor and columnist for “The Hill.”  Also with us is Representative Marcy Kaptur, Democrat from Ohio.  She serves on the Budget and Appropriations Committee.  And did you know this?  She‘s the most senior woman in the House.  That‘s awesome.

All right.  A.B., I want to start with you.  I want to get the latest here.

Now, look, for many days now, the Democrats come out and go, I think we‘ve got it, I think we‘re really close to a deal here, and the Republicans come out and go, we want more.

Is there any reason to believe that tonight will be any different?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL:  No.  They do—they still want more, and we are really looking at the strong likelihood of a shutdown tomorrow night because the two parties are so far apart.  John Boehner does not up the ante every time he leaves those negotiations.  He says every time he leaves, it‘s not enough.  And unless you get that number now at the mid-30s up closer to $61 billion, he cannot find the votes, and he cannot pass it.

So, it really looks at this point like a shutdown is going to happen.  It got very dramatic today and far more interesting.  But we did not see a lot of progress.  And I think Republicans having passed that temporary stop-gap measure again in the House funding the troops, unlike what you see it as, I think it was a pretty good move, and they‘re very comfortable with where they are rhetorically, funding the troops for the rest of the year and moving on with the budget fight.

UYGUR:  Yes.  You know, by the way, rhetorically, it was a nice trick on their part, right?  And the president was talking about Yellowstone National Park.  He should have been talking about the military first, instead, of course, the Republicans came in, even though they‘re the ones who you say won‘t compromise.  And so, oh, we care about the troops, that they‘re not going to get paid.

Let me go to Representative Kaptur.  I mean, again, it seems like they somehow got a political advantage when no one believes in reality that they‘re willing to compromise.  Tell me about what the caucus is thinking.  I mean, have you guys had enough of giving in and giving in and then pulling the rug up from underneath you?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO:  Well, I think it‘s pretty apparent that the problem is on the Republican side.  You don‘t really know what happens when Speaker Boehner goes back into his own caucus.  But it appears that they can‘t seal a deal, that everyone can agree to.  And so, they come back to us with measures that don‘t do anything to create jobs in this country.

But, then, today, they talk about using our soldiers as a pawn in this protracted struggle to reach an agreement for the budget year in which we‘re in, 2011.  It appears that they can‘t govern.  And the Democrats, obviously, it‘s the leadership that‘s involved in these meetings, but when they go back, he can‘t satisfy his own caucus.  So, there‘s a severe problem on the other side of the aisle.

And what‘s sad about this is the American people really want to go to work.  They want their government to work also.  They want a country that‘s stable during these difficult times economically and militarily around the world.  And we‘re into this kind of juvenile back-and-forth, this ping-pong between the caucuses and the White House.

They‘re going back in again tonight at 7:00, I don‘t know if they can pull a rabbit out of the hat by tomorrow.  But I hope so.

UYGUR:  Yes.

You know, A.B., I want to go to you for a second actually because what I want to understand is: what is their priority here?  Because as Representative Kaptur just said there, once they go into caucus, they come out saying, no, no, no.  Are they saying no predominantly because of he riders, that they absolutely want the riders?  Is it mainly that they just want more money?  Or they‘re just never going to get a deal—they actually do want to shut it down?

STODDARD:  Well—no, it really is a mix of both, Cenk.  I mean, the riders remain important to many conservatives in the caucus.  You know those are environmental, abortion-related, and also efforts to stop the implementation of health care reform.  Those are important to their members.

But, also, I think that if you saw an offer from the Democrats without riders, but far deeper cuts, it would be—it would be more popular among their ranks and probably something that they could pass, and likely with the help of the Blue Dog Democrats, 15 of whom voted with the Republicans today.

But I do want to make a point.  While the Democrats were in the majority, they did not pass a budget.  And it‘s not that it‘s on Congresswoman Kaptur and other House Democrats‘ shoulders, but the Senate Democrats have never passed a bill yet.  All of the continuing resolutions to keep the government open have been written by Republicans and brought to the table by Republicans.  The Senate Democrats have passed nothing, and the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats last year holding the majority passed no budget.

And so, as they come to the table, they are—if a shutdown happens, Republicans are convinced at this point that they‘ve showed the public that they have been the ones trying to keep the government open with resolution after resolution.

UYGUR:  Well—no, no, but, A.B., there‘s a couple unfair things there.  First, you have a better point when they controlled the Senate, right?  Well, they still do.  What I‘m saying when they controlled all of Congress, when they had the House and they could have passed this.

STODDARD:  They did not pass a budget last year.

UYGUR:  I know.  That‘s what I‘m saying.  They didn‘t pass it.  That‘s the better point of it. But at the same time, the Republicans filibustered everything anyway, right?

So, now—hold on—now when they have the whole House, what‘s the point of the Senate passing a bill that they know isn‘t going to go past the House?  Isn‘t it just political games?  Is it a point to get a bill that everybody agrees on and then the Senate passes it?

STODDARD:  Well, the way that it usually is done, and I know Congresswoman Kaptur will agree with me that you have two chambers, and each supposed to pass a bill, and you negotiate the differences between two bills.  And so, when you only have Republican bills, they think that you‘re supposed to come further to their bill unless you have your own Democratic bill.

I‘m not arguing on behalf of them.  I‘m saying that is traditionally the process.  Senator Reid could have passed a Democratic budget bill and represented that bill in the negotiations at the White House.  That has never been happening.  It‘s all on Republican terms.

UYGUR:  I‘m going to let Congresswoman—

STODDARD:  They‘ve allowed Republicans to drive the debate.

UYGUR:  I‘m going to let the congresswoman respond.  Go ahead.

KAPTUR:  Yes.  You know, it‘s hard for me to speak about the other body, the Senate.  But it is true with the filibuster process in place and with Senator McConnell pulling the rug out from everyone all the time, they can‘t muster 60 votes over there.  So, it places a great deal of burden on the House.

I will say, in the defense of Democrats, and I‘ve served in Congress a while now, that the only balanced budgets we ever got were during Democratic administration administrations.  We gave the Bush administration balanced budgets and we were paying down long-term debt.  Until President Bush, he not only pushed us into these growing deficits, because the wars were not paid for, but he basically gave the public treasury to Wall Street.

And if you look at the tax cuts that he enacted which didn‘t produce job growth in this country, over $1 trillion—

UYGUR:  That‘s right.

KAPTUR:  -- of public money is going into the pockets of the wealthiest people in this country when the middle class and working class are getting gouged.

So, I think you have to look at what‘s on the table in these budget negotiations, and only 12 percent is even being talked about.  These other tax breaks that I‘m talking about and the costs of running a government are not even on the table.

So, it‘s unrealistic to think you can balance trillion dollar deficits when not everything is on the table.  You‘ve got to produce a growth economy.

UYGUR:  I actually have numbers on there.  A.B., though, I‘m going to be a little unfair and I‘m going to spring a pop quiz on you.  Do you know the last Republican president to balance a budget?

STODDARD:  I‘m not prepared for this pop can I see.  It was not Ronald Reagan.  How is that?

UYGUR:  That‘s true.  It was Eisenhower.

KAPTUR:  I was going to guess that.

STODDARD:  You know, in fairness, I agree.  You know, we can argue all night about how much the Bush administration and the Bush years recently drove us into debt with two unpaid wars and a prescription drug plan that also was used borrowing money from China.  But what we‘re talking about this, if the government shuts down, the Republicans believe they have shown a willingness to govern by drafting—

UYGUR:  Nonsense.  I‘m sorry.  I‘ve got to jump in.

STODDARD:  That‘s all I‘m saying.

UYGUR:  Nonsense.  Not true even remotely for two reasons—

STODDARD:  They‘re comfortable—I‘m not their spokesman.  I‘m just saying they‘re comfortable where they are.

UGYUR:  And what I‘m telling you that their position is nonsense.

Let me explain two things.  First, historically, it does matter, because they have no credibility.  Here, let me show you the numbers.  Last time we had a balanced budget, of course, was under Clinton.  He left office with $127 billion surplus.

When Bush left office, he had a $1.3 trillion deficit.  These guys don‘t know what they‘re doing.  They‘ve never balanced a budget.  They just—so they have no credibility.

Now, when you come to the present, the president gave them $40 billion, then he gave them $4 billion, and then $6 billion, and then $20 billion.  And then, we were up to $73 billion and now, apparently, they‘ve offered a couple more billion as you‘ve reported, and it‘s still not good enough.

A.B., how can anybody in their right mind think that the Democrats have not compromised enough and are not ready to govern, and that it‘s the Republicans who are responsible?  That defies all sense and reason.

STODDARD: You know, Cenk, I agree with you.  I think that the administration has been extremely compromising and has come to the table willing to cut a long way to $61 billion.  Unfortunately, the Republicans want $61 billion plus the riders, and as I said before, if they went way above 40, there might be a willingness to take out of the policy changes.

But that is what they passed in the House, there is no Senate bill, and they argue that‘s not halfway.

UYGUR:  Congresswoman, last question, are you willing to go above 40? 

Please tell me no.


KAPTUR:  I want everything on the table.  And if we put everything on the table, we could get well above 40, but that will mean every American, including the Wall Street billionaires, who are doing quite well, thank you, only paying at an 11 percent tax rate, they should be paying at a 35 percent tax rate like every other honest business in this country.

Companies like General Electric, ExxonMobil paying no taxes?  They ought to put those tax breaks out on the table.  It just shouldn‘t be taken out hides of our veterans, children in school—

UYGUR:  Right.

KAPTUR:  -- our senior citizens who are hungry.  I mean, the 12 percent that‘s on the table comes right out of the hides of the working class and middle class, the people who really need the help.

UYGUR:  Absolutely.  And later in the show, we‘re going to talk about those oil subsidies, how they‘re robbing us blind and nobody is talking about them, except Representative Kaptur here, as she pointed out.

But I want to thank both of you tonight for your time.  A.B. Stoddard and Representative Kaptur, I really appreciate the conversation.

KAPTUR:  Thank you, Cenk.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, next, the Tea Party is frothing at the mouth trying to shut the government down.  Will Boehner do their bidding, or will they take them out?  We‘re going to talk to one of the Tea Party leaders and ask him what he wants to on do with Boehner if he won‘t shut down the government.

And we‘re going to break down Paul Ryan‘s con job on the country.  Could the so-called cuts actually make the budget mess even worse?  And what‘s his real goal if it isn‘t to balance the budget?


UYGUR:  Up next, the Tea Party is gunning for a government shutdown unless all its demands are met.  But what will the group do if Speaker Boehner makes a deal with Democrats?  Well, we‘re going to ask a Tea Party leader.  He‘s right here and he‘s going to weigh in, next.




REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP:  The Tea Party on your side, as so often is the case.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Speaker, re-claim me my time.


UYGUR:  Republicans so touchy about the Tea Party that they literally shut down Democratic whip Steny Hoyer when he dared to criticize the movement on the House floor.

The Tea Party and its unwillingness to compromise is why a shutdown is still on the table.  And a new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll points to who is unwilling to give an inch in this debate.  The numbers are very telling.  It finds that 68 percent of Democrats think their leaders should be willing to make compromise, to give consensus to the current spending debate, and they‘ve gotten their wish.  They have compromised and compromised.

But look at what happens when you ask Republicans—only 38 percent think that their party leaders should compromise in order to make a deal.  And that number drops again when you ask Tea Party members.  Just 28 percent, less than three in 10, think that GOP leaders should make concessions.

The Tea Party‘s unwillingness to give even an inch was on full display at a rally yesterday organized by Americans for Prosperity.  Here is Indiana Congressman Mike Pence calling for a shutdown if the group can‘t get its way.


REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA:  If liberals in the Senate would rather force a government shutdown instead of accepting a modest downpayment on fiscal discipline and reform—I say, shut it down.




UYGUR:  Well, their position seems to be clear.  They don‘t want any compromise, and they‘re literally chanting shut it down.  Hey, when you can‘t get your way, just shut it down, right?

By the way, who does that remind you of?  For me, it reminds me of the kid who would take their ball and go home if it didn‘t go their way.  You remember that kid?  You guys can‘t call me out, I was safe.  I‘m going home and having a Tea Party.

With me now is Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation.

All right.  Judson, you see my position on this.  So, let me ask you, do you want to you‘re your ball and go home?

JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY NATION:  No, actually, I‘d love to see 545 people up in Washington act like grownups and realize we‘ve got a major spending and debt problem and start doing serious reductions before we have an economic catastrophe.

UYGUR:  Now, when grownups negotiate and I‘ve been involved in negotiations.  You probably as well, Judson, they see usually come to some of the sort of compromise.  If one side says I‘m just going to hold my breath until I turn blue, until you get what you want, that doesn‘t lead to a compromise or to a solution, does it?

PHILLIPS:  And that sounds like Harry Reid who has said—

UYGUR:  Really?  How so?

PHILLIPS:  Yes, Harry Reid said he would not consider senior anything that the GOP sent over.  I mean, how many times did he say, you know, it‘s not going to be more than $33 billion, not include any riders.

UYGUR:  No, Judson, you know that‘s not true.

PHILLIPS:  Yes, it is.  It‘s been on the news, even on MSNBC.

UYGUR:  Hold on, everybody agrees that the Democrats are conceding to $33 billions.  In fact, I‘ve heard now $34.5 billion, right?  Are you saying they‘re not conceding to that?  Because that‘s what every single person is reporting.

PHILLIPS:  No, I think that is figure that they have gone with.

UYGUR:  OK.  So, they are willing to make a deal, they‘ll shake on it right now?

PHILLIPS:  Right.  Here‘s the problem—we have $1,600 billion as a deficit for this year, $1.65 trillion, all right?  And the amount that the Democrats are talking about cutting is a mere $33 billion.  That‘s 2 percent.  Boehner is talking about doing a little bit more, not a whole lot, but a little more.


UYGUR:  So, it appears you‘re saying it‘s merely enough.  You don‘t want him to compromise.  That‘s what I got—that seems to be clear.

So, let me play you a video of John Boehner.  He was asked about if there‘s any difference between you guys and him.  It‘s interesting.  Let‘s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you know what the Democrats say?  They say they could cut a deal with you, but you won‘t buck the Tea Party.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  There‘s no daylight between the Tea Party and me.




UYGUR:  Is that true?

PHILLIPS:  Oh, I wish.  Now, he—I mean, you know, Boehner is improving a bit, so I‘m going to give credit.  He is improving a bit.  But Boehner is not where any of us in the Tea Party want him to be.

You know, I penned an open letter to Boehner this afternoon, saying, look, the General Accounting Office has pointed hundreds of billions of dollars that can be eliminated in the budget just by eliminating inefficient programs, programs that don‘t work, programs that are duplicated.  Hey, let‘s start there.

Nobody supports wasteful and fraudulent government spending.  Everybody would agree, hey, if the money is being wasted, we need to cut it out.  So, let‘s start there.  So, I mean, that‘s where I kind of like him to start.

UYGUR:  All right.  So, let me get this right.  If the Democrats concede again and you get to $35 billion, are you still in favor of shutting it down?

PHILLIPS:  No, I‘m in favor of real substantial budget cuts.

UYGUR:  OK.  In other words, if they say $35 billion, no—no deal, shut it down.

PHILLIPS:  That‘s—I mean, $34 billion, 35 billion, which you‘re talking deficits the size we‘re talking about, that‘s a joke.

UYGUR:  But Judson, everybody watching right now thinks we can‘t ever get a deal with you.  I mean , we went to 40, you still say no, 45 -- I mean, at what point do you say yes unless you get everything you want?


UYGUR:  Give me a number.  What‘s the number where you say, all right, fine, OK, let‘s have a deal?

PHILLIPS:  I would go, personally, this is me.  If they came up with $100 billion, I wouldn‘t be happy, but I‘d say, OK, I can compromise on that.

UYGUR:  Wait, $100 billion—you mean like $61, that‘s what the Republicans asked for?  You mean beyond that 100?

PHILLIPS:  No, I‘m talking about—let‘s go with the original $100 billion that the Republican said they were going to cut, and the GAO has given them a blueprint.  You can cut hundreds of billions just on waste.

UYGUR:  So, beyond 100 percent—you want beyond 100 percent of what the Republicans are asking for right now?



PHILLIPS:  Hey, Cenk, this is not at game where we go, oh, well, we‘re going to negotiate and we‘ll see who goes first and we play monopoly.

UYGUR:  No, it‘s not a game, Judson.


PHILLIPS:  We have a lot of debt.

UYGUR:  You know what happens?  Our troops don‘t get paid.  It‘s not a game to them.


UYGUR:  I mean, we‘re risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and you are willing to shut down the government unless you get over 100 percent of what you want and so, then, these guys aren‘t getting paid even though they‘re risking their lives.  That doesn‘t sound like a game to me, either.  I mean, you‘re willing to do that?

PHILLIPS:  The GOP offered a bill that would make sure—

UYGUR:  Oh, come on, Judson.  Come on.


UYGUR:  You‘re saying ultimately—ultimately you will say no to all deals.  It‘s a gimmick for a week.

PHILLIPS:  -- so all these guys will get paid.

UYGUR:  No, no, that‘s a gimmick for a week.  Ultimately, you‘re saying the final deal, you won‘t have under any circumstances.

Do you—last thing for you, Judson, here‘s the thing I can‘t understand about you guys.  You act like you‘re the only people in the country, like the Tea Party somehow is the president and the Congress and everybody else and the Supreme Court.  You know there are other people in the country and those people are saying compromise.  So—and think about that, what does it do to your own party, when you force them into an untenable situation, and then you got general electorate saying we don‘t want that?  Doesn‘t that even—doesn‘t that hurt your own party?

PHILLIPS:  You‘re assuming facts not in evidence.  The majority of American people have said we want the spending—

UYGUR:  But they say when you want a deal, they say yes.


PHILLIPS:  They would prefer have the government shut down -- 

UYGUR:  That is not what the polls say.


UYGUR:  The American people do not want the government shutdown.  That is not remotely true.

PHILLIPS:  Yes, it is.  It most certainly is.

UYGUR:  OK.  All right.  Well, we‘ll show the polls.  We‘ll show the polls.  OK?

PHILLIPS:  Fair enough.

UYGUR:  Judson Phillips, thank you for your time tonight.  You made things more clear.

PHILLIPS:  Thank you for the invitation.

UYGUR:  We appreciate it.

PHILLIPS:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  All right.  Up next action: Paul Ryan‘s budget in my opinion is a con job.  His plan is called the path to prosperity—yes, if you‘re rich, it will make you more prosperous.

Plus, quick help.  Donald Trump has fallen and he can‘t give up.  Seriously, he‘s saying all kinds of nonsense and people are giving him attention that he craves.  So, we‘re going to give him some attention to the real facts and real business of his career.  That‘s not a pretty picture.  We‘ll show you the details.


UYGUR:  Welcome to our first ever con job.  It is my belief and experience that conservatives in this country hardly ever mean what they say.  There‘s usually another agenda and it‘s usually about money, but I don‘t want to just claim that.  I want to prove it to you.  So, we‘re going to do this segment every day until it becomes abundantly clear to everyone what their really game is. 

Today, we start with Congressman Paul Ryan, he swears up and down that his budget proposal is a government cutting debt reducing Tea Party dream come true, but guess what?  Over the next ten years, his plan actually adds to the debt.  Right now, the national debt is 62 percent in GDP.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates it under current policy, it will be up to 67 percent in 10 years.  Now, that‘s not great, but under Ryan‘s proposal, the debt would hit 70 percent of GDP by 2022.  That‘s much worse.  Paul Ryan and the CBO say that eventually his plan would bring down the debt once they start hacking away at Medicare. 

Now, Ryan didn‘t say hacking, but you know how much extra your Health Care would cost onto that plan?  You would have to add $20,000 a year on top.  That‘s the kind of deep cuts they have in Medicare, but get a load of how much they move the money around until it winds up in their pocket.  That‘s the interesting part.  So, look at what Ryan‘s says his plan would do.  Remember the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found the plan proposes about spending cuts at about 4.3 trillion by 2022, but Paul Ryan says, it also cuts $4.2 trillion in taxes, most of which goes straight to the rich. 

So, he‘s taking trillions of dollars away from programs like food stamp, Medicaid and Medicare, and giving almost the same exact amount to the top bracket in tax cuts.  So voila, the money magically moves from the middle class and the poor to the rich, all in the name of so-called balancing the budget.  That‘s not what they‘re doing at all.  Now, this is exactly the kind of con game that the GOP plays all the time, and it‘s something we‘ll by pointing out every day right here at this point in the show.  And trust me, we won‘t run out of examples. 

All right.  Now, Donald trump is pitching himself as a great businessman, ready to turn the economy around, but the thing about facts is that there are stubborn things.  And we‘ll show you those facts about Donald Trump‘s real business career, next. 

And progressives are already making good on their promise to send Republicans packing in Wisconsin.  That‘s also a great story, coming up.



DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN:  I have a huge business and a great business, and I‘m a builder, and I‘m a great builder.  And that‘s what this country needs.  This country has to rebuild itself.  


UYGUR:  That, of course is Donald Trump, speaking on the “Today” show this morning.  And of course he‘s a great businessman.  He‘s Donald Trump.  If anyone can turn the economy around, it‘s this famous businessman, right?  Well, funny thing, though, Trump‘s record shows he may not be such a great businessman after all.  In fact some of his companies have had serious trouble paying their bills, like in 1990, when the Trump Castle Casino defaulted.  


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  One day after Donald Trump‘s 44th birthday, no one in his organization was celebrating today.  The Donald defaulted on payments of almost $20 billion due on some of the bonds used to finance one of his hotel casinos.  


UYGUR:  The next year, things got worse.  The unpaid bills piled up, triggering a process that would soon push Trump Taj Mahal into bankruptcy. 


UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  When you borrow as much money as Donald Trump did, nearly $2 billion, and the economy goes into a tail spin and you can‘t pay the interest on your loans, the bankers move in, and they have. 


UYGUR:  But I‘m sure Trump must have learned his lesson, right?  I mean, his casinos wouldn‘t go bankrupt again, would they?  Well, let‘s find out and go to 2004. 


UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Donald Trump‘s hotels and casino resorts are in deep debt to the tune of nearly $2 billion. 


UYGUR:  And once again, Trump‘s casinos would file for bankruptcy.  Am I detecting a pattern here? You tell me.  Here‘s what happened in 2009, four days after Trump resigned as chairman of the board. 


UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  The three Atlantic City casinos once run by Donald Trump have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the third time.  


UYGUR:  That‘s not good.  And yet, Trump keeps saying he‘s a great businessman, like in 1999, when it just so happens he decided to run for president. 


TRUMP:  I am serious.  I‘ve seen what‘s happened, I‘ve seen polls come out that say that I would win.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Yes.  You say this, there is no spirit in America. 

Why can Donald Trump give spirit to America?

TRUMP:  I‘ve just given spirit to everything I have done, whether it‘s my business, whether it‘s whatever.  


UYGUR:  Except for all those businesses that went bankrupt.  In other words, Trump has played this joke on the country before.  He‘s not a serious candidate, and he‘s got some seriously gaping holes in his business record, but here‘s an even bigger joke, republican voters seem to be taking him seriously.  Look at the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll.  Among 2012 republican candidates within the republican field, Trump is coming in number two at 17 percent right behind Mitt Romney.  But it gets worse.  Among Tea Party supporters, look at this, Trump is number one.  That is really sad.  Look, nothing about this guy is real.  How idea logically bankrupt is the Republican Party that they turn to a man who perpetually bankrupts what he runs and then claims he‘s doing a great job.  Actually, come to think of it, he does sound like a republican president. 

All right.  With me now is Dan Gross, a columnist at Yahoo! Finance, author of “Dumb Money: How our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation.”  All right.  Dan, I want to start with this, is Trump really—what business is he in?  And he seems like he‘s more than the name recognition and media business.  

DAN GROSS, COLUMNIST, YAHOO! FINANCE:  Well, he started off as a builder.  You know, his father had huge numbers of apartments, in Queens and Brooklyn, you know, un-fancy, outer borough places.  He made money building Trump Tower, several other projects, but like every real estate developer and like homeowners, you know, when things are going great and you have all the credit in the world, you‘re a genius, and the minute things go a little downhill and credit is hard to come by, you are on the verge of bankruptcy.  And he‘s been that way sort of in his personal life in the ‘80s. 

Many of the enterprises he would involved with.  He had the Trump Shuttle that he had to essentially give back to banks.  These days, he‘s mostly in the branding and marketing business.  You know, I think his great comeback was, one of his great comeback was with “The Apprentice” which was a hit show, his books sell well.  And a lot of the buildings around the country and around the world that you see with his name on them, Trump Soho, a Trump building in Ft. Lauderdale.  Even the huge project on the upper west side of Manhattan that bears his name. 

It‘s not so much his money, his other investors who don‘t have, you know, a big fancy name for themselves who bring him on for marketing purposes.  And maybe he gets a stake in the company or maybe not.  And he and his kids, you know, they are very adept and marketing.  And this also gives him some deniability.  If a venture he‘s involved with goes south, goes bankrupt or can‘t pay the loan, he said, you know, that really wasn‘t my deal, I just put my name on it.  

UYGUR:  So, when people think they are buying Trump, they‘re not really getting what they paid for.  I mean, if they got what they paid for, it might be worse, but the reality is these companies, apparently are buying Trump‘s name and just putting it on the building, whether he‘s involved in building it or not, is that what‘s going on in some of these projects?

GROSS:  Well, in the same way you might do with Polo or Paris Hilton or anything else that has a really good name brand.  Think about it, if you‘re in New York where there are a gazillion fancy apartment buildings, how do you differentiate yourself?  Say, you‘re some sort of anonymous investor from New York or from Hong Kong, and you want to give your building some sort of position in the marketplace, well, you put Trump‘s name on it.  Think of all the free media he gets you.  And so he does development some of his own stuff.  He‘s involved with golf course development.  He has made a lot of money over the years certainly more than you and I or most people, but it‘s largely done with other people‘s money.  With debt that is incurred by companies and with other people‘s equity that he is able to put his name on by providing, you know, marketing support. 

UYGUR:  And so, Dan, to tie it back to this quizzical thing that he‘s doing, pretending to run for president, which you think, he‘s done before.  Is that just to keep building and building and building the name, so that he can then charge more money for the name?

GROSS:  I don‘t think it‘s that calculating.  I think, you know, we‘re all around people who are on TV.  And once people are on TV, what do they want?  They want to be on TV more.  And it‘s kind of like, you know, so at one point if you have your own show, you want something bigger, you want your own network, like some, you know, the Oprahs of the world or other people. 

UYGUR:  Right.

GROSS:  And I think, you know, for people who spend a lot of their time in the media, who like the attention, I think you get to a point where you say, well, I‘ve had a primetime show, where you do you go from there?  And, you know, running for office, if he wasn‘t running for office, would we be talking about him? Would he be on morning shows?  Would he be the subject of—do you think you could say the same thing about a lot of people who are running for president, you know, whether it‘s Michele Bachmann or some other people?  

UYGUR:  Right.  No, I hear you.  I‘ll tell you though, if he actually does run, then this is the tip of the iceberg.  Once people get into his business affairs, look at what he‘s actually done, he might be a little bit in trouble in terms of that brand name.  And it might not be as good as you think it is.  

GROSS:  Yes, I don‘t think it‘s the business that‘s the problem, I think what he says about policy. 

UYGUR:  That‘s a whole other game.  


GROSS:  We‘re just going to somehow beat up China? 

UYGUR:  I know, that‘s a crazy stuff.

GROSS:  A lot of random stuff out there. 

UYGUR:  You‘re right.  That‘s a whole another kind of—but Dan Gross, thank you for your expertise tonight.  We appreciate it.  

GROSS:  Anytime.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, just ahead, if any of those poor down on their luck oil companies, we‘ll debut a news segment here on the show, highlighting the obscene subsidies that those companies are getting.  

But what America should be doing with that money instead?  But first, more bad news for Scott Walker and his buddies, a second republican lawmakers in Wisconsin moving closer to a recall.  We‘ll be right back.   


UYGUR:  We‘re starting something new today called rigged game.  Now, a lot of new things on this show today, now, everyday we‘re going to talk about this obscene oil subsidies that are being handed out to some of the most profitable corporations in the world.  It‘s estimated that every year, the United States government gives approximately $4 billion in tax subsidies to oil and gas companies.  Meanwhile, we all know that these companies are pulling in absurd profits.  Last year alone, the top five oil and gas companies earned a total of $77.4 billion in profits.  Now, government subsidies for profitable oil companies are nothing new.  The first one was actually put back on the books in 1916, and since then, seven more have been added.  The most recent once being enacted in 2005.  Now, you have to wonder how it‘s possible that these companies that have made a trillion dollars in profit over the last ten years, and that‘s just the top five oil companies, can continue to  receive these huge tax subsidies, because they have people like Republican Congressman Jeff Landry on their side.  Listen to him defending an oil company‘s CEO‘s salary.  


REP. JEFF LANDRY ®, LOUISIANA:  It wasn‘t America is all about, about and American dream, about the kid that might not have it, real good, maybe grows up in a poor family and works his way all the way to the top.  And shouldn‘t he be able to make as much money as he possibly can, and work as less hours as he can, if he‘s that smart and that good?  I mean, should we destroy the American dream?


UYGUR:  That‘s awesome.  Yes, I like to think—found that because I love what he says.  Look, you know what?  If I got $4 billion a years in subsidies, I would be that good and that smart, too.  I wouldn‘t have to work very hard at all.  I could sit back and get the $450 million that the Exxon CEO got as a retirement package, most of us get a watch.  OK.  But we‘re not that good and smart.  Because we didn‘t find congressman to be on our side, and give us $4 billion.  Look, the reality is that these subsidies have nothing to do with how good or smart these companies are.  And certainly not about how needy they are.  It‘s just astute how good their lobby a star. 

If instead of giving these companies $4 billion a year, we spend the money on teachers, do you know how many we could hire?  We would hire about 70,000 new teachers.  Now, it‘s been 2,068 days since George W. Bush signed the last oil subsidy bill into law in August of 2005.  And we‘re going to keep on this story until they are done away with.  I know it‘s ambitious, but we‘re going to give it our best shot.  Every day, we will show you how we could have spent that money much better. 


UYGUR:  Today, progressives in Wisconsin took another huge step towards rolling back Scott Walker‘s union-busting bills.  Democrats filed paperwork to recall republican state Senator Randy Hopper, a key part of the Walker coalition.  He‘s one of eight GOP senators that progressives are trying to vote out of office.  He‘s on the second on the recall list.  This came just days after Democrats filed papers to get another republican state Senator Dan Kapanke recalled.  The ultimate goal is to change the balance of power in the Senate and ultimately reversal Walker law. 

We‘re also getting news about that Supreme Court election seen by most as a referendum on Walker‘s leadership and his all true right agenda.  Long-shot democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg had declared victory over Walker ally David Prosser after betting him by some 200 votes yesterday.  But now, officials in one county are announcing that they‘re releasing new vote totals, giving Prosser an extra 7,500 votes, that county or Republican—with strong Walker support.  Of course the final results won‘t be certified for another week. 

Joining me now is Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  Adam, I know you guys made a lot of calls for Kloppenburg.  Tell us what the current status is and tell us what you think is coming next. 


as you said, Progressive Change Campaign Committee along with Democracy for America need over 96,000 phone calls targeted Wisconsin voters.  And, you know, this really shows that every vote counts and every piece of volunteer activity counts.  And what we‘ve seen over the last 24 hours is that she was ahead by 200 votes, then he was ahead by 50, then she was ahead by 40 votes.  This will go on and on, and that‘s what we should expect over the next week or two as the recount and actually the canvassing before the recounts happens.  But what‘s really important to keep in mind is the big picture political perspective here. 

This is actually round two of his election.  In round one, David Prosser of the Republican won by a whopping 30 points.  In this round, it is neck and neck.  She went up 30 points in the polls.  And what that means, and it actually happens right before the whole Wisconsin—scenario, when people start focusing on the republican war and working families.  So, I think the Republicans are in for a world of hurt, and the upcoming recall election, no republican politician can withstand a 30-point surge in the poll against them which is about to happen for them.  

UYGUR:  Adam, I want to have a nation one ramification of this on a second.  But let‘s stay in Wisconsin for a second here. 

GREEN:  Yes.

UYGUR:  How many of these state senators do you think you can really recall?  I mean, obviously two are up on the list, now, Kapanke and Hopper.  Do you think that‘s realistic getting vote of them?  I know Kapanke seems to be in some degree in trouble, but how many do you think ultimately can get recalled?

GREEN:  Yes.  I mean, I would bet have a lead that both of them are tossed at this play.  There are some others like there‘s eight potential Republicans eligible for recall.  What a recall is basically a do-over election when 25 percent of voters who voted in the last election sign this petition.  My guess is that all eight of them will actually have to face these do-over elections and be officially recalled?  How many of those do over elections will we win?  My honest guess is about six, there are six of these Republicans who are in districts that President Obama won last cycle, some of them by huge margins.  There are two in deeply conservative districts.  Our goal is to make them scramble for their political lives and have to face election.  But, you know, we only need three, my guess is we‘ll get more than three when push comes to shove.  

UYGUR:  Adam, one more quick question about Wisconsin, I had called Dan Kapanke, Dan hanky-panky Kapanke because it rhymed, but it turns out unbelievably that nickname is actually taken by Randy Hopper.  Why is Hopper hanky-panky?

GREEN:  It‘s not every day that a senator‘s, you know, wife and maid come out for that senator‘s recall.  In this case, the wife pretty much said he doesn‘t even live in the district, he‘s living somewhere else with his 25-year-old mistress.  

UYGUR:  Oops.  

GREEN:  That‘s what she say, he‘s toast.  Oops, right, exactly.  So, you know, honestly Kapanke and Hopper aren‘t the tough ones.  There will be some closer fights.  But again, it‘s looking pretty good, the grass-roots activism is making a world of difference in these elections, and this Supreme Court case indicates that there will be a surge of voters in the polls but ain‘t right.  

UYGUR:  Adam, unfortunately we‘re out of time, so let me just say that nationwide ramifications rather than asking you, recalls, referendums, progressive primaries, all over the country, my guess is you‘re on board.

GREEN:  Yes.  And we‘re on board, and I would just point out, folks across the nation right now, I would like to recall the to make it different.  

UYGUR:  All right.  We‘ll be right back.                                  


UYGUR:  All right.  I want to tell you guys where I‘m coming from here, because I‘ve done this show for a while.  You‘re looking at my dad there.  And this is going to be partly his story, actually.  I think it‘s important that you know where I stand, and I stand as a strong progressive.  And my dad is part of the reason that I stand there.  Let me tell you a story a little bit.  When he grew up, he was in a southeastern, well, I call it a village, he calls it a town.  OK?  And he was a farmer.  And they had no money.  You know what he did?  He applied for school.  And it was a tough entrance exam, but he studied really hard and he passed it. 

And you know what he got at that time back in Turkey?  He got a free education.  Look.  That has made all the difference in our lives.  He became an engineer and he started his own company.  And we got here and he passed those values on to me.  Hard work and the belief that you can do anything.  And that‘s why I‘m a progressive.  You know, what I want?  I want everybody to have that fair chance that my dad had.  Education is the great equalizer.  Look, I believe in a lot of things in regards to progressivism.  I believe in opportunity, responsibility, decency, but most of all, I want everybody to have a shot.  That‘s why I‘m a progressive. 

Look, I don‘t mind the rich being rich.  That‘s great.  We all want to be rich.  You know, what?  I believe in the American dream, and there‘s nothing wrong with that.  And I‘m corny about that, I really am, but you know what?  It can‘t be just the rich people that get the chance to that American dream.  It‘s got to be all of us and all of our kids.  As long as we‘re willing to work hard, as long as we have that fair chance, we‘ve got to be able to deliver, OK?  And that‘s why I‘m on this side, and that‘s why you get the perspective that you do for me day in and day out.  I just want to let you guys know that.  Thank you for watching this show.  We really appreciate it.  And “HARDBALL” is up next. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  Who moved my government?  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

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