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

Read the transcript from the Thursday 6 p.m. hour

Guest Host: Rev. Al Sharpton

Guests: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Jack Kingston, Bob Shrum, Gene Sperling,

Perry Bacon, Bob Franken, Rick Lazio, Lisa Bloom

REV. AL SHARPTON, GUEST HOST:  The president says political pain is coming, but how much pain can Democrats stand?

Tonight, as both sides go behind closed doors, progressives worry about protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  And the Republican Party showing just how out of touch they are, telling the poor to do more.

Plus, why Bill Clinton thinks Obama should be more like Bill Clinton.


And, Casey Anthony is a free woman this Wednesday.  Was this a big fail for our justice system?  Or proof that it worked?

Welcome to the show.  I‘m Al Sharpton.

Tonight‘s lead: Just how much is President Obama willing to compromise in the debt fight?

The President Obama met today with leaders of both parties at the White House.  And he said everyone must sacrifice to make a deal.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Nothing is agreed to until everything‘s agreed to.  And the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues.  Everybody acknowledged that there is going to be pain involved politically on all sides.  But our biggest obligation is to make sure that we‘re doing the right thing by the American people.


SHARPTON:  But Democrats are nervous that the White House may agree to as much as $4 trillion in cuts over 10 years.  Under that plan, Democrats would agree to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  In return, Republicans would sign off on up to $1 trillion dollars in new revenue—which they don‘t seem willing to do.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Everything is on the table except raising taxes on the American people.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER:  We, as Republicans, are not going to support tax increases.


SHARPTON:  Joining me now is independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, a member of the Progressive Caucus.

Well, Senator, you heard them.  They said they‘re not going to give anything.  Is the party of the Republicans now that can‘t become the party that can‘t take yes for an answer?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Well, Al, it‘s funny.  They‘re willing to do anything except ask their wealthy friends and large corporations, all of whom are doing phenomenally well.

We have seen 80 percent of all new income in recent years go to the top 1 percent, call for profits are soaring.  Many corporations pay nothing in taxes.  The wealthiest people in this country have the lowest effective tax rate in 50 years.

And the Republicans who are ready to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, environmental protection, nutrition, anything that is impacting a disappearing middle class and increase poverty—that‘s where we‘re at.  It‘s pretty crazy to me.

SHARPTON:  I think you‘re right.  I mean, this anything seems very selective.  We‘ll do anything but touch the folks that really have the most.

When you talk about Medicaid, there is a new study that came out that really talked about how Medicaid impacts people.  I want your comment on it because I think a lot of us never put a real face, real understanding, human side of this.  And it‘s said that people that use Medicaid, people that are poor and need the use of Medicaid, that 35 percent of them are more likely to see doctors or clinics, 40 percent less likely to say their health is getting worse.

I mean, these are real results.  So, we‘re not talking about just throwing away money here.  We‘re talking about actually helping people.

SANDERS:  Al, let us be very clear.  There is a study that came out of Harvard a couple years ago that said 45,000 Americans die each year because they don‘t get to a doctor when they should.  If you make the kinds of massive cuts in Medicaid that the Republicans want to do, and throw millions of kids off of Medicaid, you‘re talking about a lot more people dying and suffering.  That‘s a human face.  That‘s reality.

SHARPTON:  Now, Senator, “The Washington Post” said that there was some saying that president is willing to put a change in Medicaid or Social Security on the table.  Others are saying that he‘s not talking about anything differently than he did with the State of the Union Address.

Do you think that there was just a trial balloon to see whether the Republicans was going to say, we‘re willing to negotiate?  Or do you think we will really see something put on the table that progressives are going to say, that‘s to far?

SANDERS:  Al, I‘ll tell you, there is a huge effort on the part of very wealthy and powerful people on Wall Street and elsewhere to make cuts in Social Security, raise the retirement age and over a longer period of time, privatize it.

What is very disturbing to me is number one, everybody has got to understand, Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit of the national debt.  It is funded by the payroll tax.

SHARPTON:  Senator, please let‘s emphasize that.  Social Security really has no impact on the deficit at all.


SHARPTON:  So, this is really being brought in by people that want to use the deficit argument to really change Social Security which they really want to do all along.

SANDERS:  Absolutely.

Absolutely.  It‘s not a deficit issue.  It‘s an ideological issue from people who for years, have wanted to destroy or weaken Social Security.  They don‘t believe government should be involved in providing retirement benefits to the elderly.  They think Wall Street should do that and they want to weaken Social Security.

Second of all, at a time when people have so little faith in government—let‘s not forget, that when Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, do you know what he said, Al?  He said, unlike John McCain, I am not going to cut benefits.  I‘m on your side.


SANDERS:  To renege on that promise to people that voted for him is really something that I find—I‘m very uncomfortable about.

SHARPTON:  So, let‘s get this straight.  Let‘s go right to the point.  If Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security is on the table, you will not vote for any changes?

SANDERS:  Well, it‘s not only that.  Yes, the answer is yes.  But what we are looking at is the president—it appears—now we don‘t know what end product is.  It appears that president is making huge concessions to the Republicans, not only Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.  You‘re talking about education, talking about community health centers.  You‘re talking about nutrition.

You name programs that are of great importance to working families, the likelihood is they will be cut in a very draconian way.  At this point we don‘t know that wealthy and large corporations are going to contribute anything to deficit reduction.

SHARPTON:  All right.  Well, as you said, though, we don‘t know what it is, but we have our concerns.

Senator Bernie Sanders, independent from Vermont—thank you for your time and thank you for being with me tonight.

SANDERS:  Thank you, Al.

SHARPTON:  Joining me now is Republican Congressman Jack Kingston from Georgia.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining the show.

REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, GEORGIA:  Al, it‘s great to be with you.  Keep up the good work.  We don‘t always agree, but I like your energy and your spunk.

SHARPTON:  Well, I like your spunk, too.  And you had a lot of spunk saying that no matter what, you do not want to see a bringing back the tax code or bringing back taxes as they were before the Bush tax cuts.  But at same time, you want to see spending cut.

Is that still your position, Congressman?

KINGSTON:  It is, Al, because part of it can‘t be just talking the pain of cuts as much as the opportunity of growth.  And those tax cuts give us an opportunity for the private sector to invest in capital growth which will create jobs and I think that has to be part of the solution here.

SHARPTON:  But how longer we going to wait?  We‘re at 9.1 percent unemployment rate.  We‘ve seen these Bush tax cuts for years.  When are we going to see the jobs come from this?

I mean, I‘m a preacher.  By and by, when the morning come, when does the morning come, when these jobs are going to come?

KINGSTON:  Well, I think the morning is coming and I get that from President Obama because he is a guy who keeps saying we‘re about to see the corner turn.  But here is, you know, initially when the Bush tax cuts went in, there was more revenue that came as a result of it because the economy boomed.  Same thing happened under Reagan.  Same thing happened under John Kennedy when taxes were cut.

However, we in Washington, Democrats and Republicans alike, spent too much money and our spending outpaced revenues.  And what we really have, in my opinion, is a spending problem.  Spending right now is 24 percent of the GDP and revenues are 18 percent.

And so, you know if we talk about increase in the revenues, we still can‘t get it up to 24 percent and—

SHARPTON:  If we increase the revenues, Congressman, by closing down some of the loop holes and going back to the pre-Bush tax cuts, we would generate over 10 years, $3.8 trillion.  So, that‘s a lot of money.

But let me ask you a question.  Let‘s take one of the loop holes that your party has been against closing.  You got a loophole where you have hedge fund guys that are using estate tax loopholes to cover hedge funds profits.

Give you an example, John Paulson, it was revealed by “The New York Times” last year, he made $4.9 billion.  That‘s one man—equal to hundreds of thousands of Americans what they would make annually.  Does that make sense to you?

KINGSTON:  Well, it doesn‘t make complete nonsense either.  I‘m not saying it makes 100 percent sense, but I‘m not sure it makes nonsense.  The reason is, is I would like to think that a lot of the activities of Mr.  Paulson and rest of the crowd out there on Wall Street are helping us create jobs in Washington.

SHARPTON:  I would like to think that, too.  But it‘s not true.  I mean, I‘d like to think that I could fly.

Congressman, you‘re going to tell me that‘s not nonsense for a man to make the equivalent of 184,000 people annually?  I mean, aren‘t you the same Congressman Kingston that said, and I appreciate your spunk—you are the one that said, that we must stop and put Uncle Sam on the diet.  Yet, you want to give the hedge fund guys a chocolate sundae with bananas, whip cream and cherries on top.

KINGSTON:  Al, I think this is where you and I can get together, is I think there‘s a lot of quirks in the tax code.  And what I think it would be appropriate is to clear out some of that underbrush.  We need tax simplification.

I‘m a fair tax guy.  And I believe if we don‘t have the fair tax, we should have a flat tax.  Get rid of some of these loopholes.  I think that‘s consistent with Republican philosophy of no tax -- 

SHARPTON:  So you are willing to vote against some of the loop holes?

KINGSTON:  Well, I think what we want is tax clarity and fax fairness



SHARPTON:  No, no, no.  Loophole, loophole, loophole.  Will you—as we are going into this negotiation, say that loopholes should be on the table?

KINGSTON:  I think loop holes should be on the table and, Al—

SHARPTON:  Great.  Would you say we should put fair tax on the table in terms of going back to restoring the tax cuts, if we are going to see the president talk about he is willing to put some things on the table, do you think your party should say we should entertain $1 trillion in revenue in terms of going back to the old tax?

KINGSTON:  I think if you increase tax by $1 trillion you‘re going to kill what little recovery we have, and right now, we need that capital investment for job creation.

But I think what you should do is, say, if we could get tax clarity, tax simplification on the table—because one thing you and I agree on, we don‘t like crony capitalism.  We don‘t—we hate to hear about somebody not paying their taxes.

SHARPTON:  We do agree on that, but we don‘t want to hear is we don‘t want to hear people that have an unequal and uneven advantage and if they keep the disadvantage, then it will trickle down to us eventually.  We got the down, we never did get the trickle.

Thank you, Congressman Jack Kingston.  Thanks for your time tonight and thank you for coming and talking with me.

KINGSTON:  Thanks.

SHARPTON:  Ahead, Nancy Pelosi‘s message to White House: Social Security and Medicare are off the table.

Gene Sperling, top White House adviser, is here, live to respond.

Plus, Bill Clinton sounds the alarm on Republican efforts to take away voting rights—is a story with potentially huge impact in 2012.

And Casey Anthony will be freed next week.  Is this justice?

Stay with us.


SHARPTON:  President Obama said political pain will be coming for both sides.  He‘s getting an earful from the base today.  The White House responds, next.


SHARPTON:  Joining me now is Democratic strategist, Bob Shrum.  He was senior advisor to the Kerry and Gore campaigns.

How you doing, Bob?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Great.  Good to you see, Al.

SHARPTON:  Great to see you.

What is going on?  There are a lot of concerns from progressives reading about Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare maybe on the table.  Others are saying, wait a minute, don‘t jump the gun.  It could be a strategy.

Or it may be no more than what the president has always said in his State of the Union Address about reforming Social Security.  What do you think is going on here?

SHRUM:  I think the president‘s looking for a grand bargain.  For something that puts this issue behind us for some time to come so we can move on.  I wouldn‘t necessarily say that anything that‘s done to Medicare will involve cuts in benefits.  It can involve all sorts of efficiencies.  Some of that was done in the healthcare act last year.  There‘s a lot more that could be done where you could save money without cutting benefits.

On Social Security, I think what may happen, and this may be key to getting revenue increases, is we may move from one cost of living index to another cost of living index, which would mean that social security recipients over time would get a raise that was 3 percent less than what they otherwise might have gotten and if they live to 95, it could be 9 percent.

At the same time, that principle could be applied to the way we index the tax brackets so that more people were paying higher taxes sooner.  I think that would be called a grand bargain.

So, you are saying in effect that you can reform in these areas without directly impacting the benefits and the people affected.  How do you sell that to the base, though?

SHRUM:  Well, I think it‘s going to be a very tough sale to the base.  I think the president understands that it is a catastrophe for the United States if we don‘t extend the debt limit.  And, by the way, no one knows who will pay the political price for this.

I think in either side stands there and just said, my way or the highway, we then have a government collapse or collapse of the full faith in credit of the United States.  We could lose millions of jobs, huge amount of pain to people.  We could have another catastrophe on the area of Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008 and all the knock on effects on the global economy.  I think he is trying to prevent that.

And I think the reason he may get to a deal, and I have just written a column on this in, is because no one on either side can predict who will pay the price if somehow or another we don‘t get there.

SHARPTON:  Now, he is a very, very smart man, a very committed man, no question about it.  Could it also be that he is doing all he can and if the president puts all he can on the table and the Republicans say, no, he can say I went above and beyond what I could do even to the fury of some in my own base, and they still won‘t make a deal?

SHRUM:  Al, I think that‘s exactly right.  I think what president is doing is trying to make a deal, but setting up a circumstance in which if all else fails, the whole country will turn to the president.  He‘ll have the bully pulpit in a way he seldom does in this fragmented media culture and his narrative may very well carry through not only the day, not only the week, but the whole next year.

If I were the Republicans, I would sit there and I would remember what happened to Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party in the mid-1990s when they shut down the government.  I think they are worried about that.  I think they don‘t know exactly where this comes out.

Maybe Romney, at all, would like an economic catastrophe to run against the president on.  I‘m not sure House Republicans or even Senate Republicans want to take that risk.

SHARPTON:  How catastrophic would it with be if there is a default August 2nd?  What are we really looking at?

SHRUM:  Well, you know, it‘s uncharted territory, it has never happened.  But you look at Greece, which is a rather small country.


SHRUM:  And it‘s a decidedly small country.  And every time it seems to wobble or people think it might default in some way, there are huge knock-on effects in stock market and financial markets around the world.

You take an economy the size of the United States, if it defaults, I think the loss of confidence could be fundamental.  Remember what happened with Lehman Brothers.  The Bush administration made the mistake by saying, we ca let them go.


SHRUM:  It won‘t matter that much.  It mattered profoundly.

If we let the United States‘ full faith and credit go—I think that could have huge impacts resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars of financial value and millions of jobs.  And let‘s not forget—when we talk about standing up for the middle class and for working people, we want to protect those jobs.

SHARPTON:  All right.  Bob Shrum, thanks for joining me this evening. 

Thanks so much.

SHRUM:  Thanks, Al.  Great to se you.

SHARPTON:  We are still waiting to be joined by Gene Sperling, director of the president‘s National Economic Council at the White House.  Thank you so much for your time.

Bill Clinton makes an explosive claim about Republicans trying to disenfranchise Democratic voters and he is 100 percent right.

And a question of justice—Casey Anthony released from jail next week.  Is that right?

Stay with us.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER:  Do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.  House Democrats are not supporting any cuts in benefits for Social Security or Medicare.


SHARPTON:  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talking earlier today about the news that Social Security is now m play in these debt talks.

Let‘s get some reaction from the White House.

Joining me now is Gene Sperling, director of the president‘s National Economic Council.

Thank you for being with me tonight.

GENE SPERLING, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL:  Thank you, Reverend.  Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON:  Over the weekend, the president met with Speaker Boehner.  He is scheduled to meet now one on one with Ms. Pelosi.  He is trying to—between two sides—deal with a very serious problem.

How did it go today?  And how serious is the dilemma the president is in?

SPERLING:  Well, the dilemma the president is facing is very serious.  You know, he inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.  He understands very much that beyond the need to get—to give members of Congress the cover or the confidence to vote for increasing the debt limit and insure our country doesn‘t default for the first time, we have the challenge to show that we can bring our deficit down, give businesses more confidence to start doing long term investment and job creation in our country and make sure do so in way that‘s consistent with our values.

And that means to do it in way that strengthens, not goes against the recovery, in way that makes sure we‘re still investing in the future—investing and helping every American work their way up, and in a way that‘s consistent with our basic social compact in American Dream.  And that means promoting dignity at work, but also dignity in retirement.

SHARPTON:  Now, the president said there‘s going to be pain on both sides of this political argument.  And a lot of people are hoping that is not just pain on one side.  And clearly, I think that is a lot of a concern that you‘re hearing.  How was it in the room today?  Do you think that those that were in the room that will reconvene on Sunday with the president, do they understand that there‘s going to have to be shared pain, not just pain on one side here?

SPERLING:  Well, you know, I was fortunate to be in that room today. 

And I can tell that you that it was very serious and very constructive. 

And we are obviously not reading out the details.

But let me just say—what you‘re talking about, Reverend, is exactly right.  When you are doing large-scale deficit reduction to help our country recover, from the type of final crisis that this president inherited, it‘s not just that you need shared sacrifice to make the numbers work.  You need shared sacrifice to have the fundamental sense of fairness in this country for people to contribute, sacrifice a little for something that would be for the long-term good for everyone.

And no one should suggest that all of that contribution or disproportionate amount should be on seniors or working families and then suggest that those who have the most political power or those who are the most well-off somehow don‘t have to contribute.


SPERLING:  -- that type of support unless it is that type of shared sacrifice.

SHARPTON:  In that line with that, Mr. Sperling, beyond Democrat, Republican progressive, conservative, the American people have said, that they are concerned about keeping Social Security and Medicare benefits—

60 percent have said that in polls, with 32 percent say, reducing the deficit.  We hear deficit, deficit, deficit from the Republicans, but the American people seem to clearly be more concerned, according to all of the polls I‘ve seen, about Social Security, Medicare.

SPERLING:  Well, what you have do is you have to have a deficit reduction plan that is done thoughtfully and carefully.  And when this president talks about changes in Medicare or even in Social Security, it‘s very important to understand, anything he would ever do would be to strengthen those programs.  He believes Medicare and Social Security are just basic compacts.  Sacred compacts that we have in our country to make sure that all of us when we are in retirement, can have a retirement that is dignified and healthy like people who worked hard their whole life deserve. 

So, when we look at for example, Social Security, the president doesn‘t look at that as a short or medium term deficit issue.  If we are doing anything on Social Security if that ever happens, it would be for one reason and one reason only.  Because he thinks it is one of the truly treasured programs we have in our country, to assure economic dignity for people in retirement.  And it has been that way for generations and any changes he would make would not be to dismantle or hurt the program but to strengthen it and make sure it is that rock solid benefit that will help generations to come.  

SHARPTON:  So, all of this about the president would change or cut Social Security or Medicare.  You‘re saying the president‘s commitment to these programs is firm and any discussion would be around strengthening those programs and strengthening what they do for seniors and those that need Medicare in this country?

SPERLING:  Absolutely.  Now listen, this president were straight.  He is candid with people.  You know, we have big challenges.  Big challenges about what the debt.  And there‘s times that you have to make some changes and not every change will be completely pleasant for everyone.  But if you‘re thoughtful, if you have the right values, you can do those in a way that represents shared sacrifice.  And may mean, you‘ve got to cut back a little here or a little there but for the purpose and cause of strengthening the basic integrity of Medicare as we know it, for strengthening the basic integrity and longevity and solvency of Social Security as we know it, that‘s the fundamental goal of anything this president would ever do on those programs.  

SHARPTON:  Gene Sperling, director of President‘s National Economic Council.  Thank you so much for your time. 

SPERLING:  Well, thank you for having me.  

SHARPTON:  Coming up, Bill Clinton says what we‘ve been thinking. 

Republicans are working to disenfranchise black voters.  Powerful stuff. 

And Casey Anthony will be free in six day, is this justice?  We are talking about what‘s right and wrong, ahead.  


SHARPTON:  Welcome back to the show.  Now to discuss some of today‘s biggest political stories, we bring on our Power Panel.  Washington Post political reporter Perry Bacon Jr.  King Features syndicated columnist Bob Franken.  And former New York Congressman Rick Lazio joins us. 

Our first question.  Are Republicans hopelessly out of touch after fighting against tax hikes for the rich? GOP Senator Orrin Hatch tells us who really needs to be sacrificing more. 


SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  The other side just spends and spends and spends and they want to tax and tax and tax so they can spend some more.  And I hear how they are so caring for the poor and so forth.  The poor need jobs.  And they also need to share some of the responsibility. 


SHARPTON:  Rick, isn‘t that class warfare?  I mean, come on.  

FMR. REP. RICK LAZIO ®, NEW YORK:  Yes.  Listen, here‘s what‘s going on in my mind.  You got taxes already increasing on the well off.  You‘ve got $500 billion of taxes that are scheduled to go into effect to pay for the national healthcare bill.  You‘ve got the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts that are due to phase out.  The Republicans don‘t have the votes to stop it right now.  So, the taxes are going up for people that are well to do and they‘re going up by hundreds of billions of dollars.  I think what Orrin Hatch is saying, is when you have a soft economy, when you got almost 20 million Americans who are out of work or looking for a job or underemployed, maybe you don‘t want to take more money out of the private economy.  Maybe you don‘t want create business centers for them to create more jobs and to invest in America. 

SHARPTON:  Well, I mean, Perry, you can respond or Mr. Franken.  But I mean, clearly, we‘re not talking about taxing them more.  We are talking about them no longer getting the tax cuts that was taken from them, I mean, why do they keep acting like they are entitled to tax cuts that was put there for them to generate  jobs in the economy that were not generated, Perry?

PERRY BACON JR., THE WASHINGTON POST:  I‘m surprised.  I mean, I think Senator Hatch‘s statement probably will not be given by lots of Republicans on the campaign trail.  It is not a very particularly popular thing to say that the poor are not paying enough taxes, which is his point.  In fact, tax rates over all in America are some of the lowest rates they‘ve been in generation.  So, it‘s not, this probably at the best political movement, whatever you think of the virtue of his position, probably the best political that has made that particular argument.  

SHARPTON:  Mr. Franken?

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  Well you can call me Bob if you want, Al.

SHARPTON:  All right, Bob.  

FRANKEN:  The argument that Rick makes would be probably more potent if it were not for the fact that all of the wealth is held by a very small segment of our society.  Very small segment.  And all kinds of studies show that rather than using it to create jobs, they are hoarding it and building up their treasuries while at the same time, unemployment sits at 14 million in the United States.  The truth is, is that probably there should be a tax increase on wealth to more evenly distribute income that is desperately needed now.  

SHARPTON:  Well, look at the loopholes.  I talked earlier with the Congressman and showed how—Congressman Kingston, and I showed how you had one man making billions of dollars on a loophole by paying a state tax on Hedge Fund income.  I mean, what are we talking about here?  We are talking about people getting away with billions of dollars of income that are paying a state tax which really gives them a way out of paying their fair share of taxes and Hatch is telling the poor to do more.  You can‘t be serious, Rick. 

LAZIO:  Bob is right about the fact that income inequality and wealth inequality are real issues.  And I think Republicans ought to be speaking to us issues a little bit more forcefully.  What I think he is wrong about is that taxes are the solution to that problem.  They‘re not.  Education, building skills, access to credit.  Getting people who are in underserved areas into small business.  Those are the answers to those problems.  


FRANKEN:  But Rick, how are you paying for those?

SHARPTON:  Well, how do you get education and those things without money?  That‘s like saying, breathing is the answer.  But don‘t give you any breath. 

LAZIO:  But then you should be for restraining entitlement programs because they‘re eating the discretionary programs alive.  The fastest growing areas of the budget and the largest areas of the budget are the healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid.  They are growing at twice the rate of the economy.  And until you restraint that, it will squeeze out spending on parks, on training, on education, and environment.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  All the rest.  

SHARPTON:  Let me tell you, Bob, because Rick and I are from New York.  Let me interpret New York, he said the answer is education, healthcare and jobs.  But in order to get, we‘ve got to cut education, healthcare and jobs.  I just want you to understand what he said, Bob.  

FRANKNE:  Well, but beyond that, I think that the flaw in his argument is he is presenting this as an either or argument that there has to be cuts in waste in some of the entitlement programs and programs for the poor, or taxes on the rich.  I think that the argument could be made that you need both.  That there has to be much more efficiency in the way that government operates and the way it conducts its programs.  But that those who have quartered so much of the wealth really need to pay more of their share. 

SHARPTON:  Perry, you cover this every day, why don‘t you jump in here?

BACON:  With 14 million people unemployed as one of these guys just said, I think the challenge is to figure out how you address that.  And we‘re talking about ways around it.  But to the extent that tax issue is like less on the table than ever in a lot of ways, because that sort of what Americans are really worried about is how does job creations start.  And is probably has more to do with like companies and businesses into what they are doing than necessarily what the federal government is doing in terms of tax policy. 

SHARPTON:  Well, let me do this, Rick, and then you can respond.  When he talks about Perry, about the American people and tax on the table, recent poll by NBC Wall Street Journal, says, 81 percent of Americans want to see tax raised on millionaires.  Seventy four percent in oil and gas subsidies.  Seventy six percent protect Medicare.  I mean, are the Republicans tone deaf?  The American people are saying. 

LAZIO:  Yes and they also want more—people are saying they want deficit reduction as a priority over job creation.  You know, the answer is, we‘ve got to do both.  

SHARPTON:  Which poll is that?

LAZIO:  We‘ve got to do both.  This is a poll that just came out this week.  So, let me tell you, when people, when Democrats took $400 billion out of Medicare, and didn‘t invest it in Medicare to fix the problem but actually transferred it out to national healthcare, nobody squawked on the left that those programs are being undermined.  The fact is, you‘ve got to slow the growth of these programs and you‘ve got to reform them and change them.  When we talk about changing Social Security, people are no longer talking about private accounts.  They are talking about a fairly progressive way to fix Social Security that would protect people. 

SHARPTON:  We got that Rick, but I think where we are talking about is that everyone understands and I think agrees there‘s going to have to be shared pain.  But the sharing is not really sharing when you say leave the rich alone.  Leave the loopholes.  It is like a chicken and a pig talking about a ham and egg sandwich, you want me to give a leg, you drop an egg call it shared sacrifice.  They don‘t work.

LAZIO:  But 65 percent.

SHARPTON:  Thank you Perry, thank you Bob, thank you Rick.  Thanks for a great panel.  

Ahead, in one state after another, Republicans are doing whatever they can to disenfranchise black voters.  We need to stop it.  That‘s next. 


SHARPTON:  Up next, the republican plan to disenfranchise voters. 

It‘s alarming.  And it‘s true, and we have got to fight it.  That‘s next.         


SHARPTON:  An issue that I‘ve been talking about and many on the civil rights community have been talking about for month is very disturbing and it undermines the very principals of democracy in this country and brings us back to some very frightful days.  Now President Clinton is shining a light on this issue.  Listen. 


PRES. BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  There has never been, in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determent effort to limit the franchise that we see today.  


SHARPTON:  Twenty nine states now have voter ID laws.  About half of them require photo IDs.  And more voter photo ID laws are in works in nine other states.  In every single case, it‘s republican-led efforts.  The laws seem design to hit minority populations hardest.  Besides mandating photo IDs, some scale back early voting.  Ending same-day registration.  Making it harder for third party groups to register voters.  And create districts for ex-felons.  President Clinton says, it‘s already had a big impact in places like Florida. 


CLINTON:  Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they pay their price?  Because most of them in Florida were African-Americans and Hispanics and will tend to vote for Democrats, that‘s why.  


SHARPTON:  Joining me now is democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.  He has served as communications advisor to the DNC during the 2008 campaign.  Jamal, you heard President Clinton.  You‘ve been hearing people like me talk about this for a couple of months now.  I mean, tell people in your opinion, how serious this threat is and why. 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  No.  Reverend Sharpton, you were there in 2000 during the recount.  When I was spokesman for Al Gore in West Palm Beach.  And they had disenfranchise so many African-American voters across the state as well as all the other voting irregularities that took place.  And then in 2007, Charlie Crist in Florida decided to give felons the voting rights back.  I remember Ainsley Davis (ph) once said, you go to jail as punishment, you don‘t go to jail for punishment.  And then after that, your punishment is ceased.  And once you paid your price to society, you get to come back to society.  So, if we are really about rehabilitating people and having them have productive lives, voting is a core part of that.  So, we have to make sure that continues and then the Republicans are clearing going after African-Americans, Latinos,  young people by not allowing them to have the right to vote, where they go to school.  They have to vote where they are from even though they are not living where they are from at the time.  So, this is all in effort to distort I think democratic leaning voters across the country.   

SHARPTON:  Well, you not only have the problem as the president, former President Clinton talked about, those that paid their debt to society in Florida.  When you are talking about photo ID, a lot of people don‘t understand, that in a lot of the areas we polled, you have large percentages of young people in communities that don‘t drive.  They have no reason to have a passport, they don‘t do international travel.  So you don‘t have government photo ID which disenfranchise a lot of people in those communities.  Seniors who no longer drive. 

SIMMONS:  That‘s right.

SHARPTON:  I mean, this is a real threat and it brings down the voting roles that we saw that were so high in the 2008 election. 

SIMMONS:  That is absolutely right.  And those seniors who don‘t vote, that‘s incredibly important thing.  And so what you are doing is you are making it more difficult for people to vote when voting ought to be a universal franchise that every citizen, regardless of ability, regardless of income, regardless of disability, ought to have the ability to participate in and Republicans are trying to hold that back.  

SHARPTON:  Why are they trying to limit same day voter registration and early voting?  Has that also added to a lot of new voters that a lot of voters and communities they don‘t normally get a lot of votes from?

SIMMONS:  It adds to a lot of new voters and what the Republicans will say is that this is about preventing voter fraud.  Well, you know, voter fraud is I think one person said, the—center says, voter fraud is as popular or is as likely to happen to you as giving hit by lightning.  People don‘t fraudulently vote.  It just doesn‘t happen.  So, they are trying to prevent something that doesn‘t even occur.  

SHARPTON:  Well, let me suggest something that maybe shows some thinking.  Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal, this is Karl Rove now, saying for example if African-American voters share of the turnout drops just one point, one point in North Carolina, Mr. Obama‘s 2008 winning margin there is wiped out.  Two and a half times over.  I mean that there is what Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal two or three weeks ago.  That if we just drop the black turn out by one percent of what happened in 2008, it flips it two-and-a-half times over.  And it changes the outcome of that state.  And it changes the electoral map.  That‘s real serious.  You don‘t need a whole lot of fall-off there.  

SIMMONS:  Well, and they are telegraphing the punch.  I mean, Karl Rove is telling us right now, what the objective is and what they are thinking about.  And then you see these governors across the country implementing it, admitting it.  McConnell said when he first—when the Obama administration first started, his number one political objective was to make Obama a one term president.  And now we see these small tinkerings, and what you and I know from having seen Florida in 2000, all you got to do is just crunch these numbers a little bit on the edges and you can have a major impact on the national election.  

SHARPTON:  Well, Jamal, he didn‘t think he was telegraphing it in the punch.  He wrote it in the Wall Street Journal.  He didn‘t know I was looking.  Thank you very much, Jamal Simmons, thank you. 

SIMMONS:  Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON:  We‘ll be right back.     


SHARPTON:  The case of the Anthony case has now been resolved.  She will be released from jail next week.  A lot of people are saying, how can this happen?

Joining me now is attorney and legal analyst, Lisa Bloom.  She is the author of “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World.”  Lisa, a lot of people are saying, this is outrageous.  Did the system fail or did it work?

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST:  Reverend Al, as you know, there are many shortcomings in our criminal justice system but requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case is not one of them.  This jury composed of 12 unbiased people from the community weighed the evidence based on what they heard in the courtroom.  Based on (inaudible) of the courtroom, the judge‘s instructions to them, they didn‘t base their decision on the media or what the mob wanted.  And frankly, I salute them for that. 

SHARPTON:  So, in your opinion, you feel that they showed courage, they being the jurors, and you agree that you didn‘t feel that the case was proven beyond a reasonable doubt?

BLOOM:  Well, I said on the air before the verdict that I thought the prosecution had proved its case.  However, I always show great deference and respect for jurors.  I didn‘t hear all of the testimony.  I didn‘t sit in the courtroom even for one minute.  And I didn‘t deliberate with the jury.  And because of that, I defer to this jury.  I mean, there were certainly many shortcomings in the evidence.  And I don‘t think it is appropriate in most cases for us to second-guess jurors unless there is a very, very good reason to do so.  Because we were not in the courtroom.  We didn‘t hear the evidence.  We didn‘t assess the demeanors of witnesses just a few feet away live as they did. 

SHARPTON:  Should the prosecutors have gone for lesser charges to give them somewhere else they could have gone rather than go all the way for murder one or manslaughter?

BLOOM:  Well, probably.  In retrospect that would have been a good idea.  But there was a manslaughter charge, that was rejected.  There was a child abuse charge, that was rejected.  And, you know, before the verdict, Reverend Al, I didn‘t hear anyone criticizing the prosecution.  In fact, most on-air commentators thought they were terrific, they gave brilliant closing arguments that they put on a terrific case.  Only after the verdict, in 2020 -- taking a lot of heat now.  You know, you just don‘t win all of your cases when you go into a courtroom.  I thought they put on a good case.  I‘m not going to criticize the prosecutors.  I think they put on the evidence that they had.  

SHARPTON:  Well, at the same time, people have the right in this country to disagree with jurors and disagree with verdicts.  That‘s what the country is all about.  I certainly disagreed with my share of juries and prosecutors and agree, so I think at the same time, you‘ve got to respect the jury.  People have to respect those that disagree.  And I think the emotions here Lisa, that you and I both share, is that a two-and-a-half year old child is dead and it seems like no one is paying for it.  I don‘t think the wrong person should pay.  But the reality is, this young lady‘s life was worth something.  Someone should pay for it. 

Lisa Bloom, thank you for your time. 

BLOOM:  Right.

SHARPTON:  Thanks for watching.  I‘m Al Sharpton.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.

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