Guests: David Bernstein; David Johnston, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ezra Klein,
Cynthia Tucker, David Bernstein
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
Tonight`s lead, the questions continue for Mitt Romney.
Late today Mr. Romney gave interviews to five different networks
including NBC in an effort to diffuse the controversy over Bain Capital.
For years, Romney has been saying he left Bain in 1999 and that he couldn`t
be blamed for the thousands of workers laid-off by Bain in the years after
His 2011 financial report says quote, "he retired from Bain Capital on
February 11th, 1999." Quote, "since February 11, 1999, Romney has not had
an active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in
the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way." Romney signed this
But today new information is emerging that tells a very different
story. Building on what we learned earlier this week, documents given to a
Massachusetts commission in 2002 show Romney still had full ownership in at
least six Bain entities while he was in Utah managing the Olympics.
And the commission found Romney was still serving on the boards of
companies that had Bain ownership stakes in Staples, Marriott, and Life
Like. All this paper work shows Romney still owned Bain three years after
he says he retired from the company.
Now, his opponent in 2002`s governor race Shannon O`Brien hammered him
on exactly this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHANNON O`BRIEN (D), MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The fact
is you are still signing documents as CEO of the company while you were
away. And as a matter of fact, in the summer of 2001 when you were leaving
the Olympics, you actually made a statement in the paper that in the summer
of 2001 you were finally relinquishing 100 percent control of your position
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Romney`s answer then was the same as his answer now. Deny
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was out in Utah full-
time. I had no responsibility for management at Bain Capital. I was not
running Bain Capital and therefore am not responsible for the actions of
Bain Capital when I left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, again, all this matters because Romney has been trying
to duck responsibility for the thousands of people who were laid off by
Bain Capital during those years. These are the people whose voices we`re
hearing in TV ads released by the Obama campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like going to war every single day. They
were starting to try to figure out ways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We started having quality issues at that plant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They weren`t concerned about your health. It was
like working in the sweat shops of the `30s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was like a vampire. He came in and sucked the
life out of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made as much money off it as they could, and
they closed it down and filed for bankruptcy without concern for the
families of the communities.
DAVID FOSTER, UNION NEGOTIATOR FOR WORKERS AT GST STEEL: Bain capital
was the majority owner. They hired the management. Mitt Romney was deeply
involved in the influence that he exercised over these companies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, these voices are why Mr. Romney`s time at Bain matter
and we need to get to the answers.
Joining me now is Chris Hayes, host of "up with Chris Hayes" here on
MSNBC. He is also author of "twilight of the elites" and David Bernstein,
political reporter for "the Boston Phoenix" who`s covered Romney for a long
Now, he actually broke this story back in 2007 when he wrote that
Romney was still listed as Bain`s owner long after he supposedly left the
Thank you both for joining me, first of all.
DAVID BERNSTEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, BOSTON PHOENIX: Thank you.
SHARPTON: David, let me start with you. How can Romney own a company
but not have any responsibility for it? Is that possible?
BERNSTEIN: Sure, it`s possible. And he does say that. What`s been
kind of odd is that he and Bain are both now sort of saying that he totally
split ties back in February of 1999 and that it was just paper work and the
complexity of the corporate structure and suddenness of him leaving, there
is why it doesn`t appear that way on paper for another two and a half to
And that`s clearly not true. As a matter of fact, and this was
referenced that that clip you shows of Shannon O`Brien in that debate, but
in August of 2001 two and a half years after he left for Utah, he held a
press conference. Mitt Romney held a press conference to announce the
decision he was going to cut ties with Bain and leave the company, not come
back to the company after the Olympics. That was two and a half years
after he left.
SHARPTON: So he held a press conference two and a half years after
the date they`re saying that he left to announce he was finally leaving.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. To say that he was cutting ties and would become a
passive investor in the company but have no more actual operational
controls and so forth. And that was sort of finalized by the following
year. But it was put in motion at that time.
So, there are still big questions about how much was he involved, did
they consult with him, ask him. Did he have authority to do things he
could have done? Could he have called up and stopped deals from going
through and so forth? We don`t know how much that was going on. But he
certainly was -- I don`t think there`s any dispute on this fact that you
can have -- that he was the owner, CEO, controller and was essentially on
sort of an informally defined leave to come back when he wanted to.
SHARPTON: Now, Chris, you`ve been following this closely as well.
Whether or not he had operational hands-on management or not, we don`t
know. But we do know he signed the SEC filings. And you don`t sign the
SEC filings in advance two or three years. So he was actively every year
signing new filings.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH CHRIS HAYES: Yes, exactly. Every
year they filed to the SEC. He`s vouching to federal regulators saying I`m
CEO of this company. What`s so bizarre to me is they find themselves now
in this terrible situation where he seems to be simultaneously away from
the company and running the company at the same time in different fillings,
two different groups of people. There are some documents that were
released to Fortune in which they`re telling investors, you know, Mitt
Romney isn`t running the show. They are telling the federal government
he`s still the CEO.
All of this has been done so that he has some plausible deniability in
this deal with GST Steel which fired a lot of folks, sent the jobs
overseas, when in fact, what GST Steel did between 1999 and 2002, wasn`t
that different from anything Bain did in the years when Romney was actually
running Bain. I mean, Bain was doing what Bain was doing which was in some
cases bankrupting companies and in other cases outsourcing jobs because
that`s what private equity companies do. He was doing that the whole way
through. They`re now caught in this trap that they believed for themselves
by trying to make this fine grain distinction between what Bain did after
1999 and what it did before.
SHARPTON: And it was in effect doing the same things.
HAYES: Yes. If you look at the In Path plant which is the "another
big plan" that has been featuring ads with any opponent against Mitt
Romney. That was happening while he was actually there. Outsourcing
investments were happening while he was actually there.
I mean, Bain capital was there to use leverage to make a lot of money
for its share holds and its managers. And wherever the chips fell in that
process, that`s what happened. That`s clearly what they were doing. That
was the M.O. the entire time. It`s just so ridiculous for him to try to
create this very fine grain distinction between bad Bain activities in 1999
to 2002 and good activities before that.
SHARPTON: But see, it is important, he needs the distinction because
he`s trying to say he was not involved in laying-off workers. He`s not
involved in outsourcing. And he says I ought to be judged with my business
experience, not governor of Massachusetts, not the Olympians. I will be
president because look at what I can do in business. And when we started
looking, he started doing a political moonwalk.
David Bernstein, you wrote in 2007 that although quote, "Although he
claimed to have severed ties with Bain, SEC documents showed that Romney
retained 100 percent operational ownership of the company and its
subsidiaries through 2001. And in parenthesis, (the campaign assistance
was just a paper formality).
Now, the fact is that he`s signing this to the federal government and
there are things that have gone on with the company. Isn`t he signing as
the CEO and in effect to the federal government representing that he, in
fact, is responsible as CEO and whether he had direct management or not,
he`s the guy signing the report.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. I mean, you would think so. And, you know, there
are certainly situations where are you can claim to be the owner but not
necessarily directly involved in some of the management, but he was also
CEO and president.
One thing I would say also is -- and I take Chris` point, I think he`s
correct about some of these outsourcing issues. It doesn`t really matter
where you draw the line. I think that the problem that has Romney and his
team trying to draw that distinction is that there are other things that
are likely to be brought into the conversation. Some of which, in that
article they pointed to, if I can just brag about my article.
SHARPTON: Knock yourself out.
BERNSTEIN: But for instance, there`s a deal with a company called DDI
which ended up being investigated by as part of an investigation that
Lehman Brothers paid over a billion dollars to settle with having to do
with allegedly Bain people putting pressure on one side of the Lehman
company to jack up their rating on DDI which Lehman was also handling the
banking for the IPO and one of those kinds of deals.
Romney`s name and signature are on those documents of selling Bain
shares in that. But he has also maintained I had nothing to do with that
because that took place while I was gone even though his name is on it.
And so on. And, you know, things can be conflict of interest issues and so
forth could come up. And are likely to come up as this goes along. He`d
like to draw this distinction now before those become issues.
SHARPTON: Chris, I mean, clearly there`s a reason for him to try and
distance himself. But again, I repeat the reason it`s important, we`re
talking about people`s jobs. We`re talking about a man that wants to be
president of the United States when he`s outsourcing. And we are talking
about a man who has been dealing in the Cayman Islands and in Bermuda with
his own money. He`s the one that told us judge me by my business document,
my business experience. He sent us to Bain. We didn`t go there. We would
have gladly asked him how as governor Massachusetts came in almost last in
job creation. But he guided us to Bain. Now we`re there. It`s too much
pain in Bain for him.
HAYES: It`s always been, I think, a dubious argument to say that
running a private equity company gives you the tools you need to create
jobs from the perspective of the federal government. That just -- the
enterprises are so different in so many ways. The values, the stake
holders, who you listen to, who is dependent -- who you are dependent upon.
I mean, they`re just such different enterprises, such different
undertakings. It`s always seems to me such a dubious argument.
But it also opened him up to -- this to the irony of this and the damn
why I speak to this, I mean, this is the thing that -- this has been every
campaign that he`s run, this is what they`ve attacked him on. This is
every time he`s run for office. This is -- I mean, it`s so funny to see
the attacks played in the gubernatorial race which he was successful. They
came up and Ted Kennedy`s race (INAUDIBLE).
SHARPTON: So surprised.
Chris Hayes and David Bernstein, I`ve got to let it go there. Thank
you for joining me tonight.
And David, let me tell you, have a great weekend. You get on a
treadmill, get your tea, and you watch "Up with Chris Hayes" on Saturdays
and Sundays from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. That`s what I do.
BERNSTEIN: You got it.
SHARPTON: We have news ahead. Mitt Romney responds for the first
time to the Bain controversy tonight.
Plus, the strategy behind all the Bain attacks leads to one big
question. Why is he hiding his tax returns?
And ten years ago today, something big happened under George W. Bush.
And we haven`t looked back since. But it`s not an event to celebrate.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Tonight Mitt Romney responds to the fire storm about his
time as Bain Capital. And there`s news about Mr. Romney`s tax returns.
It`s all coming up. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a
dollar more. I don`t think you want someone as the candidate for president
who pays more taxes than he owes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Mitt Romney`s philosophy on taxes. Of course there`s a lot
we don`t know about Romney`s taxes because he`s only released two years of
his returns and the controversy over his time at Bain is only adding to the
confusion. It`s why the Obama campaign is renewing its call for him to
release his tax returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Walk through exactly
when he did cut ties with Bain Capital. If the SEC filings aren`t
accurate, then prove it. If he wasn`t investing millions of dollars in
shell corporations, tax havens, Swiss bank accounts overseas to gain a tax
advantage, then prove it. Prove it by releasing your tax returns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This morning former president Bill Clinton also said Romney
needs to be more transparent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All your work
life before you run for president is relevant. And I think that will be
relevant. I mean, I`m a little surprised he only released a year`s worth
of tax returns. That`s kind of perplexed me. The public ought to know
that. They have always to make up their own mind about whether they think
it`s a good thing to -- for a person who wants to be president to minimize
his own tax liability by putting the money in overseas tax shelters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now even Republicans are starting to worry that his
leadership at Bain is backfiring. Some are also calling for him to release
more tax returns. At the very least, seeing more Romney`s financial
records would shed light on his oversea investments in places like Bermuda,
Switzerland, and Cayman Islands. Of course this lack of transparency isn`t
new for the Romney campaign.
Back in 2002 when he was running for governor, a campaign aide
responded to questions about his taxes during those missing Bain years by
saying quote, "you`re just going to have to take my word for it."
Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David K. Johnston.
He`s a columnist for Reuters and author of the book "perfectly legal: the
covert campaign to rig our tax system to benefit the super rich and cheat
everyone else" and Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for "the Washington
Post" and an MSNBC contributor.
Thank you both for being here tonight.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Rev.
DAVID K. JOHNSTON, REUTERS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: David, let me start with you. Should voters just take
Romney`s word that he hasn`t hidden money in offshore tax shelters?
JOHNSTON: No. And why should voters be treated less well than John
McCain? During the 2008 campaign, Romney was one of the potential vice
presidential nominees. And John McCain`s people got to vet his tax returns
back to 1984 which is, what I`ve been calling on Romney to release.
If he`s willing to give them to John McCain who passed on him, by the
way, for Sarah Palin which does raise the question of was there something
McCain saw in those tax returns, yes I think the American people should see
SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, it is interesting that when you look at the
fact that presidential candidates, President Obama released 12 years.
George W. Bush, eight years. George Romney, Mitt Romney`s father when he
ran for president released 12 years. Mitt Romney, only two years.
So it`s not like this is not something that isn`t done. Even in
primaries all that have run had to release returns and go through the
questions there were.
SHARPTON: So, the question here as of transparency and of whether or
not as former president Clinton raised, did you use foreign tax places --
havens to hide the taxes.
CAPEHART: Well, Rev, what you left out in that litany of the
presidents and presidential candidates who`ve released their tax returns,
yes George Romney, Mitt Romney`s father when he ran in the 1968 race. But
in 1967, when he released his tax returns, it`s George Romney who set the
precedent candidates releasing their actual tax returns.
Before him, candidates would put out statement giving general views of
where their financial holdings and their tax liabilities and things. But
George Romney thought it was important to hand over 12 years of actual tax
returns so that folks would know that quote, "it wasn`t a fluke." That
also, to make sure people understood that he wasn`t just showing off where
the money came from.
Mitt Romney is not following the lead set by his own father, one. And
the second point here is, you know, the American people ought to know and
need to know, ad David just said, where a candidate -- a potential
president of the United States earns his money, how he maintains his
family, and the idea that Mitt Romney thinks he can get away with one full
year of tax returns.
Remember, the 2011 tax returns he`s released are only estimates. And
that`s why president Clinton said in the interview today that Mitt Romney
has only released one year. It`s not acceptable.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, David. What is the purpose of having
these offshore accounts? Are they set up because you heard Mitt Romney say
that he`s paid all of the taxes that was owed not one dollar more. So, are
these offshore accounts legal but you`re able to avoid taxes? I mean, what
is the purpose of having them.
JOHNSTON: Well, there are offshore accounts which are legal and
illegal. And there are accounts which allow you to avoid taxes and
accounts that do not. At least some of his accounts are because American
nonprofits investing in Bain`s investments and foreign investors go through
a Cayman Islands company to avoid filing for the foreigners and paying
taxes if they`re nonprofits. And Romney gets carried interest, a share of
the profits from that.
But there are these other disturbing things. He set up a number of
companies for a lighthouse over in Bermuda. He had a Swiss bank account.
And it`s perfectly reasonable to question, well, what else did you do
during the years from 1984 until now to avoid taxes or delay them?
SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, David Corn of "Mother Jones" reports that
Bain under Romney outsourced to China. Let me read from the article.
Romney when he was in charge of Bain invested heavily in Chinese
manufacturing company that depended on U.S. outsourcing for its profits.
This runs contrary to what Romney is saying and what he is campaigning on.
CAPEHART: Yes, Rev. There`s something very important here. The
reason why Mitt Romney gave these round Robin interviews to five networks
as you said at the top of the show, is because we need to go back to when
the Obama campaign started making these attacks on Mitt Romney about
outsourcing and about his tenure at Bain Capital. And the criticism the
president in his campaign was getting for blaming venture capital.
Remember, you had New York mayor Cory Booker criticizing and other
high profile Democrats criticizing the president.
CAPEHART: And I would submit that the reason why Mitt Romney is
giving those interviews today, the reason why that story in the "Boston
Globe" yesterday has gained so much traction is because the Obama campaign
basically through those attacks a couple months ago seeded the ground where
that "Boston Globe" story yesterday made it sort of fundamental that Mitt
Romney step forward and give some answers to those attacks in that "Boston
And from what I have seen so far, Mitt Romney isn`t answering the
SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right. I think it also -- if you
recall, they said that the administration was anti-private equity, even
SHARPTON: Now, it looks like clearly it`s about Mitt Romney`s
business dealings, not a whole broad stroke of the whole industry or a
broad attack on capitalism.
But David K. Johnston, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both, for your
CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, Mitt Romney breaks his silence on the avalanche
of controversy surrounding his time at Bain Capital and he`s making news on
his tax returns. That`s coming up. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on Facebook? The
conversation is going all day long. Today our fans were buzzing about Mitt
Romney and Bain Capital. Doug wonders why Romney`s so secretive about his
past, the tax returns, Bain records, when he left Bain, and the computer
hard drives he had destroyed. Maybe destroyed.
And Vanessa says, the SEC paperwork is the blueberry pie all over
Romney`s face. I couldn`t agree more. We want to hear what you think
about Romney`s Bain record too. Head over to face book and search POLITICS
NATION and like us to join the conversation that keeps going long after the
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. We`ve got a big birthday
to celebrate today. Bust out those party hats. Cut yourself a slice of
cake, because it`s federal deficit`s tenth birthday. That`s right. On
this day in 2002, the Bush administration gave birth to a deficit. The
first one in years. Bush`s policy really helped the little deficit grow to
this milestone age of ten.
Folks, who are we kidding? This isn`t a day to celebrate. No wonder
no one shown up to this fake party out thrown. When Bush He took office,
he inherited a $236 surplus. But he left with a $1.3 trillion deficit. He
gave us massive tax breaks for the rich and two wars that were unpaid for.
Failed policies caused this mess. A point President Obama drove home
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We tried it. We tried it for
most of the last decade. And what were the results? We ended up turning
record surpluses into record deficits. Wages, incomes stagnated. Job
growth sluggish. Now, if you tried something and it doesn`t work, why
would you try it again?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Why would we want to go back to that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Well, who would want to go back to that? Willard Mitt
Romney does. Apparently, he`s ready to celebrate more deficit birthday
parties. His economic policies will be just Bush`s just updated. And last
night, he attended a fund raiser thrown by Dick Cheney. Yes, that Dick
Cheney. The one that helped explode the deficit.
At the event, Romney called Cheney quote, "quite a man, quite a
leader." Oh, he enjoys W. Bush led all right. They led us right off the
Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the "Melissa Harris-
Perry" show. And Ezra Klein, a Washington Post columnist and an MSNBC
policy analyst. Thank you both for joining me this evening.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY": Absolutely.
SHARPTON: Melissa, what no party hat for today`s tenth anniversary?
Where`s the hat?
PERRY: I know, you said nobody showed up, I was like I`m here.
Right now, indeed, and look, I like this point, because as soon as we
say it`s ten years old, then we remember that of course the Obama
presidency is only three and a half years old. And so, in order for this
deficit to lie at the feet of President Obama, it would have to basically
be in preschool. But instead this is a school-age deficit. And that`s
because this deficit began under President Bush.
PERRY: And largely because of his tax policies. Even beyond anything
else, it really has to do with the tax policies. And it is those tax
policies that Romney is suggesting bringing back.
SHARPTON: Now, Ezra, President Obama today slammed the GOP talking
about tax policy. Slammed them for refusing to help the middle class, only
the rich. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They basically want to give $5 trillion in new tax cuts mostly
for the wealthy on top of the Bush tax cuts. I don`t think top-down
economics works. I believe that we grow this economy from the middle out.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
From the bottom up. I believe the heart and soul of this country is
making sure the working people can feel some security in the middle class.
And we`re growing our middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Ezra, it is really about two differing opinions about how
taxes ought to be brought into government or received. One saying trickle
down, the other saying from the middle expands.
EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sharply differing. And one thing
that frustrates me about this conversation is we actually have been only
talking about taxes. But whatever you do on the tax side has often times
an equal and opposite reaction on the spending side. So, take what Mitt
Romney wants to do, right? He wants to extend the Bush tax cuts and then
pass trillions in tax cuts on top of that. Tax cuts that are in the main
aggressive. That money comes from somewhere.
It can come from the deficit. But even it comes from the deficits, it
eventually has to come out of spending. And where does the federal
government spend? Well, we spend on defense, we spend on security for the
low income folks, and we spend on security for the elderly. Now, Romney
said, he will increase defense spending and put a floor on it above where
it is now.
KLEIN: So, we`re not going to be cutting there. Which means we`re
cutting spending on the poor and we`re cutting spending on the elderly.
And because Romney has said at least for the next ten years that he`s not
going to cut spending on the elderly in serious ways, we`re cutting
spending on the poor and in the lower middle class who benefits from these
things. And that by the way includes the affordable care act which takes a
lot of money much of it from taxes for the rich.
KLEIN: And then moves it into subsidy to help poor and lower income
folks get health care.
SHARPTON: And that`s the real point, Melissa.
PERRY: Well, yes, and I think I`d agree with Ezra. And there`s one
other place where sort of government expenditures come from and that`s
jobs. Every time we talk about cutting government, remember cutting
government often means cutting people`s jobs.
PERRY: And what we know is --
SHARPTON: Well, government is too big.
PERRY: That`s right. Well, those government jobs, those good
government jobs, we know who has those jobs. They are vastly, not
predominantly, but they are -- that for people of color and for women.
There are far more women and people of color in those positions. And we
talk about teachers, you`re talking about a lot of women and often women of
color. We`re talking about postal workers, firefighters. These kinds of
jobs that are government jobs either at the local level, the state level,
or federal government level that that`s part of so-called government
spending. But you want people to be working.
SHARPTON: Yes. Well, but let me ask you this, Ezra. The President
wants the rich to pay a little more. Romney would give them a huge break.
Let`s go back to your point. He`d give $725,716 average break to the top
one percent. That`s $5 trillion in new tax cuts. Now, explain to me how
will Romney pay for this.
KLEIN: He hasn`t said and the fact of the matter is he probably
can`t. There`s not really an obvious way to get the money and anyway they
would be even vaguely politically sellable to get it. Now, what he can do
and what Republicans sometimes do is say, the magic of tax cut generated
growth will generate so much new revenue that it`s going to pay for itself.
This is supply side economics, it`s the Laffer curve. It is -- now, there
are reasonable points and very, very high tax rates that we are not at
where those things could kick in. Bu we are nowhere near there. So,
unless you`re doing essentially gimmick economics or what George H.W. Bush
once called voodoo economics --
KLEIN: You`re not going to get anywhere and I just can`t believe.
SHARPTON: So, it`s like smoke and mirrors. There`s really no plan
here than can establish how this is going to be paid for.
KLEIN: No. And also, on the economy side, we have had a years now, a
decade where the top one percent has been doing very, very well. This have
not been good years for the economy at all. If the only thing you needed
to generate the kind of economic growth we need was to make sure richer
folks had an incentive to get even richer, we`d be seeing great economic
growth. We`re not. This is not an economic theory that is going to work
either. So, you can`t really appeal to that side of the question in order
to close your revenue gap or in order to close your economic loop.
SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, let me bring up another point, the GOP keeps
running. They continue to say that spending exploded under President
Obama. When we go to the facts, it`s not true. The annualize group in
federal spending, in Clinton`s first term, it grew 3.2 percent. In
Clinton`s second term, it grew 3.9 percent. When bush came to office, it
grew by 7.3 percent. It grew by 8.1 percent in Bush`s second term. But
under President Obama, it`s grown just 1.4 percent.
PERRY: Yes. And in fact, actually I think that many progressives and
in fact I think some of the work that Ezra`s research has shown is that
that`s exactly part of the problem. We should be seeing greater spending,
greater stimulus, and then in fact when we saw it get cut back is really
after that 2010 midterm win by Congressional Republicans.
PERRY: So we were moving in the right direction. We were actually
moving to a place where we were beginning to do enough stimulus spending to
make a difference in the economy, 2010 happens, the Republicans come in.
They stand in the school house door refusing to do anything. Really
refusing to make laws at all. But certainly actually making things worse
in terms of our economy by their refusal to do the kind of spending that
was necessary to kick start the economy.
SHARPTON: Do you think, Ezra, when the President said that he
regretted he hadn`t inspired the country more that we`re going to see him
really take this battle of the trickle down against the middle class
broadening out. Is that where he has to go on the stamp now and inspire
Americans to understand what this election is about?
KLEIN: Yes, that is where they`re going to have to go now. And that
is where they`re going to go now from what I understand from folks in the
White House. Essentially, phase one of this was getting people to
understand who is Mitt Romney, what has his experience looked like. What
has his past looked like? And phase two is saying, OK, this guy from all
that has an economic theory, has a set of economic policies that you`re
really not going to like. That are not going to be the right direction.
Obviously, the Obama administration preferred to be running on a much
better economy, on better jobs but in the absence of that, what`s going to
happen now is they`re going to turn to Romney`s economic policies -- with a
vengeance and say, why has this guy who`s done so well thinks that the way
to get the economy back on track is for him to pay much, much less and
somebody on Medicaid to lose their benefits.
SHARPTON: Melissa Harris-Perry and Ezra Klein. Thank you both for
joining me this evening. Both of you have a great weekend. And don`t miss
Melissa Harris-Perry every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Right here on
We have breaking news on Bain coming up. Mitt Romney`s don`t recall
defense in a brand new interview with NBC news. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Late today, President Obama gave a hard-hitting interview
on Mitt Romney`s shadow years at Bain Capital. The President called him
out for taking no responsibility for Bain layoffs during the years when he
was still listed as the company`s CEO and President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Harry Truman said, the buck stops with you. Now, my
understanding is, is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC multiple times
that he was the chairman, CEO, and president of Bain Capital. And I think
most Americans figure if you`re the chairman, CEO, and President of a
company that you are responsible for what that company does. Ultimately
Mr. Romney I think is going to have to answer those questions. Because if
he aspires to be president, one of the things you learn is, you`re
ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We`ll have Mitt Romney`s response, next.
SHARPTON: Mitt Romney has broken his silence about the controversy
over his time at Bain Capital. How could he have left Bain and at the same
time still be the boss at Bain? Facing a fire storm, the campaign hastily
arranged interviews with five media outlets late today. Here`s what he
told NBC`s Peter Alexander just minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC ANCHOR: You said that you retired from Bain
Capital in February of 1999 but there are SEC filings that list you as the
chief executive, president, and managing director of Bain in 2000 and 2001.
So, if you were officially the boss in those years, why are you still
responsible for Bain Capital`s activities including the outsourcing of jobs
at that time?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In February of 1999, I left
Bain Capital and left all management authority and responsibility for the
firm. I had no ongoing activity or involvement in the affairs of Bain
Capital because I went out to run the Olympics. And so, if February of
`99, I became the full-time chief executive officer of the Salt Lake
Olympic Organizing Committee. And I had after that time, no work
whatsoever with the Bain Capital people.
No responsibility or activity with the management at Bain Capital.
And that`s been documented every independent fact checker that`s looked at
it says, yes, you`re absolutely right. And the President`s campaign has
been, I think, outrageous in making the kind of charges they have. I think
the kinds of attacks are beneath the dignity of the presidency. I think
the President needs to rein in his campaign and start talking about the
real issues people care about which relates to our economy.
ALEXANDER: So, I want to clarify this then. After February of 1999,
you never attended a single meeting for Bain. A business meeting even by
phone attended a meeting regarding Bain or Bain-controlled entities.
ROMNEY: You`ve asked quite a few questions there. I didn`t involve
myself in any way with Bain Capital`s enterprises after February of 1999.
ALEXANDER: Not participating in a single meeting either in person or
ROMNEY: I don`t recall a single meeting or single participation in an
investment decision by Bain or personal decision. I left the firm. I was
full-time running the Olympics in 2002. And in the years leading up to it.
ALEXANDER: We ask because the Salt Lake tribune, it was in 2001 that
you said, I`ve now decided that I`m officially separated from Bain Capital
and I`m not going to go back. So, the questions about that -- but you
insist there was no involved with the company at that period of time.
ROMNEY: I had no management responsibility or activity within Bain
Capital. Now, as an owner I could have come back. All right? You have
the ownership potential. I could have gone back and taken over, but I
didn`t. I left and went on to run the Olympic games, that`s where I spent
all of my time. And the management of the firm was taken over by the 18 or
so partners that were there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winning
syndicated columnist and now visiting professor of journalism at the
University of Georgia. And back with us David Bernstein, political
reporter for "The Boston Phoenix" who first broke this Bain story. Thank
you both for joining me.
DAVID BERNSTEIN, "THE BOSTON PHOENIX": Thank you.
SHARPTON: David, Mr. Romney says he left Bain Capital in 1999.
That`s that. End of story he says. What`s your analysis?
BERNSTEIN: Well, he now seems to be saying yes, I did stay on
technically as the owner and technically as the, you know, the CEO and
president and managing director. But I didn`t have anything to do with
anything. He seems to be parsing his words very carefully about exactly
what he had nothing to do with. He says, he doesn`t recall having any
meetings, meetings by phone. You know, people are going to have to judge
this for themselves. It seems like he`s at least admitting the fact that
he was technically the guy who was in charge of the company for that period
And he wasn`t, we know that he wasn`t directly involved day to day.
That there`s no disputing that. The question is whether he had
responsibility, whether he had any kind of activity back and forth. And
right now, what we have is his word for it. And you know, as you`ve
discussed many times and I`ve discussed with you before, sometimes his word
is not 100 percent reliable. So people are going to have to look further
into it. There`s going to be specific questions about specific things that
went on where he`s going to have to answer specifically about, did he know
BERNSTEIN: Could you have stopped this if you wanted to and choose --
SHARPTON: And isn`t that really the point? Did you know about the
outsourcing? Did you know about the job layoffs? And could you have done
something about it and shouldn`t you have looked into it? All of the other
stuff I think is really immaterial. But let me ask you something, Cynthia.
He said in this interview that we just saw on NBC that he had nothing to do
with personnel, nothing to do with anything.
Yet Romney said, he left Bain `99. But back in that time, Salt Lake
Herald Tribune reported in `99, quote. I`m reading from their story in
`99. Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain. Providing
input on investment and key personnel decisions. But he will leave running
day-to-day operations to Bain`s executive committee. So this report in `99
directly conflicts what he just said.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING COLUMNIST: Well, that`s not
the only time that there was a conflict. When he ran for governor of
Massachusetts in order to establish residency, he also said that he came
back for business meetings. What other business did he have? He remained
the owner of Bain Company. Do you mean to tell me that as the sole owner,
he left all the major decisions to somebody else? I have a hard time
SHARPTON: Well, David, you`ve been covering Willard Mitt Romney for a
long time. If he came back to Massachusetts for a business meeting, what
other business could he have had? He owned Bain Capital. He was one of
the owners. He said he came back. That helped him to establish residency
to run. Was he lying then or is he lying now?
BERNSTEIN: Well, one of the things is that he`s got so much business
going on in so much different entities just within Bain as well as any
other investments he might have had personally, it`s hard to say. Plus he
did come back, you know, for instance to meet with David D`Alessandro to
tell him, David D`Alessandro, the head of John Hancock to say to him, as
has been reported in the past to say to him, I need you to re-up your
Olympic sponsorship. Because if I lose all these Olympic sponsors, my
political career is going to be dead.
SHARPTON: Would that kind of meeting qualify his residency though?
BERNSTEIN: Oh, I don`t know about that. I mean, I know that he said
at that time that he did come back for staples meetings and others like
that. We just don`t know. He won`t outline those.
SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to have to leave it there. We`re out of
time. But clearly he`s got a lot of explaining to explain.
Cynthia Tucker, David Bernstein, thanks for your time tonight. Both
of you have a great weekend. Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.
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Guests: David Bernstein; David Johnston, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ezra Klein,