UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
March 10, 2013
Guests: Michael Moynihan, Greg Grandin, Alejandro Velasco, Sujatha Fernandes, Michael Shifter, Victoria Murillo, Deepak Bhargava, Raj Date, Bob Ney, Alexis Goldstein
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Venezuelan officials announced yesterday that an election to replace Hugo
Chavez is scheduled for April 14th. More on Chavez and his legacy in just
And President Obama has reportedly decided to nominate assistant U.S.
Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez to be the next secretary of
Labor. Now, I want to start with my story of the week beyond good and
evil. On Tuesday night after a word broke that Venezuela`s president of 14
years Hugo Chavez had died, it didn`t take long for the thunderous and
hyperbolic condemnations to roll in from right-wing commentators,
politicians, pundits and Twitterers.
Chavez was "... parroting Cuban caudillo Fidel Castro`s personal life and
party line ..." "A human rights violator extraordinaire ...", "the latest
in the long line of caudillos, the strongmen who have been the scourge of
Spanish America." And Fox News Greg Gutfeld called Chavez out an air for
being a bad man who demonized America. My personal favorite was right-wing
strategist Alex Castellanos, arguing with someone who took exception to his
celebration of Chavez`s death by saying "I have no respect for Hitlers, do
you?" All of that instant condemnation made me wonder about how we go
about evaluating leaders from other countries and what it says about us as
Americans, winners of the natural lottery, that make us citizens of the
world`s lone superpower.
In 2003, Gallup asked people if they knew the name of the current Russian
president. And 40 percent volunteered correctly the name Vladimir Putin.
Over 70 percent knew the leader of Cuba was Fidel Castro, but only six
percent correctly named the prime minister of our neighbor to the north,
Canada, who was at that time Jean Chretien, now Stephen Harper. If the
average American citizen knows of a world leader, the odds are it`s because
he has been cast as a villain in our national drama. Many of the people we
cast in that role are truly monsters. Saddam Hussein comes to mind. But
what kind of knowledge is it to know simply and only that someone somewhere
is a bad guy?
There are two different kinds of understanding one might have of a foreign
leader or nation. One is a body of substantive knowledge about a country
and its politics, the institutions that constrain or define its political
life, its history and culture and the very strains of public opinion and
national myth that shape what happens there. And then there`s a
determination about whether said leader is good or bad that resembles in
its own strange way the movie critics ultimate judgment, thumbs up or
And it occurred to me in the wake of Chavez`s death that when it comes to
the leaders of the rest of the world, we are -- most of us -- critics who
haven`t even seen the movie. I couldn`t tell you a whole lot about Russian
politics, honestly, how elections work, how federalized its system is, the
basics of its constitutional structure, but I know that Putin is a
repressive thug. In other words, I know relatively very little about
Russia, except I do know whether I approve of its leader.
When you stop and think about it, that`s a bit odd. Remember a few years
back when I was -- I spent a week in Turkey and talked to a wide range of
folks on that, about Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is
in Turkey both a deeply polarizing and popular figure, who`s led the
democratic nation for 11 years. He is a populist of sorts who many urbane
liberal Turks I met compared to George W. Bush in his bluster and reliance
on a highly religious, socially conservative base. But he`s also managed
to establish the primacy of civilian government over the Turkish military
in a way that seemed to me both unprecedented and transformative for a
nation that had witnessed three military coups since the days of Ataturk.
And as the trip wrapped up, I remember thinking at some point that I was
somehow failing because I wasn`t able to come up with a simple judgment.
Where do I stand on Erdogan, thumbs up or thumbs down?
And I felt the same way after spending a week in China, where the
complexities of the Chinese state managed to shatter almost every category
of analysis I had going in. When I got back from China and people asked
what I thought, my response was invariably, it`s complicated.
To say another country or another country`s leadership record is
complicated is not to issue an apology for wrongdoing. We shouldn`t simply
be neutral in the face of beatings and disappearances and state repression
and bullying, but condemnation and outrage are no substitute for knowledge
about the world and other country`s politics, which are tangled and
complicated just like our own. And I can`t help but think there`s a
relationship between our tendency to know nothing about a country other
than if they are bad or not and the fact we spend more money on defense
than the next 13 countries combined. If all we see are Hitlers, we will
forever be at war.
So rather than render a final judgment on Chavez`s legacy I want to explore
where he really lies in the contested ground between villain and saint.
So, joining me today are Michael Moynihan, cultural news editor for
"Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast." Alejandro Velasco, author of "We Are
Still Rebels: The Challenge of Popular History in Bolivarian Venezuela."
Professor of Latin American Studies at NYU. Greg Grandin, NYU history
professor, author of "Empire`s Workshop: Latin America, the United States
and the Rise of New Imperialism", "The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin
America During Cold War" and "The Blood of Guatemala: a History of Race and
Nation." And Sujatha Fernandes, author of "Who Can Stop the Drums, urban
social movements in Chavez`s Venezuela," associate professor of sociology
at Queens College and Tunie (ph) graduate center.
All right, so, where does Chavez lie? I think the first question that I
think a lot of people want to litigate, I think, rightly so, is on this
line between absolute authoritarian, totalitarian state with a secret
service and people in Gulags and I don`t know what our most shining example
of liberal democracy is, Scandinavia or something like that, if those are
the polls, I think where Chavez -- what -- what should we call what Chavez
was, the political system that he helped shape in Venezuela, which was
quite different upon his exit than it was when he went in, including what
the actual constitution was, term limits, et cetera, the number of houses
in the legislature, which were shrunk from two to one, right? What should
we -- what do we call that? What do we -- how should we think about what
that is? Alejandro.
ALEJANDRO VELASCO, AUTHOR, WE ARE STILL REBELS": I would say it`s a work
VELASCO: So, as you mentioned, he takes power in 1999 after being swept
into office on the wave of severe discontent with the prior 40 years of
government, liberal democracy, two-party democracy. In an oil country
where the revenues of oil were not distributed even a semblance with
equality. And what he begins is to implement a process that he called
participatory democracy. Eventually, it became a Bolivarian revolution
(ph), and then eventually over time it became a socialist revolution. But
basically, at the heart of it were two questions, who controls the oil
industry and to what uses are the revenues of that industry going to go?
In an oil country, which Venezuela is and sometimes we sort of don`t really
have a sense of what this means, but to internalize what an oil country is,
those two questions shape the rest of the political environment. And what
Chavez did when he first came into office, was to say, well, the oil
industry which at that time had gone through a process of re-privatization
after the its nationalization in 1976 should actually be -- should come
back into the service of the Venezuelan people. And he did that by
strengthening OPEC. He did that by forging renewed alliances with OPEC
nation like Iran, like Libya, like ...
HAYES: And he also nationalized the oil.
VELASCO: He re-nationalized ...
HAYES: Right, right.
VELASCO: It`s already been nationalized. But then the other question was,
well, then, now that we have sort of renewed control of our industry,
which, of course, created a tremendous battle internally ...
HAYES: Sure, right.
VELASCO: But what do we do with those revenues that are now coming in?
And that`s where you see through the rise of social programs and then a
really renewed consciousness about what should an oil industry do, which is
basically to provide for its citizens.
HAYES: But you also see a centralization of power, right? I mean, you
see, and obviously, oil is part of that. Right? I mean once you control
oil revenue in a country that is entirely dependent or largely dependent on
that oil revenue, you have a lot more power, just like a general factual
matter. But also the consolidation of - I mean he packed the court, he
expanded the number of his people that were on the court, he under -- he
passed laws that could give fines to opposition media. I mean, there were
- Michael, you ...
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, THE DAILYBEAST.COM: They very often did, yeah.
HAYES: Yeah, I mean you wrote a (inaudible) piece. Yeah, I mean you`re
not a fan of him. And I thought it was interesting, though. Greg wrote a
piece that was, I think, quite laudatory. I think, you know, complicated
but laudatory. You wrote a piece that was quite critical, but you both
have paragraphs in your pieces -- you say -- you say he was a strongman,
you used this term. And you say he wasn`t a dictator, but he was -- but he
was no democrat.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: He was no democrat. Sure. And words mean things. You
see, show people up on the front here saying, he`s a dictator, he`s like
Hitler. No, he`s not. Good God. You can go to Venezuela, you can be in
the opposition, you can read "El Nacional," "Liberta" (ph), you can see
these newspapers, that said, it is a very tough business. All you need to
do is look at Human Rights Launch, the community to protect journalists,
Amnesty. All these places, Freedom House, not right-wing organizations
saying, oh, you know, we -- despise socialism and redistribution of wealth.
Regardless of what he`s doing with and whether that`s a bright way of
redistributing wealth, that`s fine. But whether or not this has produced
an authoritarian country or a country with authoritarian tendencies is a
different issue. I mean when I was in Venezuela in March with some people,
some cameramen who had never been down there, we were in the office of the
newspaper and Chavez was on the TV, with a cadena (ph), something, and no
supporter of Chavez that he would ever allow in the United States. And the
brief explanation, it`s when the government requires all radio and
television stations to carry a message from the president, which can last
up to eight hours. That has existed prior to Chavez, but this is mostly is
for emergencies and stuff. So, the journalists started flipping the
channels and everywhere was Chavez. And the field saying -- this is a very
bizarre thing for people in the United States. In that type of thing, is,
you know, no, the ballot boxes aren`t stuffed.
MOYNIHAN: And you can verify these elections for sure. But, you know,
prior to the election is when you say, well, this isn`t exactly a Western
democracy here when the airwaves are dominated by ...
GREG GRANDIN, AUTHOR, "EMPIRE`S WORKSHOP": Just to go back to this
question of media, again, that`s what happened -- what people think happens
or what actually happens on the grounds. And the fact is that the state
controls about five percent of radio and TV stations. 70 percent is in the
hands -- of private hands. And maybe 25 is in the hands of these community
stations that have sprouted up. Ratings overwhelmingly skewed towards
either private or cable. And cable actually -- the cable stations don`t
have to, especially if they broadcast, Fox and ...
MOYNIHAN: It`s very hard in poor communities. I mean if you go into
Patanemo, you`re not going to be ...
GRANDIN: But that said, going back to the question about how do we explain
this, and it`s complicated, how do we think of that complexity, I think one
of the way to think about it, is think historically. So, what you have in
Venezuela was complete collapse of the old two-party system. That was an
exclusive system. It was founded on corruption and exclusion and didn`t --
didn`t incorporate the interests or the participation or meet the basic
needs of the majority of the population, particularly during the last ten
decades of that system, which completely implodes in 1998. Chavez emerges
from that, emerges from -- representing a very broad coalition. And it
wasn`t -- he called it coalition, it could have taken different shapes at
different times. It was not focused. And because he fairly quickly
established rhetorical hegemony, and then electoral hegemony, again, he ran
-- he won, I think, something -- four -- he won four elections himself,
five if you count the recall. His national agenda won 14 out of 15
elections by wide margins, while greatly expanding the electorate. But
because it was electoral hegemony and rhetorical hegemony, he actually
didn`t confront the kind of pockets of privilege of the old regime and
corruption of the old regime. And why didn`t he do that? For two reasons,
one -- oil money to a large degree allowed him to play a broker.
GRANDIN: In other -- in other -- this is Venezuelan exceptionalism. Other
countries that had this kind of breakdown and reformation ...
HAYES: Don`t have the oil revenue, right.
GRANDIN: Would have -- a rising political coalition would have been forced
to choose between the old political class, the new social movements, the
military. Chavez because of his old skills didn`t have to. Just ...
HAYES: Right. Right.
GRANDIN: So, setting aside his own personal motivations of whether he was
a good or bad person ...
GRANDIN: Venezuela might be the most democratic country in the hemisphere
because of the social movements that support him, which he never repressed.
That -- they -- there`s something approximating ...
HAYES: Well, but that the -- that`s a little tautological statement to
say, the social movements that support him, which he never repressed.
Well, why would you repress social movements -- the test is whether -- how
democratic a country is, isn`t whether the leader represses the social
movements that`s for him, it`s whether the leader represses the social
movements that oppose him.
GRANDIN: No, no, that`s what I`m saying. So, if you look at the history
of Latin America - Juan Peron came to power -- I mean there`s a history of
left-wing military populist.
GRANDIN: Chavez is the only one who actually didn`t turn, within a couple
HAYES: Oh, I see what you`re saying.
GRANDIN: The other thing is -- so if he had created -- if he had presided
over a consolidating state we would have had something like the tree in
Mexico where those social movements would have been vertically ...
HAYES: I want to talk about this -- you`ve been talking about rhetoric and
I want to talk about the aesthetics of all this. Because I think that, you
know, that`s the least important part from the perspective of how I look at
it, right? That`s the thing that makes -- that (inaudible) me out the
most, is like -- is all the aesthetics of what looks to me like a dictator.
He`s not a dictator, but the eight-hour speeches, the kind of cult of
personality that`s grown up around him, the fact he`s going to be embalmed
and put on display. And Sujatha -- I want you to talk about that right
after we take this break.
SUJATHA FERNANDES, AUTHOR, "WHO CAN STOP THE DRUMS": Sure.
HAYES: All right, Chavez first comes to national prominence as the leader
of a failed coup in 1992. And he`s allowed to address the nation as part
of the kind of bargaining that happens to make sure the coup doesn`t go
forward. This kind of exchange. OK, we`re going to call this off, but you
get to say your piece. And he any -- he addresses the nation in a moment
that would make him famous and sort of announce him to Venezuelans. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. HUGO CHAVEZ (translated): Regrettably, for now, our stated
objectives, were not achieved in the capital city. That is to say, that we
in Caracas did not manage to control power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It is incredibly brassy move having been busted about to do a coup
to say "regrettably, for now, our stated objectives we`re not achieved in
the capital city," when you`re about to be put in prison. I mean and this
is the beginning of this -- of him as this outsized figure in Venezuelan
FERNANDES: Yes. And I think what you`re saying about the culture -
earlier you were saying about the culture of his long speeches, the mass
rallies, the big placards, there`s very much a sort of a cult of this
figure of Hugo Chavez. And I think that this goes along with this
concentration of the power in the figure of the executive, which is
something else. He really did expand the power of that particular office,
more than had existed previously. But I think what makes the presidency of
Hugo Chavez sort of interesting and conflicting in a way is that at the
same time as he did this, he was using these mechanisms of electoral
democracy. He was running for election, he stood, you know, at a- as a
recall referendum. He reformed the constitution. He sought to bring about
that change through the constitution. And so there were all of these ways
within through the electoral sphere he was seeking to bring about change.
HAYES: Right. But he was also doing things like - you know, allied judges
were striking the opposition leaders off candidate lists. You know, there
was a degree to which the deck was a bit stacked in those elections, the
opponents argue, right?
FERNANDES: Right. And I`m not going to defend those things he did. I`m
just -- I`m going to say that at the same time as he was doing those
things, he was also opening spaces at the grassroots. And I think what
Greg had said earlier about social movements, and it`s not just that it was
social movements that supported him. It was an extremely heterogeneous
range of movements that went from a vast, you know, 200 to 300 community
radio stations that had sprung up by the mid 2000s, it was cultural
movements, it was all kind of movements that had roots going back to the
`60s and `70s. And not all of which identified as Chavez supporters.
HAYES: So, this is a big question, I think, and I want to bring in Augusto
Montiel, a member of Chavez`s ruling United Socialist Party in the
Venezuela National Assembly joining us live from Caracas. And Augusto,
thank you for joining us. And I think the question here is, can Chavez ...
AUGUSTO MONTIEL, MEMBER OF UNITED SOCIALIST PARTY IN THE VENEZUELA NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY: Good morning.
HAYES: Can chavismo and what some of the people at table are talking about
MONTIEL: Oh, yes. Yes.
HAYES: I think we lost him, actually. Do we have him? All right.
Augusto, are you there with us?
MONTIEL: I`m here.
HAYES: OK, sorry. The question is whether Chavismo can outlive Chavez?
HAYES: OK, sorry, we have obviously a technical connection there, so I`ll
throw it out to you at the table, because I have four people here. So,
whether this -- whether that the institutions that have been built are
strong enough to have something beyond the cult of personality when that
personality is now no longer ...
VELASCO: Well, this gets back to your original question, was he a
democrat, where does he lie within that line. I think by the standards of
what we understand by liberal democracy, we might say for all the reasons
that you`ve mentioned, that that record is suspect. On the other hand, I
think what was at stake in Venezuela was a precisely redefinition of what
democracy can or should be. And in this context the kind of social
movements that not only sprung up, but also that -- that had existed as
Sujatha mentioned before, you know, one of the really fascinating things
about those movements is, when you think about -- when you talk to folks in
these movements, they are the ones who have the most sharp -- the sharpest
criticism about the government. Actually, you find in those movements.
People who talk about corruption at the state level. People who talk about
inefficiencies in terms of the social programs, people who talk about the
need to go beyond the -- sort of the figure of the leader, et cetera, et
cetera. But they also had a very sort of symbiotic relationship with
Chavez, (inaudible) with Chavez as opposed to those who came before and
those who represented the opposition. At the very least, they had an
opportunity to try to experiment with local governance and other types of
HAYES: And it seems like the thing that facilitated this, Michael, -- when
you read accounts of Chavez, I was saying this before we went on the air,
but even like in supposedly neutral accounts, right? When you read
supposedly -- even supposedly neutral accounts - there is a sense in which
-- the fact that he used oil revenue to support programs for the poor, the
Missiones (ph) that provided education and health care, and the whole range
of things. But that was like cheating, right? That his popularity was
somehow not on the up and up because part of it was just the basic function
of redistributing oil revenue to the poor. But that strikes me as like
what a government should do.
MOYNIHAN: Well, I mean the Norwegians do with their ...
FERNANDES: Yes, and the Alaskans.
MOYNIHAN: Sovereign wealth funds and everything, and you know.
Incidentally, you know, everyone goes on about Chavez here. Nobody is
looking at socialism in Denmark -- there`s something specific about this,
on Chavez, note. It is that bluster, it is that sort of anti-Americanism
or the rest of it. I would say this about the oil. And "The Economist"
had a really interesting chart and something I noticed and economists had
pointed out for the past four or five years is that even this isn`t a
sustainable model for Venezuela.
MOYNIHAN: This is the problem.
MOYNIHAN: It is great - and I don`t think anyone is going to - maybe some
people do that, you know, oil revenue should trickle down from - not just
the (inaudible) bourgeoisie or the bourgeoisie down to the people in slums
or that aren`t wealthy. The interesting thing is when Chavez came to
power, oil was $10 a barrel.
HAYES: Right. We have this chart here.
MOYNIHAN: He came in 2008, it came up to - it was $140 a barrel. So, I
mean, where is the parallel economy outside of oil? Well, there really
isn`t one. And, you know, Venezuela even imports oil sometimes, too.
MOYNIHAN: Production has dropped off significantly. Et cetera, et cetera.
HAYES: Yeah, I want to talk about - I want to go back to this question, to
pivot from this kind of politics to the question of economic management,
because there`s a whole bunch of economic ills that plague Venezuela. I
mean there are economic ills that plague any country. We have eight
percent unemployment, but there`s very high inflation, it`s quite a high
budget deficit, which is particularly high given the context of oil being
as high as it is, and it is an economy that is very reliant on oil. I want
to talk about the economic management under Chavez right after we take this
HAYES: Economic management of Chavez in Venezuela, you know, it`s a
country that`s very dependent on oil revenue, but there are a lot of - you
know, critics will say and I think even left critics, right, people that
are looking at it not from an ideological opposition to what Chavez was
doing, but even grounded in the left, look at the economic management and
look at the inflation numbers, the massive crime explosion that`s happened
in Caracas to the point where the government stopped publishing figures,
and the budget deficit and the real dependence on oil and lack of a kind of
-- any sort of export sector and look at all that and say, this was not --
this is a failed experiment from the perspective of just economic
management. Forget all the stuff about caudilloism.
GRANDIN: Right. Well, obviously, this problem, it`s -- every country has
problems economically. And in terms of crime, you can take a look at
Tegucigalpa, Guatemala cities, Sao Paolo, murder rates are high, they are
not as high as Caracas ...
HAYES: But in Caracas they went up quite a bit, right? I mean - that
means that ...
GRANDIN: I think there was an understanding that if you just dealt with
social issues, crime would take care of itself, and it did not.
GRANDIN: And part of it has to do with this incredibly mismatch of
administrative structure of the police, where there`s like five or six
police divisions within the city of Caracas with five different mayors (ph)
fighting each other. It`s not Chavez running it.
GRANDIN: That`s one thing. But going back to the economics. There`s some
inflation. Inflation is running at 22 percent. It was 30 something, it
was 30 percent in the decades before Chavez on average.
GRANDIN: And inflation in itself isn`t a problem if salaries keep up with
it. That pumping an enormous amount of money into the economy, and it`s
raising salaries to some degree. And I mean, look, they weathered the
2008. I mean, there was a little bit of downtick, and they got 13 straight
quarters of growth since. I`m not saying things are great, but sometimes
people say that Venezuela is the most lied about country. And certainly
among -- the sky`s been falling now in terms of economics for 14 years.
The other thing that was ...
HAYES: Let me just say, though, for 22 percent - 22 percent inflation is -
- I mean, I understand this is in the context of a country that has -- that
is dependent on oil revenue and a continent that has seen high inflation
throughout the years, right, and much of the neoliberal program that was
put in place in the 1990s, that was the big thing they went after, right?
HAYES: But 22 percent inflation is that, it`s 22 percent inflation.
GRANDIN: It`s bad, yeah.
MOYNIHAN: ... lost 20 percent of its value this month.
MOYNIHAN: This is -- and you rename it after this happens in a great
Orwellian touch to rename the bolivar to the bolivar (inaudible), the
strong bolivar, as it`s shedding value.
GRANDIN: But that`s a devaluation, one of the things they`re trying to do
is lower the value in order to stop and to cultivate and nurture domestic
industry. It`s not - this - it`s -- there`s problems.
HAYES: Right. Right.
GRANDIN: Being dependent ...
HAYES: But it actually was - I mean the interesting thing is that the
currency was overvalued, right? I mean that was part of the problem.
MOYNIHAN: That was a bad time.
HAYES: Right. Yeah.
GRANDIN: Absolutely. Being dependent on oil is a problem. But it`s not a
problem, I think, particularly to Chavez, I don`t think it`s - I don`t
think the sky -- I mean, Michael said it wasn`t sustainable. I don`t
understand why it`s not sustainable. They have 500 billion barrels of oil,
300 billion proven ...
HAYES: Well, we`re going to burn the planet if we take all of that out of
HAYES: It`s not sustainable for that reason.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wind farms, come on.
GRANDIN: I guess I would always come back to, his economic management was
ratified in a series of elections. Venezuelans themselves think - that - I
mean they, well, they choose, right? And all polls, the Earth Institute at
HAYES: George W. Bush`s foreign policy management was ratified in an
election, and I dissent from that ratification.
GRANDIN: Right. But all I`m saying is - if you go back to the frame
beyond good and evil, it`s this --
HAYES: No, no, I`m just saying -- here`s one thing. One is, the record of
economic management, right, and then the broader question is, what`s the
trajectory of it? Because there`s a sense that I think imbues a lot of the
writing about Chavez, again from people that are more disposed to be
sympathetic than just sort of ideological combatants of this kind of
dissolution in the last -- right? That there was something that was
working. And that in the last three or four years, that there`s been kind
of dissolution, and that dissolution is seen in crime, that dissolution is
seen in inflation. The trajectory of the country and the country`s
economic stewardship is not in an upward trajectory but instead down.
GRANDIN: You know, I kind of was thinking that before the last election.
I was kind of, oh, you know, oh, things have gone really wrong. And
basically it`s because I stopped paying attention for a little while. I
was actually kind of blown away by the election. And I was actually
HAYES: He was re-elected in 2012 with about 55 percent of the vote.
MOYNIHAN: This is narrowing and narrowing. 45 percent of the vote to the
HAYES: Let me just say this, 45 percent of the vote against him is another
mark in the not a dictator, right? No dictator lets 45 percent of the
people - you don`t eke out 10 percent --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not Kurdistan (ph).
HAYES: And it`s not Saddam Hussein`s 100 percent.
VELASCO: But two points to that. One of the striking things about the
election in October of last year is that even the opposition, its primary
domestic program, its primary domestic campaign was to deepen the social
programs. To -- the critique was the problem with the social missions
isn`t the missions. The problem with the social missions is that they`re
run inefficiently. And again, here is where I come back to the point I
made before, that even within the Chavista movement, social movement, they
understood the inefficiencies, and so they were trying to move and create
experiments, and try to articulate a new kind of accountability, what they
called (speaking Spanish), social accountability, et cetera, et cetera, to
have much more tight control at the local level of how those resources were
And in terms of the sort of the upward trajectory or the narrowing of the
gap, the trouble is that we don`t really have a measure, a good measure of
what the electoral ceiling is for the opposition. Because don`t forget,
the last electoral contest that they ran in 2006, they had done so with a
divided opposition that really didn`t trust the electoral council at that
point. So, the huge margin that he saw in 2006 was in part because we --
they didn`t really -- the sectors of the opposition didn`t really trust
each (ph) other (ph).
HAYES: Let me just show to give benchmarks in terms of GDP per capita from
2003 to 2011. Brazil, 5 percent increase. Again, when we say Brazil
actually has its own kind of resource set up with soy and ethanol. So
Colombia, Venezuela is up 3 percent. And then poverty level, this is
really fascinating, and of course this is the signature economic
accomplishment, which is that the poverty level in Venezuela goes from 62
percent in 2003 to 32 percent in 2011, which is you know, a 30 percentage
GRANDIN: And that`s GDP, that does not include the massive social
spending. That doesn`t include education. That doesn`t include health
care. That`s just GDP. It`s amazing.
HAYES: I want to turn to the role that Chavez played in the world, because
I think part of the reason that Americans know Chavez is because he was one
of the most voluble and visible critics of the Bush presidency. And also
just played this sort of outsized role on the world stage. And we`ll talk
about that right after this break.
HAYES: For the years of the last decade that Hugo Chavez was one of the
most visible foils to George W. Bush, here`s just a little montage of
Chavez taking shots at George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGO CHAVEZ (through translator): This gentleman that you have as
president that walks like, what`s his name, this cowboy, John Wayne, John
Wayne, yes, sir, I am John Wayne.
Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of
sulfur still today. The president of the United States, the gentleman to
whom I refer to as the devil, came here.
You are a donkey, Mr. Danger (ph). You are a donkey, George W. Bush. You
are a donkey, Mr. Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s -- what is the reference there to Mr. Danger?
GRANDIN: Well, Chavez dropped that reference after a while, but it comes
from a 1940-something novel by Gallegos (ph), I forgot his first name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ramon Gallegos (ph).
GRANDIN: (inaudible), and Mr. Danger was a character. He was a blue-eyed
Texan who laid around on his ranch and his hammock all day and shot
alligators. So it`s a perfect example of you know, that was a historical
reference that Chavez -- he wasn`t just calling Bush Mr. Danger out of
nowhere. And not too many people in the United States would have known
HAYES: There`s this kind of counter-hegemony that Chavez said that he was
building, and obviously he was very close to Fidel Castro, he just took
(ph) his medical care there, but he was also, I think much more
problematically from where my politics sit, he was close to Ahmadinejad,
and had this strategic alliance with Iran, he -- there is pictures of him
holding the hand of Gadhafi, he was quite equivocal about when you want to
talk about democratic movements, about the democratic movements of the Arab
Spring, because he was, he had relationships - and part of it is
realpolitik, but it also seems like what - again, does anything outlive
Chavez in terms to trying to create some counter hegemony to the U.S. after
VELASCO: Well, I mean, I don`t know if you saw, but Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva, the former president of Brazil, had a really astonishing op-ed a
couple of days ago in which he said one of the major legacies of Chavez was
precisely to sort of give impetus to a sense of autonomy by the region, and
that has been undeniable, even by people who would otherwise be (inaudible)
known as the good left in the region. On the other hand, in terms of the
relationships with these unsavory characters, and it`s not just
realpolitik, it`s actual interests. I mean, the thing that they have in
common is they are all part of OPEC, right? And so, you know, in terms of
this broader project of trying to give new teeth to OPEC, especially after
the 1990s period of low oil prices, very -- a lot of violations of the
code, et cetera, et cetera, this was a part of that policy.
HAYES: And also in terms of interest, right? The oil Venezuela sells to
the U.S. never stopped, right? Like no matter what he said --
VELASCO: It stopped one time and it stopped during the oil strike.
HAYES: Right, right. But under Chavez--
MOYNIHAN: I mean, this is where America`s funding Chavez`s revolution.
HAYES: Right. There`s a symbiosis there, too. I mean, that`s the whole
MOYNIHAN: It`s amusing to watch those clips. There are less amusing
clips, as you point out. The praise of people, not even OPEC people,
Robert Mugabe, a great freedom fighter, a great hero. I don`t know if you
saw the photo, it was on television at one point, of his casket flanked by
Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, one of the most horrifying dictators left,
and a real dictator, by the way.
HAYES: Right. A genuine dictator.
MOYNIHAN: And Ahmadinejad on the other side. These are obviously not just
sort of ordinary, unsavory characters. I mean, giving oil and providing
oil to Syria, to fund --
HAYES: And defending Assad, right?
MOYNIHAN: I mean, this is problematic. I don`t know how one can defend
this. The relationship between Latin American countries and Cuba, OK, I
don`t accept it in any way and we`ll see what happens. If Cuba would have
atrophied even more had it not been supplied with Venezuelan oil for the
past 10 years. But no, these other people, and the list is very long.
HAYES: Let me say this, though. There was some belligerence at some point
with Colombia. There was some talk about sending troops, there was - but
there were no wars, right? When you--
MOYNIHAN: Did he not fund FARC when it suited him or not? Sometimes he
would kick people out.
HAYES: I`m just saying. When you go, and St. Peter`s up there and you go
to meet him and he has got the ledger out about your foreign policy, right,
to me it`s like the first thing is, how many wars did you start? Which is
not to excuse, like oh, well, he didn`t start wars and it`s OK--
MOYNIHAN: And it`s OK to fund the war in Syria with oil? It`s not a war -
GRANDIN: I don`t feel like I have to defend -- I mean, I have no -- no
interest in defending any of these relationships. It is true that Latin
America has struggled to have its own foreign policy in the shadow of the
United States. This is a region that had 41 -- the U.S. changed
governments in Latin America between 1898 and 1994, 41 times. And
basically, you know, there`s realpolitik, there`s interest, and it goes
back. Allende was close with Gadhafi.
HAYES: So here is this one thing I want to talk about, precisely the pivot
that you`ve brought up, which is an amazing thing happened, which is this
sort of period of benign neglect again after 2001 with U.S. policy toward
Latin America, and either coincidentally or causally, a real transformation
happened in the continent`s politics, and I want to sort of zoom out and
look at that, which is really one of the most remarkable stories in the
globe in the last 10 or 15 years. We don`t talk about -- precisely because
so much of our attention has been focused on Asia and the Middle East in
the wake of 2001. Michael Moynihan of the Daily Beast, Alejandro Velasco,
author of "We Are Still Rebels: The Challenge of Popular History in
Bolivarian Venezuela," thank you for joining us this morning.
VELASCO: Thank you.
HAYES: What we can learn from Latin America`s shift to the left next.
HAYES: Hugo Chavez was one of the most well known leaders in America, in
Latin America in the last decade and a half, but he was just part of a much
broader trend that happened there in a transformation of the continent`s
politics. Joining us now to discuss that are Victoria Murillo, author of
"Labor Unions, Partisan Coalitions and Market Reforms in Latin America."
Also professor of political science in the School of International Public
Affairs at Columbia University. Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-
American Dialogue, a North and South American think tank, whose corporate
donors include business and financial leaders with a committed interest in
And what happened in Latin America is remarkable. Chavez gets all the
attention in the U.S. because he goes on, you know, TV and says, "Mr. Bush,
you`re a donkey," but there was across the continent an election of a
series of leaders from left-of-center parties, left coalitions. Lula
Inacio - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, of course, Nestor Carlos
Kirchner in Argentina, and then his wife, Cristina Kirchner. Evo Morales
in Bolivia, who is a totally fascinating figure. I used to joke that if
Evo Morales can get elected in Bolivia, no one anymore anywhere can say
only in America. Because if a cocalero, a dark-skinned cocalero can be
elected in Bolivia, you really -- the boot strap story is not exclusively
America`s. Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado in Ecuador. Correa of course was
in the news very recently in terms of offering amnesty to Julian Assange,
who is now holed up in the British embassy. Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay,
Ricardo Lagos in Chile, and Michelle Bachelet in Chile as well.
So there was this remarkable transformation. I guess the first thing, how
do we think about what happened in Latin America in this last decade? It`s
very rare I think to see a continent`s politics move in step like that. In
Europe it`s not the case that, you know, oh, all the central left parties
win over some period of time. Right? The Germans, well, might elect some
Christian Democrats, the Italians might have a conservative. But in Latin
America, there did seem to be a real mass trajectory of the voting
population there, and I wonder how you, Victoria, understand that?
VICTORIA MURILLO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I mean, there were
exceptions, this is not a total--
HAYES: Of course. Uribe and--
MURILLO: But it really coincides with a period of the commodity boom.
This is a region which had long-standing inequalities, so the demand for
redistribution has existed for a long period. It became more acute during
the 1990s when the period of adjustment and inequality increased.
HAYES: Explain what adjustment means, because that has a very specific
meaning. What do you mean by adjustment in the 1990s?
MURILLO: So Latin America of the 1990s was current (ph) Europe, I guess.
You remember there was a debt crisis in 1982, all these governments
suffered very strong fiscal crises. They were demanded to repay their
debt, very much the situation we`re seeing in Greece these days. And so
they were -- a lot of these governments, regardless of if they were elected
in the left or the right, ended up adopting policies that were restricting
MURILLO: Austerity policies that were very hard on the population. So, we
see an increase in inequality in a region that traditionally had very high
levels of inequality.
HAYES: This is the sort of backlash in neoliberalism and the IMF program
that was called structural adjustment at the time, which basically the IMF
said, you know, we will write down your debt, or forgive your debt, of
discount your debt if you do the following, and the following are balance
your budget, and cut social services, et cetera. Is that, Michael Shifter,
is that your understanding of this sort of reaction to neoliberalism and
what happened in the continent in the last decade?
SHIFTER: Right. I think that what happened was that set of prescriptions,
actually some of them have been implemented very successfully in Latin
America, but they forgot about the social equity question, which is a
crucial component. And that was picked up in Latin America. So the
emphasis on the social agenda is something that`s characterized the last
decade. As Vicky said, you can`t understand the last decade. It actually
started in 2003, the tremendous growth in Latin America. This has been a
very, very good decade for Latin America. High growth rates, reduction in
poverty. And not only in poverty, in equality. The Achilles heel of Latin
America, in a number of countries. This has been a very, very good decade,
and distancing from the United States. That`s the other characteristic.
HAYES: Yes. I want to talk about how much of a role that played and this
idea of kind of Lula and Chavez as representing two different models of
Latin America left and Latin American future right after this.
HAYES: Back to the Monroe doctrine, right, the U.S. has always had this
very involved foreign policy in Latin America. And you made the point
about the number of governments that we aided in being changed, to say it
as euphemistically as possible. Over a period of time, and I wonder how
much the U.S. really pivoting its attention away from Latin America after
the attacks of 9/11 is part of the story of this kind of flourishing of the
left politics on the continent.
MURILLO: I think it`s also part of the story for long term democracy,
regardless of the sign of democracy. I think the fact that the U.S. pays
attention to other regions allowed the region to flourish on its own terms.
You can you see that in 1992 against Chavez. The U.S. position was very
unclear, but all the governments of the region, whether they were on the
right or the left, stand up against the coup. So, I think the region,
because the U.S. is not paying attention, has really generally moved in a
positive direction with democracy.
SHIFTER: The other thing that`s crucial is that economic crises used to
start in Latin America. The 2008 crisis originated in the United States.
SHIFTER: Latin Americans have accused the United States of meddling,
interventionism, being heavy-handed, but they always thought they could
manage their fiscal and economic --
SHIFTER: So 2008 was a critical turning point not only because of -- Latin
America weathered the crisis very well. Brazil, all the predictions --
HAYES: And Lula had this sort of amazing trash talking about the crisis
SHIFTER: The blue-eyed --
HAYES: Right, right.
SHIFTER: All of that stuff. And all the predictions said that Latin
American was going to be affected by the U.S. crisis. Much less than
anybody expected. That was a critical turning point.
SUJATHA FERNANDES, AUTHOR: Can I just add in, that you know, often it`s
seen that leaders like Morales, and Lula and Chavez are just sort of coming
out of nowhere and taking the stage. And I want to highlight that there`s
also a trajectory from the debt protests, that protest these austerity
policies, to formations of larger social movements and coalitions that
build so much power through ousting governments and through building larger
alliances, that they`re a very important part of this story of how these
leaders come into power.
HAYES: Because there was such organization and activism against these
policies that really were brutal on people.
FERNANDES: Yes, right.
HAYES: We should be clear. Like, I mean, the levels of austerity that
happened in Latin America in the 1990s were really, really, really
GRANDIN: To understand the turn to the left, the statistics you need to
know is that between 1960 and 1980, the heyday of state developmentalism,
what gets dismantled by austerity, growth rate is something like 79 percent
per capita across the region. Not great, not Singapore, but substantial,
created a middle class in a number of countries. Between 1980 and 2000,
the heyday of austerity and neoliberalism, Reaganism on steroids, 7 percent
per capita. Add to that the serial -- builds volatility into the system.
So they had in 2008 in 1992 in Mexico, in 1994 in Mexico, in 2002 in
Argentina, it just destroyed -- and what emerged are these social movements
that turned Latin America into the vanguard of the anti-corporate
HAYES: One of the things we`ve also seen is inequality reduced, right?
You made this point. That`s partly because commodity prices have gone up,
but partly because there was an explicitly egalitarian agenda of a lot of
the people elected, I mean, Lula, Chavez, Correa, Kirchners. This is the
Gini coefficient, the Gini coefficient is the standard economic measurement
of income inequality, and you see what happens is it rises during that same
period that you`re talking about of austerity, right, from really -- really
rises, and then it declines quite significantly. And that bell curve there
is -- it tells you a lot about what you need to know.
I want to talk about Lula, who I find to be one of the most fascinating
figures in the world, and these different models of Latin American left and
what that means right after this.
HAYES: Hello from New York, I`m Chris Hayes, here with Greg Grandin,
author of "Empire`s Workshop: Latin America, the United States and the Rise
of New Imperialism." Sujatha Fernandes, author of "Who Can Stop the Drums:
Urban Social Movements in Chavez`s Venezuela." Victoria Murillo, author of
"Labor Unions, Partisan Coalitions and Market Reforms in Latin America."
And Michael Shifter, president of the think tank Inter-American Dialogue.
We are discussing the remarkable political transformation that`s happened
in Latin America in the last 10 to 15 years. And there`s this thesis about
sort of dividing the kind of left movements that have happened in Latin
America roughly into the kind of Chavez camp and the Lula camp.
And, you know, it`s an oversimplification, but I think there are some lines
about things like nationalization and price controls, which you saw in
Chavez`s Venezuela, you`ve seen a little of it actually in Argentina under
Kirchner quite a bit recently, versus more kind of a social democratic
model of private markets, and then high levels of taxation redistribution
that you`ve seen in Lula`s Brazil.
And the Brazil model has been very successful. Extremely successful.
Again, that`s partly because of commodity prices have gone up. They export
a lot of ethanol, they export a lot of soy. But I wonder what your sense
is of that as a kind of a way of thinking about the -- what`s happened in
MURILLO: Well, I think, you know, there is lesson of a Lula model than a
Brazil or, you know, certain countries that have more restrictions. Lula
decided -- if you remember when he elected, there was panic, and so he had
to sign that he was going to be moderate so that Brazil would not suffer
economically. Brazil had a lot of foreign investment. It still continues
to have. But countries like Chile that used to have a left-wing
government, that`s not anymore, probably would have again, Uruguay and
Brazil are countries where there`s moderation in the discourse. There`s
been tremendous distribution is really associated to the fact that they
have a political system where they have an opposition from the right, where
voters cannot be moved in the same way as in the other countries. And
there has been no kind of collapse of the party systems that the other,
more radical countries suffered.
HAYES: But why is it -- what`s so interesting to me is, redistribution, as
one learns from watching American politics, is hard, right? It`s rolling a
rock up a hill. Because the people who make a lot of money don`t want to
be taxed. You know, rationally.
MURILLO: If you have a commodity boom, it`s very easy to tax natural
resources. If you tax soy in the port, if you tax oil that your own
company produces, this is not income tax that we`re talking about. All
this redistribution is coming from commodity taxes.
HAYES: That`s right.
GRANDIN: But going back to this distinction between Lula and Chavez, you
got to remember that they both came out of very different contexts, right?
Chavez came out of a context of complete collapse, and he basically was
presiding over the reformation of a political coalition. Lula was elected
in a very complex, established political system. That to a large degree,
the left, the PTL, built after the --
HAYES: The Workers Party.
GRANDIN: Yes. After the dictatorship. So there was much -- if Chavez was
in Brazil, would he be Lula? That`s the question. And to the degree that
they tried to divide them, I mean, this is something that was just being
peddled by Washington and Washington think tanks. Just read Lula`s op-ed
the other day in the New York Times, where he makes it clear that he called
him a cherished partner. He understood that they had the same goals and
they worked to build this alternative political structure.
HAYES: I suspect you do see a distinction between them?
SHIFTER: Talking about Washington think tanks.
SHIFTER: No, I mean, I think Lula`s article didn`t surprise me. And
clearly there`s great solidarity, affinity, and all of that which is
expected. But if you look at Brazil and you look at Venezuela, they`re two
very, very different models. And there`s a give and take. (inaudible)
politics in Brazil. Venezuela is very authoritarian and autocratic under
Take one country, Peru. Peru is a country that hasn`t had a leftist
government at all. If you look at your figures of GD coefficients, poverty
has gone down dramatically. Big commodity producer.
HAYES: Colombia as well.
SHIFTER: Colombia as well, under Uribe, and the current president, Santos,
not a man of the left.
SHIFTER: And Humala, who is the current president of Peru, backed -- was
identified with Chavez in 2006, lost. Then he came back in 2011, had
advisers from Lula, who were helping him change to a much of a more
moderate, pragmatic position, won the election of 2011, and his economic
policies is like the envy of Milton Friedman today. He`s very, very
orthodox, conventional, fiscal discipline and the like.
So, there are some stories out there that I think are very instructive
about what`s an appealing model more broadly in Latin America.
HAYES: But that`s -- this point is very interesting, right? If inequality
is going down in countries both with left and right governments, that`s a
fascinating thing, right? That doesn`t happen very often. I mean, what is
the story -- I guess my question is, is that just -- I guess we`re talking
around the same thing, which is that our natural resources, is that really
the story here? Because I look at the politics, and I find like the
politics of Lula`s Brazil, which are complicated and there`s corruption
scandals and there`s a million things. But they`re encouraging in the
sense of, you know, there`s this model in which a left party runs
explicitly on egalitarian agenda. They get elected into office, and they
go about making the country more equal. And in a country like ours right
now, that has huge levels of high and accelerating inequality, that has
elected a left-of-center party in Barack Obama but has seen inequality
continue to rise, and in fact in some ways get worse after the recession,
my question is, what can we learn, like what is the takeaway? And maybe
the answer is, it`s just too --
MURILLO: The lessons are not so easy, because inequality to begin with in
all of these Latin American countries is much higher than the U.S.
Inequality post-taxes was also much higher than the U.S., because income
taxes do not work very well in much of the region.
HAYES: They are very undercollected.
MURILLO: So, you see governments right and left dependent on the commodity
boom to reduce inequality. So what`s the long-term sustainability if
something happens to China and India, who are really the new actors --
HAYES: The ones who are buying all the commodities.
MURILLO: The ones buying the commodities. South America is now looking at
Asia, not at the U.S., but is really dependent on these -- for these
policies both left and right.
HAYES: Do you think there are lessons?
GRANDIN: For the U.S.?
GRANDIN: I think there -- I think --
HAYES: Or for egalitarian politics in the U.S.?
GRANDIN: Yes. I think that there is a basic lesson just in moral terms
that a government should serve to make the country more humane, and the
country`s resources should be put to that. There`s different ways of doing
it, there is different context. Peru and Brazil and Venezuela, they all
represent very different experiences. But I think they all operate within
this framework that has emerged out of the ruins of the Washington
consensus that includes being able to tax your commodities, being able to
control your monetary, so that it all just isn`t geared towards keeping the
bond markets happy in Washington or having the U.S. --
HAYES: Although --
GRANDIN: -- single market, and single source of credit. There`s been a
diversification. There hasn`t been a break with the model, but there has
been a diversification of credit and capital, and Brazil and Venezuela have
HAYES: Let`s be clear, right? Lula came in, he appointed an incredibly
orthodox economic team, and they imposed austerity. The first thing they
did was impose austerity basically in the wake of particularly the
Argentine currency crisis, right, there was fear, you know, the bond yields
blew out in Brazil. There was fear that Brazil was going to be the next
domino to fall. And he did the austerity medicine. He did the Milton
Friedman thing, like tight monetary policy, they cut their budgets. So he
imposed austerity right after getting elected as this left workers party
person, and it was -- and it worked, in the sense that it broke the fever
of, you know, international capital flowing out.
FERNANDES: I just wanted to make the point that I think without Chavez,
Lula would have been seen as being on the far left.
HAYES: Right. Another good point.
FERNANDES: And the fact that Chavez was there with his provocative
statements, the United States and Europe were like, yes, let`s collaborate
with Lula. Here we have someone who`s a moderate who would not have been
seen as a moderate without Chavez.
HAYES: Chavez is the blocking back for Lula the running back in terms of
SHIFTER: I think one thing that Washington could learn is to apply the
Washington consensus. Fiscal discipline, fiscal responsibility --
HAYES: But that`s exactly what --
SHIFTER: The hallmark -- sorry?
HAYES: But that`s exactly what destroyed --
SHIFTER: No, there are parts of it that destroyed it, but not fiscal
discipline and fiscal responsibility. United States, enormous debts and
deficits. These countries are very well managed. We should follow the
tenets of the Washington consensus to manage our own--
HAYES: It is a through-the-looking-glass boomerang advice from Michael
HAYES: Now being imposed in Latin America by left-wing governments and
that we should learn the lessons.
SHIFTER: That`s right. They`ve been utterly responsible. And the results
are there. Look at -- we`ve been irresponsible in this country for a long
time. Look at the problems we`re having.
HAYES: Greg Grandin from NYU, Sujatha Fernandes of Queens College and the
Graduate Center, Victoria Murillo of Columbia University, and Michael
Shifter, think tank Inter-American Dialogue, thank you for joining us this
morning. We really appreciate it.
MURILLO: Thank you.
HAYES: If American politics -- in American politics, elections are only
half the battle. The other half, the one you haven`t heard about, is right
HAYES: On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder responded to questioning
from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, asking whether a too big to jail
mentality at the Justice Department prevents them from prosecuting major
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am concerned that the size of some
of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us
to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do
prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative
impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I
think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have
become too large.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Dodd/Frank Wall Street reform, one of the most important and hard
fought achievements of the president`s first team, sought to address too
big to fail and the outsize power and influence of banks in the U.S.
economy through a number of regulations which were then to be ironed out
through the rule making process. Big banks and their allies have responded
to the legislative defeat of Dodd/Frank with an assault on the rule-making
progress, and the agencies tasked with carrying it out, all with very
little public scrutiny.
They`ve been very successful. According to law firm David Polk (ph), as of
March 1st, 176 of the 398 required rules have been missed, have missed
their proposed dead lines. Only 148 of the rules have been finalized. And
74 still have future deadlines.
The domestic legislative achievements of Obama`s first term are massive if
they can be codified into actual law that is then enforced. If they
cannot, the legislative accomplishments of the first term will be largely
negated. The election of Barack Obama will be in some very key ways
This is the second half of the battle for effective governance and
regulation. It is equally important, if not more so, than the first.
Joining me now to discuss it is Alexis Goldstein, member of Occupy Wall
Street, former vice president of Merrill Lynch. Bob Ney, former Republican
congressman from Ohio and author of "Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy
of the Hitmen of Capitol Hill," which details his political career and
downfall, culminating in a three-month prison sentence in 2006 for
corruption. Raj Date, former deputy director of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, and Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center
for Community Change, a community organization project (ph). Great to have
you all here.
So it seems to me that there`s a bunch of ways in which we try to vouch
safe or we try to guard the public`s interest against private malfeasance
and bad private actors or negative externalities, right? And the power of
the political system in the state is brought to bear in these private
spheres, and often the private sphere does not like it, because it`s going
to be less profits or it`s more regulation or they feel hamstrung, and so
they fight back. And there is a bunch of different ways they fight back.
One of the ways they fight back is in Congress, and I want to talk to you
first about this. Which is you`re famous for the Abramoff scandal and
being part of that and being in his circle. And the Abramoff scandal was a
very extreme example of something much broader, right, which is the kind of
economy of favors that happen. And I guess I would say to you, was your
experience in Congress even after a bill was passed, would people come to
you to want you to weigh in on their side on the actual rule-making process
as a congressman because that would have some kind of extra force?
FORMER REP. BOB NEY, R-OHIO: Every letter I wrote for Jack Abramoff,
(inaudible) favors, I wrote 100 for somebody else. Hundreds. It paled in
comparison. Because you have got the law, they come to you, these special
interest groups, whatever side, and they say, we don`t want this on there
and we don`t want there on there, it goes to its process. If the law
passes, they then come back and say, oh, this rule-making process, your
staff runs in and they say, so and so called, this lobby group. They`re
going through the rule making process. Can we get a letter? Can you do a
They seek powerful people, chairmen, people who have jurisdiction. If it`s
a housing issue, I chair the Housing Subcommittee, they try to get me to
head the letter up. Sometimes I would say to a colleague, I don`t want to
be front person, how about you do it? OK. We just talked about --
NEY: I went to prison.
HAYES: I know.
NEY: Now I`m very candid.
HAYES: It seems like in some ways, right, that`s a gimme, that`s a layup,
that`s a cost-free intervention for you. Right? No one`s going to pay any
attention to that letter, but it`s going to have some effect and it`s going
to curry some favor with the group.
NEY: Absolutely. Look, the group uses it to say, the Hill is upset,
here`s what the Hill thinks. The Hill weighs in on this. Now I had the
reverse where I passed a law. The agency said to me on trailers one time,
for example, in HUD, they said, well, that`s not what Ney meant. Yes, it
was; no, it wasn`t. Here I am, yes, it was what I meant. So, it can work
HAYES: You`ve been in the regulatory process. And do you -- are you
looking over your shoulder about what the Hill is going to do or concerns
by members of Congress?
RAJ DATE, FORMER DEP. DIRECTOR, CFPB: I was at the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, which like the bank regulators--
DATE: -- has advantages. Bank regulators are not appropriated so they`re
not going up to the Hill every six months or every 12 months to hear some
pelts and pleas, fund us for another year. That`s a gigantic advantage in
terms of the independence of the staff and the ability to hire people who
actually know what they`re doing so they don`t get whip-sawed in terms of
their opinions and perspectives by the latest letter that happens to drift
across the (inaudible).
HAYES: There`s another problem, though, right? The flipside of that coin
is a place like the OCC, right? You are -- if you`re independent, you have
a revenue stream, you can also come to view the banks as your customers,
because you`re dependent upon your regulation of them, right? I mean, one
of the things that happened I think in the run-up to the financial crisis
was this kind of competition between regulators. Banks being able to
choose their own regulator. And once you have competition among
regulators, you have defeated the purpose of having the regulator, because
the whole point is that the regulator is not in competition, right?
DATE: There are many insane aspects of financial regulation before
Dodd/Frank. But the single most insane aspect, I think, is that you
literally had bank regulators competing with each other, to see who can be
the most permissive with respect to institutions. You should not expect
anything other than a disaster when you do that. Fortunately, after
Dodd/Frank, that`s much less the case.
ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, OCCUPY WALL STREET ACTIVIST: I don`t know that I would
necessarily agree with that. I mean, I`ve gone done, I`ve met with
regularities, I`ve talked to people in D.C. I`m sort of curious what you
think about this, but I guess there are two quick points I want to make.
One is that a lot of times in the financial service community, the bills
that are coming out of Republican side and sometimes out of the Democratic
side are just straight out of lobbyists` e-mails. Basically.
GOLDSTEIN: They are drafting the bills for them, they are drafting the
questions, they are going back and forth. I`m sort of curious to know if
that was the case --
NEY: I was (inaudible). I charged the Housing Subcommittee. Ofeo (ph) --
oversaw Fannie and Freddie. Ofeo (ph) came to me and others and said, you
know, you need us. What for? You didn`t look at them in the right way?
HAYES: Ofeo --
NEY: Ofeo, I can`t even remember --
HAYES: It`s an acronym?
NEY: Yes. It`s an acronym. It`s congressional speak. Sorry, I had a
And Ofeo oversaw Fannie and Freddie. Now, they had to change that whole
system, but Ofeo said, you need us. Well, they didn`t look at the auditing
procedure correctly. And as far as what you say, we even had a case where
accidentally one of the staffers of a member of Congress, and I`m not
computer literate, but they took something, cut and pasted it, and somebody
was able to electronically go back and say that came from that lobbyist`s
e-mail. You`re 150 percent correct.
GOLDSTEIN: And so I think that`s one problem. But then the other problem
is the regulators really are paying attention to what Congress is doing, to
what`s in the media. Like, for example, we have -- as just one specific
example, Commissioner Wetjen of the CFTC, there`s this rule out about --
how do I say this -- so we`re trying to bring more transparency to the
over-the-counter derivatives market, which is this shadowy market, so there
is this thing called a swap execution facility, and there`s some debate at
the CFTC about how many prices do you need to ask for? So if you think
about Internet shopping, right, the more prices you get, the cheaper the
deal. Whereas if you just call a store, you are going to get a pretty bad
price. So it used to be that they were going to have to have five prices,
and now it`s going down to two because of Commissioner Wetjen. And to hear
him talking in some of these news articles, parroting the lines that the
HAYES: And this gets to this point that I want to hear from you on,
Deepak, which is that the problem here is that these battles are happening
at such high levels of technical complexity and so far outside of the
spotlight of media attention, that there is this built-in asymmetry, right,
to who is lobbying on this. We have an amazing graphic from the Sunlight
Foundation that shows this in spatial terms. And as someone who organizes
people, works with community groups, I want to hear from you about how you
can begin to address that, right after we take this break.
HAYES: Sunlight Foundation put together this amazing graphic, OK, and it
charts the number of meetings with the Fed, Treasury and the Commodities
and Futures Trading Commission, the FTC, on Dodd/Frank rules. This is
rule-making. This is the number of meetings, this is by year, after
Dodd/Frank was passed. Now, on the right, which is -- these are
representatives of major banks and banking groups. And there are a lot of
meetings with representatives of major banks and banking groups. On the
left, the little bitty sliver there in blue are consumer groups. Right?
That spatially right there, that`s the asymmetry. Even if you could
marshal effective coalitions politically and in a legislative process, it`s
really hard to, like, get folks activated and engaged on that left side of
that chart, doing, fighting -- and as an organizer, as someone who works
with community groups, how do you -- is there a way to solve that problem?
DEEPAK BHARGAVA, CENTER FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE: Well, here`s the truth. The
less sunshine there is, the worse the public interest does in these
processes. And some of these rule-making processes are extended over
years, so it really takes organized movement of millions people over a very
long period of time to break through this kind of phalanx of organized
money. And the thing that`s stunning to me is that even the most common
sense things are incredibly hard to get done. So there is -- most
Americans assume that the minimum wage applies to everybody in America.
Turns out there`s 2.5 million home care workers who care for the disabled
and the elderly who are exempt from that. There`s been a rule in the works
for over two years, sitting there and now still at OMB stuck, presumably
because the industry is trying to weaken it or kill it as we speak.
HAYES: So that`s a regulatory rule that would basically -- the way the
law`s interpreted exempts these workers.
HAYES: It`s not a legislative change. It`s a regulatory rule that`s
worked its way through the rule-making process that says you can`t exempt
people from minimum wage laws--
BHARGAVA: They`re classified as companions, and the rule would basically
bring them back on the same footing as every other worker in America. It`s
taken a huge push from the outside.
HAYES: And have you been working on that, have you been trying to push
BHARGAVA: We have been as part of a big coalition of organizations. And
it`s incredible to me that even when something commands 80, 90 percent
public support, as this does, it is just murder to get these things
HAYES: One of the things here is expertise. I think this is one of the
problems, right? As a member of Congress, how -- I mean, you can`t -- even
the smartest, most, you know, ravenous reader of information can`t get into
the level of detail that, you know, a civil servant who`s working in the --
in an organization that`s regulating, right, one of the regulators can get,
right? You have to be briefed by people. How do you as a congressman know
what you think on this stuff when it`s so -- when it is so obscure?
NEY: I want to make the point I talked about agreeing about the rules and
the lobbyists. There`s nothing wrong with lobbying. I was a teacher by
degree, I worked for the government, there`s people that come from all
walks of life and they need to be educated.
The question is access. Can that person off the street, Deepak and
everybody else working, can they get into that congresswoman`s or
Now, one of my former employees, his name was Dave DeStefano (ph), he went
to work for Fannie and Freddie -- or he went to work for Freddie Mac. Now,
Dave worked for us, he knows us, he is serving fund raisers, Dave calls,
oh, Dave called, Dave wants to see me, so Dave can see me. So the question
is, can John Smith who calls to say, I want to talk to Bob Ney. Well, who
are you? And where are you from? Do you have an event you`re going to?
Bob will be there. If you are going to have a campaign, he`ll really be
there. But it`s the access that is a very important part. And there`s
members of Congress that open their doors up and some members that don`t.
But access is the key, because yes, we don`t know what we`re doing half the
time on issues.
HAYES: And that`s not even to say bad things about members of Congress.
When you`re dealing with something as complicated and complex and technical
as the rule-making process for Dodd/Frank or the rule-making process on
clean air rules, or the rule-making process on the Affordable Care Act --
which I know, a friend of mine works -- you know, works in the federal
government going through that rule-making process. You know, it takes a
tremendous amount of expertise to be marshaled. And so the question is, if
you`re going to be briefed, who is briefing you, and the person who is
going to brief you wields tremendous power, because that`s -- you`re going
to know -- the thing you know about this obscure issue is going to be what
you know because of that one person told you about.
NEY: And the staff wields power, because, look, if you are a lobbyist
today in Washington and somebody disagrees, speak up, you`ve dealt with the
Hill, if you`re a lobbyist, forget knowing the member. It`s great if you
do. Know that staffer. If you met them at a restaurant, oh, it`s a gift
from up above.
BHARGAVA: There`s a class of people who move from the Hill to the
regulatory agencies to working for industry. Back and forth in a rotation.
So, there`s a web of relationships. That`s how policy really gets done
GOLDSTEIN: I think it`s right that you need to know the staff, but I want
to make this point that I think that the staff themselves are also
HAYES: You know, exactly.
GOLDSTEIN: I like to make this analogy, and it`s a technical analogy, but
there`s a thing called a denial of service attack. And it`s when a bunch
of hackers are trying to hit a website at the same time using software.
And it hits it so many times, the whole thing goes down.
HAYES: It crashes the site, right.
GOLDSTEIN: And I feel like lobbying is a denial of service attack on the
time of the staffers. They don`t have time to read up on the issues.
HAYES: That`s totally right.
GOLDSTEIN: They don`t have time to make their own informed opinion, so
they just have to go on gut.
HAYES: Right. And if you send 100 people to go talk to your staffer on a
housing issue or a rule that`s being written to get this -- you know, it
ends up being triage, right? You can write this letter and get them off
your back and get them off your case.
BHARGAVA: And there`s fear. So when there`s time pressure, it`s who`s
going to get really mad at me and cause my boss major problems. And that`s
NEY: Absolutely. I chaired House Administration, I oversaw the operation
of the Capitol. Members would come to me and say, we need more staff, we
need more electronics, we can`t keep up. 15,000 e-mails coming in. E-
mails are almost useless sometimes, and I hate to tell people that, but the
Hill is overwhelmed beyond comprehension. There`s a lot of good people
there, but they are beyond overwhelmed.
GOLDSTEIN: And this is how lobbyists` bills get through. Because they
don`t have the time. They are trying to legislate, and it`s like here,
legislate this. OK.
DATE: See, this is a place where regulatory (inaudible) really can and
should have an advantage over policy making on the Hill. The Hill is
fundamentally overwhelmed by the breadth of issues and the staff, I love
them, but they are quite young, quite inexperienced, grotesquely underpaid.
There is no way for individual member offices to keep up to date.
The agencies don`t have that excuse. And one thing agencies can and should
do is get out of Washington and hear actual stories from real live human
beings, which really helps to frame the issues.
HAYES: Here`s a question. So, this gets us to Dodd/Frank, what you just
said, which was crafted intentionally with quite a bit of latitude for the
regulators, right? It was a strategic decision, partly to get the thing
passed. Then a lot of the guts of how strong a bill this was going to be
was going to be dependent on the rule-making process. And I wanted to ask
whether that has been successful thus far. Right after we take this break.
HAYES: So, you have a certain amount of discretion that is given to
regulators. And I think you are right. You just made the case for why
that`s appropriate in so many ways, right? The difference of levels of
expertise and -- between people on Capitol Hill and the actual agencies
that do this full time, that are staffed to do this, have institutional
knowledge. But then of course, the problem is some of the dynamics, many
of the same power dynamics that make bad legislation can then be brought to
bear on the rule-making process.
My favorite example of this, just like a little snapshot, if you`ve ever
been to Washington, D.C., are the ads that are in the Capitol Hill station
metro or in Union Station, which is where they know a lot of staffers will
be and a lot of members of regulatory agencies, in which they make these
very targeted ads from interest groups. This one is "Money Market Mutual
Funds Work for American Businesses, Why Risk Changing Them Now?" And the
URL is asktheregulators.com. It`s cut off at the bottom there, but it`s
HAYES: This is a way of essentially working the refs on the regulatory
process. My question to you is, given what the strategy was, very
explicitly I think by Barney Frank in getting Dodd-Frank passed, to give
this discretion to regulators and given the stats we had at the beginning
about deadlines that have been missed and the jockeying that`s happening,
do you think the process is unfolding encouragingly? Was that the right
thing to do? Should they have been more -- there are some people that say
they should have just broken up the banks.
DATE: Well, broadly speaking, I think that the rule-makings across Dodd-
Frank are behind where most people would want to see them, in terms of
level of development.
Look, I`m realistic about this. At the CFPB, we hit every deadline we were
given, and it did not come without some human cost. You ought to see the
team of economists, they are like zombies today. Loving I say that, the
most loving zombies.
HAYES: You just mean they are working their butts off.
DATE: It`s a gigantically huge undertaking that was given with reasonably
arbitrary timelines with a fixed number of people and a fixed number of
dollars. So that`s hard to do. So I`m sympathetic to the other agencies
that didn`t have quite the same flexibility that the bureau had. We had to
hire from the ground up. We got to get exactly the kind of crazed, hard
working people we wanted. And it`s helped.
HAYES: And to me the CFPB is a great example. The CFPB is kind of the
best case scenario. You are new -- it was a new institution brought into
being by the bill, right? There`s this palpable feel of esprit de corps
among the people that work there. It almost feels like a campaign. And at
the same time, when you are looking at the rules, and the CFPB has issued
some really good rules and tough rules on mortgage originators, right, the
people who make the loans, but the rules on servicers, and the servicers
have been some of the biggest villains in this entire drama that has played
out -- I mean, we just got data the other day from a mortgage settlement
that 20 people in this country had their homes foreclosed on and never
missed a payment. OK? Think about that for a second, America. The bank
takes your home. You haven`t missed a payment.
If you did that to your neighbor, you go to jail for stealing their home.
Right? You can`t just take people`s property for no reason, right? 20
times this happened. This is all the servicers. And the servicers` rules,
the CFBP, which again, I have a lot of admiration for, I know some people
that are in there, they look pretty weak. They look like they`re not going
to be up to the task of bringing the servicers to heel. And it prompts the
question, if the CFPB can`t get good rules in place for the servicers, who
have been one of the most toxic aspects of this entire complex, then what
hope do we have for the rest of Dodd/Frank?
DATE: On servicing in particular, let me just point out two things. One,
I think the set of rules are pretty strong about exactly the things that
are the most important. No. 1, like servicers should be able to tell you
where you stand in the process. Servicers ought to be able to tell you
what your options are if you`re in trouble. There`s a great many
homeowners still in trouble. And third, just operationally, it should not
be permitted to be in this business if you are going to systematically lose
people`s paperwork all the time. And if you can get after those three
issues, things look better.
HAYES: Wait. Wait. The thing that doesn`t touch are the incentives of
the compensation of the servicer, which is this perverse thing that
underlies the whole thing, which is they make more money off foreclosures
because of fees, and they lose money when you reduce principal on a loan.
And reducing the principal on a loan is often the thing you need to do to
keep someone in their home.
GOLDSTEIN: What advocates wanted is they wanted an affirmative duty to do
lost (ph) litigation, which in plain English means force them to work with
the home buyers --
HAYES: They have to. They are duty-bound.
GOLDSTEIN: -- principal reduction, because that`s usually in the best
interest of the investor, too. Right? The investor doesn`t want it to
just go to foreclosure, and the CFPB did not do that.
DATE: Investors are grown men and women who know how to look after their
own interests. My suggestion for the mortgage industry is that
compensation for servicers should be structured in a way that you or any of
us would actually look after our own affairs. They have structured
servicer compensation in such a way that it works almost exactly the
opposite as to what you would want.
HAYES: They`re incentivized to do the wrong thing.
DATE: And it`s not as though the bureau has the ability, nor do I think
you would want this to happen, to sort of set pricing for servicing.
People should be able to negotiate their own affairs.
What we can make sure is that people follow the law, because laws were
broken. And it`s a great example for how the bank regulators --
HAYES: Let me interject a broader bit of cynicism here, which is just like
when you`re talking about complexity, right, you can start to be very drawn
to these kind of libertarian, right-wing, public choice arguments about all
of this, which is like, look, if you make big, complex regulations, 3,000-
page bill, all these rules, you`re going to grind it through this totally
corrupt machine that`s dominated by special interests and actually
increasing the size of government means that you`re increasing the leverage
and influence of precisely these interests, because you run it through the
same machine that is the machine that exists in power with the existing
power relations. So my question is, why shouldn`t I believe that? Why
should I not be persuaded by this kind of cynical view of the regulatory
enterprise if it is the case, like the Sunlight chart we showed, that it`s
dominated by private interests. Deepak?
BHARGAVA: Because sometimes it works. It maybe not always be that way all
the time, but we saw, for example, when the president used his regulatory
authority to give freedom to a million DREAM Act kids, which was a use of
regulatory power that changed a million people`s lives and has huge
potential to energize talent in this country. When food inspection
actually occurs, we`re safe from getting sick. The problem isn`t that we
have too much regulation. The problem is that in fact enforcement -- so we
need to fix the corruption of the process, but we desperately need
regulation of the public (inaudible).
HAYES: I want to talk about the ways, the different bites of the apple
that people opposed to regulation get (ph) right after this.
HAYES: So, Bob, I guess we`re -- I want to ask you where you are on this
kind of spectrum of cynicism. And I think Deepak`s rebuttal is correct.
Right? The reason we still have faith in the regulatory enterprise is
because it really can work. And it works a lot. I mean, it is kind of a
miracle, right? We don`t have planes falling out of the skies. That`s
totally incredible. It never ceases to be a miracle to me. I`m serious.
Like, those are big things that move really fast at really high altitudes
all over the place. There`s millions of them a day, and they`re not just
like running into each other and blowing up. That`s amazing. We don`t
have routine food poisoning, we don`t have child labor, there is all these
amazing things that regulatory state has accomplished. And you can get
cynical about the regulatory process because of the political economy of
Washington at this point, but as someone who is in that very corrupt nexus
of the political economy of Washington, what`s your feeling about that?
NEY: In my conclusion in my book, "Sideswiped," I have a very important
paragraph. I said I had a substance I abused. There is a current
addiction on Capitol Hill, it`s to campaign contributions, and they need an
intervention, which is the public. There`s wonderful people up there, but
public financing, take the money out of it. Let them do their jobs, let
them be lawmakers, take away the stress of having to raise money, having to
pay to become a chairman of a committee or a ranking member. That`s the
way the system works. It does work that way. So make public financing,
change the system, take that part out.
HAYES: I`m 1,000 percent in agreement with you. It`s wonderful to hear
someone who went through what you did to come out with that.
But I`ll say this as a response, which is that the regulatory agencies that
are being jockeyed over these rules, they don`t have to deal with campaign
contributions, right? That can`t be your story for why they`re being
GOLDSTEIN: The answer is, break up the banks. They`re too powerful.
There`s too many of them, they have too many people working for them that
have fleets of lobbyists that go in, they talk to regulators, too.
NEY: Regulation goes beyond banks, I mean, FDA--
GOLDSTEIN: Sure. Break up Exxon, break up BP, I mean --
HAYES: Taking a hammer to all of American capitalism.
GOLDSTEIN: Yes, I am. I absolutely am.
BHARGAVA: One potential solution is a little more regulation from below,
the ability of, as we had with the Community Reinvestment Act, the public
to participate and calling out red lining and discrimination, a more
complaint-driven process where people are able to say, this is what`s
wrong, this is what needs to be fixed, I think would go a long way to
fixing this problem.
DATE: I would absolutely agree with that. I mean, fundamentally, you can
outsource expertise, you can delegate authority to regulatory agencies, but
you cannot delegate leadership. Leadership is about when you see a
problem, get off the sidelines and get into the game and fix it. And if we
had much more of that across the republic, frankly, a lot of these problems
would be a little bit easier to solve.
HAYES: But leadership is not a long-term sustainable solution to these
problems. If the problems are the incentive structure, the imbalance of
power. Right, it`s how you change it. And I think how you -- I`m really
worried about the Affordable Care Act rule-making process right now.
Because I think there`s a lot of amazing stuff that bill can do if it`s
properly implemented. And I don`t even -- I`m sitting here on national
television, and I`m like, I have no idea -- where did we end up on that?
You know, like I`m a pretty well read person, I`m prepping all the time. I
don`t know what the heck`s going on. I know who`s doing Medicaid
expansion, but like, if I don`t know, and it`s my job to know, and I read
all the time and it`s all I do, then who the heck knows? The people who
know are like the hospitals and the medical device manufacturers and the
interest groups that are going to have their ox gored if things go in the
public`s direction. And that`s worrisome.
The question is how do we shine a light on these specific things? The
point you made about the rule, I want to follow up on this, this minimum
wage classification, because I think part of the solution is discrete
things like that, right, that`s not that technical, that`s not that
complicated, and so we should follow that story. That`s my pledge.
What you should know for the news week ahead coming up next.
HAYES: So, what should you know for the week coming up? With recent
reports about the spike in carbon emissions last year and news this week
the planet is now warmer than it has been in 4,000 years, you should know
there`s some good news, actually, there is, which is that people across the
political spectrum are noticing the climate change is here and real, and
that is a necessary precondition for action. A poll released by the
University of Michigan reports that even 51 percent of Republicans now
agree the planet is warming, up from just 33 percent in 2010. And a long-
term study of public opinion on climate change called global warming six
Americas -- which categorizes opinions of Americans on a spectrum from
alarmed to dismissive, finds that those who think climate change is harming
people now in the U.S. or will within 25 years now comprise 70 percent of
You should know the battle over whether climate change is happening is
drawing to a close. We are about to enter a renewed political battle over
what to do about it.
You should know fossil fuel companies, conservatives, the Republican Party
and the rear guard defenders are the status quo that will cause untold
human misery will quickly and unapologetically transition from denying that
climate change is happening to explaining why there`s nothing we can do to
You should know the state of Hawaii is poised to take a big step towards
pushing back against Citizens United. Huffington Post reports the state
legislature is moving toward approving a new law to dramatically reinforce
its existing public finance law by providing public funds in competitive
amounts to candidates seeking seats in the state legislature who can get $5
contributions from at least 250 contributors. You should know that paying
for political campaigns is a lot cheaper for taxpayers than electing
politicians who tip the trough through taxpayer funds toward their
You should know next week, we will mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S.
war in Iraq. You should know that in his final report to Congress, special
inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, Stewart Bowen (ph), concluded
that the $60 billion the U.S. spent on reconstruction in Iraq yielded far
too little in results and improved conditions for the people of Iraq who we
told ourselves we were trying to help. About a third of the money went to
train and equip Iraqi security forces, who are yet to provide the country
with security. Some of the money was stolen, some went into private hands,
like those of the American subcontractors who charged the Pentagon $900 for
a control switch worth seven bucks.
And then there was the prison, because who doesn`t need prisons. American
taxpayers spent $40 million on it before regional violence forced the
builders to abandon it.
There were successful projects, like the Fallujah water treatment plant,
where America spent $108 million to provide clean water to 9,000 homes,
leaving Iraq to figure out how to get clean water to the city`s other
You should know that our own vision of the U.S. war efforts, even after
Bush, had been that we were there for the Iraq people to have a better
life. And you should know that history has shown, time and time again,
that even when there are humanitarian justifications, war very rarely
accomplishes humanitarian ends.
I want to find out what my guests think we should know for the week coming
up. Alexis, we begin with you.
GOLDSTEIN: So first off, people should know, we have been talking about
rule making. There are two pro-reform groups. One is Americans for
Financial Reform, and the other is Better Markets. What people should know
about next week is Strike Debt, and this is my Strike Debt red square is
doing the next phase of their rolling jubilee project. They are going to
announce a seven-figure debt buy. What they have done is they have gone to
the debt market and bought debt that debt collectors normally buy, and
chase you, but they abolish the debt instead. So they have bought some
debt out of hospitals in the Midwest. Thousands of people are going to be
helped. But it`s just a drop in the bucket. We need a nationwide movement
to fix the health care system, and so we`re kicking off a week of action on
March 16th. Find out more at strikedebt.org/lifeordebt.
HAYES: Awesome. Bob Ney.
NEY: As I was sitting here waiting to come on, I got a private Facebook
message from India from Dr. Deborah Ackers (ph) from Columbus, Ohio. She
witnessed a Tibetan in Dansal (ph), India, trying to self-immolate. China
has cut everybody off, the tourists, the press, et cetera, in Tibet. So
now it`s happening in India. These people are so desperate, they are
trying to get this attention out there, and I just think the United States
needs to, you know, at least communicate directly with the Tibetans on this
issue. They are so, so desperate, they are now trying to do it in India,
because they can`t get any information out of Tibet.
HAYES: Raj Date.
DATE: Going back to a graphic you showed. It was hilarious and
preposterous and deeply troubling. The ad from a subway station in D.C.
about money market reform. I don`t know how short memories are, but I was
on Wall Street in 2008, and financial crises happen because terrible stuff
happens, and then it transmits all over the real economy and destroys
everything. And the main mode of transmission was a deeply unregulated
approach to money markets. And the idea --
HAYES: The money market (inaudible), that was when people went (inaudible)
DATE: And there`s a reason for that. Four and a half years later, the
idea that we still have not got (inaudible) reform, it`s a travesty.
BHARGAVA: Good news. The immigrant rights movement in America is surging
again as we speak. There are 500 immigrants and their citizen relatives
traveling around the country on a bus tour to tell the stories of a broken
system. Major mobilization April 10 in Washington. I think the people are
going to force Congress to get immigration reform done this year.
HAYES: You and I talked about this for years. And you have been working
on this. And I`m going through a little roller coaster in my own
estimation of the chances of this happening. Where are you on this right
BHARGAVA: We are seeing deathbed conversions by Republicans in response to
the political power expressed at the ballot box last year. And the thing
that is different is the movement is in a position of strength by virtue of
having created that electoral mandate last year.
HAYES: And also, I think there`s just been tremendous organizing
happening. You are part of that.
BHARGAVA: There`s evidence of that movement from below factor we just
HAYES: Yes, and the DREAMers, we had (inaudible), and what they have done
is just really a remarkable model for everyone. They just organized and
they went out and they kicked butt and they won. And that`s what politics
I want to thank my guests today, Alexis Goldstein of Occupy Wall Street.
Former Congressman Bob Ney, author of "Sideswiped: Lessons Learned,
Courtesy of the Hitmen of Capitol Hill." Raj Date, former deputy director
of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And Deepak Bhargava, of the
Center for Community Change. Thank you for joining us. We will be back
next weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00. Our guests will include Arizona
Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." On today`s "MHP," Ira Glass from
"This American Life." Ira has been chronicling the incredible story of
Chicago`s Harper High School, where last year alone 29 current and recent
students were shot. Incredible bit of journalism. You definitely want to
see that, that and the new kind of irrational exuberance we`re seeing in
the economy. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY," coming up next. And we will
see you next week as always here on UP. Happy daylight savings.
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