UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
March 3, 2013
Guests: Jim Antle, Liz Mair, Mattie Duppler, Josh Barro, Bryan Stevenson, Mattea Kramer, David Sirota, Roberto Lovato, Jared Bernstein, Stephanie Kelton
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good morning from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.
Military forces in Chad are claiming to have killed Al Qaeda terrorist
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind a deadly attack
at an Algerian gas facility in January. His death has not been confirmed.
And in a referendum today, voters in Switzerland are expected to approve
some of the tightest controls of executive pay in the world, including
giving shareholders veto power over executive compensation packages.
Right now I am joined by MSNBC contributor Jared Bernstein, former chief
economist and economic policy adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, now a
senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Stephanie
Kelton, chair of the economics department at the University of Missouri -
Kansas City, a contributor to the "New Economics Perspective" blog; David
Sirota, author of "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We
Live in Now, Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything," and a contributor
to Salon.com; and Mattie Duppler, director of Budget and Regulatory Policy
of the Conservative Americans for Tax Reform, which advocates a national
single flat tax.
We are now 32 hours into Washington`s self-imposed budget cuts known as
sequestration or more commonly the sequester.
The government is now phasing in a series of across-the-board spending cuts
after defense, after discretionary programs that will total $85 billion
through September of this year and $1.2 trillion over 10 years. House
Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he refused to be part of any deal to
replace the sequester that would raise more tax revenue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: How much more money do we
want to steal from the American people to fund more government? I`m for no
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The economic damage from this latest self-inflicted wound remains
to be seen, but will almost certainly cause hardship for hundreds of
thousands of struggling Americans. Congressional Budget Office projects at
least 750,000 people could lose their jobs and economic growth overall will
take a major hit.
We do know one thing for certain: for each of these successive battles,
first the debt ceiling then the fiscal curve, now the sequester, remarks
like Boehner`s have been massively damaging to the GOP`s brand. Polls show
that most Americans would like a deficit reduction deal to consist of both
new spending and revenue -- sorry; new spending cuts and revenue.
A "Washington Post" ABC News poll published Wednesday, for example, found
that just 26 percent of Americans approve of the way Republicans are
handling federal spending; 67 percent disapprove.
By contrast, 43 percent of Americans approve of the way President Obama is
handling federal spending. So Republicans seem to be failing politically.
They seems to be succeeding in achieving their actual ideological goals and
in setting the terms of the debate in Washington.
Everyone is talking about how best to achieve austerity and no one is
talking about how to get back to full employment, as the president himself
pointed out on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only Congress, but I
think Washington generally spends all its time talking about deficits and
doesn`t spend a lot of time talking about how do we create jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In fact, throughout this entire manufactured crisis, the lone few
voices of sanity have been the members of congressional progressive caucus
who called for canceling the sequester, focusing on job creation instead.
They, however, remain marginalized, thanks to GOP success in getting
everyone to focus on the deficit.
Many Republicans are calling that a victory despite their own political
costs. On Monday, Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said of
the sequester cuts, quote, "This will be the first significant Tea Party
victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington."
I think what`s fascinating about this is the trajectory of people`s -- the
way the sequester is being spun. In the beginning, Republicans said the
sequester is a bad thing and it`s Obama`s fault, hence the failed
But by the end of it, they were just like it`s actually a good thing, like
this is what we wanted. You saw a lot of honestly, I feel like, from the
members of the Tea Party caucus.
There`s a whole bunch of quotes this week, they (INAUDIBLE) like, look,
this is what we wanted. Paul Ryan, of course, said this back in 2011; this
is what the Tea Party -- do you, Mattie, view this as a success for fellow
travelers in the austerity camp?
MATTIE DUPPLER, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: No, absolutely. I think you are
right in terms of Republicans winning this debate.
Now the first part I would point out is that if we are talking about there
needs to be a balanced approach, there needs to be revenues and spending
cuts, that`s what the fiscal (INAUDIBLE). We all kind of forget that the
sequester started in January 1. Now it`s part of this whole fiscal cliff
debate and now --
HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) the Budget Control Act last year.
DUPPLER: Correct. But those were supposed to hit at the same time. We
were supposed to have the biggest hike in history coupled with sequester
cuts. Now sequester got kicked out three months, but if you are looking
for revenues as part of the deal, you already had it.
HAYES: Yes, although "The New York Times" today runs a good article sort
of tallying all this up. And when you end up with this -- we`re now on --
with the sequester in place, right, we are on track to get the vaunted $4
trillion of deficit deduction that everyone wanted, everyone.
A small amount of people would talk to each other, wanted -- which was --
which was a $4 trillion over 10 years. That was kind of the target. With
the sequester we have it and, they point out, the ratio of spending cuts to
revenues, 4:1, right? Simpson-Bowles was 2:1. So this, I mean, if you
just are looking at -- in pure terms of the ratio, it`s the -- it`s the
spending cut side that`s --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mattie sort of did a thing that I hear a lot of
Republicans do, which is you start counting with the tax increases which
occurred as part of the fiscal curb deal in January.
But I don`t see why you wouldn`t start counting with the spending cuts
which, of course, started with the Budget Control Act at that point, at
$1.5 trillion. And then if you add on the other trillions in ongoing cuts,
you get to this kind of ratio.
Look, regarding your introduction, I just wanted to say one thing. There`s
another person who`s been talking, I think, saliently about this in terms
of the jobs deficit, which I believe is the most immediate deficit we face
right now, and that`s Ben Bernanke.
And so, you know, there are -- it is a -- I think a very -- a very bad
outcome, one that Republicans and Democrats have contributed to that were
stuck in hair-on-fire deficit obsession, which I believe is a medium- or a
long-term constraint, not an immediate one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it`s important you say that about
Democrats. Right? I mean, here`s the thing: Bill Clinton -- and I am not
blaming him in any way for this, but he was the guy who touted surpluses.
Surpluses -- and surplus -- talking about surpluses, deficits as opposed to
jobs and the economy is essentially the box that our politics are now in.
I mean, it`s interesting to think about. Dick Cheney was the guy who said
deficits don`t matter. Right? And the old idea was --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, but to that point, deficits don`t matter. You
know, if you are a conservative, you`re looking at the size of government,
you don`t necessity care how much the government is not taking in in taxes.
You care about how much they are overspending.
HAYES: And see, thank you for saying that. Thank you for being honest.
Because it`s true; conservatives don`t care about the deficit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it`s kind of the rhetorical device. It`s
not actually the product that we are focusing on.
HAYES: -- 1,000 percent true.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t see why it`s a problem to be able to say
that. Size of government is the problem.
HAYES: Right. That`s what you care about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- talk about Republicans --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But don`t you use the deficit as a cudgel to reduce the
size of government?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the idea?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it`s not a cudgel. It`s the way you talk about
things, right? The size of government can mean many, many things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deficit, you know, that relates to people. That`s a
narrative that people understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think the deficit does relate to people, A.
But B, I totally agree with you. I mean, the only way to make sense of the
Republican position is to ignore that when they say they care about the
deficit. Because they don`t care about the deficit, right? I mean, the
people who were ideologically committed to reducing the size of government
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- don`t care about the size of government, either.
That`s the thing. I mean, look what -- George Bush was not someone who
cared a lot about the size of government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re correct. That`s correct. But I mean, is he
the token Republican?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not a token. He led the party for eight years.
You don`t get to call him a token.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Progressive caucuses actually, in a certain sense,
making the Reagan, old Dick Cheney argument, not explicitly, but by
basically saying we should be focused on jobs. We should be focused on
growing the economy. The old Reagan argument is grow the economy --
HAYES: And Stephanie, you are -- you are -- you are an academic whose --
who does academic work concluding that what Dick Cheney said is right.
STEPHANIE KELTON, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI -
KC: Well --
HAYES: -- that deficits don`t matter?
KELTON: Well, it`s not that necessarily -- I wouldn`t say that deficits
don`t matter. I would say deficits don`t matter the way in most people
think they matter.
And what the Republicans do and the Democrats give them a bit of help along
the way is to focus everybody`s attention on the deficit and then use that
for cover to do the things that they really want to do which is, you know,
go after the progressive agenda and begin to dismantle and undermine the
Great Society and the New Deal and pull apart all these things that really
drive them crazy.
HAYES: But here`s the thing about that. Right? And this gets to what I
think is so fascinating about sequester. So my pet theory, my emerging pet
theory is that the Republican Party, I`m not quite convinced.
I used to be convinced they really wanted to go after Social Security and
Medicare. But based on their behavior in the last year, I am increasingly
convinced they don`t want to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
They certainly don`t want to make cuts to current beneficiaries.
And the reason is that`s their base, OK, like demographically, that`s their
base, A. B, polled Republicans about cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tea party.
HAYES: Tea Party. People self-identify with Tea Party. Wildly unpopular.
And if they really wanted cuts to Social Security and Medicare, if that`s
what they were focused on, they could have had them by now because it has
been extended time and time and time again.
I want to -- I want to show the president sort of complaining about the
fact that he has tried to give them this, and they won`t take yes for an
answer. This is the president on Friday, talking about putting forward his
proposed deficit reduction deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I put forward a claim that calls for serious spending cuts, serious
entitlement reforms and goes right at the problem that is at the heart of
our long-term deficit problem. I`ve offered negotiations around that kind
of balanced approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And he`s gotten nowhere. And Ezra Klein has this great bit of
reporting this week about an off-the-record briefing the Republicans and
legislators saying, well, if the president would just offer something like
chained CPI, which is a different calculation of Social Security that`s --
in real terms, a cut to Social Security, he says, if you just offer that,
he could get somewhere, and so what it is is that`s in the one-page thing
Wait a minute. Hold that thought. I want to take a break and come back
and talk about who really does want to cut entitlements after this.
HAYES: Stephanie, the president keeps offering a grand bargain and they
keep rejecting it.
KELTON: Well, I think maybe what it indicates is that the only thing that
the Republicans want more than getting out Social Security and entitlements
is not compromising with the president. I mean, that seems to be the case
You know, you`re -- as you said, they are being handed this on a silver
platter. The president is saying we will go with you, we`ll make these --
we`ll make these cuts and they say, no, we don`t want them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To understand the Republican position you have to
understand that their major objective goals, one, two, and three, is
shielding high-income people from any sort of tax increase. And that`s
where it hits.
Now they also say that they are for smaller government, but since they --
as you`ve suggested -- and you did as well, they don`t want to touch the
entitlements at least for 10 years and then after 10 years probably another
And they don`t want to touch defense. Now that doesn`t leave a lot, but
they are whacking away at the rest of the budget which is the discretionary
part and tends to fall on low-income people.
HAYES: Is that inaccurate?
DUPPLER: No, I would disagree entirely. I don`t think (INAUDIBLE)
understand the Republican priorities. I mean, the first -- you know,
you`re arguing that Republicans don`t want to cut entitlements.
I would argue Republicans don`t wanton cut entitlements. They want to save
entitlements. And that`s what you see in House Republican budgets, in
proposals that have actually passed the House, which --
HAYES: But they want to save them by making the benefits smaller or
changing them radically --
DUPPLER: The other point (INAUDIBLE) is that though that Republicans don`t
want to cut defense spending. What are we sitting here talking about?
We`re sitting here talking about defense sequester. That just --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Well, hold on. Hold on a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s right that there are two views within the
Republican Party. That`s right. I mean, that was belated.
DUPPLER: (INAUDIBLE) revenues. You got your revenues on January 1. We
can`t cut defense spending. You got (INAUDIBLE) cut in defense spending.
Look, I -- back in my -- in my state of Colorado, I remember this seminal
moment in the sequester, right, there the Republicans, Tea Party
Republicans are talking about cutting government and the sequester start --
the sequester discussion starts, and suddenly we got John McCain and a
couple of Republican senators coming to Colorado to talk about how we can`t
cut defense, because cutting defense would mean a loss of jobs; it would
hurt national security.
And I made the point in a column that you can`t say that defense creates
jobs and also say government doesn`t create jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mattie makes a really interesting point, and it`s very
determinative (ph) of what`s going on, because part of the thinking behind
the sequester is Republicans are so against defense cuts that they will
come to the table. If there enough Republicans who don`t feel it --
HAYES: But this is what`s fascinating is that they came to be OK with it.
And so here`s my alternative proposal. OK? So I think this is a poorly
designed sword of Damocles, right? It turned out like a Nerf sword of
Damocles, right? Like it wasn`t actually -- they would like -- everyone
sort of was comfortable with it.
So what -- here`s what I say for the next budget, to get people to get a
budget deal. You have got to find something that everyone in -- everyone
in Washington really hates. So here`s my proposal.
If they don`t come to a deal, a $1 trillion combo direct jobs program and
debt forgiveness program, now that will get people to the table. If they
don`t come up with a deal as the government starts doing a $1 trillion
direct hiring of people, half of it is direct hiring, half is debt
forgiveness, that`ll get people to give you a budget deal.
I`m serious, because the problem was, they thought, oh, everyone`s going to
hate this so much they will come to the table, but Republicans came to stop
worrying and love the defense cuts.
DUPPLER: Right. And you know, you are talking about Republicans winning.
As a small government libertarian-type, this is a great win. This is
extraordinarily promising for someone like me who sees Republicans being
consistent on this message that (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t get too excited because -- don`t get too excited,
because I don`t see a ton of defense cuts coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it only -- and I think --
HAYES: That`s the big question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is it only a conservative victory? I mean, you
could make the argument that the sequestration cuts to defense are a back
HAYES: -- systematically (INAUDIBLE) Howard Dean have both made that
argument. But here`s the problem from this sort of -- from the perspective
-- in fact, we still have 8 percent unemployment, right?
What`s so perverse about the way that the budget politics have played out
is that there is a broad consensus that we need short-term countercyclical
fiscal policy, right, which is run deficit in the short term for jobs, but
that our deficit problems are genuinely mid- to long-term. Right?
What has happened is the absolute reverse. Nothing has happened in any of
these deals to do anything about the mid- to long-term. Right? I mean,
the Affordable Care Act, I think, will do a lot to that. It`s all been --
it`s all been about short-term contraction.
So what we`ve gotten is austerity in the midst of a jobs crisis and none of
the stuff that the Pete Petersons of the world say that we need to solve
(INAUDIBLE). It`s a perverse outcome.
KELTON: Not only are we getting austerity in the midst of a jobs crisis,
but we also have absolutely no reason to suppose that there is a medium- or
long-term problem with the deficit.
The problem with the deficit would be reflected in somebody calculating,
forecasting high inflation in the future. That`s when you know that you
have concerns about the deficit.
HAYES: And pricing it in.
KELTON: -- be too big. You are going to start seeing, well, whoa; there
is an inflation forecast. If the deficit`s too big, it means we are going
to have too much demand; it means we`re going to have inflation in the
future. Where is the credible study? Where is the forecast? Any
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is the market pricing?
KELTON: Where is it in the -- where is it anywhere that the deficit is
actually a problem, even in the (INAUDIBLE)?
HAYES: It`s -- explain what tips are, because there are specific kind of
security that calculations it.
KELTON: So those are securities that investors can pile into if they`re --
if they`re concerned about inflation over the long term.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inflation protected bonds, right.
KELTON: Absolutely not there, not in the medium term; not in the short
term. There is no long-term deficit problem.
And because the Republicans -- by and large the Republicans -- have
convinced everybody that we have this long-term deficit problem, they are
able to sell this kind of austerity in the short term because, my God, if
it`s coming, we might as well act now, right? And that`s how you get
people to support these awful economic policies that just make the
HAYES: Hold that thought. I want to -- I want to make the argument that
Barack Obama is the only man in Washington who actually wants a grand
bargain, who actually is like being honest about what he is trying to do
and everyone else is -- right after this.
HAYES: I was in the kitchen in our house tonight, getting my daughter
dinner the other night, listening to MARKETPLACE on NPR, and I heard the
esteemed Pete Peterson, former Nixon Commerce Secretary, also the big money
billionaire behind a lot of the different outlets and organizations in
Washington, D.C., that have been pushing for, you know, deficit worry --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hair-on-fire brigade.
HAYES: The hair-on-fire brigade -- and what was remarkable, I`m going to
play this bit of the tape; this is him on MARKETPLACE, basically
enunciating that he is with the president. I mean, he doesn`t say that,
but what he said -- the content of what he says is what Barack Obama is
offering. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE PETERSON, FORMER U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: A program like Simpson-
Bowles that had about $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of revenue, and
one that attacks all of the aspects of the budget in which everything is on
the table -- and by everything, I mean entitlements, I mean tax reform, I
mean defense, are all on the table -- is the right way to approach this
I would be much happier with a program that was focused on the long term
and, as I say, had some investment in the short-term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, that is basically Barack Obama`s position. And what I find
so ironic here is that the only person in Washington who genuinely, I
think, wants a grand bargain along those contours is Barack Obama. And
with also Gene Sperling, the menacing bully that famously threatened Bob
Woodward, right? They genuinely want it. They believe in it. They`ve
been very clear about it.
I don`t think they are playing politics when they say it. And the irony,
the same beltway chattering classes that are obsessed with this are most
angry at Barack Obama for not getting it done, even though he is the only
person that actually wants it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s because the politics of Washington are no
longer about dealmaking. I mean, I -- when I worked in the Congress 10
years ago, there was a closing window of an ability to make any kinds of
deals. We talked on your show a couple of weeks -- maybe it was a couple
of months ago -- about how Barack Obama himself has become essentially the
He -- anything that he does is what the Republicans have to be against
because you just say his name and among the Republican base it fires that
So when those Republicans go back to their districts and gerrymander
districts where they have to worry about mostly a primary as opposed to
facing a Democratic opponent then whatever Barack Obama is proposing, even
if it`s Social Security cuts, then, no, we can`t be for those, because I
don`t want to face a Republican opponent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, look, first of all, if anyone has any doubt of
whether what you say is true, remember back to the campaign when Mitt
Romney basically made one -- a two-part argument about entitlements. The
president refuses to tackle entitlements. And he wants to cut your
Medicare. So you know, enough said about that.
Look, I think where the problem comes is that the president recognizes that
there are -- and Stephanie, I think, disagree on this, but there are long-
run pressures, particularly on health care spending. That, by the way, is
a larger problem in the private sector than the public.
It is an economic constraint in the future. And so the president, who is a
very intelligent guy and recognizes inefficiencies and those kinds of
constraints down the road, wants to do something about it, but when you
bring that into this context, it immediately turns into slash and burn and
cut social insurance in ways that are unacceptable to me and I believe to
most of the American people.
HAYES: But you guys -- you guys don`t want -- and when I say you guys,
Americans for Tax Reform and sort of the constituency you represent, like I
don`t think you`re interested in a grand bargain, right? You want -- do
you want to cut spending and you want to keep taxes low? Right? That`s --
DUPPLER: Right. I mean, and that`s the thing. If you are saying that the
Republican position is just anti-Obama, for our part, it`s hard to know
what anti-Obama is. I mean, look at his State of the Union address. He
takes credit for all the cuts in the Budget Control Act. In the same
breath, talks about turning off the sequester.
He talks about complexity in the tax code and getting rid of loopholes. In
the same breath -- in the same breath, he talks about new credits, new tax
treatment for energy companies that he likes -- not that there are any
companies he doesn`t like. So it`s very difficult to talk about this in a
consistent manner if that`s all your agenda is. But you`re right. It`s a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a second that your premise that Barack Obama wants a
grand bargain. If Barack Obama wanted a grand bargain -- and I think he
does -- then perhaps he`s a poor negotiator.
In other words, if we`re a Washington where a Republican doesn`t want to
look like they are making a deal with Barack Obama, then if Barack Obama
ultimately wants a grand bargain in this middle, then he would take a
position that is far to the progressive left of the bully pulpit so that
then Republicans could feel -- could politically show that they forced him
to a middle. And that`s not what he has done.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
DUPPLER: Well, the thing is, too, if you have got, you know, say you`ve
got a progressive agenda if you are Barack Obama, and the thing that`s
really interesting to me is that (INAUDIBLE) the fiscal cliff, right? If
Democrats were so committed to having the Bush tax cuts expire for the top
income earners, they had two years where Nancy Pelosi was in control.
Harry Reid was in control.
And Barack Obama was in the White House. And for two years, they woke up
and didn`t do anything about it. So it`s very interesting to hear that he
wants a grand bargain, he wants all of his priority --
HAYES: Well, there other priorities, though --
DUPPLER: Sure, but I mean, like --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- he is correct in the following sense. There were
not that many Democrats who wanted to see the Bush tax cuts fully sunset.
And that includes Barack Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, right, but --
HAYES: -- but I think the point -- I think the point Mattie is making
here, which I think is -- I agree with a slightly different version of it -
- is that -- is basically that there was -- there was -- when the Democrats
were controlling to the extent they ever controlled the three branches with
the filibuster, which was not that long, but when they did have -- when
they did have a majority in the Senate and a majority in the House and the
White House, right, the agenda was on -- was on domestic legislation that
would be kind of long-term statutory changes to the fabric of the U.S.
So that`s health care reform, Dodd-Frank; there was, of course, the first
thing they did was Recovery Act, right, which is short-term kind of
countercyclical fiscal policy.
When the Tea Party swept into power, everything changed to the budget.
Right? So we went from talking about -- like it`s actually very different
than Newt Gingrich in 1994. The Contract with America had a bunch of
domestic policy priorities, like for instance, welfare reform, that they
worked to achieve.
This Republican caucus doesn`t seem to have any priorities in terms of
domestic policy legislation other than the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why didn`t Democratic leaders step up in 2010 and
say the Tea Party is wrong? I mean, that`s the thing that I have never
been able to wrap my head around, that the acceptance of deficit reduction
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it`s been partially a Democratic position. I
mean, that`s the issue. I mean, I worked on campaigns in my previous life
before I was a journalist and on campaigns, Democrats in red states,
Democrats in blue states would always basically -- the calculus, the
unspoken calculus was as long as I say I`m against the deficit then
everything else (INAUDIBLE)
KELTON: There is no counternarrative on the progressive side on this. It
is absolutely --
HAYES: Except in Kansas City.
KELTON: No, but he is extremely strong on the anti-austerity stuff. But
he hasn`t come out and said, in the long run, I don`t -- I`m not concerned
about the deficit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) politician level.
KELTON: Just fundamentally reject the premise that the deficit is a
problem in the long run. Almost no one will (INAUDIBLE). And that -- and
that does so much damage.
HAYES: Yes. That`s what sets the center.
KELTON: To any agenda -- yes. To any agenda that you could possibly
promote for good economic policy in the short term.
HAYES: Jared wrote a blog post yesterday, saying he solved the sequester.
We`re going to dig into (INAUDIBLE) after this break.
HAYES: All right, guys. It`s time -- it`s that time on Sunday morning
when we talk tax expenditures.
Jared Bernstein, you have solved the sequester with tax expenditures.
JARED BERNSTEIN, FMR. ECONOMIC ADVISER TO JOE BIDEN: Correct.
BERNSTEIN: The reason tax expenditures are the solution to the sequester
is because tax expenditures are how we spend through the tax code. So if
you are a Republican who thinks we have a spending problem -- and lots of
them say they do -- you want to cut these tax expenditures because they are
just like spending.
On the other hand they generate a lot of revenue. So if you`re a Democrat
who wants revenue in the deal, you like them, too.
HAYES: And Marty Feldstein (ph), you know, Republican --
BERNSTEIN: Former chief economist for Reagan.
HAYES: -- Reagan has said it`s a good thing to go after.
Let me give you a perfect example. Can you throw up the graphic just to
give people a sense of how big these tax expenditures are? Over $1
trillion a year, which is more than we spend on Medicare, Medicaid, Social
Security, nondefense discretionary. So a huge amount of money.
Here`s a perfect example. There is a $5,000 dependent child care tax
credit. OK? That $5,000 dependent child care tax credit I use, right, I -
- my -- they withhold the money from my salary. At the end of the year and
I use that $5,000 to pay the person that provides child care for my
daughter. And then that is not -- that -- I take that off my taxes, right?
Now if you`re paying the highest marginal rate, the value of that $5,000 is
$2,000. Basically the government writes me, TV cable TV host, a check for
$2,000 for this child care. Of course, if you are paying the lowest
marginal rate, right, then the value of that is much lower. So it is
upside down in terms of progressivity (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, and the value of that is much lower, but that`s
actually the (INAUDIBLE) -- excuse me -- the example you want to use.
Someone who is a much lower income bracket is actually the one getting the
check written to them. You know, you call it a tax extender (ph). It`s a
refundable tax credit is what it is.
So what -- if you are in this higher income bracket, you`re getting money
back from your tax liability. If you don`t have a tax liability, that`s
where the spending side comes (INAUDIBLE).
HAYES: Well, two things. First of all --
HAYES: -- let me just explain. This is a conceptual question, right,
because what you`re saying is if I owe $40,000 in taxes and after this I
owe $38,000, you`re saying the government is not writing me a $2,000 check.
Of course they are writing me a $2,000 check, because in the absence of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You left out an important part of the story. You told
the tax credit side of how we support child care for higher income people.
There is also a spending program, a child care subsidy which we spend
HAYES: Right, direct checks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government spends this. There is no substantive
different. That`s why cutting tax expenditures or cutting spending through
HAYES: And yet here`s the big difference. For working class people and
poor people who are getting direct government subsidies, that has to be
passed through the appropriations process every year. It`s subject to the
sequester; it`s very vulnerable.
The tax credit is part of the tax code. Every year, it just goes on at
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Jared put it right in his article about this.
That`s the real entitlement. The fact that it`s baked into the tax code
means it is, almost by definition, an entitlement. If you qualify, you are
entitled to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Mattie, are you OK with this? Are you -- do you
agree that this is a solution to (INAUDIBLE).
DUPPLER: The interesting point -- oh, the interesting (INAUDIBLE) for me,
from you guys arguing that way is we were so close here. We`re so close.
But the interesting perspective for me is that, again, if you are right,
and you are writing a check to someone who doesn`t have an income tax
liability, who`s getting money back from the government under this program,
if you`re cutting that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t want to cut that.
HAYES: -- don`t want to touch the earned income tax credit, right? He`s -
- we`re talking about deductions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not saying we should cut every tax expenditure.
There are good spending programs, there are good tax expenditure programs,
the ones you`re talking about -- refundable credits to low-income people
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But capital gains special privileges and dividends
special privileges, can we agree on that, that those should be cut, that
those tax expenditures --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want you to make (INAUDIBLE) place right here at the
table at MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tax expenditures that favor capital gains,
dividends, that protect interest payments, that have the Cayman Island
stuff, do you agree that those should be cut in the interest of some kind
DUPPLER: And the interesting context of comprehensive tax reform, right,
that`s the space we want to use to actually get a fairer tax code, to get a
flatter tax code.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she said yes.
HAYES: That`s yesish.
I want to thank MSNBC contributor Jared Bernstein, the Center of Budget and
Policy Priorities; Stephanie Kelton, the University of Missouri - Kansas
All right. A less political jiujitsu after this.
HAYES: Thanks in large part to the Tea Party, the rhetoric of austerity
has become inescapable in our political conversations. It`s not just
Democrats and the president advocating a balanced approach to replacing the
sequester or left-of-center think tanks generating lists of programs to
Grassroots progressives advocating on a variety of issues have started
marshaling the language and logic of austerity to advocate for their goals
on a wide range of issues.
In January, Maryland`s Democratic Governor Martin O`Malley did exactly that
when he explained why he wants to abolish the state`s death penalty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MD.: The death penalty is expensive and it does
not work and we should stop doing it. It`s time to repeal the death
penalty in Maryland and replace it with life without parole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Prosecuting a death row case in Maryland costs about three times as
much as prosecuting a charge that carries a sentence of life without
In the Maryland State Senate on Friday they began debating a bill to repeal
the death penalty. The bill requires 24 votes to pass and 26 senators have
said publicly they plan to vote for it. Maryland lawmakers do pass this
repeal, it will be in part because advocates focus their message on the
fiscal consequences of the death penalty. And it`s not just the death
penalty. In November, Colorado and Washington became the first states to
fully legalize marijuana.
Victories won by advocates arguing the tens of millions of dollars in tax
revenue and reduced law enforcement costs the state would enjoy.
From criminal justice reforms to reigning in the military industrial
complex the rhetoric of fiscal prudence offers those on the left a potent
means of achieving tactical victories. But by endorsing the underlying
logic that we are, as a country, broke, doesn`t produce strategic cost.
Joining me at the table now are Bryan Stevenson, professor at New York
School of Law and founder and executive director, Equal Justice Initiative,
a nonprofit organization that focuses on discrimination in the criminal
justice system; Mattie Kramer (ph), research director for the National
Priorities Project, an NGO that aims for more transparency in the federal
government and federal budget; and Roberto Lovato, cofounder of
presidente.org, an online Latino advocacy organization, a contributor to
"The Nation" magazine.
You are not speaking in your capacity as founder of presidente here, I
Roberto Lovato, cofounder of presidente.org: I`m --
HAYES: You`re (INAUDIBLE).
So I think this is really interesting. And I -- you know, there`s this
Grover Norquist, Ben Gelatin (ph) and NAACP a few years ago did this kind
of teaming up around criminal justice.
You`re operating out of Alabama, which is a very conservative state in
which the politics of austerity are very intense. And I have seen that
firsthand. Is this an effective means of making the arguments about the
death penalty criminal justice reform in a place like Alabama?
BRYAN STEVENSON, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EQUAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE:
Oh, I think it`s necessary mean. And I don`t think it compromises
anything. There are costs to mass incarceration; there are costs to the
death penalty. Some of them are moral; some of them are just. Some of
them are economic.
You want to accumulate all of those costs to persuade people who have
largely been indifferent to the unfairness, the arbitrariness, the excess
of death penalty and mass incarceration.
So I think it`s a necessary argument and I actually think it enhances some
of the moral arguments in California (INAUDIBLE) major campaign trying to
get a public repeal -- it was on the ballot, a public referendum came very,
STEVENSON: -- was organized all around cost. California is going to spend
nearly $200 million a year on the death penalty each year.
HAYES: That is insane.
STEVENSON: A billion dollars in the next five years and nobody will be
executed. There`s no one close to execution. And so the question is, is
it worth it? And the reality is it doesn`t give us a fair death penalty, a
reliable death penalty. But I think it was a very necessary and an
HAYES: This is a little -- to fill in the details on the spending in
California, $4 billion in death penalty spending since it was reinstated in
1978. And you can take a look at how that breaks down. Pretrial, costs of
incarceration, federal appeals and state appeals. And it`s a really
staggering number when you think about that.
STEVENSON: Yes. And I think for advocates it`s necessary. I mean I
represent people on death row, but I hate violence. I don`t support
violent crime. I don`t think it`s a good thing. I actually think that too
many of my clients have been victimized by a lack of services, a lack of
attention. And so these resources can be redeployed.
Maryland`s bill actually will give money and resources to the families of
people who lost loved ones. California`s bill was actually aimed at --
directly aimed at helping to solve the 34 percent of homicides that don`t
result in an arrest.
The 46 percent of the rapes that don`t result in arrests, mostly in poor
and minority communities, I think if you are committed or concerned about
public safety, these economic arguments actually make links that we have to
HAYES: And that`s a way of squaring the circle, right, if it`s not
austerity politics, but rather rechanneling the investments (INAUDIBLE) --
LOVATO: I agree with what Bryan`s saying but I want to ask the question,
Bryan, and (INAUDIBLE) everybody (INAUDIBLE) from the ground up, from the
bottom up perspective, instead of the view from Washington, when do you
make a strategic pivot?
Because you can`t really make strategic victories just tactically. You
have to make a strategic pivot. What is the strategic pivot on the death
penalty, for example?
STEVENSON: Well, I think it`s -- you know, we have been talking about
economic costs for many, many years. I think the more complicated
questions in the death penalty context was going after subcommittees.
So in the late 1980s when the court basically said we are not going to
abolish the death penalty through a massive decision, the decision was made
to start talking about juveniles, people with mental disability. That`s a
more complicated question because a lot of advocates said you`re just
cleaning the rope. You`re just trying to make it more palatable and that
might sustain the death penalty past its natural lifetime.
I think this is not that. I think this is really trying to get people to
appreciate all of the cost -- moral, economic, political -- all of those
costs. And I don`t think there is really much to be lost by advancing
HAYES: David, marijuana in Colorado, I was so struck by how fiscally
focused that campaign was. I mean, it really was -- I even -- there were
even (INAUDIBLE) like money for schools, like you didn`t even know what it
was. It just -- that was --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the advocates for legalization in Colorado will
tell you it was a two-pronged message. And they will tell you that it was
-- the money argument in the context of what could we be using the money
for in a state that doesn`t well fund its schools, for instance, but also
coupled with that was the idea that if alcohol is legal, so should
marijuana be legal.
Why would a more unsafe drug be legal and not -- and they will tell you and
what came out of focus groups was that you have to couple a cost argument,
a financial cost argument with something else because people in America
have shown a penchant for being willing to spend and arguably overspend on
things that they believe is right.
I mean, the best example of that, the Iraq war (INAUDIBLE) costs, what, $1
trillion, $2 trillion. But we believed -- or at least the country believed
that we should do it and so cost wasn`t an issue.
HAYES: And that tends to be the case when we are talking about defense,
right? I mean, austerity politics never seem to touch defense, except for
now, somewhat remarkably.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we are in a special moment. So in April
Americans are going to file their taxes; 27 cents on every dollar will have
been spend on the military. Nobody looked twice at that before.
Now Americans are starting to say that`s ridiculous. Americans of all
political stripes. This actually crosses party lines. If you poll people
on average, they`ll say they want to cut about 18 percent from defense
spending and somehow Washington hasn`t yet gotten the memo on this --
HAYES: But they have gotten the memo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re just starting to see some changes. We`re
just now starting to see some changes.
HAYES: But it`s in this case that I worry the most, right, because it just
seems to me like, obviously, I have been around Left politics since I was a
wee little boy and, you know, it will be a great day when the Pentagon has
to have a bake sale and the schools have all the money they need and the
stuff about how -- you know, there is too much money put into defense --
not defense; war.
And that has been around forever in Left politics particularly. In this
moment, though, it does seem like we have this weird thing which we`re sort
of back-door endorsing austerity, right, because it`s happening under the
conditions in which we`re we say we can`t afford this money. We have to
like cut down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It requires a complicated message. It absolutely
requires that message. The message is saying deficit reduction is not our
most urgent priority. If, though, we`re going to operate in this deficit
reduction paradigm, and it looks like we`re here for the time being and we
can go about in a smart way and we can make really smart, long over needed
cuts to the Pentagon.
Yes, that will cost jobs, but any government cuts would cost jobs and, in
fact, you get more bang for your buck if you move that money from the
Pentagon to the health care or education sectors.
You create more jobs per dollar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not a don`t spend. It`s a spend it differently.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
LOVATO: Yes, but I still think that it`s a progressive movement`s focus on
cost and a focus -- such a focused way is really dangerous. As far as the
kind of visionary movement you need to build to take us out of the massive
crisis that we now are going to follow to the abyss. And so when you ask
about the death penalty, you`re not asking whether or not the state
shouldn`t be killing people.
When you are talking about drug use, you are not talking about who are the
real criminals in the drug equation. Right? Who is making a profit from
prisons? Who is making a profit from policing? Who`s making a profit from
military spending? That`s not even part of our discussion.
HAYES: OK. Hold that thought. I want you to respond to that quickly.
HAYES: Bryan, you want to respond?
STEVENSON: Well, I just want to say that, you know, at least none of the
death penalty advocates in criminal justice reform advocates are making
just economic costs. And, in fact, I don`t actually think that the
economic arguments would be effective today if we hadn`t shown over the
last 15 years that we are putting a lot of innocent people on death row,
that it`s unreliable.
Without the 140 exonerations, data that said for every 10 people executed,
one innocent person has been identified. Without the persistence around
racial unfairness and economic unfairness, I don`t think these economic
arguments would have the force that they have.
But for a country that has been nurtured on the politics of fear and anger,
where every elected official has been told you can never be too tough on
crime, you need a narrative that allows people to retreat from that and
cost is just a very effective one.
HAYES: I want to show the -- some of the effectiveness of that in terms of
a public opinion, which I think is really interesting. You have, you know,
in 1976, 66 in favor of the death penalty. That goes up and it reaches a
peak in 1994, 80 percent. And now it`s back down to 63 percent. So we
have seen, you know, over the last 20 years, roughly, a fairly significant
erosion of support for the death penalty.
LOVATO: There are citizens right now who are criminals who probably should
get the death penalty, corporate citizens. Our conversation is not -- even
include what used to be the law up until the 19th century, as you know,
Bryan -- we were talking earlier that state and federal governments have
the right to dismantle corporations that violated the public good,
effectively applying a death penalty to corporations.
When are we going to apply the death penalty --
HAYES: I just want to be clear: dissolution of the charter, not the
killing of the individuals. Just so we`re clear, yes.
Dissolving the charter of the entity, just so we`re clear.
LOVATO: Yes. When are we going to have that conversation since they are
people according to the law?
HAYES: But this get -- I think this gets to an interesting point, where
it`s like you want to like create this sort of -- like push out the
boundaries of the moral conversation, right, at one level, which is what
that is about. It`s like well, who gets punished and who doesn`t? Right?
Who does the state rain down its vengeance upon and who does the state sort
of allow to do what it wants to? Wall Street for someone with, you know,
getting stopped and frisked on a street in the Bronx, right?
At the same time, like if you got to go to a state rep who is a
conservative Democrat, you know, representing a suburb of Birmingham and
he`s going to be the swing vote on some bill, like none of that is going to
matter. Right? I mean -- and it`s the same thing if you are walking
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, and if the most effective argument, the one
that puts it over the top is the economic one, ultimately you`re trying to
move heaven and Earth to have just policy put in place.
If the economic argument is the one that tips the scales, then I absolutely
think that we need not worry. We haven`t couched the debate enough in
moral terms because you keep your eyes on the prize.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I will bring up an example -- we were talking about
it off air, about what happened in Colorado. In Colorado, the legislature
came within one vote of repealing the death penalty to take the money that
would be saved and put it into the office that pursues cold cases. And --
HAYES: A similar approach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a similar approach. And you could argue, well, they
got within one vote in a state like color. That`s progress. It is
But the economic argument wasn`t enough to go to those conservative
Democrats and certainly those conservative Republicans and say, and say
this is enough to vote for it because I think those politicians fear that
an issue like the death penalty -- (INAUDIBLE), just like an issue like the
drug war is a kind of religious issue, if you will, kind of -- people say,
well, I may -- I may think it`s better to save the money than not have the
death penalty. But killers deserve to die or I don`t want more drugs on
STEVENSON: Yes, but that`s the reason why people have to understand. You
can actually think the death penalty is morally acceptable and still reject
it as policy. We do that all the time. And you are just trying to create
space for that to happen.
And I actually am more disturbed by the people who say, I`m too
progressive; I`m too liberal, I`m too this to sully my support and my
opposition to the death penalty by polluting it with these economic
arguments. You know, only the most protected, elite people in this country
can allow these horrific human rights violations to persist and not feel
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I agree.
STEVENSON: And that`s the reason why I guess I`m just thinking that any
advocate trying to get to reform has to be open to these nuances --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s why I made the point about the -- about the
drug argument in Colorado. They understood that in order to actually get
this passed, you have to make the financial argument and an argument about
HAYES: Roberto, I want to talk to you about immigration and specifically
cost in immigration, because that`s a place where advocates have been
talking a bit and we`re about to have a bigger conversation about that. I
want to hit on that right after we take this break.
HAYES: From New York, I`m Chris Hayes with Bryan Stevenson from the Equal
Justice Initiative, Mattea Kramer of the National Priorities Project, David
Sirota of Salon.com, and Roberto Lovato of "The Nation".
And we`re talking about sort of, I think, strange and interesting
intersection of austerity politics, austerity rhetoric, and progressive
priorities, and the way in which the constant emphasis -- this is
particularly true at the state level where it isn`t -- at the federal level
I think it`s a mirage because the federal government can spend more. It
can spend counter-cyclically.
The state level less of a mirage (ph). I mean, the states actually do have
to balance their budgets, right, and they have to figure out -- they can`t
run big deficits. They can`t print their own money, right? At the state
level, particularly, a lot of progressive groups have found very effective
ways of marshaling the language of austerity and budget constraint to the
further progressive ends, and whether that is ending the death penalty,
whether that is legalizing marijuana. At the federal level, it has to do
with paring back the military industrial complex.
There is a very fascinating example of the tangled politics of this in
immigration this week, Roberto, where it was at first reported and later
confirmed and announced that the DHS was releasing a number of immigrant
detainees who had been picked up on nonviolent infractions. And at first
it looked like a few hundred and then a few thousand. They had been
releasing a few thousand. And when they were confronted about this, they
said, look, we`ve got the sequester coming up and we`ve got to cut our
budget. And our budget says we can`t have all these people in our beds.
And immigrant rights advocates have noted that the cost of federal
detention is $122 to $164 a day. The cost of alternative forms of
detention, which is when you have to check in, right, or you`re monitored
upon release, is anywhere from 30 cents to $14 a day. And this struck me
as part of a larger conversation that immigrants rights activists have been
having about just how much money we`ve been spending on the world of
enforcement in immigration.
ROBERTO LOVATO, THE NATION.COM: Well, in the past 26 years, we spent about
$186 billion on immigration enforcement. And in order to do that, you have
to effectively criminalize immigrants. And so you have to -- Democrats and
Republicans generally agree in the design of their policies right now on
immigration reform. The immigrants are, quote, unquote. "criminals."
That`s why you have President Obama deporting more people by the end of
this year than all presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton in `96
So something is fabulously wrong with -- I don`t know -- immigrant rights
is focused on the economics. Like, there`s a big action on the Geo Group
at this university in Florida. My friends at the Florida Immigrant
Coalition states actions against the Florida university that was accepting
a stadium on behalf --
HAYES: We talked about that, which is a huge private prison organization,
company, that makes money off and also runs the detention centers for
people that are in the custody of ICE.
LOVATO: So we don`t ask the question, who`s making money off of all this?
Who are the pigs at the trough? In this case it would be the Geo Group
Corrections Corporation of America, prison builders, prison managers,
police unions, probation unions. A whole slew of interests that are the
barriers to real reform that would stop President Obama from deporting so
SIROTA: And I think the anti-immigrants are banking on the idea that -- in
the conservative movement -- are banking on the idea that people, that
their base will be fired up by the idea of more undocumented immigrants.
HAYES: Oh, it was a huge story in the right wing media that Obama is
letting them run through the streets.
SIROTA: And you go back to the conservative movement and you ask them,
well, I thought you`re for smaller government. I thought you want
spending cuts. This is what spending cuts look like. And I think that
ultimately how the politics play out will be rooted both in the financials
of it and in America`s -- how comfortable America is with immigration in
HAYES: But part of this -- and this is why I think the name "National
Priorities Project" is key here -- the way that we think about what
government does is that we, as citizens, and particularly activists -- not
we as activists, but activists -- aren`t engaged in the process of making
trade-offs often, right? You are advocating for a goal, right? Then it
gets into the representational system in which things are prioritized. And
they`re prioritized often by who has the most political power. I think the
point you`re making you`re making there about there`s an industry that
relies on massive expansion of detention means that people come visit your
office and they write you checks for your reelection, so it`s hard to get
rid of it.
And so what ends up happening is the politics happens along the single
axes, and then that`s all fed into the representational system that
produces the pie chart that is the budget, that has remarkably distorted
priorities about where we spend our money.
MATTEA KRAMER, NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT: No kidding. Immigration
enforcement is part of a bigger bungled mess, which is homeland security.
Right now, we`re at the 10-year anniversary of the Department of Homeland
Security, which was basically just cobbled together after 9/11. It was the
appearance of a solution, a sprawling bureaucracy built over existing
bureaucracy. Talk about trade offs.
Since 9/11, we`ve spent about $800 billion on homeland security. That
amount of money? Substantially more than the entire cost of the New Deal,
in inflation adjusted terms. And you`d be hard-pressed to say that we`ve
got as much to show for that kind of investment.
HAYES: But it also makes the point that -- I always feel like what`s
remarkable about the right is that they are able to simultaneously advocate
austerity and then designate certain things as essentially sacred. Right?
That the logic of budgetary impact can never hit (ph).
KRAMER: It`s harder and harder to make the case that we ought to spend
more than the next 16 largest militaries combined.
SIROTA: It was Barney Frank, I think, made a great point after 9/11. He
said before 9/11, everyone said we didn`t have any money to do anything.
We have nothing. We can`t spend any money. The day after 9/11, suddenly
we had an unlimited amount of money to do absolutely anything.
LOVATO: On immigration at least, I`m boggled -- it boggles the mind to
figure out who is right. Because if you`re deporting pregnant women,
calling them criminals, jailing them because they have a broken tail light,
which is effectively what the current administration is doing to
immigrants, what is right on immigration?
It`s like -- what is left is very clear because there`s a very clear
movement where we talk about the economic costs of imprisoning people, but
we are now rescuing movement from the pulling (ph) away of moral argument
because white voters wouldn`t support moral arguments for immigration
reform, which is what we were told in the `90s. Now some of us are like --
HAYES: Yes, but that`s going to be interesting because when this fight
gets taken to the national level, and if this thing passes, if there`s a
(INAUDIBLE) of immigration reform that passes, it`s going to pass by pretty
thin margins, I would assume. You`re going to see -- people are going to
say that again. That, like, if you need these swing voters, if you need a
Utah Republican to vote with you, yes, in the Senate, he doesn`t want to
hear Roberto Lovato`s radical critique of entire --
LOVATO: It`s not radical, though. I remember when immigration 20 years
ago was not even an issue that we talked about immigrants as criminals.
Now you have these massive industries, you have these dehumanization, you
have hate crimes. You have people dying in the desert because of current
policy. You can`t eviscerate the moral --
STEVENSON: But I think that`s part of the challenge. I mean, 20 years
ago, we didn`t have these economic interests that wanted thousands of
undocumented people detained. But you`re right, with private prisons, with
Correctional Association of America, you have economic interests with the
prison industrial complex. You have people on campus and then political
settings and legislatures advocating and lobbying for more immigrant
detention, more prisons. We`ve got 2.3 million prison beds. They want
those beds full.
And for the first time in our history, you have people profiting from these
excesses, and we don`t have an effective counter to the infusion of money.
It was never the case that you had people lobbying for people to punish
murder. You never had to do that. Now you have this whole set of
interests that are pushing with lots of dollars policies that are
antithetical to a lot of the things we believe in, with no counter, with no
economic ability to counter that. And that`s the challenge.
HAYES: And I think part of this comes back to this project, this
phenomenon called participatory budgeting that started in Brazil and it`s
being done here in New York, it`s been done in Chicago. And one of the
remarkable things about participatory budgeting, which you actually have
citizens engage in the process of talking through and making the trade offs
themselves, right, as opposed to these sort of feeding it all into the
When people are put into the position of making these trade offs, they make
trade offs that look a lot more progressive than the trade offs that get
made when under the hydraulic pressure of interest groups that have a sort
of monetary stake.
KRAMER: This is so fascinating. So however people identify along the
political spectrum, which they invariably do before they go into these
things, they come with a huge agreement on raising taxes on the wealthy as
to non-corporations (ph), closing tax loopholes, spending less on the
military, more on education and health care.
HAYES: And there`s this -- we are not just like pulling this, there was a
long political science (ph) with --.
HAYES: --well-documented in political (ph) literature about people doing
LOVATO: I think, by the way, sequestration says origins with the word
"sequester" in Spanish, which means kidnapping. So which for me leads to
the great hope right now of our political moment, which is the Latin
Americanization of U.S. politics and of U.S. society, not just with more
Latinos, who are more left-leaning now than ever, but also with the welfare
state being shattered and dismantled and the wealth gap growing to Latin
America levels of the `80s and `70s. We`re now going to see, as we saw
with Occupy as a preview I think, of the kinds of social movement that are
going to think outside of the electoral box.
HAYES: You`re literally painting Rush Limbaugh`s worst nightmare in every
I`m going to see you back at the bottom of the show for "You Should Know."
Right now, will changing public opinion on gay rights force the GOP to
become more inclusive after this?
HAYES: This week we saw a number of fascinating developments in the
ongoing battle within the conservative movement and the Republican Party
over inclusion and LGBT rights. On this program last Saturday, I announced
I had declined CPAC`s invitation to speak on a panel at their annual
conference this year due to their ban on allowing the gay conservative
group, Go Proud, to sponsor the conference. Three days later, S.E. Cupp my
colleague, a conservative and fellow MSNBC host, said she will not attend
CPAC this year because of the Go Proud ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S.E. CUPP, MSNBC HOST: I have been thinking about this a lot and I know a
lot of people on my side of the aisle have been struggling with this for
some time now too. I have been scheduled to speak at CPAC this year and I
just don`t think I can until this issue is reconciled and figured out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Then the rock-ribbed conservative editorial board of "The National
Review" weighed in, writing, "As friends of CPAC and fellow conservative
advocates, we nevertheless regret that CPAC has excluded the gay
conservative group, Go Proud. Conservative opinion on the intersection of
homosexuality and politics is not monolithic, especially among the college-
age set that makes up the better part of CPAC attendees. And the gathering
that hopes to speak for the conservative movement will be better equipped
to do so if it represents the overlapping gambit of views included in it."
Also this week, "New York Times" reported that more than 100 Republicans --
many (ph) very prominent conservative voices -- are sending the Supreme
Court a legal brief arguing it should strike down California`s Proposition
8, putting them in direct conflict on the issue with Speaker John Boehner
and the Republican Party`s platform.
Conservatives are finding the Republican party is not immune to rapidly
changing public opinions on gay rights, and whether the party becomes more
inclusive in response, they will almost certainly see in the coming months
Joining us now, we have four conservatives at the table. Josh Barro, lead
writer for Bloomberg News blog "The Ticker," Liz Mair founder and president
of Mayer Strategies, a member of go-proud`s advisory board former the
former online communication director for the Republican National Committee.
Jim Antle, editor of The Daily Caller News Foundation and senior editor of
the "American Spectator" magazine and Mattie Duppler back of the table
director of budget and regulatory policy at Grover Norquist Group Americans
for Tax Reform.
I think this is super fascinating, and I think it`s fascinating because
there is a bunch of different ways in which this is playing out. Liz, you
were involved I think in the kind of intra- conservative arguments debates
over this issue. Do you think momentum is in your direction?
LIZ MAIR, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, MAIR SOLUTIONS: I do. I fell like - I
mean it depends a little bit when you break it down issue by issue, but
you`re looking at debates surrounding same-sex marriage, I think a lot of
the developments you have seen over the last week or so really do indicate
that opinion within the conservative movement and the Republican party is
moving in a more pro-same-sex marriage direction.
I think you will still have debates about hate crimes legislation, and
anti-discrimination legislation, things of that nature, but as far as same-
sex marriage is concerned, as we saw with "don`t ask don`t tell" repeal,
yeah it is moving in a direction where more and more conservatives are
JOSH BARRO, LEAD WRITER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I think there is an interesting
divide though with this letter that had about 120 prominent Republicans
signing it. With the exception of two sitting members of the House it was
almost all people are not current elected officials. It`s people who were
formally in office, some big donors, some I mean you were a signer right
MAIR: Actually, I did not end up putting my name on the brief before it was
BARRO: Okay. But there were a number of people who work as strategists and
consultants and so people who work behind the scenes, people who do not
have to face Republican primary electorates signing this letter. And I
think there is still a real reluctance among people who can actually vote
on these matters to stand up.
It was interesting when the Illinois state Senate voted to legalize gay
marriage a couple weeks ago, there was one Republican vote in the whole
state Senate for it and what I read in terms of background and why that
happened was, Republicans wanted some protections for religious
institutions in the bill over and above what was in it originally. And the
deal they got was well you need to provide at least one Republican vote for
the final bill if you want us to pass this amendment, because we have the
votes without the amendment. And so they got exactly one.
HAYES: They got in a room and drew straws. Sorry, dude. You have to vote
BARRO: So, I don`t know what the progress means when it`s purely behind
the scenes but then it doesn`t actually translate into support by elected
MAIR: I think I would just say with regard to that, I think it`s important
to look at what`s going on at the state level. Because that is where this
has been moving forward from the legislative standpoint is at the state
level. You point to Illinois. I would also urge you to take a look at the
example of New Hampshire. Because in New Hampshire you actually had a
fairly conservative Republican majority that was pressured to actually
repeal same-sex marriage and they didn`t do it. They didn`t do it because
there was sufficient Republican report for keeping same-sex marriage.
JIM ANTLE, DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION: If you take a look at that what
the polls were saying in 1996 when the marriage act was passed, only 27
percent of the American people supported same-sex marriage at that time.
If you look at the polls in the late 2012, the Gallup polls show about 30
percent of the Republicans support same-sex marriage.
So, while the country as a whole is moving in the direction of supporting
same-sex marriage, Republicans are still the public opinion is where it is
in the mid 90s. And that is going to be - when you look at numbers among
younger Republicans and even younger evangelicals, it`s likely in the long
term that that will change, but it is going to be a very gradual change.
That I think is what is producing the conflict between a lot of party
leaders who are concerned about how this issue will affect the party`s
prospects electorally and a lot of rank and file that is still invested in
this as a social issue.
HAYES: I learned this when we were looking at the public opinion data which
we just showed which is that the move in the public really is remarkably
fast among Democrats and independents and not that dramatic with
Republicans. There is a 75-25 issue for Republicans, meaning 3/4 of the
Republicans you polled are opposed to marriage equality, same-sex marriage
and a quarter support it.
That to me is interesting about this. It also seems to me, there is kind
of an elite base disconnect here. The folks who make up for in my Twitter
feed who are conservatives who make up kind of like elite conservatism,
whether they`re in the media, or strategists, or working full time as
Republican operatives. I think if you poled them or even of you polled the
CPAC attendees, you may get much higher support for same-sex marriage than
if you go out and you poll a representative sample primary voters for
DUPPLER: I would agree with that. As a conservative libertarian, young
person working in Washington, this isn`t a matter of intensity for me. I
care about fiscal policy, I work for a fiscal group. But that young
people, especially those coming out of college who are experiencing
politics for the first time are a lot more concerned about whether or not
they are going to be employed when they leave. They`re a lot more
concerned about whether or not they`re going to enjoy the same freedom and
academic exposure they had that their parents may have had, rather than a
coercive government telling them that gay marriage is legal or is not
legal. You know, it`s an issue that just, to me, is more focused on what
government is, how they are getting involved, and how they`re trying to
influence public opinion. And it is a policy issue itself.
HAYES: This is what I find so fascinating. I think there is this very
determined strategy by people within the conservative movement particularly
around the Tea Party to turn the attention from the movement from social
issues to these fiscal issues - to smaller government, taxes and things
like that. I think it has been effective in some ways, but I also think
it`s the same base. This idea that is a different base than the 2004
election that swung on a bunch of evangelicals turning out around issues
that they care deeply about, that`s only nine years ago, right? It`s not
like we have this new party. It`s the same people.
DUPPLER: That makes it seem like malfeasant, like oh it`s some underhanded
DUPPLER: I think it also reflects how the party operates. It reflects that
conservatives are okay with having someone sit at the table. That this is
their issue. This is something they care about. Gay marriage is their
vote-turning issue. Sitting next to someone who only cares about fiscal
policy. We are okay with that. You don`t need to have --
HAYES: They are not okay with someone at the table on the other side of the
issue. That`s the point.
MAIR: I don`t think that`s necessarily true and I want to jump back to the
point you were making about the grass roots. Because I think this is
something that really varies a lot state by state and region by region.
It`s just not true to say that the grass roots actually is overwhelmingly
opposed. If you look polling in Illinois, actually, you have a much larger
share of Republicans.
HAYES: Huge geographical area.
MAIR: Again, if you look at New Hampshire, I mean New Hampshire`s general
court is a massive legislature.
MAIR: The number of people -
HAYES: They all have lockers.
MAIR: The number of people who are represented by each legislator in the
New Hampshire general court is minute compared to any you see anywhere
else. Those guys wouldn`t have been able to get away with taking a pro
same-sex marriage stance if that wasn`t reflective of what you saw at the
BARRO: I think though that there is something interesting in what are
Mattie said about the issue of intensity, because I think for a lot of
these professional Republicans in D.C. and people who are urging CPAC to
allow Go-Proud in, this isn`t an issue of intensity for them either. So,
many of them are in favor of same-sex marriage. Even if they are not, they
are saying well, really we need to focus on the issues that matter. I
don`t know why it`s a message that should sell to social conservatives.
The argument is --
BARRO: Exactly. This issue is changing and demographically falling away
from us, and we need to be open on it, but if you were opposed to same-sex
marriage and that`s the issue that`s really important to you, you should
want to fight on that. Even if there`s political cost.
It`s an interesting mirror to Go-Proud`s message to gays. Because at their
event at the Republican convention in Tampa,
HAYES: Which you talk about it on this show -
BARRO: Yeah. The head of it basically said the marriage is great, but
before you get married you have to have a date and you can`t get a date
without a job.
HAYES: You can`t tell people what they feel intensely about. I want you to
respond to that, Jim, after we take a break.
HAYES: Josh, you made the very interesting point before we went to break,
right, which it this kind of preference/intensity trade off, right. What
are people tell a pollster (ph) they believe in X, Y, or Z, right. But then
there`s like, what are the issues you want to argue about over Thanksgiving
dinner, what makes your cheeks flush. What gets you out to the polls. And
I think we confuse those two a lot in politics and political analysis, and
it leads to a lot of confusion generally.
And you`re saying, if your issue is this issue, you can`t be convinced to
not care about that issue. That`s what you care about. Right on queue,
the National Organization for Marriage, NOM, President Brian Brown
announcing they will be spending 500,000 to defeat Republicans who support
"NOM will do everything in our power to defeat any Republican who votes in
favor of same-sex marriage. Legislators need to look no further than to
what happened to GOP senators in New York," who they went after. "Four of
them were responsible for passing gay-marriage. We helped take out three of
those senators by repeatedly informing their constituents of their betrayal
on marriage. They are now out of office. We will not hesitate and do the
same thing in Minnesota."
Jim, I wonder what you make of that in terms of will NOM continue to play
a big role in conservative politics and in the calculations of elected
ANTLE: I think for the time being, as long as the Republican electorate is
broken down on this issue the way they currently are, they will. And I
think a lot of social conservative activists remember the debates of the
late 80s and 90s, there was a big push to get rid of the pro-life plank in
the Republican platform. And many similar arguments and many similar types
of people were -- the Republican consultant class were advocating doing
that and saying well the party is on the wrong side of the issue. And then
the polling changed somewhat. There really is no serious push to do that
anymore. I think the trajectory on the two issues is very different.
HAYES: Different because there is a kind of stasis longitudinally in
abortion polling. That just (ph) is not in gay rights.
ANTLE: But I do think it`s understandable for social conservative activists
to look at that precedent and think that there might still be hope.
MAIR: But, I would say on that I think there important differences on that.
I happen to be pro-choice, but having an understanding of where the pro-
lifers are coming from on the abortion issue. If you are talking about
abortion that`s literally a life and death issue to pro-lifers. I don`t
think that pro-lifers and social conservatives generally regard same-sex
marriage in the same terms. At the end of the day, two dudes going off and
doing whatever it is they are going do is not the same as actually killing
a human being. That will be regarded differently. That does have an
BARRO: I think that I am detecting a little bit of a decline in preference
intensity around gay marriage and from at least some people who are
socially conservative. I think a lot of elected officials, the way they
talk about it now,
HAYES: They don`t want to talk about it. It`s remarkable. The response to
the president appearing on national television saying I`ve evolved was a
whole bunch of Republicans running to the microphones to be like he`s
trying to distract us from the economy, as opposed to attacking him
MAIR: Or he`s flip flopping, but not saying he is wrong.
BARRO: But there`s also a certain sense of like resigned inevitability
among a lot of conservatives about this issue. People who, you know, they
say well I am against gay marriage, but they can see it coming down the
road. And I think they see this actually to some extent from the "National
Review" editors, who I think they`re seeing that it`s happening some
places, they`re seeing that it`s not really fundamentally changing the
nature of society and they`re seeing they can`t really do much about it.
And so while they are still oppose, they don`t seem to be as avidly opposed
as they used to be. So I think tat may be the real opening for some shift
HAYES: I want to talk about - sort of zoom out a little bit to talk about
coalition politics and big-tent-ness (ph) the notion of purity. Who is in
and who is out and how do you make those decisions. Which is something that
applies in left (ph) politics. Lord, does it apply in left (ph) politics.
And also in right politics, any kind of movement politics, and kind of like
ideological camp, there is this trade off between having a big-tent
coalition, right, having people come in who might have different views,
because you need to try to build a majority, you want to be an effective
political unit. And then not having people who are not diametrically
opposed to things that you really, really don`t believe in. And I think
this is playing on an interesting way in the way the conservative media is
Erick Erickson, founder of RedState, wrote a really interesting post, kind
of critiquing conservative media. I want to read for you and get some
reactions, too, right after this.
HAYES: All right. So on February 7th, Breitbart editor-at-large Ben
Shapiro, was writing about Chuck Hagel. There was a concerted effort on
the part of a lot of conservatives to make sure he wasn`t confirmed because
of his views, they said. on Iran and Israel primarily. And he said -- he
wrote a piece, "Had secret Hagel donor, White House spokes ducks questioned
on Friends of Hamas."
On Thursday Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively they have been
informed that one of the reasons President Obama`s nominee for secretary of
defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on the source
of corresponding because one of the names listed is a group purportedly
called Friends of Hamas.
Now it later came out there was no such group as Friends of Hamas, even
though it was picked up in a number of conservative media outlets. And in
fact a "Daily News" reporter copped to the fact that he had a conversation
with a Senate aid, in which he had jokingly said, what are you guys hoping
to find? That he was a member of Friends of Hamas? As a joke. And then
through a weird game of telephone they ended up with this piece.
And I think this was part of what prompted RedState`s Erick Erickson to
write the following. Calling for conservative media to return to basic
reporting. He says, "I think conservative media is failing to advance
ideas and stories. Certainly part of this is that because the general
media has an ideological bias against conservatives which makes it harder
for the media to take our views seriously.
I mean, they are trying so hard to highlight controversies no matter how
trivial we have forgotten the basics of reporting. W5 plus eight. Where,
what, who, when, and how. As I learned in grade school also known as who,
what, where, why, and how. We need to establish a base line for integrity
and reporting but then allows us to highlight the truly outrageous.
I thought those are really interesting point. Because I do think that
there is this kind of -- you know, as someone who`s been in ideological
media his whole adult life, right? There is -- you`re torn in two
directions. Right? Your ideological connection to certain sets of
principals or world view you want to advocate. You`re not neutral about
what outcomes you want to see.
HAYES: And at the same time, you don`t want to say the wrong thing that
will be -- just simple unthinking propagandist.
HAYES: Who disseminates false information. There`s (INAUDIBLE) between
those two. And I think as someone who works in conservative media, Jim,
I`m curious what you made of this back and forth.
ANTLE: Yes, I mean, I think one of the important things to remember when
you`re in liberal or conservative media is that you`re not a publicist for
your side. I think where your ideological leanings are important is what
kind of questions you ask. What sort of things that it might naturally
come to you to be skeptical about.
HAYES: What stories you pursue.
ANTLE: What stories you pursue.
ANTLE: Exactly. And I think that is a fundamentally different thing than,
you know, inventing things or just becoming an opposition research dump.
HAYES: But it does seem to me, and now at the risk of sounding biased, it
does seem to me there is an asymmetry here and that -- there doesn`t seem
an ideologue to, say, like, Talking Points Memo or the Huffing Post
reporters on the right, which is to say that they -- the outlets seem more
committed to being ideological out west than kind of reportorial outlets in
a lot of cases.
And I think I have seen that with -- there`s been a bunch of new
iterations. There`s the Daily Caller, the History Beacon, things like
that, and that have, you know, announced themselves with an intention, I
think, of being that, but it seems like some of the incentive structure
within who -- what gets you clicks and fund-raising pushes people in this
more propagandistic direction.
MAIR: Let me -- let me just jump in here as somebody who works
specifically with blogs online media.
MAIR: That`s kind of my brief as a consultant. One of the things that I
think is important to bear in mind is kind of the history of how these
things grew out. Originally online media was very activist on both the
left and the right.
HAYES: Yes. Yes.
MAIR: Then it transitioned -- you started seeing more transition into it
becoming more legitimate media and more reporting. Now I think that
happened earlier on the left than it did on the right. Partly because who
was president? Right?
HAYES: Right. Right.
MAIR: Where was the stuff to cover? Now you`re seeing right of center.
HAYES: You`re saying under the Bush years we got that -- because there was
MAIR: I think -- I think Huffington Post and TPM had an incentive, a very
strong incentive earlier to get to the point of reporting because their
stuff would be taken more credibly.
MAIR: Treated more credibly during the Bush years. I think now when I
look at what is coming out of the "Daily Caller," there are some things
when I`m, like, yes, it`s a bit of ropy, it`s a bit hit and miss. But
honestly, not the stuff -- not the stuff that`s coming out of the
foundation. And I think not just to sort of sit here and, you know, give
Jim a big wet kiss, but I think that Jim is right.
The approach that he has and he thinks needs to be demonstrated in
conservative media I think actually has been instituted pretty
successfully. Certainly when it comes to what the foundation is producing.
And so I think -- and if you look at the "Free Beacon", I think there`s
catch-up in play. There are two.
HAYES: There is?
MAIR: I I think there are some stories that they -- I think there are some
stories that they break that are legitimately well-sourced.
HAYES: But here`s -- here`s -- yes, I want to read this Matthew Boyle, I
don`t know why he is going to work for Breitbart. And I think this sort of
encapsulates what I think is a little -- is problematic.
"There are some true believers, people who won`t stand for corruption and
Washington politicians from either party get away with gimmicky, fake
solutions out there. I`d like to think I`m one of them. Breitbart News is
a place where we can expose corruption from both political parties, the
dirty tactics of the institutional left, and mainstream media`s left-wing
pandering. To Andrew it was war. He made sure everyone knew that. War
means everything is in line."
And if you think it`s war, then there are no -- like no shortcut is too
much in the context of war, right?
BARRO: But I think it`s important to -- not every conservative outlet
media outlet is Breitbart. I mean, basically everything that Breitbart is
stupid and there`s a reason that Friends of Hamas came out of there. And
even when Breitbart does things --
HAYES: If it got picked up on other places, let us know.
BARRO: It got -- it did get picked up other places. That`s true. But --
and that`s why nobody should pay attention to what`s in Breitbart. Of
course some people do. But I think, you know, the "National Review" is
doing some really good original reporting right now. Robert Costa who`s a
MAIR: Yes, that`s true.
BARRO: Is doing I think really outstanding work. That is getting paid
attention to not just by other conservatives, but in the media as a whole.
I think the part of the problem, though, for the right trying to develop
these media outlets is that they haven`t realized in some cases that this -
- you know, when you do bad reporting, it`s not just, you know, not useful,
it`s actually brand damaging.
So I think this is a problem for the "Daily Caller." I think you are doing
good work at the "Daily Caller", Jim, but I think there`s a lot of really
bad work coming out of the "Daily Caller" and I think that -- and I think
that interferes --
I don`t have off the top of my head, I know that I -- you know, sometimes
you go there and there will be -- there will be things that are basically,
you know, hit pieces rather than really well-reported and --
MAIR: I would just add, though, that I think that that can still be true
with "Huffington Post" and TPM also.
BARRO: It`s true for "Huffington Post."
DUPPLER: But this is like -- this is a sign of the times. Right?
MAIR: It`s true. Yes.
DUPPLER: Media is reactionary.
ANTLE: We still have quality adversarial journalism, though, at times.
BARRO: Yes, I guess. I mean there`s a difference between quality
adversarial journalism and, let`s say, cheap shots.
MAIR: I`d also just jump in here, though, and say from the perfective of
sort of looking at mainstream media, there is plenty of stuff that
mainstream overblows, gets wrong, turns into stories --
HAYES: Yes, the national deficit for instance.
Which they`ve been banging on about for two years.
MAIR: I`m sure.
HAYES: Which Mattie very correctly said does not matter.
More on the conservative media after this break.
HAYES: I think there`s this broader question, right, about like, are you
engaged in a fight or are you like -- and that brings up this question of
kind of purity and facts. Right? And I wanted to say this because I
tweeted -- this is the perfect example, right? I tweeted when the
president had this line in the press conference yesterday about, look, the
janitors who clean up after the folks that left Capitol Hill. Like they`re
going to get a pay cut.
Dana Bash, this is good solid reporting, went to the Senate sergeant-at-
arms who administer the staff of the United States Senate and said, is that
true? He said no, actually, there is a little bit of a cushion with over
time pay that we`ve actually sort of used ahead of time. So they`re not
getting a pay cut. Right?
The president was wrong about that. Right? And his wrongness, I can say
that on air because he`s wrong. Because there`s just facts of the matter
that are the case. Right? And like, there is some way of having fidelity
to that while also, like, pushing your agenda. That`s very different from,
like, Friends of Hamas, for instance.
DUPPLER: Well, I don`t feel like there`s a conflict between integrity and
purity, as you might call it. You know, there - it`s OK, I think. We`re
getting very close to saying that someone who`s ideological can`t be a
journalist, I think. And that`s not true.
HAYES: No, I don`t believe that at all.
DUPPLER: Well, exactly.
HAYES: They can be ideological as they come.
DUPPLER: Well, exactly. I think -- I think that people think that there`s
some kind of dichotomy that needs to be balanced. What we really need to
focus on is what`s happening and how people are talking -- talking to their
audience as, you know, if we`re talking -- I mean, look, what your Twitter
-- going to say now that you just said that -- the president is wrong, you
HAYES: No, people will be mad about it. Sure.
DUPPLER: Right. Everything is like reactionary now, rather than being a
little more thoughtful and maybe trying to be a little bit more independent
of what the entire context is going to be or what the audience is going to
HAYES: But I think it also has to do with whether you view yourself as
empowered or disempowered. Right? And I remember, like, I have become
more tolerant of, like, this kind of thing now that we`re not in the Bush
And I think in the Bush years I fell like I was in a bunker and I felt like
our country was doing horrifying things that were killing hundreds of
thousands of people literally and I didn`t have much tolerance for, like,
the pieties of, like, capaciousness, and like, liberal discourse. I`m not
-- I`m being totally honest. Right? Like I understand that, like, a
bunker mentality produces -- it sort of -- it produces instincts that are
much more focused on kind of winning what is -- what -- called a war than
engaging in this kind of activity of fact-finding.
MAIR: So what`s interesting about this, and I`m not going to sit here and
totally blast Breitbart either because actually I do think that there the
occasional things that you see prop up there that actually they have done a
good job of reporting out, whether it`s like the Clint Eastwood -- Clinton
Eastwood signing on to the Supreme Court anti-Prop 8 amicus brief.
HAYES: Because a true fact about the world?
A true fact about the world. It was an important story and it got picked
up all over the place because they did a good job.
HAYES: Yes. Yes.
MAIR: There are things like that they do that are totally commendable. I
think the issue here, when you talk about the war point to me is you have
strategy and you have tactics. And I think it is very easy for people to
become so focused on the tactics that they lose sight of the strategy. And
I think when I`m looking at this, you know, I pitch stories that are much
more geared towards left of center folks, much more geared towards right of
I do it all day long. But I think what`s -- what is common there is that
the stories that tend to come out the best and the people that tend to do
the best about handling them are much more focused on the strategy and the
reporting and the facts because they know that that actually moves the ball
forward. The tactical stuff is just kind of lobbing shots back and forth
over the net --
HAYES: I also think -- I also think the ACORN thing ruined a lot of media
conservative because it was this like incredibly, I thought, like gross
underhanded, I mean, I`m sure you disagree about this, but gross and
underhanded kind of like hit job that worked. It totally worked. It got
this scalp. ACORN doesn`t exist anymore largely thanks to that, although
it has its own problems before that. And I think it sent everyone chasing
down that rabbit hole, right? What`s going to be the next big, like, under
cover sting operation that destroys part of the left?
BARRO: I think there`s some of that and I think the bunker mentality has
actually led conservatives into a place where they`re misfiring
strategically because of this. Where, you know, the -- if you`re only
really reading conservative media outlets, then you don`t understand when
these hits are working and when they`re not. So I think it -- it worked
with ACORN and I think the, you know, mainstream media picked up to a
significant extent on the ACORN issue because it was interesting to people
who were not --
HAYES: Jon Stewart did a whole thing. Mary Johnston did a monologue
basically taking the entire line, hook, like, and sinker, going after
BARRO: But then you saw during the 2012 campaign, Republicans obsessing
about the Benghazi attack and I think not understanding that this wasn`t
breaking through to the public as a whole.
HAYES: Right. Josh Barro from Bloomberg View, political strategist Liz
Mair, Jim Antle from the "American Spectator" magazine, among other places,
and Mattie Duppler, Americans for Tax Reform. Thank you, I really enjoyed
DUPPLER: Thank you.
HAYES: What you should know from the news week ahead. Coming up next.
HAYES: In just a moment what you should know for the week ahead, but first
a quick update on VAWA, the Violence against Women Act. Congress this week
finally sent President Obama a bill that would reauthorize and expand VAWA.
Republicans and in particular House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had held up
the re-authorization or provisions they objected to that extended
protections to gays, lesbians, transgender people, American Indians on
tribal lands, assaulted by American citizens, and expanded protection for
House Speaker John Boehner finally caved this week and let the bill come to
a floor for a vote with those provisions intact. Eighty-seven Republicans,
just over a third of the GOP caucus, joined 199 Democrats in passing the
So what should you know for the week coming up? You should know the
Supreme Court is considering a case that could have wide ramifications for
consumers when it comes to those routine arbitration agreements most of us
blindly agree to in nearly all aspects of daily life that involves terms of
agreement and other fine print.
At issue is whether corporations, in this case American Express, can
prevent merchants from seeking damages through litigation as part of their
credit card contracts. You should know that the merchants, backed by the
Obama administration, say a ruling in favor of American Express would
prevent consumers and small businesses from banding together to pursue
You should know the U.S. government is planning to push forward with a full
prosecution and trial against Private Bradley Manning, even though Manning,
who has not offered a plea deal, pled guilty on Thursday to 10 of the 22
charges he`s facing for leaking a vast collection of classified documents
and diplomatic cables to the Web site WikiLeaks.
The charges he pleaded guilty to carries a sentence of 20 years. A
military prosecutors say they still intend to try Manning on a number of
much more serious charges including aiding the enemy and violating the
Espionage act which carries a possible sense of life in prison, no chance
You should know that in describing his own motivations, the leaked video of
a U.S. helicopter killing a Reuter photographer in Iraq, Manning said
before the court, quote, "I wanted the American public to know that not
everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that need to be neutralized.
Rather people who are struggling to live in a pressure cooker environment
or what we call in asymmetric warfare."
You should know that after 1,008 days in prison without trial and more to
come it is harder and harder to view what the government is doing to
Bradley Manning as anything other than a punitive demonstration for others
who might be tempted to expose the government`s embarrassing secrets.
Finally you should know that as people change their institutions change
with them. Some of the same Danish Muslims and Muslim groups that helped
ignite outrage and eventually violence in reaction to cartoons of Muhammad
there back in 2006 are not only recanting, they`re coming to the defense of
one of those virulent and viral critics. Anti-Islam writer Lars Hedegaard
was shot at earlier this month.
The "New York Times" report that Copenhagen`s Islamic society now not only
regrets its role in whipping up outrage over the cartoon but said about the
shooting, quote, "political and religious violence" is totally
You should know they`re right.
We`re going to find out what my guests think we should know for the week
coming up. I will begin with you, Bryan Stevenson.
BRYAN STEVENSON, EQUAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE: Well, we`ve been talking a lot
about voting rights this week, with the Supreme Court case, and today of
course is the anniversary of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
I think you should know that there are nearly six million people in this
country who have lost the right to vote as a result of a criminal
In many states, we permanently ban people from voting even after they paid
their debt to society, even though they had violated no other laws and --
during the course of their life. And it`s very dramatic. It has a huge
impact from racial minorities, states like Florida, where 1.5 million
people have lost the right to both, a half a million African-Americans,
states like Virginia where half a million people lost their right to vote,
a quarter of a million African-Americans.
This is a civil rights issue. My state of Alabama, 30 percent of all black
men have permanently lost the right to vote. It`s a critical issue if
we`re going to be honest about voting rights.
HAYES: Yes. Absolutely. Mattea?
KRAMER: You show know that on March 27th our nation`s temporary federal
budget will expire. It`s going to be another hyped fiscal deadline for
sure but it is also an opportunity. So here`s a plan that would be wildly
popular with the American public and would also reduce deficits which we
know is at the top of Washington`s agenda list right now so here it is.
Make strategic cuts to the military. We`re talking about cutting waste and
actually tailoring our forces to 21st century threats.
Then deal with healthcare costs. I`m not talking about cutting benefits.
I`m talking about changing the way we pay for healthcare, from fee-for-
KRAMER: To pay for performance. Then close tax loopholes. There`s no
reason that anybody should get a tax deduction for buying a second or third
home, or buying a yacht and then calling it a home.
KRAMER: And finally spend more on education. Spend more on infrastructure
investment and roads and bridges and schools across this country to give
the economy the boost that it needs right now.
HAYES: David Sirota?
DAVID SIROTA, SALON.COM: You should know that the best way to understand
the sequestration is not to think back to Clinton and Gingrich which, of
course, everyone is going to tell, the Clinton/Gingrich budget showdown.
You should think back to a most recent example. California.
What`s happened in California is they were basically forced into a
sequestration because they had big budget deficits. They had to cut.
Governor Jerry Brown there essentially allowed those cuts to go forward in
order to then make the case for tax increases. They now have a surplus and
he is one of the most popular governors in that state in recent history.
HAYES: Roberto Lovato?
LOVATO: You should know that Attorney General Eric Holder will be making
an announcement on the Colorado and Washington marijuana laws, and he says
he`s going to consider the, quote-unquote, "international ramifications" so
we should be looking for what he says about the 60,000 dead in Mexico, the
other thousands of dead in Colombia, the failure of a $1 trillion drug war
since 1971 and its international ramifications denounced by presidents
throughout the hemisphere.
HAYES: I want to thank my guests today. Bryan Stevenson from the Equal
Justice Initiative, Mattea Kramer from the National Priorities Project,
David Sirota, author of "Back to Our Future," and Roberto Lovato from
Thank you all. Thank you for joining us. We`re back next weekend,
Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time.
Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. On today`s "MHP," the price of
profits. Wall Street bonuses are up, bank profits are back to near-record
territory and the civil trial against BP, the 2010 oil spill is finally
under way. That has been vastly undercovered. You`re going to want to
check that out. That and Women`s History Month next on "MHP."
We`ll see you next weekend here UP.
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UP WITH CHRIS HAYES