Melissa Harris-Perry, Peter Beinart, Sonali Kolhatkar, Rula Jebreal, Eli Lake, Hooman
Majd, Antonia Juhasz, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Josh Barro, Bob Herbert,
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch was forced into runoff in June
after failing to get more than 60 percent of the vote in last night`s
primary against Tea Party candidate Dan Liljenquist.
An Iranian general says Iran is building its own spy drone after
reverse-engineering an American drone the military captured last year.
We`ll be talking about Iran a little later today.
And today`s Earth Day. And while the world`s governments fail to
take significant action to slow global warming, if you`re in Washington
today, you can attend an Earth Day concert on the National Mall featuring
Right now, joining me today, we have Peter Beinart, author of the new
book, "The Crisis of Zionism," senior writer for "Newsweek" and "The Daily
Beast; author Rula Jebreal is joining the program, also contributor to
"Newsweek"; Sonali Kolhatkar, the author of "Bleeding Afghanistan:
Washington Warlords and the Propaganda of Silence," and co-director of the
nonprofit Afghan Women`s Mission; and Eli Lake, senior national security
reporter for "Newsweek" and "Daily Beast."
Quite a "Newsweek" and "Daily Beast" quorum here today.
So far, 2012 has been -- to say the very least -- a public relations
disaster for the American military in Afghanistan. First in January, came
the video of some U.S. soldiers urinating on Afghan corpses. And then in
February, we have the burning of Korans by American military personnel.
A few weeks later, more than half of Americans surveyed still said
they thought that things were going fairly well in Afghanistan. Today,
only 38 percent of Americans feel that way. That Pew poll was conducted a
month after Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was said to have shot and killed 17
Afghan civilians -- and many of those, women and children.
And last week, we saw coordinated attacks by the Taliban on U.S.,
British and German embassies.
And on Wednesday, "The L.A. Times" published photos from 2010 that
showed several U.S. soldiers posing with the severed body parts of people
who are described as Taliban fighters.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had this to say about the photos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: That behavior that was
depicted in those photos absolutely violates both our regulations and more
importantly, our core values.
This is war, and I know that war is ugly. And it`s violent. And I
know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very
I`m not excusing that. That`s -- I`m not excusing that behavior.
But neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or
to our relationship with the Afghan people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Hamid Karzai had some words about it as well, saying
essentially this was further evidence the U.S. had to accelerate its
transition to -- handing over full reins to the Afghan government. The
Taliban also issued a statement about the photos.
What is striking to me about the photos, aside from the fact they`re
extremely upsetting: A, is the fact that Afghanistan, it is unbelievable,
the degree to which it`s not part of the national conversation. I mean,
you know, 90,000 troops there.
And if you said if you said -- literally, if you said question, I
think to a well-informed citizen, someone who reads the paper every day,
what is our Afghanistan policy? I don`t think most citizens would be able
to answer that question, right? And so, what happens is something happens
over there, and we get news for a few days, the Bales incident, this
incident and it sort of fades off and it`s very unclear where this is
The second thing, and, Eli, I`d be curious as someone who reported on
national security, reported on counterinsurgency, I think there`s a concern
that when you take these incidents together, that there is a breakdown
happening in terms of discipline. There`s a breakdown happening in terms
of the length of deployments and the number of deployments where incidents
like this are happening with more frequency or at least being publicized
more. And I should say those photos are from 2010.
Do you think that`s a danger?
ELI LAKE, NEWSWEEK: I think the main issue right now is that this is
the first war in Iraq I guess as well that you`re seeing fought in the era
of smartphones. So I think that part of this is just the fact that we have
a technology that every ground troop soldier can take these photographs.
And you`re just going to see more it, because I would imagine you would
have seen similar kinds of behavior in other wars, it`s just we didn`t have
the ability to take photos and broadcast them all around the world before.
So, it`s the first thing.
I think the second thing is that there`s a lot of frustration that
I`ve come across at the ground truth level where the -- there`s just not a
lot of faith, like there was in Iraq, that the Afghan national security
forces are up to snuff, willing to fight. That they`re seen as very
corrupt and the Karzai government is seen as very corrupt.
And so, the question is, what are we doing fighting their war for
them? The view I think of a lot of soldiers is the United States wants to
win against the Taliban more than the government that they`re effectively
HAYES: Sonali, you`re in constant contact with women on the ground
in Afghanistan. One of the things I think is really interesting is, I
thought when the Bales incident happened, I think a lot of Americans
thought, there would be massive uprising in Afghanistan. The details were
so horrifying and I thought about if someone -- if a foreign soldier did
that in the U.S., although it`s a difficult counterfactual, right, because
we aren`t occupied, you could imagine what would happen.
And there didn`t seem to be a kind of uproar and part of what I came
to understand, is the depressing truth is, there are -- it is so routine
that civilians are dying in Afghanistan, that this was shocking to us, but
not on the ground there. Is that sort of more or less --
SONALI KOLHATKAR, CO-DIRL., AFGHAN WOMEN`S MISSION: Well, first of
all, one of the things we should remember is that there are actually
protests happening on the ground, particularly nonviolent protests, they
don`t get reported on very much.
They are by protests by students, by women, by, you know, by peace-
loving men, by political parties that are underground. They don`t get
reported on as much.
What gets reported are the mobs when --
KOLHATKAR: Yes. When there`s riots and violence.
The other thing is you`re absolutely right, it does become routine.
The fact that this man went out and deliberately killed these people is not
that much different from when our soldiers conduct night raids, kick down
doors, round up men and boys, tie them up -- hog-tie them, detain them and
torture them and sometimes kill them.
And so, sadly, it has become routine. And what is amazing to me is
that Afghans for the most part still distinguish, ordinary Afghans
distinguish between the government policies and ordinary Americans, because
they realize this war is unpopular here.
LAKE: I`m sorry, it`s massively different. A man who goes out and
randomly massacres civilians is categorically and enormously different than
a night raid against a suspected Taliban outpost.
Now, we may have situations where those people are killed in night
raids or in those drone attacks, and that`s very unfortunate. But it`s
KOLHATKAR: But to somebody whose family is killed, it makes little
difference if somebody kills you in cold blood versus bombs falling from
the sky, because that`s just as deliberate. And it doesn`t make the death
of your father, mother, husband, brother, any less, you know, horrific if
they`re killed by a drone bomb as opposed to a guy who shoots you.
PETER BEINHART, THE DAILYBEAST.COM: When the United States is trying
to enact a counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban, I think the
intent is different. But I think the larger question for me is, does the
counterinsurgency campaign at this point have any realistic chance of
success whatsoever. And once you reach the point where I think virtually
nobody in the American foreign policy community believes that really we
have any chance in the long term of shaping the future of Afghanistan in a
significant way any more, then I think you go back to the question that Eli
raised in the beginning, is what`s the point of all this at this point?
RULA JEBREAL, NEWSWEEK.COM: I think what she`s trying to do, there`s
increasing casualties. There`s a lot of civilians that are being killed
and you know, you cannot hide this.
When Barack Obama was elected, he send more troops. And actually the
violence, the level of violence decreased for a certain while. Then,
something happened and they needed to withdraw the troops.
But there`s something that we`re not discussing here and I`m sorry to
bring this up. But the behavior of the soldiers -- there`s a pattern about
the behavior of the soldiers that is repeating itself.
It`s not about technology, you know? We`ve been having cell phones
for a long time. This war started 10 years ago. These pictures are coming
up now in the last years and it`s January, February, March -- you have the
burning of the Koran, urinating on the bodies, humiliating people publicly,
and then, you know, putting as a trophy their bodies, part of their bodies.
It`s something that says about our troops there -- and I`m sorry.
Not only the discipline of regular soldiers and single episodes, the
command -- what are they teaching them, what they are telling them to do,
how they are training them. And are we really on a peace-keeping mission?
LAKE: Do we really know this? I mean, I`m asking you a serious
question, do we really know this?
JEBREAL: I know very well because I`ve been in the war zones.
LAKE: I`ve been in war zones.
Do you know really that U.S. commanders are allowing this or --
JEBREAL: I`m not saying that they`re allowing this.
LAKE: Well, that seems to be the implication.
JEBREAL: You`re changing my words. I`m not saying that, so please
don`t change my words and keep it cool.
LAKE: I`m keeping it cool.
JEBREAL: Good for you.
What I`m saying here is very simple. What I`m saying there`s
something -- when you have mistake once or twice, you can even think that
OK, it`s a mistake and you can forgive that. But when it`s happening
regularly, we need really to question our ethics and --
HAYES: That is the question, right?
JEBREAL: Are we sending them on a combat mission? Or we are sending
them to handle people and winning their hearts and minds? It`s a big
HAYES: Let me just sort of draw a conceptual distinction between two
issues. One is whether there is something conceptually rotten to the core
of the entire project of counterinsurgency, right? Which is even if the
strategic aim is to win hearts and minds, it`s still fundamentally an
occupation. An occupation fundamentally has a power of differential, which
fundamentally populations that are under occupations chafe at, right?
So, a night raid into someone`s house, you know, no one comes into my
house in the middle of the night with guns. That`s a fact of being an
American, not under occupation.
LAKE: You`re also not a member of the Taliban.
HAYES: Right. But you`re saying that every house --
LAKE: When people conduct night raids, there`s a reason why that --
HAYES: But I`m saying --
LAKE: That target is chosen. It`s not at random.
HAYES: Of course not, but if you happen to be one of the mistakes
and I think you would admit that there are mistakes. Sometimes, I`ve
talked to soldiers myself, who tell you about going into night raids, in
which there isn`t Taliban, right?
The point is that, that -- there`s a conceptual question about the
nature of counterinsurgency, and whether it can work because it`s
fundamentally about managing an occupation and whether an occupation can be
sustained and eventually turned into something that isn`t fundamentally
KOLHATKAR: I think one of the big points that a lot of people missed
here is that we have this impression -- and Americans think we`re actually
fighting a war against the Taliban. But that`s not true. We have been
trying to negotiate and make peace with the Taliban for a long time.
We have, for almost 10 years now, actually funded both sides of this
war. There`s a new book that was just written by Douglas Wissing called
"Funding the Enemy." I mean, there is documentation after documentation
about how road construction projects have been built into them a major cuts
that are given to the Taliban as protection money. We`ve paid the Taliban.
We don`t address what the role of Pakistan is and why Pakistan is
even concerned. We`re planning our withdrawal as if we just want to wash
our hands of the Afghanistan war. And for years now, we have not exerted
our influence over a biggest ally, who is Pakistan, whose major concern in
Afghanistan is its rival, India`s influence over the central government.
We never talk about that.
JEBREAL: The last episodes, I mean, the last attack, there were
several attacks in various area. There were directly commanded by the
Haqqani Network who are situated actually in the North Waziristan.
JEBREAL: And controlled and they have ties, direct ties with the
secret service of Pakistan. This is a country that takes, receive aid from
the United States.
JEBREAL: And receive huge amount of political support.
HAYES: Right. And our leverage over them -- leverage over them is
Hold on one second, I want you to hold that thought, because I want
to come back to this after we take a very quick break.
HAYES: All right. We`re back -- I was just saying that sometimes I
cut someone off to go to break and I say I`m going to come back to them and
I don`t come back and the astute viewer at home will wrap my knuckles,
So, Sonali, I wanted to come to you in terms of this very complicated
relationship the U.S. has in terms of who we are funding and how -- when
you say -- you were making the point we`re not, it`s not quite right to say
we`re conducting a war on the Taliban because we`ve also been trying to get
them to negotiate.
And Ryan Crocker, I thought it was very interesting, Ryan Crocker is
the ambassador, after these photos came out when he was talking about them,
said, you know, these photos don`t reflect our troops, et cetera. And then
he said, the Taliban still has to make a choice whether they want to be
part of the new order or they want.
But here`s my question to you as someone who has worked with women`s
groups on the ground in Afghanistan. You know, at one level, it does seem
that the -- there is no way to avoid the Taliban being part of some future
order in Afghanistan. Just as a realistic assessment of how much power
At the same level, it seems like it would be a horrible tragedy at
the end of all this, we go back to girls having acid thrown in their faces.
KOLHATKAR: I mean, in 2001, this was the situation, you had -- 90
percent of the country controlled by the Taliban, a misogynist, repressive
regime. The women I work with who are members of the Revolutionary
Association of the Women of Afghanistan, RAWA, were working so hard to get
the world to pay attention to what was happening there.
HAYES: Yes. I remember getting emails about them.
KOLHATKAR: They were the ones who shot that video, the undercover
video of the women being executed in Kabul stadium. The mainstream media
did not want to touch that video. Only after 9/11 were they interested in
airing it. Then, it became important to demonize the Taliban.
But their position right from the start was, even when the bombs
began falling, they were against the war, they said liberation cannot come
from outside. What they wanted was the international community to help
them get rid of the warlords that the U.S. had empowered during the Soviet
occupation. What did we -- and the Taliban.
What did we do? We went in and decided to work with the warlords,
these criminals who had blood on their hands, killed tens of thousands of
people, were drug lords. We gave them cash to help us defeat the Taliban.
And RAWA said right from the start, this is the wrong strategy, do
not work with the northern alliance. And it has proven to be the worst
And so now, if we leave, we`re going to leave Afghanistan with the
same people in power, except maybe with more power, and with the power
dynamic even more chaotic than in 2001.
HAYES: So then, what should we be doing?
KOLHATKAR: You`ve made a big mess, which you`ve never have gone in
there in the first place.
HAYES: Right. But now, right, which --
KOLHATKAR: And now, what needs to happen is when the world`s
attention gets turned away from Afghanistan, after we pulled out our
troops, pat ourselves on the back and say, oh, yes, we did something to
fight terrorism, we need to remember that there are ordinary people,
millions of them on the ground who need our support and our solidarity,
whether it`s through the international community, whether it`s through
helping them create some kind of war crimes tribunal.
That`s what RAWA wants. They want the weapons out of Afghanistan.
They don`t want political power or military power in the hands of
fundamentalist criminals who have proven that they`re the enemy not just
women, but of the people.
HAYES: I want -- there`s a certain argument you sometimes hear from
liberals and the sort of this kind of, I can call it, the kind of
neocolonial feminist argument about the need to stay in -- I really didn`t
like that term. But about -- but about exactly what you`re saying, because
it sounds like what you`re saying, we`re going to leave and we`re going to
leave behind essentially cast the fates of Afghan women --
KOLHATKAR: Seven and a half years ago, well-meaning American
feminists thought that you could bomb women into liberation. They continue
to support the war, this is not happened today. But they didn`t listen to
the women on the ground.
Afghan women were saying, you cannot have liberation from outside.
Help us, don`t make our jobs harder. We made their jobs harder.
LAKE: How about arming the women against the Taliban? An Amazon
KOLHATKAR: Yes, no. I really think Afghanistan doesn`t need any
BEINART: How do we -- if you the United States pulled its military
out, what -- I mean we could send aid but the government will be controlled
by the same criminals.
KOLHATKAR: Exactly, thanks to us.
BEINART: Realist --
KOLHATKAR: Take the weapons away. Take the money away.
KOLHATKAR: Disarm these people. Control the Taliban through
LAKE: Before the intervention, the Taliban ran Afghanistan, how is
it thanks to us? Before the intervention, the Taliban ran Afghanistan, as
you said. How is it thanks to us?
KOLHATKAR: OK. The U.S., because of the men that we chose to work
with during the Soviet occupation, we put billions of dollars of weapons
into the most misogynist, fundamentalist criminals, they controlled
Afghanistan. They plunged it into war. It comes with Pakistan with a
stabilizing force. Pakistan are our ally, OK?
Three countries in the world considered the Taliban the formal
representatives of Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and
Pakistan, all three U.S. allies, all three U.S. weapons buyers, we didn`t
care until 9/11.
LAKE: But just to clarify your view is no one should have messed
with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan?
KOLHATKAR: No, the Afghans were fighting the Soviets on the ground
and that was a very legitimate fight and the U.S. could have chosen to work
with moderates. The U.S. could have helped -- of course, the U.S.`s own
interests are at stake. But if the U.S. wanted, they could have worked
with ordinary Afghans. Instead they work with extremists who killed
JEBREAL: This is a point, I think --
HAYES: Let me just --
JEBREAL: -- facing one of the most challenges for not only the
troops, but for the credibility of statutes, of the government. And
millions of people that are looking around, of how to pull this mission
And I think what happened in 2009, electing Karzai for the second
time was a huge mistake. We knew that his government was corrupt, we knew
he was inefficient. We knew about the fact that he was not really, not
only start real national building. He will not -- he will not stay there
once we leave, because the Taliban, he will be the first victim. The
second victim will be women, probably, because his government --
HAYES: Let me ask two things, one, when we have these discussions,
it sounds like we`re looking at the decision tree and the set of
counterfactuals and noting the moments in which we went off the rails and
made this bad decision, this bad decision, this bad decision.
When it seems to me that the fundamental project was doomed to
failure from the beginning in terms of invasion.
KOLHATKAR: Instead of 10 years to think to figure this out.
HAYES: Right. The second question, though, is I think everyone at
the table would say, "We`re getting out." I mean, I don`t think anyone
that -- and if we, if we -- I`m not certainly no Afghan effort. If I know
that, than certainly the Taliban knows it. I mean, everyone --
JEBREAL: They`re waiting.
HAYES: We have this situation on the ground where everyone
understands that we`re getting out. It`s a question of when.
BEINART: It`s eerily similar to Vietnam. I mean, this is exactly
the reason we couldn`t negotiate effectively with the North Vietnamese,
because the North Vietnamese knew that all they need to do was wait and
American public opinion was going to force us out.
It`s exactly the same situation we faced with Vietnam, where our own
government, the government we were supporting didn`t really want to be part
of the fight, and which the U.S. soldiers ended up doing terrible, terrible
things. Not because they`re bad people, they`re terrific people, because
this is what happens in every single war, which is why the standard for
going to war needs to be really, really high.
And, unfortunately, Barack Obama decided to plunge us further into
this war at a point when I think his -- if you look at Woodward`s book, he
himself did not really believe that we had a significant chance of success.
HAYES: We had 30,000 troops that were announced in the surge. They
will be -- that will end by the end of 2012 and the current sort of
projections that will get our troops out by 2014. But a lot will hinge on
the election, because Mitt Romney has been --
LAKE: Let me throw out a difficult --
HAYES: I want to you do that after we take a break, because I want
to talk about the Romney doctrine and what it will look like if it becomes
president. And I want to hear your thoughts on that, Eli, after we take a
HAYES: Talking about Afghanistan, in the wake of the photos being
published in "The L.A. Times" this week, but also more broadly about what -
- what -- what we`re doing there now and where this is all headed.
And, you know, Eli, I went to break as you were about to say
LAKE: Something to complicate the factor here is that there are
supposed to be 352,000 Afghan national security forces trained by July. If
the United States pulls out, this is a country that has half of its GDP is
based on foreign aid. There`s no way they can sustain a force of that
So the counterinsurgency strategy that Obama adopted in 2009 helped
basically arm the next Afghan civil war. And that`s a very serious
question because there`s no way that the government is going to be able to
sustain the military that is supposedly trained to prevent this kind of
HAYES: The point being -- you`re now going to have a lot of people
LAKES: Guns and some degree of military training.
JEBREAL: Plus, and that picture that the "L.A. Times" published.
Did you notice there were not only American soldiers? There were actually
Afghan trainees that were being trained.
That`s -- what I meant before, Eli, and what I meant for everyone,
what we train them to do is not to combat only. We train them to do is how
to deal with civilians in an area like Afghanistan, how to respect human
rights. How can we treat -- how can we teach them that once we leave, they
should behave in a certain way with victims, with fighters, with women? I
mean, if you don`t --
LAKE: There`s not way.
JEBREAL: There`s no way?
LAKE: I`m saying there`s no way that that`s -- we`re fooling
ourselves if we think --
LAKE: -- that the Afghan military, when we leave is going to live up
to the first world standards.
BEINART: That`s exactly what people who opposed the Obama surge were
saying at very time, which is to say that counterinsurgency could not work
in Afghanistan. Yet, the Obama administration went forward with it,
anyway, even though I think many inside the White House believed it was
going to end up exactly where we are.
HAYES: Can we pivot to Romney for a second? Precisely because it
seems to me that Barack Obama on the campaign trail, was fairly hawkish, I
hate the word hawkish. But, you know, he said --
HAYES: Muscular, that also --that also has all sorts of loaded
semantics to it.
He said very clearly that we were going to you know, redouble our
efforts in Afghanistan, that we were going to send more troops. He
conducted this big policy review. They ended up sending 30,000 troops.
Now, Mitt Romney has been on the campaign trail and he has been very
critical of Obama`s foreign policy in a way that I think has become quite
standard. I mean, it`s basically he`s saying the president is weak, he`s
indecisive. He`s not sufficiently muscular.
Here`s just a little bit of just to give you the flavor of Mitt
Romney`s foreign policy critique. Here he is talking about foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A strong America is the
best ally of peace.
There`s no price which is worth an Iranian nuclear weapon.
In an American century, America has the strongest economy and the
strongest military in the world. In an American century, America leads the
free world and the free world leads the entire world.
What we`re talking about here is the failure on the part of the
president to lead with strength.
God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: That`s Mitt Romney sounding I would say sort of toeing the
neocon line. The American century is an idea that --
LAKE: I don`t know if it`s neocon. It`s American.
HAYES: Well -- no, I`m an American, I don`t sound like that.
LAKE: All right. OK.
HAYES: So, I`ll respectfully dissent from that as being categorical.
But what we`ve seen I think is the -- largely, we have a sort of Venn
diagram in terms of the foreign policy advisers to Mitt Romney. There`s a
tremendous degree of continuity between George W. Bush ands Mitt Romney`s
advisors, Coffer Black, Michael Chertoff, Eliot Cohen, Eric Edelman,
Michael Hayden, Robert Kagan.
Robert Kagan who wrote an essay about sort of the myth of the
American decline, and it`s kind of I think the sort of brain trust out of
which springs this American century idea and he`s a famous I think self-
LAKE: Barack Obama according to you --
HAYES: Well, the essay as well, I know.
HAYES: So, that`s the question, there has been I think more
continuity than discontinuity in foreign policy between the Bush
administration and Obama.
LAKE: I agree.
HAYES: And the question is, were Mitt Romney to be elected, will we
see -- despite all the rhetoric, if you look at the Web site, it`s unclear
that Mitt Romney is actually proposing much discontinuity in terms of
JEBREAL: I`m sorry. There`s two things, one, yes, Obama continued
the policy. Obama was the one that killed bin Laden, al-Awlaki, used
drones. He not only looked muscular to the rest of the world -- maybe not
to the Americans, maybe not to Mitt Romney and to the Republicans. But to
the rest of the world he was decisive -- the way he led from behind, from
in front, whatever, Libya.
JEBREAL: Look at the way he`s hammering the Iranians, the sanctions.
JEBREAL: I mean, the guy has, has been very aggressive on each
issue, on each issue.
The only thing that he`s doing, he`s doing it smiling. That`s the
only way. He`d go to Cairo and make a beautiful speak about democracy and
freedom. And when they protest, he support them. He said, you know what,
Mubarak, you`ve been a great ally, but step out of the way, because we want
Romney, I mean, he will continue, but he will piss off everybody.
The first time he talks about China, he said, oh, Chinese, the first thing
I will do when I will be a president, I will actually say, label China as a
currency manipulator, I mean --
HAYES: Currency manipulator, here`s the question --
JEBREAL: How can you do that?
HAYES: Your thesis is that essentially the difference essentially is
in rhetoric, they`ll be sort of equally muscular.
JEBREAL: Well, there`ll be art behind. Obama do it with more charm.
HAYES: Right. Do you feel like -- you`ve done a lot of reporting
about the nature of sort of Republican consensus on foreign policy in the
wake of neocon ascendency during George W. Bush. It seems to me like
they`re still ascendant. That`s still the sort of main line in the
LAKE: Well, in a very important sense, if you count this as
neoconservative, you might count this as a Petraeus counterinsurgency
ideology. That there`s one view that in Afghanistan you have to stay and
be a huge presence and train up these forces and fill ungoverned spaces,
and have the patience over time.
And that`s totally lost out as we`ve just discussed, as to what might
be associated with Joe Biden`s view, counterterrorism plus, mowing the
grass, which is kind of a forever drone war, and forever, you know, night
raids with no plan on trying to build up the indigenous forces to try to
keep the peace.
Those are very real and important military differences, and those
differences exist both within the Obama administration and within the
Republican tent. I would say so that it`s less ideological in a sense and
it really is a difference that also is in the military right now. You
have, you had the rise of Petraeus and counterinsurgency. We thought there
was going to be a counterinsurgency army in 2008.
And it couldn`t be further from -- that`s not at all what happened.
The budget for the next 10 years is a drone cyber army.
BEINART: We pay too much attention to the advisers and to which
BEINART: If you look at the history of American foreign policy, what
determine as president`s foreign policy more than anything else is the
cards that they are dealt and the strength that they face.
BEINART: The fundamental reality is that the United States does not
have the money anymore to continue the kind of very, very expensive on-the-
ground foreign policy we`ve been waging since (INAUDIBLE). That`s going to
be true no matter who is president. And either president is going to have
to respond to that reality by scaling back.
JEBREAL: We have to do it in a smart way like you did in Libya. You
spend $1 billion in Libya and trillions of dollars -- hundreds of trillions
of dollars actually in 10 years --
HAYES: Hundreds of millions of dollars.
JEBREAL: Billions of dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. You do it in
a very smart way, including the international community. That`s the way.
HAYES: Last word, quickly.
KOLHATKAR: I think we keep forgetting about what ordinary Afghans
are going through in all of this. We`re just talking about what the power
players need and what will be -- you know, what will work for our foreign
policy. But no one is talking about what ordinary Afghan people are going
through and what they actually want.
HAYES: But it seems like, actually, in this there`s a confluence in
interest in saying that the U.S., from a strategic perspective, is going to
get out and the Afghans, you think ultimately what is best for Afghanistan
KOLHATKAR: Who are we leaving in power? Who are we leaving in
KOLHATKAR: And who have we chosen to work with right from the start.
Not ordinary Afghans.
JEBREAL: I think we ought to follow what people ask. In Libya, we
followed what people asked.
HAYES: I want to turn our attention to the other big for policy
issue which is on the table, there`s a lot more difference, I think, at
least in rhetoric on Iran, between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, right
after we take this break.
HAYES: Sonali, you were making the point as we went to break that we
do lose sight. I mean, this is one of the problems about the discourse
around imperial management, if I can sound like a grad student for a
moment, which is that the -- you know, the perspective is all from sort of
great power strategy, U.S. interest. And we do lose sight, I mean, partly
because it`s I think normal and natural that I don`t talk to a lot of
Afghans, I`m not in Afghanistan.
I think about our conversation gets very driven by U.S. interests.
And you`re saying we lose sight of what the fate of Afghans on the ground
will be and what they want, what their agency is.
And so, my question to you, as you think about the U.S. election,
because that`s the terms in which we`re talking about, this debate on
whether there`s going to be continuity, discontinuity, does it matter to
people in Afghanistan whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama win?
KOLHATKAR: Absolutely not. Sadly, it doesn`t matter. Now, mostly
because Afghans knew right from the start, when President Obama, when
candidate Obama was running for office, he ran on the policy of escalating
the war in Afghanistan. It came as no surprise.
It shouldn`t have come as any surprise to the anti-war movement, to
people here in the U.S., that the war was escalated. And that`s something
that Bush, in fact -- he escalated what Bush was doing.
KOLHATKAR: And so, you know, I think it makes -- it`s going to make
very little difference, because the women of RAWA understand that the
policies of Americans are driven by American interests, not by Afghan
HAYES: Right. But if it makes very little difference, does it make
very little difference for this reason, because we`re getting out anyway,
or does it make little difference because it`s going to perpetuate it?
Because to me seems the crucial question here, is it the case that
continuity at this point means a slide towards inevitable withdrawal, or
are we going to see the ball kicked down the road again and again, like we
have seen already?
KOLHATKAR: I doubt that Mitt Romney is going to keep kicking the
ball down the road.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
KOLHATKAR: I mean, I hate to speculate too much. But given public
opinion and given even his reluctance to overtly say that he wants to
extend the war, I really doubt that`s going to happen. Afghans know we`re
going to pull out.
KOLHATKAR: They`re trying to find out how many Afghans have to die
before we decide it`s now time to pull out.
HAYES: Do you agree, Eli, that that is -- that that is essentially
the end point of this in terms of --
LAKE: I would echo, I think the point that Peter made, which is that
the financial realities are that you can`t sustain a massive presence in
Afghanistan. And, unfortunately, the Afghan government can`t sustain a
massive Afghan military, which was the main activity of the last surge.
BEINART: Can I just jump in?
BEINART: Given that, the amazing thing is -- and, look, I speak as
someone, Eli knows this, I supported the Iraq war. I supported the Afghan
war. Both in retrospect I think were massive mistakes.
The question, there has been -- if you look at Romney`s advisers,
right, I mean, there has been -- especially in the Republican Party, but
even, there are been no reckoning with this fact whatsoever. We have
exactly the same people there.
KOLHATKAR: I`m really curious. Why did you support these wars? I
BEINART: I --
HAYES: He`s written books about it.
BEINART: I wrote essentially two -- for my sins, I wrote two books
trying to explain the evolution of American policy as I saw it through the
1990s and why I think the role of the use of force became something that I
HAYES: Wait a second. I want to apply those lessons because we are
now hearing rhetoric that is startlingly similar about Iran. And I want to
talk about the nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran right after this.
HAYES: That`s right. Nothing gets me in the mood to talk more than
nuclear catastrophe better than Bismarck.
All right. There was optimism on both sides of the Iran nuclear
standoff this week. Leaders of the six world powers negotiating with Iran
said they were making progress after talks in Istanbul last weekend. And a
prominent Iranian cleric on Friday praised the, quote, "good achievements
of the summit," including an agreement to meet again on May 23rd.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however dismissed the talks
at a press conference in Israel last Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: My initial impression is
that Iran has been given a freebie. It`s got five weeks to continue
enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama then issued a sharp rejoinder at a press
conference in Colombia later that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The clock is ticking,
and, you know, I`ve been very clear to Iran and to our negotiating partners
that we`re not going to have these talks just drag out in a stalling
The notion that somehow we`ve given something away, or a freebie,
would indicate that Iran has gotten something. In fact, they`ve got some
of the toughest sanctions that they`re going to be facing coming up in just
a few months if they don`t take advantage of these talks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining us now to discuss the Iran/Israeli standoff is Hooman
Majd, journalist and author of "The Ayatollah`s Democracy: An Iranian
Challenge" and coming to the back to the program.
Great to have you here, Hooman.
HAYES: Let`s talk about the negotiations because the sort of arc
here is that there has been -- there`s been a kind of -- one way you could
look at it as a good cop/bad cop symbiosis between Israel and the U.S. in
terms of dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. I say nuclear program
advisedly because it`s not been established there`s a nuclear weapons
HOOMAN MAJD, AUTHOR, "THE AYATOLLAHS` DEMOCRACY: Correct.
HAYES: But there`s definitely a nuclear program. They are building
reactors. They admit to that. There are some that are under monitor of
Basically, Israel has been leaking to every reporter, left and right,
and publishing in American and Israeli press that there`s going to be a
preemptive strike on the facilities unless the U.S. steps up. The U.S. has
been much more cautionary, sometimes sort of chiding either anonymously or
actually on the record, this drum beat to war.
But what the one thing it`s resulted in is a toughening of sanctions
and there`s going to be very, very tough sanctions that go into effect July
1st -- if I`m not mistaken -- in terms of limitations on European`s ability
to purchase Iranian oil, constraints on the Iranian central bank, which
will have profound economic consequence and it`s resulted in talks
And I guess my question to you is -- has this been essentially a
victory, a triumph of sort of American foreign policy and diplomacy in sort
of using all this to get back to the negotiating table?
MAJD: Well, it depends on how you look at it. If you believe that
the sanction and all the pressure is what has gotten the Iranians back to
the table or to the table, then yes, clearly, it has been. I mean, Obama`s
victory here is preventing war so far, I think, more than anything else --
or delaying at least any kind of potential military action.
But the Iranians -- I mean, if you look at it from the Iranian point
of view, the Iranians say, we`ve always been willing to negotiate. We did
the deal in May of 2010 with the Brazilians and the Turks and told us that
they had the approval of President Obama. We did that deal.
Obama rejected it. We were always ready -- that`s what they`ll say,
that they were always ready.
So, they`re saying the sanctions aren`t what is bringing us back to
HAYES: But is that true?
MAJD: It is true that in May of 2010, they did a deal.
MAJD: Correct, yes.
HAYES: It can be true and the fact that the sanctions are having an
effect in terms of their --
MAJD: There`s no question that the sanctions are having an effect.
The Iranians admit that. I mean, they don`t admit it officially.
MAJD: But you hear Iranian in the leadership, people saying things
like, yes -- even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the sanctions are
hurting. Of course they are hurting. You can see how here hurting the
people in Iran.
So, there`s no question that Iran would like to see those sanctions
lifted. There`s no question. There`s also no question they`d like to see
them lifted as soon as possible. Or not even instituted -- the ones in
July or at the end of June on the central bank. There`s no question about
So, I think -- I mean, it`s hard to say what the victory is at this
MAJD: Because as far as the Israelis are concerned, I don`t think
there`s any kind of deal that the U.S. can make with Iran, that Iran would
accept, that would satisfy the Israeli.
HAYES: That seems to be the issue here, which is that the line in
the sand the Netanyahu government has drawn is not one that could conceive
-- you could conceive of ways, and not to get too technical, but a lot of
it has to do with the enrichment of uranium to be weapons grade. The
threshold for weapons grade is 20 percent. There`s some -- there`s a sort
of pilot project that the Iranians have been pursuing to enrich uranium to
MAJD: It`s not a pilot project. Twenty percent for their Tehran
Americans generally don`t know the history of why they`re enriching
to 20 percent. In May of 2010, or -- sorry, in the summer of 2009, which
is when the green movement exploded in Iran, that was all the anti-Iranian
-- anti-regime demonstrations. At that point, Iran knew that the Tehran
reactor was running out of fuel. The Tehran reactor is a reactor that`s
operating that the Americans built before the revolution and it creates
medical isotopes for cancer patients.
So, they did what they have to do under the NPT, which is go to the
HAYES: The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which they are a
MAJD: Signatory. They have to go to the IAEA and say, we`re running
out of fuel for this reactor, if they don`t have their own.
MAJD: And say, find somebody to sell it to us. The last time they
bought it was from Argentina. This time, the IAEA goes out and says who is
willing to sell fuel rods to Iran for their reactor. The answer came back,
So, then the Obama administration created this plan, you give us your
3.5 percent enriched uranium, and we will give you fuel rods, in return for
the uranium you`ve already enriched to 3.5. That deal fell apart and I
don`t want to go into history why it felt part. But it felt apart and was
revived by the Turks and the Brazilians, what I was referring to earlier.
That`s when Iran says, look, nobody is giving us this fuel. We`re
going to make our own.
MAJD: So, it`s not a pilot program, they`ve made the 20 percent fuel
for the Tehran reactor.
HAYES: And the concern as articulated by Israel and also articulated
about the U.S. is part of it has to do with the way that the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty is designed.
HAYES: Again, Iran is a signatory. Israel is not a signatory. In
which it`s possible to essentially be in compliance with the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty until the day that you are no longer in compliance,
when you can then weaponize on the next day and --
MAJD: Not the next day, six months.
HAYES: In very short window.
I want to talk about where this is going and also how American
domestic politics playing right after we take a quick break.
HAYES: We are talking about the negotiations that happen, between
the P5-plus-one, a variety of countries, including the U.S., China, Russia,
the E.U., in Istanbul with Iran, over the Iran nuclear program.
Eli, you have, I think, a different perspective and you`ve done some
reporting on this in terms of the intentions on this. I guess my question
to you as someone who`s done reporting on this is, is there a possible end-
point to -- is there a realistic possible end-point to negotiations with
Iran that would satisfy the current Israeli government?
LAKE: Well sure. I think that if you -- if you had monitoring in
all of the places that the IAEA has been denied access to now for several
years, you`ve answered all the questions of the inspectors about laboratory
and other sort of programs that, you know, the head of the IAEA said could
be used for a nuclear weapon and remain all of these outstanding questions,
and you had a sense that the entire program was disclosed, which no one
ever has, because the two main facilities were only disclosed after they
were essentially outed. And those were the facility in Qom, and then early
on, if you go back to 2002, the facility in Natanz.
But, you know, when you have a kind of history of so much deception
and everyone who wants to build a nuclear weapon in the modern age, you
know, after the first -- after the U.S. has deceived people about it from,
you know, the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis, the Pakistanis. So,
it`s not unique to Iran they would be lying about their program.
But the idea that something short of this kind of full disclosure,
which I really do think would require a new set of people in power, you
know, I think would shouldn`t, it`s not just Israel. It shouldn`t satisfy
HAYES: Well, it`s also plausible that a new people in power would
also want to pursue the nuclear program.
LAKE: Yes. But I think there would be more of -- there would be
more of a -- more trust. And I think if you saw -- you know, listen, these
guys stole the election in 2009.
The nuclear program -- the reason people are so wary about Iran
getting a nuclear program is because they`re the leading supporters of
terrorism. Their, you know, leaders are animated by virulent anti-Semitism
and anti-Westernism. They, you know, are terrible to their own population.
And it`s -- it`s a country that would, the world would be much better
off if this regime was not --
JEBREAL: The tension that we are creating and this animosity with
Iran and the Israeli talks about war and strife, is actually uniting
everybody you know, with this government.
LAKE: They`re very isolated.
JEBREAL: The green movement is disappearing. Moussaoui is at house
arrest for a while and nobody is talking about it. I mean, the green
movement is actually hammered because nobody is talking about what they are
doing. And their daily struggle. And we are talking about, oh, should we
bomb them or not bomb them.
MAJD: Yes. Well, the threats and the sanctions is definitely
hurting civil society in Iran. There`s no question about that. I spent a
year there last year.
LAKE: So is the policy by the way. So is the government.
MAJD: You can keep saying that.
HAYES: Sure, but that`s stipulating.
MAJD: Nobody is denying that.
MAJD: But you also just listed a whole litany of accusations against
Iran that most Iranians don`t agree with. It`s easy to say, they`re the
biggest state sponsor of terrorism and a lot of Iranians say, well, no. I
mean, I`m not talking about the regime.
I`m talking about Iranians, saying if we support Palestinians, it`s
not terrorism. It`s freedom fighters. But getting to that semantics is a
whole different issue. I think the idea of them lying about this --
HAYES: I`m cutting you of mid sentence because I want to talk about
this and talk about an Israeli/Iranian solidarity movement that`s gone
We`ll talk about all of that right after the break. And back with
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: And we have Antonia Juhasz on the line from New
Orleans. Antonia has written a book about the oil spill and its affects,
and wrote a cover investigative piece for "The Nation" this week.
Antonio, we were just talking about trust, and whether you can trust
the pronouncements. I was referring to the infamous proclamation about the
air being safe after 9/11 when Christine Todd Whitman was head of the EPA.
A federal judge later found that characterization misleading.
Do people -- is there a gap between what the government, or what BP
is saying and what people are experiencing?
ANTONIA JUHASZ, AUTHOR, "BLACK TIDE": Yes, absolutely. I just want
to say in response to Secretary Whitman`s last statement, what`s very
important to understand about the Gulf of Mexico right now and this oil
spill is that it covers five beautiful states.
On any given day, there`s a beautiful beach in the Gulf of Mexico,
and on any given day there`s an oil beach. On any given day, there are
healthy people. And on any given day, there are hundreds of thousands of
And if we`re going to do anything about the latter, harmful ongoing
impacts, we have to acknowledge their existence in the same we`ve
acknowledged there`s a healthy part of the gulf that we`re trying to move
JUHASZ: That both are happening simultaneously and the problem with
the information that`s been coming out from the federal government and from
BP is that it`s tried to paint just one picture, and that`s the rosy
picture, and focus in on that, which means we`re ignoring these continued
harmful impacts so that the quintessential moment in the BP gulf oil spill
was on August 15th when the Obama administration, several members of it,
got on television and announced that the vast majority of the oil is gone.
The scientists who wrote the report that they were referring to
immediately started calling reporters and getting on the news saying,
that`s not what we found. What we found was the opposite, that the
majority of the oil is still there. And that was the critical, one of the
critical breaking points.
When we look, for example, at seafood safety in the Gulf, the Federal
Drug Administration decided that Gulf seafood is safe. The reality is that
that study was based on a 176-pound man who eats the average diet of an
American -- across the United States.
In the Gulf Coast -- well, for one thing around the whole world,
around the whole country, we have women and we have children who have
different weights, generally than men, which means that their exposure to
the chemicals in the seafood affects them more harmfully. We have women
who are pregnant, and could be pregnant, who pass on those toxins to their
children. But in the Gulf Coast in particular, they eat a lot more
JUHASZ: If you`ve of been to Louisiana you know this.
HAYES: Oh, yes.
JUHASZ: And there also are subsistence eaters, who that -- they eat
what they catch. Tor for the people of the Gulf Coast, seafood is
something they need to worry about, even if it isn`t as much a concern for
the men on the show, for example.
HAYES: I`ll keep that in mind. Cut down on my gulf shrimp
consumption, but -- which, of course, the last thing the people in the Gulf
want to hear.
But you just said -- a number of -- hundreds of thousands of people
are sick. That sounds like a big number and I want you to just back up
that citation. How do we know how many are sick? How can we attribute the
causes to the spill? How -- how can we responsibly conclude what the cause
and effect is?
JUHASZ: So, one of the things that`s been very important about this
oil spill is that it comes in the wake of the Valdez. And one of the great
victories of the Valdez was that under the Bush, Sr. administration, the
Congress acted, and we got a great piece of legislation called the Oil
Pollution Act. And the response to this disaster, significantly larger
disaster, we`ve not had a single piece of legislation passed.
JUHASZ: But the good news is, we have the Oil Pollution Act, which
required a lot of immediate, on the ground responses. It also required a
lot of infrastructure to be put into place, and a legal structure in which
lawyers could start responding to the disaster.
And the result of all of that is that right now, we have a medical
settlement on the table which is the result of a lot of study, a lot of
activism by Gulf residents which looks at a minimum about 200,000 people
that are basically automatically considered to be part of this group. And
the reason why they`re automatically considered is because we know that
based on where they live and also based on cleanup workers, about 140,000
of whom should be in this group but only 90,000 are, the cleanup workers
and those who live on the coast were constantly exposed to this enormous
amount of oil and chemicals and they were not being provided with adequate
health care, with adequate protection.
I cite a Government Accountability Project study in my article that
started to look at whistle-blowers and what they`re reporting from their
cleanup exposure, and what we`re seeing are the expected results of
exposures to the chemicals in oil and Corexit. And those are as minimal as
skin rashes, although those that have them wouldn`t call them minimal.
They`re called BP rash. They are the BP moment, which is the memory loss
that people are suffering because the chemicals are attracted to the brain,
which is a nice fatty source for them to suck into.
There are extreme impacts that are already being reported, dementia
is one that I report in my article. But everything from coughs, constant
bronchial problems, bleeding from ears, nose, the rectum, these symptoms
are also indicative of most likely the longer-term expected chronic
impacts, cancers, neurological disorders, birth defects. These are the
expected outcomes of this type of exposure, and people in the Gulf are
experiencing them, and I honestly think based on my studies that 200,000
figure is probably small.
Again, remember, 21 million people live on the Gulf Coast. They were
exposed to an unprecedented environmental disaster. They`re going to
suffer the human consequences.
HAYES: Antonia, this -- one of the things that gets confusing about
this, is there`s a bunch of parallel processes in place.
There are civil suits, class action suits that have been consolidated
based on different kinds of classes. Health effects has been disaggregated
from economic effects.
There`s the natural resources, damage assessment, which is happening
under the Oil Spill Act that you mentioned. That`s coming up with a tally.
There`s the money that BP has put up front.
And then, of course, also fines under the Clean Water Act.
So there`s a bunch of different processes that are happening, and all
of those are going to continue to play out and we should keep checking back
in so we don`t just forget about the Gulf.
Antonia Juhasz, author of the book, "Black Tide: The Devastating
Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill" -- thanks so much for your time this morning,
really, really important reporting. Thank you.
JUHASZ: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: President Obama says he wasn`t born with a silver spoon in
his mouth. Mitt Romney gets offended. We`ll explain why, right after
HAYES: President Obama stirred, I guess, controversy this week with
what many perceived as sly jab at Mitt Romney`s privileged upbringing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody gave me an
education. I wasn`t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle
wasn`t. But somebody gave us a chance. Just like these folks up here are
looking for a chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Speaking in front of a job training center, Romney then took
umbrage with the remark in an interview on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to apologize
for my dad`s success, but I know the president likes to attack fellow
Americans. He`s always looking for a scapegoat, particularly those that
have been successful like my dad and I`m not going to rise to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Romney has consistently mythologized the financial and
political success of his father, George Romney, as a sort of Horatio Alger
story. Indeed, Romney`s own fortune is the ethos of the American dream,
perhaps the ideal ending to his father`s story. If you work hard and pull
yourself up by the bootstraps, you`ll be able to pass that on to your
Piece by piece, however, Republicans have worked to systemically
dismantle the very programs that would give low-income Americans the chance
to escape entrenched generational poverty and achieve the kind of success
Romney extols in his father`s story.
This week, that effort gave us a Republican proposal to slash
billions from various components of the social safety net, including the
federal SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps. Republicans on the
House Agriculture Committee, inspired by Representative Paul Ryan`s budget
approved a proposed farm bill that would cut food stamps, some supplemental
nutritional systems program by more than $30 billion over the next 10
years. And that`s pennies compared to the cuts proposed under Ryan`s
budget plan which would total more than $130 billion over 10 years.
I -- digging into the data on food stamps` SNAP, I feel bad, because
people know it as food stamps, but they`re trying to get away from the term
food stamp. So, let`s just like stipulate here and we`ll call it SNAP from
hereon out. OK. Stipulated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
HAYES: No? You like food stamps.
The data on this is shocking, I mean, just in terms of the rise of
the program. Now, about 45 million Americans, because largely because of
the devastating consequences of the great recession. Eighty-fived percent
of those people have a gross income below the federal poverty line which is
about $22,000 for a family of four.
So, we are talking about -- and about half of them, I believe, are
employed, right? This has become a way to essentially supplement the
insufficient wages of people that are the working poor, and it`s also been
one of the most effective ways of mitigating poverty here in the great
recession. This is a chart that shows how it virtually erased the rise in
extreme poverty among children during the recession. Check this out.
The top line -- do we have this? Maybe not. There it is. OK.
The top line, what the growth, the number of extremely poor families
would have been without food stamps and the bottom what it was with food
stamps. The gap between the two is, poverty mitigation brought to you by
food stamps and now, they`re going after food stamps.
Josh, defend your voice.
JOSH BARRO, BLOGS.FORBES.COM: I disagree with this choice. I think
that, you know-- I think we need to have a broad rethinking of the way that
we do income support and social programs in the U.S. because we have this
BARRO: You have SNAP, and then you have Section 8, and then you have
the earned income tax credit, for all of these. And one thing I really
worry about with these programs is the issue of poverty traps, where
basically you have who are working poor, maybe, you know, a family with an
income around $25,000, as they try to work harder and earn money, they face
a marginal tax rate that can approach 100 percent because they pay taxes on
that income and they lose benefits as they get welfare.
BARRO: And so --
HAYES: And a critical factor. And we talked about it last week when
we`re having this discussion that when you -- one of the days that ways
that TANF was reform, you know, welfare reform, was to get rid of these
cliffs effects, right? You don`t want it to be ever the case.
But if someone gets a raise or gets a better job, the actual gross
amount of income they`re taking into their family, net amount of income
they`re taking in in their family reduces. But when you combine all the
federal programs together, you do have these cliff effects.
BARRO: Right. And you have state programs on top of that. And this
is also going to become a bigger problem as the health care law comes into
effect, assuming that it does, because this is another big means test of
entitlement program. The people lose the benefit of this as they gain
income. So, I think that needs to be addressed.
But I don`t think that it -- I think that food stamps are a
relatively good welfare program within the universal programs that we have.
I think they are an effective means of poverty mitigation. So, I don`t
think it makes sense to go after that in the budget.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, LATINO DECISIONS: Yes. And SNAP isn`t
just about providing dollars for food. It`s also trying to address issues
such as obesity. It`s food and security.
OK. So, you have $2 and you go buy a bag of chips and grape soda.
What they`re trying to do through SNAP, they have a pilot program where
they are starting with farmer`s markets to accept SNAP --
HAYES: They use their card.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: -- so they can go to select farmer`s markets. So,
it`s also trying to give people the healthier foods. So, not only are they
cutting the numbers, but they`re cutting the types of nutritional
supplements that are available, especially children. About half of the
recipients are children.
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS.ORG: What we`re talking about here are blatantly
cruel proposals. One in five American children is poor. One in three
African-American children is poor.
It would be even more if we didn`t have the food stamp programs.
Those numbers would be even higher. But what you`re talking about is, as
poverty is increasing in the United States, at the same time the rich are
getting richer, we`re talking about going in and taking food off of the
table of poor children? What is the matter with us?
SAM SEDER, MAJORITY.FM: And the point that I make, you mentioned
this at the top of the segment, but it can`t be stated enough, that the
program hasn`t grown.
SEDER: The participants have grown, because that many people have
dropped further down on the income spectrum. And so that`s really the
problem, because we see this demagogue over and over again that this
program`s out of control. It keeps growing, keeps growing, as if more
people are being admitted into it because the requirements are being
loosened. But in fact, it`s a function of there`s something fundamentally
wrong with our economy.
HAYES: Well, and the CBO and Paul Ryan talks about the growth of the
program, CBO projects that as a share of GDP, it will be back to 1995
levels in about six years, right? As this sort of we get through the worst
effects of the Great Recession. People get back into the labor market.
But there`s a broader issue here I think about the way we think about
income support for people at the bottom of the social hierarchy and
economic pyramid, which is we have moved towards programs like the earned
income tax credit, the way that TANF now works and SNAP, which are ways to
essentially subsidize the working poor so that they can have essentially
enough to just barely get by while working.
And it strikes me as an -- that that`s a sort of dystopic vision of
the future in which people have -- there`s a huge class of people who are
making not enough money to actually subsist on. The only thing that gets
them actually to subsistent level is a government subsidy that makes --
HERBERT: And not only that, we`re subsidizing the corporations who
pay them. It`s a wage subsidy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
HERBERT: So, you know, the corporations would have to pay more
together. We should be raising the minimum wage and we should be insisting
that Americans who work for a living get paid a decent wage for that work.
BARRO: I don`t know what else you`re supposed to do about growing
inequality. I mean, the reason you have wage inequality is you have
different productivity levels and you have -- you have growing gaps of
inequality because the economy is changing in ways such as that the returns
to labor are just getting bigger and bigger for people at the top.
HAYES: It`s a much, much more complicated story.
BARRO: This is a big part of the story.
HAYES: Part of the story.
BARRO: And one of the key things the government can do to alleviate
inequality in that situation is transfer --
BARRO: So yes, this is a concern. Actually concerned more often
voiced on right that you have a growing class of people who are living --
are living and requiring government subsidies in order to be able to
support themselves at a level that is deemed by society to be at such level
HERBERT: A lot of things to do about inequality, though, you can
have a more progressive income tax. Make access to higher education more
affordable. I mean, there are just endless numbers of things that you can
do about inequality.
HAYES: Just in terms of to reaffirm this point about inequality,
this is the income gains during the recovery, in the first year of the
recovery, we should say. Not the entire recovery. We have data from the
Ninety-three percent of all the income gains in the first year in
recovery went to the top --
HERBERT: Looks like Pac-man.
HERBERT: That is so sad. Ninety-three percent of all income gains
go to the top 1 percent? That should be hammered home to Americans. I
mean, pound, pound, pound.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: And during the recession, what we saw with our
minority communities was that within the African-American community,
plummeted 55 percent, Latinos 56 percent. And then within those
communities, wealth is becoming more skewed. So, this is a problem that
HERBERT: There`s basically no wealth in the African-American
community. I think the median is something like $2,200. If you have
$2,200 and your car breaks down, your -- or something happens to the roof
of your home, your wealth is gone.
HAYES: Actually, one of the proposed changes to SNAP from the
Republicans is to put in an acid test, so that if you have any money in the
bank, or a certain amount of money in the bank, you can`t receive it.
But I want to talk how this affects social mobility, right after we
take this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: My dad, as you know, born in Mexico, poor, didn`t get a
college degree, became head of a car company. I could have stayed in
Detroit like him and gotten pulled up in a car company. I went off on my
own. I didn`t inherent money from my parents. What I have, I earned. I
worked hard, the American way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s Mitt Romney in a public primary debate in Detroit sort
of asserting his own, kind of, if not rags to riches sort of median riches
to ultra riches story. And I think it`s very interesting the way that he
has to -- and one of the conventions of running for president, is to
construct for yourself some kind of meritocratic success story, even when
it flies in the face of all the facts, right?
So, George H.W. Bush talked about how he left behind Connecticut and
struck out his own Texas oil fields, even though he was from -- you know,
the son of a senator and four five generations of prominent members of
society and wealth folks.
George W. Bush had this whole kind of conversion story, about like,
you know, getting rid of his drinking ways and his loose youth and turning
his life around.
And Mitt Romney is in the midst of kind of constructing even though
the fact that his father was a governor, had a major car company,
constructing for himself this meritocratic story supplemented by Ann Romney
describing their early years together as students at BYU. "We moved into a
$65 a month basement apartment with a cement floor and live there two years
as students with no income. It was tiny.
And I didn`t have money to carpet the floor. But you can get
remnants, samples. I glued them together, all different colors. It looked
awful, but it was carpeting. We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of
us had a job because Mitt had enough of investment from stock that we could
sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt`s father."
HAYES: So even -- even in constructing her sort of like hardscrabble
days in BYU student housing, which is stapling -- they`re paying for
stapling by selling the dad`s income. And to me what this gets at is, this
perverse way that we think about the American dream and mobility, which is
that I think Mitt Romney really does believe that his wealth is entirely
independent of the privilege he inherited from the father. I think he
really believes that.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: I love how he phrased it in terms of my father was
poor from Mexico. So, he`s almost latching on to this immigrant story.
HAYES: Yes, yes.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: And using this as the American dream where nothing
could be farther from the truth. His father ended up in Mexico because he
was fleeing from the United States because of polygamy.
HAYES: Yes. Well, I would say fleeing religious persecution. But -
BARRO: Also, I guess my question is how should Mitt Romney talk
about his successful career? I mean, you say he constructed a meritocratic
story. He does have a meritorious business career. He`s a much more
successful business person than his father was, and while he obviously came
in with a lot of advantages, he`s also -- he`s a smart guy who worked hard
and had a lot of success.
SEDER: Well, that`s exactly it. I mean, that`s what`s so strange
about it is because he could say that.
HERBERT: I agree.
SEDER: I started off with a lot of advantages. I didn`t have to pay
for college. I didn`t have student debt that got through. I had an
investment that I dipped in to pay for.
I am very lucky and I feel responsible enough. And I appreciate the
advantage I had and I want to help those who don`t have that advantage.
But he cannot admit that. That`s what`s so stunning about this, is
that I don`t think there`s anything problematic about having a wealthy
person who run for office. But the fact that you do not appreciate the
opportunities you had as your father being a governor, and CEO of a major
car corporation, and where that puts you at the beginning of the race.
HAYES: This is the famous line right on George W. Bush -- born on
third base, you hit a triple.
You asked how he can`t talk about it. I will show you one way he can
talk about it.
This is Mitt Romney in 1994 dug up by a news segment producer, Sal
Gentilli (ph). Hat tip, Sal -- who found this from Romney in 1994.
Here`s him talking about his success in, I think, a remarkably frank
and honest way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I believe we should maintain America as an opportunity
society led by free people and free enterprises. It is opportunity and
freedom which has driven our economy to be the most powerful in the world
and created jobs for people across this --
I have spent my life not just in earning money. I was lucky about
four years ago to win the lottery, almost literally. I got involved in a
business that became more successful than anything I imagined. But that
isn`t how we grew up. That isn`t how we started living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That -- obviously, the first bite wasn`t right. The second
one was. But that`s a remarkable thing to say. I almost literally won the
lottery. I got into this business.
And there`s no question, all accounts of Mitt Romney as a private
equity baron, say that he was very good at what he did. I mean, that is
almost universally the case. In terms of pursuing profit for his
investors, and for himself and for his partners, he was very good at what
But -- boy, you`re grimacing. But he was.
SEDER: No, no.
HAYES: I mean, I`m saying within the confines of what it was.
SEDER: He won the lottery. And you don`t hear a lot of people on a
winning team criticizing other players, but be that as it may.
HAYES: Right. But that is what I thought was a remarkably frank way
of talking about it. And one of the things we can`t have this discussion
about is, we have to keep reaffirming the idea that success is just 100
percent a product of determination, grit, talent, all of these things as
opposed to being honest about the amount of both contingency and privilege
that amount to being able to be Mitt Romney with a quarter million dollars
in the bank and running for president.
HERBERT: And the weird thing is that the American electorate has
voted for wealthy, privileged individuals again and again for president.
They haven`t held it against them. You know, you go back to FDR, and I`m
sure further back than that. But the Kennedys, you know --
HAYES: Right, I mean, that`s the thing --
HERBERT: The country does not have a problem with that.
SEDER: Across the spectrum or is this something that we see on the
right? Because they must maintain this notion of society being
meritocratic. And my sense is that this is something that a guy like Mitt
Romney feels a lot more pressure to sort of put out there than you would
see across the aisle.
HAYES: I think it is something that is a shared vision of both left
and right, but I think it`s more emphasis on the right. But I think the
idea of the American Dream as -- I mean, here`s a sort of interesting
This is America`s economic mobility relative to other places, right?
We think of America as the place that is the most mobile, right? De
Tocqueville said, you know, in democracy in America, the Americans have no
word for peasant because that class is unknown there.
And this is -- if you -- the economic mobility relative to other
countries. Denmark, three times as mobile. This is intergenerational
mobility, right, father to son. Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden,
Germany -- all mobile places in the U.S. The only place less as mobile is
the class-bound world of the U.K., from which we broke off, right, partly
to slow off the shackles of their aristocratic domination.
If you ask people about the American dream, and this is polling on:
do you think the American dream is alive and well, had you achieved it or
will you achieve it? Seventy percent say, yes, right? So, there`s this
amazing -- there`s this amazing sort of disconnect between what people
think about how much mobility this country has and what the actual facts of
the matter are. I think our political culture has a way of reinforcing it.
BARRO: And there`s value in this belief, even regardless of its
BARRO: When you look at international survey data, where you asked
people in different countries about how much control they feel about their
HAYES: It`s very interesting poll.
BARRO: Believing that you have more control over your own fate leads
to better economic outcomes because it causes people to work harder. So, I
think that, you know, we don`t -- while I think it`s important to recognize
HAYES: You`re saying this is a useful delusion for the masses is
what you`re saying?
BARRO: Well, this isn`t a statement that`s either true or false.
HAYES: Right. Sure. Of course.
BARRO: There is a degree of social mobility and people believing
that they have opportunity for social mobility has value -- so does
actually having the opportunity for social mobility. But I don`t think we
want to undermine --
HAYES: I want you to respond. Let`s take a quick break, and talk
more about this after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We are in upwardly mobile society
with a lot of income movement between income groups. Telling Americans
that they are stuck in their current station in life, that they are victims
of circumstances beyond their control, and that the government`s role is to
help them cope with it, that is not who we are. That`s not what we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Paul Ryan giving a speech about inequality and social
mobility, in which I think he was affirming the sort of core Republican
beliefs -- certainly, conservative belief -- about individual achievement
and merit in the face of whatever obstacles, equal opportunity, whatever.
But also I think a broadly shared American ethos. I mean, I do think
it sort of does cross both parties the way we think about what the American
dream is. And yet we have this tension in which the facts and the dream
are quite disparate and then they get played out through the morality play
of our presidential elections in which you have the somewhat absurd
situation of Mitt Romney trying to fashion for himself a carpet stapling
HERBERT: There was kind of a narrow period in our history when the
American dream was much easier to realize, and those were the early post-
World War II decades. So, now, I mean, I agree there`s a degree of social
mobility in the society, obviously, but it is not nearly enough.
And it is very, very difficult now, if you`re a poor person -- forget
about Horatio Alger becoming rich -- it`s very difficult if you grow up
poor to make it into the middle class nowadays.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: And we`re also not looking at the institutional
barriers. So the American dream supposes that you didn`t live under Jim
Crowism, or didn`t go to segregated schools. So it`s not just wealth.
It`s income. And wealth is inherited.
While we may be on the same playing field in terms of having the same
paycheck, but my great-great grandfather gave my grandfather money for his
house it was passed down along the way. We lose sights of that when we`re
just looking at the president.
HERBERT: That`s a really good point. I mean, in terms of wealth,
forget about it.
HAYES: Right. Disparities in wealth are much greater --
HAYES: -- and that`s because wealth accumulates, it`s a stock,
economists say, not a flow, which is what income is, you know?
Josh, you want to respond.
BARRO: I think people overstate how idyllic the `50s were in terms
of equality. The `50s were a great time to be a lower, medium-skilled
white man, partly because of barriers in the labor market. It was the
period in U.S. history when we have the tightest immigration policies, so
there wasn`t a lot of competition for jobs from immigrants, women were
effectively excluded from many sectors in the economy, and so were African
BARRO: So, I think that -- nobody`s proposing that we should go back
to that structure, but it was the sort of unusual confluence of policies
that were benefiting this one group and that`s gone away, creating lots of
advantages otherwise in society.
HERBERT: I`d push back on that a little bit.
HAYES: I want to push back.
HAYES: We`ll take another break. I want to hear your response.
We`ll be right back.
HAYES: All right. Josh Barro just referenced the slightly anomalous
period in American -- the history of American political economy, which is
after World War II.
Bob Herbert --
HERBERT: Well, obviously, in the `50s, it was a tough time for
blacks. Women did not have a great deal in the way of opportunities
either. But in those early post-war decades, `50s, `60s, and into the
`70s, it was tremendous movement up, but in many groups including African-
Americans and included women. But I think the most important thing is that
there was a movement in the right direction. Progress was being made.
Whereas now, where a lot of people are better certainly than they
were back in the `50s, but we`re going backwards. And I think that`s the
big thing to keep our eyes on.
HAYES: And if you look at median wage, they were about where they
HERBERT: In the `70s.
HAYES: Yes. Well, it depends on sort what measure you use,
households or individual.
HAYES: For household, it`s around 1996. For individuals, that`s
back in the `70s, that`s partly due to the fact that there`s a substitution
effect, as more, two-income earner households.
But this question of mobility I think, Josh, because to me, these two
conversations about food stamps and mobility are linked, right? Which is
that if you`re going to say, you know, there`s this kind of saying, you
know, we don`t believe in equality of outcomes, we believe in equality of
opportunity and, you know, everyone talks about two society -- you know,
well then poor kids have to get enough food so they`re not, like, starving,
you know, in order to achieve whatever human potential. It seems to me
like even the most kind of conservative vision of providing equality of
opportunity has to include some money for food stamps.
BARRO: Well, I think higher ed is another big component to this, and
I think that we have so much focus on how broken our health care sector is
and how much inflation there is and that, and that`s because that`s on the
budget. In higher ed, we`d have basically the same inflation trend as in
health care, but because much of that cost is basically shifted to the
HAYES: On consumers, yes, exactly.
BARRO: But it`s not taken as big a public policy concern. But a big
thing that`s cementing inequality is that education is increasingly
expensive. So, it`s a lot harder for people to work their way through
college than it used to be. And --
HAYES: And they start -- when they do, they start with tremendous
amounts of debt.
BARRO: We talk about, you know, how much money to throw at higher
education. But, really, the fundamental problem here is just the cost, no
matter the payer is, has grown so much in a way that is not producing new
value. And that really needs to be addressed so that it can made
SEDER: I think you`re also going to address education starting on
the early side.
SEDER: The average poor child enters into elementary school knowing
something like 2,000 words less.
SEDER: Having a vocabulary that begins as an obstacle right at the
beginning of schooling.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: But what is the disconnect between the Republican
electorate and the Republican electorate officials? Because we do see
support for programs such as SNAP with the general electorate and in
particular with Republicans.
So, what is going on in between is my question.
HAYES: I think there`s two ways to think about it. One is that it
sort of trying to demonize the poor and trying to, you know, basically use
it as a political cudgel -- which is one part of it, I think. But I also
think it ends up being a process of elimination.
What`s happened basically is that Republicans say we want to cut
spending so we can reduce deficits. But we won`t touch all the stuff that
our senior citizen constituency uses, right, which is a huge part of the
budget, and we`re not going to defense. So, then, we`re left with a
quarter of the budget.
So, then yes, if you define yourself a quarter of the budget to make
up all, you`ve got to take a hatchet to everything, right? And so, you end
up in places where you can attack without having to feel the wrath of
political constituencies that actually support you and vote for you. So,
it`s inevitable that you end up sort of backing yourself into SNAP.
All right. What do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answer`s after this.
HAYES: In just a moment, what we know now we didn`t know last week.
But, first, a quick correction.
Earlier in the program, we incorrectly attributed a still picture of
solar panels, the photo actually came from the
solarelectriclightfundself.org not the racist Web site stormfront.org. We
apologize for that somewhat ridiculous error.
We also have updates on a few stories we`ve been following.
After Mitt Romney said raising kids counts as work, too, some House
Democrats are introducing a bill to make that philosophy law. The women`s
option to raise kids or WORK Act will let women continue receiving federal
assistance while raising kids age 3 or younger. As we reported last week,
Romney said in January that even moms with kids as young as two should be
cut off from federal assistance if they are not working outside the home.
House Republicans are expected to block passage of the WORK Act.
We also have an update on the continuing fallout from the rule that
the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, played in
the supporting the "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida, that became
controversial in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. ALEC announced
it was shutting down its public safety and elections task fierce to, quote,
"concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation, and
put Americans back to work." Read union-busting.
That didn`t stop Yum Brands, the operator of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco
Bell this week from joining 11 others companies, including McDonald`s and
Coca-Cola, that have dropped out of ALEC.
And, finally, quick update on my Mike Oust (ph), the Houston pastor,
who revealed on our program that he no longer believes in God. After his
appearance on our program, he and his church mutually agreed to part ways.
Mike addressed the congregation to explain why, and reactios ranged from
hostile to supportive, to secretly sympathetic. Mike tells us he`s in
discussions about forming what he call as post-Christian church and plans
to continue doing weddings and funerals secularly.
So, what do we know now we didn`t know last week?
We know that one small thing won`t solve the problem of climate but
that the ultimate solution requires thousands and millions of small things
done at every little thing from the individual up to government.
We know that we cannot expiate our duty to act as citizens by simply
being more enlightened consumers and we know we have a moral obligation
both to future generations and those who inhabit the areas of the world
most at risk of climate disaster to use our relative privilege to force our
own government to act.
We now know what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop`s opinion is
truly worth to the House Republicans after the bishop sent a letter to the
chair of the agriculture committee chastising his proposed budget for
failing a moral criteria because it slashes food stamp spending at a time
for record poverty.
We know that on social issues, Republicans are more than happy to
parade around the bishop imprimatur. But as soon as issue is economic
fairness or war and peace, they tune out.
Thanks to U.S. Congressman Gary Peters. We know that Federal
Stafford College loan interest rates are scheduled to double in July. We
know that student debt is now larger than auto loan debt and credit card
debt, according to economists and the New York Fed. And we`ve instructed
an entire generation to take out debt in order to get an education and are
now releasing them into the worst labor market in 30 years.
We also know that Congress can act to stop interest rate spike. But
as of now, Republican members of Congress don`t appear to be onboard.
We know that this week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal received a
petition from Amnesty International with tens of thousands of signatories
from 125 different countries on behalf of Herman Wallace and Albert
Those two incarcerated men founded a Black Panther chapter in the
infamous Angola, Louisiana Prison. And as of April 17th, the two men have
been held in solitary confinement for 40 years. They are each in a 6x9x12-
foot cell for 23 hours a day, with exercise three times a week -- every
week, every month, every year, for 40 years.
The state says they murdered a guard in prison, while the men
maintained they were framed as punishment for their political activism.
Their fellow inmate, Robert King, spent 29 years in solitary before being
released in 2001 when his conviction was overturned.
We know that information about the number of prisoners being held in
solitary confinement is hard to come by. The last time data was collected
was 12 years ago when the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that
approximately 80,000 people confined in segregation units in state and
And, finally, we now know that not every group of shareholders simply
rubber stamps management`s exorbitant pay proposals. Citi shareholders
give a non-binding vote of no to the proposed $50 million pay package for
CEO Vikram Pandit and opposed compensation packages for four other top
executives as well. We know that the system of CEO cronyism farce in which
highly paid CEOs sit on other highly-paid CEOs compensation where,
shockingly, they recommend exorbitant compensation.
We know that in 2010, CEO pay was up 23 percent. And in 2011, it was
up another 14 percent. This list you see scrolling here is the 50 most
highly paid CEOs at U.S. public companies in 2011.
We know that some Citi shareholders have now actually sued over the
executive compensation at Citi and we know that reforming corporate
governance is one of the key battles in finally ending the country`s ever
accelerating inequality trends.
All right. So I want to hear what you guys know now that you didn`t
know at the end of the week.
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, I`ll start with you.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: A Pew study came out this week showing that a
greater number of women in comparison to men desire successful, high-paying
jobs. So, 66 percent of women compared to 59 percent, and so we have seen
growth since the last time this was done. However, this doesn`t mean that
women do not also put a premium on marriage and parenting. We don`t see
them as mutually exclusive. In short, we want it all.
HAYES: Yes. It was actually a really interesting data, because it
showed that women wanted more successful jobs, also want to get married,
also want to have kids, and then we`re basically just like playing around
and playing video games, as far as we can tell. That`s an
oversimplification of the public opinion data.
HERBERT: Guys have been doing that all along. They want it all.
HAYES: Sam Seder, what do you now know?
SEDER: Well, I`m going to go --
HAYES: Did I take your --
SEDER: Yes. But about 2 1/2 months ago, Eric Schneiderman sat at
this table and told you that if something wasn`t happening within six
months, he was going to be disappointed with the financial fraud task force
that he joined. And in part at least to sign on to an agreement that
allowed essentially the banks to get away with all sorts of mortgage fraud
for basically a pittance.
Well, we`re three months later, and there`s no office has been set up
for this financial fraud task force. Now, we`ve been told that we don`t
really need offices, people are talking, and we`re using resources.
HAYES: Conference calls, e-mail chains.
SEDER: Conference calls, e-mail chains. But it`s going to be really
hard without an office, I think, in three months to see any real progress.
And what we do know is that following that agreement foreclosures
have spiked, because the banks were afraid to go into the courtroom with
essentially faulty documents showing a lack of a chain of title. And now,
they feel a little more confident doing that.
HAYES: That`s really interesting.
Josh Barro, what do we know now?
BARRO: We had good news on the urban development front this week.
Darrell Issa, who is chairman of House oversight ands I`m sure is a
favorite of people watching this program.
BARRO: He is working with the Washington, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray to
repeal the 102-year law that limits height of buildings in Washington, D.C.
Simultaneously, Mayor Bloomberg here in New York has put out a proposal to
up-zone the area right around Grand Central, in midtown, and allow more
super-tall buildings. The city has created a lot of ton of wealth in our
society and allowing to get even denser, will allow them to create even
more wealth and jobs and I think this is really good news.
HAYES: Yes, there is a book out by Matt Yglesias which is an e-book
who is now writing for "Slate" on economic cover (ph), "The Rent is Too
Damn High," which is an e-book, it`s Kindle single which sort of makes an
argument for the importance of density and zoning laws and sort of driving
the economic growth, and he really hates those height limits, too. So,
Bob Herbert, what do you now know?
HERBERT: We are not making as much progress on the economy as some
pundits and politics would have us believe. Both "The New York Times" and
the "Wall Street Journal" led the paper on Friday with stories saying that
the recovery appears to be weakening. So, there`s a great deal more to be
done on that front.
HAYES: Yes, there`s a fair amount of -- it`s very hard that you end
up in a position of essentially economic forecaster when you`re covering
the politics right now, particularly the election, because everyone
understands that macro economic health is going to be the driving factor in
terms of the president`s re-election prospects. And so, then, we all end
up in a slightly bizarre kind of amateur role of, you know, trying to make
these macro economic predictions, which, you know, if I was very good at,
you know, there`s actually a lot of money to be made.
SEDER: More important is the narrative --
SEDER: -- as much as the actual macro economic trends is the
HERBERT: And more important even than that, there are the number of
people who are still out of work or underemployed.
My thanks to Victoria DeFrancesco Soto from Latino Decisions, Sam
Seder from Majority.fm, Josh Barro from Forbes.com, and Bob Herbert, author
of the book, "Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream."
Thanks for getting up. Thank you for joining us today for "UP."
Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00, when we`ll be talking Iran and
Israel with author Peter Beinart.
You can get more info about tomorrow`s program at Up.MSNBC.com.
And coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry.
Melissa, what have you got today?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: All that, all that.
Well, we`re going to talk about the 2008 -- excuse me, well, we can
still talk the 2008 election, but we`re really going to talk about the 2012
elections and trying to think about where President Obama stands right now
and how in fact this is not all in the bag yet. There is a real election
We`re also going to take a look at Louisiana. We`re going to ask
about shrimp who don`t have eyes and crabs that don`t have legs and all of
the stories that we need to hear still about the BP oil spill.
And then, of course, as you know because of me doing cheerleading
moves in nerd land yesterday, we`re going to talk about the Title IX and
women and sports.
HAYES: Yes. You were doing some amazing moves up in the floor
yesterday, and brought the staff out of the offices.
That`s Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next, and we`ll see you right
here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting up.
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