Guests: Bernie Sanders, Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, Richard Wolffe, A.B.
Stoddard, Christina Bellantoni, Christopher Barron, Jesse Drucker
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Some Democrats actually fighting back against the GOP on the budget. Hallelujah! But will the president have their back?
Tonight, progressives pushing Democrats to stand strong on that debt debate. Let‘s hope they do so.
And Senator Bernie Sanders joins us live to talk about that. He‘s got some fight in him.
Then Sarah Palin is back in the spotlight in Iowa, but all of the buzz has gone to her frenemy, Michele Bachmann. Oh, that‘s not going to sit well with her.
And speaking of Bachmann, she goes two for two—two days on the trail, two major gaffes. She‘s rewriting history again.
And Mitt Romney blames Obama for making the recession worse. We have the facts to prove him wrong.
All right. Welcome to the show, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Tonight‘s lead, signs of life from the Democratic Party. Will you look at that! Democrats are finally showing some backbone on the budget, calling out Republicans for refusing to end corporate welfare and tax breaks for the rich.
Today, Senator Chuck Schumer singled out Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for blocking a deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Senator McConnell says we should take anything about corporate loopholes, about taxing wealthy people off of the table. His “my way or the highway” approach is what is standing in the way of getting an agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Thank God. That‘s exactly what you should be saying.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has outlined his own plan as well, and he‘s blasting Republicans and calling on President Obama to stand strong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We will not be blackmailed again by the Republican leadership in Washington. If you believe that the middle class and working families have already sacrificed enough, I urge you to make sure that the president hears your voice, and he needs to hear it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: You go get him, Bernie!
Well, since that speech, more than 50,000 Americans have signed a petition supporting the Sanders plan. But the question is, is the president listening?
The White House has apparently offered about $1.3 trillion in spending cuts, but they‘ve only proposed about $200 billion to $300 billion of new sources of revenue. You see the disparity there. And by the way, they‘re just at the beginning of negotiations on the revenue side, so there‘s no telling how low they‘ll go there.
Unfortunately, it looks like the president has already accepted the premise that this deal has to be overwhelmingly about spending cuts. In fact, the Republicans are actually counting on that.
Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman recently asked GOP lawmakers what they thought the White House is going to do. According to a congressional colleague, he said, “To a person, they said the president is going to cave.” That is obviously not good news, and especially when the Republican argument is so badly flawed.
Republicans say that spending cuts grow the economy. But we already know that that‘s totally wrong. Just look at what‘s happened to different states during this financial crisis.
States that cut spending saw private employment drop 2.1 percent and saw the economy shrink 2.9 percent. Spending cuts, bad idea, bad results. But states that increased spending saw employment go up 1.4 percent and saw their economies grow by 1.5 percent.
The evidence is clear. If you want to grow the economy and create jobs, you need to increase spending and invest in America.
Now, wouldn‘t it be nice to have a president who made that case as well?
With me now, someone who‘s made that case all the time, Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders.
Senator Sanders, always a pleasure to have you on.
First of all, you‘ve got people signing that letter. Now, I need you to keep it real with me. How hopeful are you that the president is going to listen to that and say, all right, you know what, the American people are right, we need to concentrate on revenue?
SANDERS: Well, I would hope that millions of people all over this country in one way or another will tell the president and their elected officials that it is immoral—and I use that word advisedly—that when the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing, when so many people out there are really hurting, that the only way that the Republicans want to do deficit reduction is attacking the health care needs of ordinary people, educational opportunities, nutrition. You name the issue that working people need, Republicans want to cut.
And then when you say to them the rich are getting richer and we have corporations out there making billions in profit, not paying a nickel of taxes, what about asking them to contribute? Republicans say off of the table.
That is an equation that is insane, it‘s immoral, and as you‘ve just indicated, it is not good economic policy. It will result in the loss of many, many good-paying jobs.
UYGUR: Can you win that argument if the White House does not forcefully make that same argument you‘re making right now?
SANDERS: We need the White House to play a leadership role and go out to the American people and take that debate outside of the beltway.
Cenk, here‘s what‘s interesting. Every major poll that I have seen says that the American people believe that the best way, the most effective way of going after deficit reduction, is to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes. We have the American people on our side.
The Republican approach of going after the middle class and working families, and leaving the wealthy untouched, or maybe even giving them more tax breaks, is a fringe idea that only a small minority of the American people support. So what the president has got to do, in my view, and we all have got to do, is get out to the American people, explain what‘s going on. Make them understand that, in fact, we can move to serious deficit reduction by eliminating all kinds of corporate loopholes, by asking the wealthiest people in this country whose effective tax rate is now the lowest on record to start paying their fair share.
UYGUR: Right. Well, I want to get into the specifics of that in one second. But I want to actually show the American people exactly the polls you‘re talking about.
When you look at, hey, should we tax the rich? Eighty-one percent say tax millionaires. Seventy-four percent say the oil subsidies.
By the way, other than Senator Sanders, not a lot of people have even made this point, and it‘s still that overwhelming. When you go to protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, you see the numbers. They‘re gigantic.
The American people are clearly on our side. Somebody‘s just got to stick up for them.
So, now, speaking of which, you‘ve got a proposal for balancing the budget. It‘s not like you‘re saying don‘t balance the budget. Tell us your proposal for how we get there.
SANDERS: Well, there are a number of things you can do.
Number one, you end Bush‘s tax breaks for the wealthy. That brings in $700 billion over a 10-year period.
Number two, you end this absurdity of allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to stash their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. That would bring in about $100 billion a year.
Number three, you‘ve got to take a hard look at the military spending, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We‘ve tripled military spending since 1997. The American people want us to bring our troops home a lot faster than the president is talking about. If you do that, there‘s huge savings.
There is a tax proposal out there that actually rewards companies for shutting down in America and moving abroad. That‘s another $500 billion over a 10-year period. You‘ve got all kinds of subsidies that go to the oil companies that we no longer need, et cetera, et cetera.
The point is, you add all of those things together, we can come up with $4 trillion in deficit reduction in a 10-year period without decimating the middle class or working families, or cutting back on programs that people absolutely depend upon.
UYGUR: Well, from your mouth to the White House‘s ears. Let‘s hope they listen and fight for that.
Bernie Sanders always fights for it, the Independent senator from Vermont.
As always, thank you for your time tonight.
SANDERS: Thank you, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now let‘s turn to the chairmen, former DNC chair, Pennsylvania governor and current NBC News political analyst, Ed Rendell, of course, and former RNC chair and now MSNBC contributor, Michael Steele.
Great to have you both here.
Hey, Governor Rendell, let me start with you.
You know, Bernie Sanders lays out an excellent progressive idea on how to balance the budget. It‘s not to run away from the budgets issue, it‘s to balance the budget.
Why don‘t we insist on that, or why doesn‘t the White House insist on that in the budget talks?
ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, here‘s the problem. If this was something that could wait and we could take this issue to the American people in the 2012 election, I would say, right on. Let‘s just go for it, let‘s do what Senator Sanders wants.
Let‘s have some reasonable spending cuts, because we have to have some, mixed in with the revenue that he‘s talking about. All those ideas are good, solid ideas. And let‘s take it to the American people, and I think we‘d win a big electoral victory.
But there‘s a date, August 2nd, by which if we don‘t have a way to lift the debt ceiling, that severe damage can be done to not only the American economy, but maybe the worldwide economy. And we simply don‘t have the votes in the House of Representatives to do everything that Senator Sanders wants to do.
What we‘ve got to do, and where I think the president has to step in and lead, Cenk, is to find a way to balance increased revenues. And mostly by cutting corporate loopholes, by closing the tax loopholes, by doing things like that with spending cuts, with defense cuts. We‘ve got to put something together that works that would allow us to lift the debt ceiling.
So there has to be some element of compromise here. We can‘t fight out the 2012 election here because the stakes are too great.
UYGUR: I would love for that to be balanced. For example --
RENDELL: I think it can be balanced if we --
UYGUR: The numbers don‘t look balanced right now though, right?
RENDELL: -- dig our heels in. Well, I agree, but we have to dig our heels in.
We have to say this idea that you can‘t raise revenue at all is insanity. Michael knows it‘s insanity.
RENDELL: We have to raise revenue. Every economist who‘s spoken on this says that revenue increases have to be part of the mix.
Now, that can come. Substantial revenue increases can come from closing these loopholes, which most people seem to agree on. What Senator McConnell says is a prescription for disaster. He‘s so out of touch, it‘s unbelievable.
UYGUR: So, Michael, let me turn to that. I mean, that‘s a great question, right?
And I‘m trying to figure out what the Republican end game here is, because McConnell and Kyl come out over the weekend and they double down. They say no taxes under any circumstances, but you‘ve got to have revenue as part of the equation. If you don‘t—I mean, what are they expecting? Are they expecting President Obama just to flat out lay down and get nothing and just give everything?
They can‘t possibly believe—well, maybe they can believe that‘s going to happen. What‘s the end game here?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they can believe that. I‘m not privy to their thinking on these matters, but I suspect in talking to the folks that I have and piecing together the various aspects of this, that they‘re waiting for the president to actually get in the game and engage and tell the American people --
UYGUR: Well, he‘s here.
STEELE: Well, wait a minute. Tell the American people exactly what you want.
If you want revenue, how much? Where from? If you want spending cuts, how much? Where from? And that‘s the beginning of the debate.
And I think that it‘s a very appropriate part of the debate to say, look, we‘ve already raised the debt ceiling. Everybody moans and whines and complains about the debt ceiling being raised and what we‘ve done in the past and what we need to do in the future. We‘ve all recognized, and I think the governor would agree, that you cannot just continue this systemic increase of $2 trillion here, $3 trillion there, increase in debt spending without some sense of, OK, is there a limit? Do we want to cut? Where, how much?
And I think as long as folks are willing to come to the table and have that discussion, by August 2nd we will begin to see some movement. But if the president stays on the sidelines—and it‘s good to see that he‘s now at the table—then I think things are going to go as they‘ve always been.
RENDELL: And Cenk, I think Michael makes a reasonable point. I think this is a time for presidential leadership.
And I think the president has positioned himself very well politically. He forced the Ryan budget to come out, and it‘s been a disaster for Representative Ryan and for the Republicans. But now is the time to lead and look at the welfare for the country.
And I think the president needs to spell some of those things out.
And look, there have to be spending cuts.
UYGUR: Is he going to?
RENDELL: He ought to—but he also ought to tell us what he‘s willing to accept and fight for it. And I agree with you.
And look, what Senator Sanders is reasonable. It‘s something that I think we ought to do. But we‘re not going to get everything on his menu just like we‘re not going to get everything on McConnell‘s menu.
UYGUR: But Governor, here‘s the world I would love to live in—not where we get all of Senator Sanders‘ proposals. I mean, that would be fantastic, because I think—
RENDELL: But that‘s not happening.
UYGUR: -- the American people agree with it. If we got half of Senator Sanders‘ proposals, I would be heaven. See, that‘s compromise.
STEELE: But what Senator Sanders is talking about, that 50 percent of whatever we do has to include tax increases, and so the question—the question gets back to the same rub, how much and who pays? And it‘s not—
UYGUR: So, Michael, that‘s a great question though.
STEELE: I mean, it‘s so easy to sit back and say—but wait a minute, Cenk. It‘s so easy to sit back and say that the wealthy—tax the wealthy. Cenk, I mean—
UYGUR: Wait, wait, wait. So let‘s understand that though, because, Michael, you‘re saying it‘s a matter of who pays. I couldn‘t agree more with you.
So far, apparently we have at least $1.3 trillion in spending cuts.
The middle class is going to pay that and the poor are going to pay for it.
Now, aren‘t we right to say shouldn‘t the rich at least pay as much?
STEELE: I mean, that‘s in the president‘s proposal, that the middle class is going to pay for those tax cuts?
RENDELL: That‘s in the Biden proposal.
UYGUR: In the spending cuts. Yes, the middle class is paying for those spending cuts.
STEELE: So how does the middle class pay for those spending cuts?
UYGUR: It comes straight out of—whether it‘s Medicaid that‘s being discussed right now in the talks.
STEELE: So let me ask you this—
UYGUR: Medicaid, these are all the things that the Republicans want to—
STEELE: What is off the table for you?
UYGUR: And apparently we have some disagreements on, unfortunately—
Medicaid, food assistance programs, Pell grants, low-income housing, and the list go on and on. I don‘t want to cut those things.
STEELE: Cenk, do those programs have a cost?
UYGUR: Of course! Of course they have a cost.
STEELE: Listen to what I‘m asking you.
UYGUR: All right. Go ahead.
STEELE: Because you guys do this circular reasoning and it gets us nowhere.
So if you‘re telling me that you recognize that these programs, all these programs, have a cost—I‘m not talking about the merit of them, the value of them, the viability of them. I‘m just talking about the cost of them. If you‘re saying that they have a cost, then the question you have to ask yourself is, are those costs worth looking at or are you telling me that those costs are not worth looking at and that all those programs are off of the table?
So tell me what‘s left that you‘re going to cut.
UYGUR: I‘m going to answer your question. And then we‘ve got to leave it here by asking you once last question.
STEELE: All right.
UYGUR: You answer it and then we‘ll call it. OK?
STEELE: You got it, buddy.
UYGUR: So you said, am I willing to cut some of those things?
I get it. I‘m a deficit hawk. I want to balance the budget. OK?
UYGUR: But if we do those cuts, isn‘t it fair that we raise the same amount of revenue? Isn‘t that fair?
STEELE: Of course.
UYGUR: Are you willing to say, hey, you know what, if we do those cuts, we should raise revenue just as much?
STEELE: If we do those cuts—if you‘re putting everything on the table, then everything is on the table, absolutely. Then you can have a conversation about revenue, and then you can have a conversation about spending.
But if the two sides are going to hunker down on their respective corners and say that we can‘t—we can‘t talk about revenue, and we can‘t talk about spending cuts, guess what August 2nd means? Nothing. The whole thing blows up.
UYGUR: All right, guys—
RENDELL: But Cenk, let me—Cenk, can I say one last thing?
STEELE: And so the reality for both parties is we‘ve got to get serious.
UYGUR: One last thing, Governor, real quick.
RENDELL: One last thing.
Look, Cenk is right though, Michael. We basically—the Biden commission, or whatever you want to call it, has basically agreed to $1.3 trillion in spending cuts. You‘re right. We should spell it out to the American people.
But if we agree to that, then we also have to have significant revenue increases. What that means we can all argue about. But we have to commit ourselves.
What Mitch McConnell has said is flat-out insanity. It won‘t fly. And the Republicans ought to be—if they‘re going to stick to that, they ought to be severely punished.
UYGUR: And look, we‘ve got to leave it right here, but if we had $1.3 trillion in revenue increase as well, I‘d sign that deal in a second. But we‘re not going to have anywhere near that. That‘s what the problem is. Right? That‘s what the problem is.
All right. Former DNC chair Ed Rendell --
RENDELL: Maybe not 50-50, but substantial.
UYGUR: And 50-50 would be awesome.
Former RNC chair Michael Steele.
Thank you so much, guys. We appreciate it.
STEELE: If the world worked that way. Right?
UYGUR: Unfortunately, Washington doesn‘t work that way. The middle class pays the whole bill.
All right. Ahead, Sarah Palin swoops into Iowa, but everyone is still talking about her frenemy, Michele Bachmann. We‘ve got drama.
And is the Palin reality show over? And will Bachmann ruin the release of the new Palin movie?
Plus, another epic fail from Bachmann. She did it again. You‘ve got to hear her latest.
And here‘s a shocker. President Obama and the Wall Street fat cats are spending some quality time together. Oh, no. Not again.
UYGUR: This evening, Sarah Palin finds herself in uncharted territory. She‘s in Iowa to attend the premier of “The Undefeated,” the documentary about her time as Alaska‘s governor, but it seems like the only people that people want to talk about is Michele Bachmann. For Palin, not being the center of attention is unprecedented and has to sting.
For example, Bachmann is not even in Iowa today, and she still snagged the cover of “The Des Moines Register.” President Obama and Sarah Palin and the other people actually in the state today are a tiny mention further down on the page. That‘s got to hurt.
The Palin machine feeds off of those headlines, and they‘re not going to like that layout at all. And Even Tom Petty is all abuzz about Bachmann. That‘s because he‘s angry that she‘s playing “American Girl” at her rallies.
Now, that‘s the kind of disdain that Palin used to get. Oh, that‘s got to hurt, too.
And it really seems like Bachmann is center stage tonight and Palin is being pulled off the stage, cast aside as an increasingly right-wing talking head like Ann Coulter. Nothing worse than drifting off to media oblivion. Like Coulter, it‘s got to be killing Palin.
Meanwhile, Bachmann is trying to establish herself in some ways as the anti-Palin. Now, the “flake” controversy with Chris Wallace has helped to get her message out that she‘s a serious candidate, which she‘s now repeated approximately 100 times. And she‘s not even holding a grudge against the media in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got a call at suppertime this evening from Chris Wallace, and he offered his apology to me directly. I was happy to accept his apology, and we‘ll move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Wow. But hey, look, that‘s Fox News. Of course she‘s going to forgive and forget with them.
But she‘s not even blaming the “lamestream” media for her recent screw-up of confusing John Wayne the actor with John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer. She‘s even admitting it was her fault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: People make mistakes. And I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can‘t.
And of course the main point that I was making are the sensibilities of John Wayne, which is patriotism, love of country, standing up for our nation. That positive enthusiasm is what America is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So I guess she‘s saying I‘m not with the killer clown.
But she still does have some things in common with Palin. With each day comes a new crazy gaffe. And today was no different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”: You said that the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.
BACHMANN: Well, if you look at one of our founding fathers, John Quincy Adams, that‘s absolutely true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You‘re right, he did work to end slavery decades later. So you‘re standing by this comment that the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?
BACHMANN: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy, but he was actively involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Wait a minute. It was John Quincy Adams‘ father, John Adams, who was a founding father. The fact that John Quincy Adams had a father who was a founding father doesn‘t make him a founding father. Maybe it makes him a founding son.
Call me crazy, but if you don‘t know history, don‘t talk about it.
In the end, there‘s a very good reason why people still compare Bachmann and Palin, and that is among the reasons why.
All right. Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.
All right, Richard. Great to have you here.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Cenk. You‘re not crazy.
UYGUR: OK. Good. Finally, we‘ve established that.
All right. Now, speaking of crazy, let‘s go to Bachmann and Palin.
So, when you look at their poll numbers, actually, Bachmann looks a lot better. When you look at favorability, Bachmann is up at 65 percent. Her unfavorable is only 12 percent, which is a great, great number for her.
This is of course among Republicans.
UYGUR: Whereas Palin is at 58 percent and has a much larger, 37 percent, unfavorable. When you look at those, is the era of Palin over? Is it Bachmann time?
WOLFFE: Oh, it‘s way too early to write her off. And it‘s way too early to rely on Iowa numbers.
You know, at this point in 2007, Barack Obama was trailing in third position in Iowa, and that was his best position in any poll anywhere. It‘s really early for people to tune in. You‘ve got to look at post-Labor Day, really come November time, before these numbers really start to gel.
And I suspect as you hear more—as Iowa voters hear more from Michele Bachmann, she‘s not going to wear so well. Those unfavorable numbers are going to creep up because people are going to realize a gaffe a day does not exactly making you closer to the White House.
But, you know, I think the headline stuff is really relevant, because that‘s what Palin feeds off of. And if she‘s not getting that, I mean, that was the upside for her. The downside is obvious. Without the upside, I think she‘s in a little bit of trouble.
But, you know, Richard, they‘re also trying to paint Bachmann as this person who‘s so much more serious than Palin. But Politico did a little breakdown of her record here. Let‘s look at that real quick.
She‘s never had a bill of resolution that she sponsored that got signed into law. Never. OK? Never wielded a gavel at a full or even subcommittee level. And her amendments and bills are rarely considered by committee.
Now, does that hurt here, or—and especially her claim that she‘s a serious, substantive candidate?
WOLFFE: Well, I suspect her gaffes hurt her more on the serious question. But it‘s tough running from the House.
Now, in her favor, she could say, well, Barack Obama didn‘t get any legislation through of any really meaningful substance before he ran for president. And on the other hand, being a senator has different status. He was running against another senator. It‘s a different level.
But it is hard when you‘re going out of the House. Look, if the comparison is Palin, someone who has half a term as governor, maybe the bar is pretty low here.
I‘ve just have to correct you, though, on media attention when it comes to Sarah Palin. The same “Des Moines Register” that put her in that tiny little box has been reporting all day breathlessly about the number of reporters who were outside this opera house in Pella where the movie is being screened right now, and they‘re all saying there are hundreds of people out there waiting for her.
This woman, this half-term governor, still has a lot of pulling power and star power even in a small town in Iowa.
UYGUR: Right. Well, I love the movie is called “Undefeated.” She lost a primary, she lost in 2008, obviously. But OK.
So let‘s—what I love most of all, though, is that now we‘re on the side of the debate where I‘m defending President Obama and you‘re saying that you can compare their records. Look, I think when you look at President Obama before he was president, and he was running and he was in the same situation as Bachmann, everybody got a sense, this is a very serious guy. This is a credible guy, this is a smart guy.
WOLFFE: Sure. Of course.
UYGUR: When you look at Bachmann, and she doesn‘t know what she‘s talking about, she gets something wrong every single day. I mean, I don‘t think those two are on the same level or anywhere near the same level.
WOLFFE: No, they‘re not. They‘re not.
I was making the very simplistic argument about legislative record. But look, most of the time, especially in a place like Iowa, where they do have that face-to-face contact with candidates, people are asking serious questions.
They‘re not the goofy stuff that goes through these town halls. They‘re asking about Medicare, they‘re asking about Social Security. It‘s serious stuff.
And these candidates—you know, when the president was a candidate, he used to say that people were lifting up the hood and kicking the tires. And they were. They were asking serious questions and expecting serious answers.
That‘s why Bachmann will not linger in the voters‘ minds, I think, as Iowa drags on. And that‘s why a late entry by someone like Palin or Rick Perry is going to have all of the star power and firepower, and people aren‘t going to have the time to lift up the hood and kick the tires.
WOLFFE: So I think it‘s a different dynamic. But, yes, these candidates do not have the seriousness, the depth, the policy, wonkery that candidate Obama had.
UYGUR: Yes. You know, I agree with you on that.
And by the way, I think the late—I think there is going to be a late entry. And it might be Huckabee. Don‘t count him out. If he comes back in, that could be some serious damage.
We‘ll see how it plays out.
MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.
As always, thank you for your time tonight.
WOLFFE: You bet, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, Rick Perry slams the government‘s job creation programs while he brags about his state‘s job creation. Well, that‘s a Texas-sized con job. We‘re going to show that to you.
And speaking of con jobs, Mitt Romney says President Obama made the economy worse. We‘ll show you why that isn‘t true. Then we‘ll discuss if it might be a good talking point for the Republicans anyway. It‘s not like they‘ve ever let a little truth get in the way of their political attacks before.
UYGUR: Texas Governor Rick Perry claims government can‘t create jobs. That ridiculous assertion is our con job of the day. Perry talked up the verges of limited government yesterday on Glenn Beck‘s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: Can the government actually create jobs, sir?
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: Actually what a government can do, can create an environment where those jobs can be created. The government didn‘t create any jobs. They can actually run jobs away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: The government doesn‘t create any jobs. In reality, of course, the government creates tons of jobs. About two million people work for the federal government making it the largest employer in the United States. And that doesn‘t even count state governments like the one that pays Rick Perry‘s salary. Come on, you have to love that part. Governor Perry says, the government can‘t ever create jobs as he holds a government job. But government employees also help to get other people to work.
As Think Progress blogger Matt Yglesias puts it, quote, “Not only do police officers have jobs, but police officers who do their jobs well and make the streets safe create the conditions for economic growth, so the people who build bridges and the people who man tollbooths.” It‘s a great point. But the crux of Perry‘s argument is that governments should enact cushy tax laws and then just sit by until businesses set up shop. Except that‘s not what Perry‘s actually done. He‘s given more than $700 million in government subsidies for job creation. That‘s an active attempt to spur new jobs. And Perry is been more than happy to take credit for the jobs that resulted from those subsidies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: I credit our conservative leadership in that state for unmatched job creation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So, Rick Perry slams the government‘s job creation programs to earn himself the Tea Party street cred and he then turns around and brags about all the great jobs his government has created through subsidies. Rick Perry‘s self-serving desire to have it both ways is our con job of the day.
UYGUR: Welcome back to the show, everybody. Now to discuss some of today‘s biggest political stories, we bring in our Power Panel.
Joining me now is A.B. Stoddard, associate editor and columnist for “The Hill.” Also joining the conversation, Christina Bellantoni, associate politics editor of “Roll Call.” And Christopher Barron, chairman of the board of GO Proud.
First question. I‘m not buying it. And the—column in the “The York Times” has said, that the rift between Wall Street and President Obama might be just a show. And the president‘s New York fundraiser last week, a top banking executive said, quote, “Obama hasn‘t been too bad to the banks. He could have been worse. His rhetoric was obnoxious. But since the midterms, he‘s turned it off.” And if they really do this (INAUDIBLE), we have shown you because he‘s raised $2.4 million from them.
All right. Well, let‘s get to it. What do you think here? Let me start with you, A.B. Has the president been a lot kinder to the bankers than he‘s letting on?
A.B. STODDARD. “THE HILL”: Well, I—you know, the president is doing everything he can to meet with anyone he can who will promote hiring. He wants to show the American people and show the Republican Party that he‘s working hard to create and to help create new jobs. And so, he‘s spending a lot more time with this people than he probably was in the height of the health care battle in ‘09 or early 2010. And he‘s—I think he has apologized for isolating them with some of his rhetoric and I think that he is thinking about his re-election and trying to cozy up at some level. Now, I don‘t know that he‘s helped him materially, but I think that he‘s trying to mend fences and that‘s been a huge effort of Chief of Staff Daley since he took that job. So that‘s something that—we‘re not going to, you know, the exact details. But we know that they‘re meeting more than they have in the first two years of his term.
UYGUR: Right. Now, Christina, is that good politics? Sorry can writes that basically, the bankers think that his bark was worse than his bite. But in public, for people all to know that, you know, this—that he has apologized to the bankers as A.B. put it. I don‘t know if he actually specifically did that, but the idea being put out there is, don‘t worry, I‘m going to be, you know, I‘m going to be all right to you guys. That can‘t be good politics, can it?
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: You know, I mean, you talk with the money he‘s raised from bankers. I mean, look at the 2008 campaign. I mean, everybody raises money in Wall Street. And most people demagogue off of Wall Street as well. You know, during last fall‘s campaign, the president talked about financial reform. The Republicans would undo it. He talked about the fat cats in Wall Street and how he‘s morphed in the middle class. I mean, these are just sort of standard political talking points. And progressives really want to see him get a little bit tougher on Wall Street. They want to see him talk about income equality. And they didn‘t like the fact that he met with some of these big donors from Wall Street in the White House to talk about his re-election campaign and raising money for that. At the same time, he‘s asking $5 donations from them saying, hey, I‘m not going to take money from fat cats. So, there‘s a little bit of incongruity there.
UYGUR: Yes. Well, I would like for him to get much, much more, of course, people know that. But Chris, you got to be happy about this. Hey, look, the banks get a free ride. Conservatives must love that.
CHRISTOPHER BARRON, CHAIRMAN, GOPROUD: First off, look, Obama spent his first two years demonizing Wall Street which this administration does which is.
UYGUR: Should they?
BARRON: The economy.
UYGUR: Should we not address the economy.
BARRON: No, he should, you know, demonize somebody, demonize, you know, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for starting the.
UYGUR: --Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, I know.
BARRON: Yes, absolutely.
UYGUR: Wall Street had nothing to do with it, right?
Oh, my God, we didn‘t see this coming.
BARRON: All of it was interlocking. But I think what‘s amazing is Obama spends two years demonizing Wall Street and then when it‘s time for him to turn around and start funding his re-election campaign, he goes back to him, you know, asking for money with a wink and a not. I would hope that the folks on Wall Street would realize, I know that they‘re good businessmen, they got to hedge their bets. I hope they realize that President Obama is no friend to business.
UYGUR: Well, no, Chris is right. The Republicans would sell out to Wall Street a lot better. All right. So, next question. Debunked or rebuked for Mitt Romney? Mitt is still repeating his frequently debunked talking point about President Obama and the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: He did not cause this recession, but he made it worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, the realities that the economies now are growing instead of shrinking like it did at the end of the Bush presidency. The recession officially ended six months after Obama took office and the economy is now adding jobs, not losing jobs, as it did towards the end of the Bush era. Chris, let me start with you on this one. I mean, obviously, the situation is turned around here to look at that chart and look at those numbers and to say that Obama made it worse, doesn‘t it stretch the credibility a little bit?
BARRON: You got nothing to worry about. I think Obama should run on exactly your talking points. He‘s turned this economy around and happy days are here again. Let‘s hear that. Let‘s hear about all, you know, everything is fine, everything is great. The American people don‘t buy that for one second. You can say it all you want. The fact that average voters don‘t feel like that. Mitt Romney is absolutely right. President Obama made this economy worse by making this economic downturn last longer than it should have. Politics made this last longer?
UYGUR: Christina, is Chris right? Are the American people not buying facts? And so, is this talking point going to work?
BELLANTONI: Rarely hear me cite national polls. But I think that this is a really important indicator when you look at the mood of the country on this, you know, right track, run track, and how they feel about the economy, is an improving. And a lot of people do feel that this is not great. And I think that that will affect them regardless of what the actual number of the unemployment rate is. When voters go to the polls more than a year from now. You know, people do not feel that the economy is rebounding, it doesn‘t really matter what this economic into.
UYGUR: You know, actually, I don‘t disagree with you guys. And A.B., I‘m going to start with you on the next topic here. I think it might be a good talking point whether it‘s true or untrue. So, we‘ll see how that plays out in the election. Now, last question, was New York‘s gay marriage vote based on principal or money? The “Huffington Post” reports, gay marriage supporters promised big donations to undecided lawmakers especially for Republicans if they voted for the bill. And Clark Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans said the goal was to, quote, to show that quote, “It was either extremely beneficial for them to vote for the bill or that there was no negative effect.” A.B., it looks like they‘re saying, hey, you know what? You vote with us, you get a lot of money, you don‘t, you don‘t get the money. Is that how politics is really played? And is that what made the difference in New York?
STODDARD: You know, money can really make a difference, Cenk. And Grassroots campaign raise awareness about issues. But you really in the end cannot buy a vote for someone who‘s trying to hold their job and is afraid they‘ll lose power. There has been a generational shift. You know, there‘s been a total change and a rapid change on public opinion on this issue. Republicans really see this as a way to neutralize this issue by taking away from the Democrats and coming aboard. I think that they see that there‘s not only money there, but lots of votes because they think that it‘s a popular policy now. And times have changed. So, I just don‘t think five, seven years ago, lots of campaign checks could have swayed these Republicans on this issue if it hasn‘t changed.
UYGUR: I hear you on that. It‘s a combination of things. But Chris, you know, first, I have to give Log Cabin Republicans a lot of credit here. You and I have had these discussions but they really delivered here on this issue. But secondly at this time, as A.B. is pointing out. Money, will that do the trick? Will that push people over the edge? Did that strategy work here?
BARRON: Of course, I mean, money is going to play a role in politics? Absolutely. You think what‘s getting President Obama to quote, “evolve” on the question of gay marriage is because he cares fundamentally about gay people so much? No, it‘s because he wants to go to, you know, gay donors and make couple million more dollars worth of withdraws from the gay-tm. It‘s all about money. Whether we‘d like it or not.
UYGUR: Gay-tm, all right. That‘s the word of the day.
BELLANTONI: I think it‘s important to note here that it‘s a powerful interest group, right? And when you have, you know, people that have a lot of money that are able to influence whether its legislators or public opinion based on the way that they spend or the way that they get their message out there. I mean, compared to immigration reform, you don‘t have billionaires out there that are immigrants who are advocating for immigration reform. And so, this is an area where if you have an issue, where there are people with money, they can make a difference.
UYGUR: Absolutely right. A.B. Stoddard, Christine Bellantonio—I‘m sorry, Bellantoni, Christina, God—guy with a name Cenk Uygur butchers another name. Anyway, Christopher Barron. All of you, thank you so much. May take away his gay-tm. I hadn‘t heard that before.
All right. Now, Republicans hates amnesty for kids, but they love it when it comes to their money, some of the companies hiding their money from Uncle Sam and sticking you with the bill.
UYGUR: People get busted for tax evasion and go to jail. But not companies, they get our politicians to let them put trillions of dollars offshore and evade taxes totally legally. The outrageous details of that when we come back.
UYGUR: Just weeks after signing an Obama care nullification, North Dakota republican Governor Jack Dalrymple is asking President Obama for federal aid. I just want to say that of course right now.
All right. North Dakota has seen record flooding this year. Almost a quarter of the town of Minot is currently under water. Fargo and Bismarck are fighting off flood waters. Tens of millions of dollars are expected in damage to crops and infrastructure. Now, normally republican governors claim they don‘t like the federal government interfering with their affairs, unless they want money from them, right? So, is Governor Dalrymple saying he doesn‘t need no stinking federal government? Nope? Now that he needs help, he‘s asking President Obama to cover 90 percent of the funding to help the state recover from the floods. Say with me now, of course!
UYGUR: We‘re back with the interesting story about Wesley Snipes and Corporate America. First, Mr. Snipes, he is sitting in a Pennsylvania prison serving out a three-year sentence for tax evasion. He‘s crime, cheating the government at about $41 million. But, you know, what? He‘s a sucker. Because there‘s a completely legal version of tax evasion called offshore tax havens. It‘s a method used by dozens of America‘s biggest corporations, companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Microsoft, Cisco, and GE, part owner of this network. They‘re among the companies keeping as much as $1 trillion overseas and out of the hands of the U.S. government.
Google uses well known tricks like the double Irish and the Dutch sandwich, sounds delicious, to move billions of profits to the Netherlands and Ireland and to Bermuda. My own company, “The Young Turks,” is a partnership with Google. Now, these companies are not evil. They‘re simply doing whatever we let them get away with. But it comes as a cost. Their accounting tricks are shifting the burden on to taxpaying Americans. Now, you see that redline we‘re about to show you right there in that graft? Well, that‘s corporate tax revenues going down over the last six decades.
And that little yellow line, that‘s payroll taxes that you pay going way up. You‘re paying more while companies pay less. And almost no one in Washington is trying to stop it. It‘s supposed to be the job of the government to look out for us. They‘re supposed to protect us from the runaway power of multinational corporations. They‘re supposed to be the cops on the beat. But instead, we are politicians from both sides, especially the Republican Party. Are we going to help these big companies get away with this legalized tax evasion and shift all of the cost on to us?
Now, let‘s bring in Bloomberg reporter Jesse Drucker who just finished a fascinating article about how our tax laws encouraged the situation. Jesse, it‘s a great article. First thing, I want to ask you about is, how do they do these tricks, right? What‘s the double Dutch sandwich or whatever, and how do they hide the money from the government?
JESSE DRUCKER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, it‘s pretty complicated. But when it comes down to these companies do transactions between their subsidiaries, we have one year paying another unit realties for the use of an intellectual property or various services. And the whole game is to try to get as much expenses as you can into the high tax country like the U.S. and as much income as you can into a tax haven like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands or Switzerland.
UYGUR: Well, we let them get away with it, right? I mean, can we just say, hey, you know, what? When you make the money, you pay your taxes on it. That‘s it.
DRUCKER: Sure. I mean, the system could be basically completely changed. And, you know, we could start from scratch and allocate profits to where they actually have sales and employees but if not, the system that we have...
UYGUR: Right. But one of the excuses that they use is that, if they let them bring the money back from offshore from Bermuda or wherever they‘re holding it, well, then they‘ll create jobs. Now, first, I want to show you some numbers on them. Because we‘ve done this before. We did it in 2004. It‘s called repatriation. Pfizer got $37 billion repatriated. They actually laid off 10,000 people. Merck, $15.9 billion, they laid off 7,000 people. Hewlett Packard got back 14.5 million, laid off 14,500. As you look at this whole list, it‘s all layoffs, OK? So, isn‘t it a bit of a fraud to say, oh, well, if they bring back the money at a lower rate, out of the goodness of their hearts, they‘ll create jobs?
DRUCKER: Well, the thing about it that seems somewhat peculiar to make that argument is that U.S. company is writing—sitting on $2 trillion of cash already. In other words, they don‘t need additional cash to hire. And then, when you look at the specifics of what happened the last time around, all of the studies show that the companies use that cash they brought back from offshore to buy back shares from their investors. It wasn‘t used to hire people. It wasn‘t use to build things. And right now, I mean, the company that‘s leading the charge for their repatriation tax right now is Cisco. And Cisco is in a situation where its stock is falling 25 percent over so far this year. And they want money from overseas to buy back shares and pay off dividends to its shareholders. They are not in the situation of hiring people. So, buying back shares is really kind of what this is about. That‘s kind of all this has been about. They want cash from offshore, tax free to buy back shares and pop the stock prices.
UYGUR: Right. So, to bypass your point, last time they did this, they brought back $299 billion, 92 percent with the shareholders. It did not go towards job creation. It‘s not going to go towards job creation next time. But our politicians enable it. For example, I give you a quote from Paul Ryan. He says, quote, “it‘s a good idea.” We ought to have it every day instead of having a repatriation every seven years, let‘s have it every single day by going to a different system. Does that mean he thinks that the corporation should only pay about five percent in taxes? Is that a crazy comment?
DRUCKER: I mean, I guess that, you know, one of the most important points about this, is we try to make a story today about Cisco. If you look at Cisco, or Google, or Facebook, or GE, or Pfizer, repatriation in Hollywood would essentially award companies that are the most aggressive that pushing profits and tax havens overseas. And really we would have a situation where companies are going to pay an effective rate of five percent of the majority of their profits. So, if you want to reward that behavior, then, you know, potentially that‘s what the holiday does.
UYGUR: All right, and of course. Most of our politicians especially the Republicans totally want to award that behavior because those are the guys that pay their corporate checks, I mean, their campaign checks. And that‘s how the system funnels the money from the middle class to the rich and the corporations. And it‘s, you know, it‘s a great article, Jesse, and I‘m really glad to have had you on to talk about it.
DRUCKER: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: All right. Now, of course, Bloomberg‘s Jessie Drucker. You could watch me on-line at that show that‘s got their partnership with Google. It‘s at theyoungturks.com. It‘s also on YouTube. Of course, you can just look it up on The Young Turks on YouTube, it‘s Facebook/TYT nation and twitter.com/TheYoungTurks. That‘s our show tonight, everybody. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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