ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 10, 2013
Guests: Sarita Gupta, Kevin Williamson, Tom Perriello, Dolores Huerta, Jeff Merkley, Heather McGhee, Mattie Duppler
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. And
thank you for joining us.
Big, big news on multiple fronts out of Washington today, and the word of
the day on Capitol Hill was: deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gun deal, here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: NBC News quotes sources saying two senators have
reached a deal.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Reached a deal on background checks.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC ANALYST: There`s going to be more pressure to come to a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which I think bodes well for a future deal.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Senate is closing in on an immigration deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t know how far this deal will go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What exactly is in this deal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A deal between two key senators.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bipartisan deal.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: The pivotal bipartisan deal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is applauding this deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got a deal here between two people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a deal between two men.
HAYES: Between two men.
HAYES: The big deal today on Capitol Hill was the reaching or leaking of
big deals and the way that Washington talks about a deal is that a deal is
inherently good, because the deal is the end in and of itself. You`re
always looking for a deal, so when you get one, it must be good news.
But in the real world, where we all have to live every day, a deal is good
only if it`s a good deal. Deals are almost, by definition, cut in the
center. And so what matters most in Washington deal-making is how the
center is defined. And what made two of the deals being rolled out today
promising is the fact the center around which they are crafted is
remarkably further to the left than it was just six months ago.
Take the big bipartisan gun deal announced today by Senators Joe Manchin
and Pat Toomey. It`s pretty narrow deal policy-wise, simply designed to
expand background checks to cover gun shows and Internet sales. The cost
of the deal, apparently, was private person-to-person sales, which will
still be exempt from background checks.
NBC reported today the NRA was a, quote, "near constant presence in the
room as Manchin and Toomey worked out the details."
And for his part, Toomey would prefer you not even refer to it as gun
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I don`t consider criminal background
checks to be gun control. I think it`s just common sense. If you passed a
criminal background checks, you get to buy a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: See that right there? That is the power of the center. The center
gets to be common sense, which is good. Everything else is defined as
politics, which is bad.
Now, narrow as this background check deal may be when put up against a
staggering problem of gun violence in this country, it`s still a remarkable
thing. Even just six months ago, the idea of the Senate opening debate on
a bipartisan gun safety bill of any kind would have been unthinkable.
There has not been a major piece of gun safety legislation debated in the
Senate since 1994. That was the last time we saw anything like what`s
happening right now, almost 20 years ago.
The only gun measure to get through Congress during Barack Obama`s first
term was, notably, an amendment to allow you to carry firearms into
national parks. Even though the NRA was apparently physically looming over
the negotiations, the deal announced today is exactly the sort of thing
that the NRA has been fighting like crazy to prevent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATL. RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Here`s what the political elites
offer instead, a placebo called universal background checks. Yes, that`s
their big idea.
It`s an unworkable, universal, federal nightmare bureaucracy being imposed
under the federal government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The NRA`s elite placebo nightwear (ph) is now on its way to almost,
maybe, coming true, in real life, in a move from Capitol Hill that could
not have been imagined last year.
The other big deal in today`s news comes to us from the bipartisan group of
eight senators tasked with coming up with an immigration reform framework.
Those eight senators are just about ready to present their proposal to the
rest of the Senate. Patrick Leahy, the chair of the judiciary committee,
has already set a hearing for the compromised bill from one week from
This pivotal movement on immigration today just happened to coincide with
rallies held in Washington and all over the country pushing for reform.
Now, judging from the details of the immigration compromise that are
leaking to the press at this point, the path to legal status for
undocumented workers in this country would still be obstructed by some
really draconian border security requirements.
And even so, again, any deal at all on immigration is a deal that would not
have happened six months ago. Six months ago, the leader of the Republican
Party sounded like this on immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question is, if I were
elected and Congress were to pass a DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the
answer is yes.
We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants
that were working there.
So, we went to the company and we said, look, you can`t have illegals
working on our property. I`m running for office for Pete`s sake, I can`t
Almost half the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens,
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: That`s an absolute falsehood on its face,
ROMNEY: To go to the University of Texas, if you`re an illegal alien, you
get an in-state tuition discount. Four years of college, almost a $100,000
discount if you`re an illegal alien.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In a matter of months, Republicans have gone from being the party
of "I can`t have illegals", to working on a deal with Democrats and
immigration that does not center around the mystifying and cruel concept of
Of course, having lost the election among Latino voters by a 44-point
margin probably helped them along in their reawaking on the issue. But
even after that shellacking among Latinos, even after Republicans seem to
be coming to the table on immigration, there were moments over the last few
weeks when it really did look like the base was about ready to abandon the
There was Jeb Bush`s immigration book out last month arguing undocumented
immigrants should never be allowed a pathway to citizenship.
And then as recently as a couple of weeks ago, it was starting to look like
Marco Rubio, a key member of that bipartisan group working toward a deal
might be getting cold feet.
And to be clear, Republicans still might change their minds and decide to
blow the whole thing up after all, but today they are talking about a deal
on immigration, and that itself is a victory, I think, for the forces of
Both of these deals today for progressives encouraging developments because
they show how what can broadly be called the Obama coalition is succeeding
in pushing the center of domestic political conversation on a whole host of
major issues to the left. On some issues like marijuana legalization in
the states, marriage equality, the Obama coalition has been able to move
the conversation farther to the left faster than anyone thought
And in domestic politics, one huge pressing exception to that pattern --
perhaps the only place where the center is still defined as so far to the
right that we`re still living in the 2010 Tea Party world is austerity.
The terms of the conversation about austerity and budgets and jobs are
still defined by the peak moments of Gadsden flags and tri-corner hats.
Which brings us to today`s third deal, a bad deal, that is redeemed by the
fact it`s one of the three deals that`s not yet struck and probably won`t
be. It is, instead, a deal offered in the form of the president`s budget,
which I should say contains some great progressive stuff.
There`s also this, third to last bullet point in a five-page summary. The
president`s budget is a proposed cut to Social Security benefits.
Because the center of debate on fiscal policy is so far to the right that
cutting Social Security benefits is part of the Democratic president`s
budget proposal, the center gets to find in a whole host of ways who shows
up to election, who gets to appear on cable news, who stands outside on the
National Mall or in the street carrying signs. And we`ve seen activists
mobilize to tremendous early effect on guns and on immigration. And what
we have not seen at this point is mass sustained mobilization against
Today, we`re seeing the results of the absence of that political pressure.
Joining me at the table: Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with
Justice, Kevin Williamson, deputy managing editor of "National Review", and
Tom Perriello, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action
Great to have you all here.
Kevin, from the perspective of a conservative, were you -- are you
surprised that they have come to terms on this background check deal
between Toomey and Manchin, and the "gang of eight" has managed to survive
two months or whatever it is?
KEVIN WILLIAMSON, NATIONAL REVIEW: You know, you said the gun control deal
was narrow. It`s narrower than you think. I would guess you`ve never
bought a gun online?
HAYES: I have not bought a gun online.
WILLIAMSON: But if you ever bought a gun for an online gun store, the way
it normally happens is it ships to a federally licensed firearms dealer,
you get your background check there. I`ve been to probably 60 gun shows,
in almost every one, you have background checks done on the site. So, it`s
not going to make a difference. Person to person to sale still remain
HAYES: So, you actually think this loophole, such as it is, or the open
space for freedom, depending how you define it, remains quite large?
WILLIAMSON: Yes, I don`t think this really makes much difference at all.
I mean, just given what the current practices are on those things. I`ve
never heard of anyone selling a gun online to an online gun store and
shipping it directly to someone`s house without a background check. It
always goes to a firearms dealer. So, this seems to be a total non-issue.
The gun show thing is a little bit different. I mean, there`s still
nothing stopping people from walking outside to the parking lot and saying
we`re no longer at a gun show, we can do business. And unless you`re going
to declare that everybody who sells a gun to someone else has to act as
though they were federally licensed firearm dealer, that space is always
going to be there.
WILLIAMSON: So I think this is absolutely meaningless.
The question that I have is it`s a deal, but what does the other side get?
I mean, doesn`t seem to be anything that the NRA side is getting from this.
There`s a law saying we can`t have a national firearm`s registry, but
there`s a law that says that.
HAYES: I actually like this, because this to me is, you know, part of --
when we`re talking about the optics of deal-making, right, part of the
optics of deal-making is you have to give your base something. I got in
there with those Democrats and I fought for you. And here is the example
of this, which is statement from Joe Manchin on the bipartisan deal with
Senator Pat Toomey on background checks.
"As under current law, background checks are performed by licensed dealers,
recordkeeping will not change, dealers will keep records in bound books."
This is a big point of contention. "The federal government cannot keep
And this is what you`re talking about, this is the red meat, "Our bill
explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry and creates
a new penalty for misusing records to create a registry, a felony
punishable by 15 years in prison.
WILLIAMSON: On the plus side, though, putting new regulations on what the
ATF with records and other resources they have is maybe not a bad idea.
HAYES: This is the pro-regulation rights speaking.
WILLIAMSON: ATF is a really irresponsible and dangerous law enforcement
organization. It`s the worst law enforcement organization in the federal
government. And yes, putting some real teeth and laws for misusing records
they have access to, may be not a bad thing.
TOM PERRIELLO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, it might help that the
Senate allow their leader to come true to run the ATF.
HAYES: Yes, I think part of that --
PERRIELLO: -- a long time.
I think some of the good news and the bad news about this, as Kevin noted,
is much of this builds on things that responsible gun owners and gun
sellers have been doing for a long time. We have a system of
recordkeeping. This is going to make that stronger.
Most people I know want to sell a gun to someone they know is not a
convicted rapist. This is going to make that easier to do. We believe
that this is -- you`ve seen in a 10-year period, nearly 2 million people
who have already dinged by background checks that are out there, and a huge
percentage of those sales increasingly are through gun shows and through
The other thing this does is have very stiff penalties, it`s a felony, if
you sell to someone who you should have had a background. Keep in mind,
that`s people who love the second amendment being convicted of a felony.
That means they would not then be able to own a gun.
So there`s going to be a lot of self regulation under the standards and
there are a lot of good people out there that want to do this the right way
and this is going to help.
HAYES: But why -- you know, we keep talking about on this network, and
it`s true, the polls are 90 percent the people support universal background
checks. But that, I`m really a believer that like anything that has 90
percent support, it`s like that itself is self refuting. Like something
that has 90 percent report means no one is that fired up about it because
it`s like so overwhelming, right?
I mean, I`m surprised that the pressure -- forget the 90 percent polling
support, that`s an abstract thing, that the pressure was able to be
sustained and brought to bear such that someone felt, Pat Toomey, for
instance, thought he had to make a deal.
You specialize -- you`re a professional pressure maker and I wonder what
your sort of calculation of -- are you surprised that it got to that?
SARITA GUPTA, JOBS WITH JUSTICE: I am. I have to say, though, I think
there`s -- this is an example of where grassroots pressure did make a
difference. I mean, at the end of the day, this is about human -- the
human issues of children being killed, parents being mortified by what
happened, and saying we have to change what`s at play.
This is exactly what we see happening with immigration. I mean, you see
the grassroots pressure of every day people saying enough is enough,
something`s got to change here.
HAYES: But you disagree with us on the grassroots side?
WILLIAMSON: I don`t think so at all. I think it`s a media creation and a
bunch of mayors. You know, Toomey represents the state that most of the
votes exist in two big cities and the suburbs. Gun control is popular in
Pennsylvania. He had very specific local pressure to move on that and I
think that`s really all it`s about. I don`t think anyone really cares much
about gun control, to be honest.
HAYES: Some people do care about it.
WILLIAMSON: The last real grassroots movement on gun control was 1994 and
it was on the other side. It was on my side.
HAYES: I don`t think that`s true. I think the real grassroots
mobilization, the Million Moms March, it`s hard, believe me. I know
organize -- no, it`s hard, dude. Believe me, I know organize. Try to go
get 100,000 or 200,000 people --
WILLIAMSON: The Million Mom March mattered to what?
HAYES: What`s that?
WILLIAMS: Legislatively, it mattered to what? Nothing.
I agree, but part of that is there have been a lot of victories in the
`90s, had been a lot of victories in the `90s. And there was -- you`re
right, the counter-mobilization for the last ten years has been the story
on Capitol Hill, absolutely. That`s where the grassroots energy has been.
What I think is interesting is that this deal today, as tentative as it may
be, as small as it may be in some ways, right, shows that balance of power
has shifted. It really has.
WILLIAMSON: The gun control supporters don`t go where there`s support on
the other side.
For instance, New York does a very smart thing, and that it puts people in
jail for handgun violations. You know, if you get caught with a gun
illegally in New York, you go to jail for two years, and New York actually
enforces the law.
Chicago has a similar law, doesn`t enforce. You get caught with a gun dong
something illegal in Chicago, you`re bound to get probation.
It actually works in New York by keeping people in jail before they go on
and commit more powerful crimes. Whereas, Chicago doesn`t do that.
Now, most people in the NRA, most people on my side would say, yes, if you
want to have stiff laws for people who are breaking the law by carrying a
gun someplace you`re not to, committing a non-violent crime, yes, let`s
support that. But no one ever comes out and says, let`s do that, even
though that`s something you might get 90 percent people really care about.
HAYES: Right. Although, it`s hard to see how the federal government would
come in and tell people how -- what the disposition on a probation question
before a judge would be locally.
WILLIAMSON: Well, it doesn`t have to be federal. I mean, you can do it on
a state-by-state level, as well.
PERRIELLO: I think this is about larger narratives right now. You said
the center of the debate moved to the left, I would argue it`s moved to the
center. And I think part of what some Republicans are responding to right
now is that this reinforces a broader concern that they are being
unreasonable, that they are not interested in getting things done.
If there`s one thing I learned in politics, it`s always easier to be a no
on a bill than a yes. And I think this was a case that enough people,
including real leadership from Manchin and Toomey, wanted to get to yes.
HAYES: So, I want to talk about getting to yes on immigration. I`m
surprised. I think I`m in the minority of people that think the strategy
of no all the time has worked out quite well for the Republicans and I
think it`s worked up quite well particularly on the budget stuff, right,
the austerity stuff it has been successful.
I`m not quite sure why they are changing now. I want to talk about that
and talk to someone who has lived decades of struggling for immigrant
rights right after this.
HAYES: Joining us from Washington, Delores Huerta, cofounder of the United
Farm Workers Union and immigration rights leader. She was a speaker at
today`s rally in Washington, which drew tens of thousands, I heard from one
And, Delores, you`ve been working on this issue for some time. We`ve seen
a comprehensive immigration reform bill come relatively close to fruition
and then blow up. Given the news today out of the Senate and the tens of
thousands that have been mobilized, do you feel now like you are winning?
DOLORES HUERTA, UNITED FARMWORKERS UNION: I believe that all of the
mobilizations have really made it possible for something to happen. You
know, we saw maybe 100,000 people that were there at the Capitol steps
today. There were marches all over the United States, not only in
Washington, D.C., but people are marching all over, in many, many of these
So, we`re seeing this big movement on the ground, and I do believe there`s
definitely a lot of movement on the ground. I think there`s some movement
also in the Congress. So, I think that there`s some hope that something
will come out.
We don`t know exactly what it will look like. We don`t know how difficult
it`s going to be for people to be able to get the citizenship, but we know
that something is definitely happening.
HAYES: What`s so striking to me about those images is when you compare to
the fight of Affordable Care Act or, if you go back with McCain/Kennedy,
which I covered quite closely, there was a massive counter-mobilization,
particularly around McCain/Kennedy. There was a bunch of rallies and
people showing up at town halls against this piece of legislation on the
And I`m struck, Kevin, so far, the lack of grassroots counter-mobilization
on immigration on the right. It seems to me, given how closely I followed
it last time around, that it`s like a dog that hasn`t barked yet.
WILLIAMSON: I think the difference is in the right wing world, the
question of immigration is wrapped up in the question of Republican appeals
to his panic voters and I don`t think anybody wants to come out and
organize the march against Hispanics.
WILLIAMSON: I don`t think that`s where that is. You`ve got, you know, the
usual thing going on in the Republican world, which is business interest
want immigration reform.
HAYES: But they wanted it in 2006/2007, too.
WILLIAMSON: Right. But you`ve also got a Republican establishment that`s
currently panicked and thinks that it can`t win presidential elections.
But that is kind of --
HAYES: What`s interesting about that, that establishment, I don`t think of
that establishment having a great amount of control over the grassroots on
sort of hot button issues like this, but what I`m seeing play out here is
maybe they do have a lot of control.
WILLIAMSON: Well, I don`t think it`s as hot an issue as people think it
is. And I think if you put just a question of amnesty up, that gets the
grassroots riled up. But the question of the broader reform of the
immigration system I don`t think drives people as crazy as taxes or gun
HAYES: Sarita, are you -- are you surprised by how effective the
mobilization has been so far and how much the center has seemed to move,
just partly in the wake of the election?
GUPTA: Yes, I`m not surprised by it, actually. I think the elections, you
know, sent a pretty strong signal of what was to come, and I think
President Obama himself speaking to the need for consistently sending the
message that we need immigration reform in this country, I`m not surprised
that we are where we are today.
And I too, like Delores Huerta, I`m hopeful that we are actually this time
going to push through a real common sense immigration reform package.
HAYES: So, here`s what I`m not hopeful. I actually read pretty closely
the details that were leaked today, and they were pretty gnarly in certain
ways, I found. So, this is from "The Wall Street Journal."
The way the setup is going to be, and, Delores, I want your feedback to
this, and you talked about we don`t know what this going to look like. The
setup is, for those undocumented workers, they will be able to apply upon
the passage of the bill for temporary legal residency, so brought out of
And then they are going to have to wait on this long certification process
on the border, which includes, and I`m quoting "The Wall Street Journal",
"Along the U.S./Mexican border, 100 percent of the border would have to be
on surveillance and law enforcement would have to catch 90 percent of those
crossing illegally at high-risk section, a term that people following the
Senate talks did not define. Illegal immigrants would be able to apply for
green cards after 10 years, only if border security targets had been met
and the visa exit and full E-verify systems had been implemented, according
to two people familiar with the plan."
If that is the architecture, Delores, what is your reaction to that?
HUERTA: Well, I think that`s kind of unreasonable. We just have to
remember that the bill`s going to be coming out of the Senate first, and
it`s got to go over to the House side. We look at what happened in 1986
when we got the last big immigration reform, the whole deal was really cut
in the conference committee. That`s where we were able to get a lot of --
the farm workers were able to get legalization for them, about a million
farm workers, Chris, and we were able to toughen up also some of the
requirements for them to bring in foreign workers.
It all worked very well, actually. So, I think some of the unreasonable
things that are in the -- what they are contemplating right now, I think by
the time it gets out of the Senate, goes over to the House, goes to
conference committee, some of those unreasonable items that they have in
there will be thrown out. It won`t work.
HAYES: Although, Tom, bills tend to, at least from our left perspective,
not get more reasonable as they go from the Senate to the House.
PERRIELLO: They don`t, but I think -- that`s going to depend a lot on the
procedure Boehner uses -- Speaker Boehner uses to bring this up.
And I think, as you noted a second ago, there are some huge bright lines
here. I don`t think people are talking about second-class citizenship
right now. We`re talking about clear principles. You`re talking about
however long the path is, and it could be quite draconian.
HAYES: People are on the path. There`s not --
PERRIELLO: An immediate ability to come out of the shadows and have basic
rights. So, these are very important things to negotiate. Some people
thought "The Journal" didn`t get all the details right.
But the reality s the bill hasn`t been written. There`s clearly going to
be some --
HAYES: We don`t even have paper on this.
PERRIELLO: Something about the trigger.
WILLIAMSON: I sometimes wonder if these people have been to the border,
though. I mean, the physical question of policing the border and securing
it to the extent where you`re saying, we`re getting 90 percent --
HAYES: Ninety percent --
WILLIAMS: I`m not sure that`s physically possible. I`m a border hawk, I
believe in border control. I believe in putting up a big fence and
everything else you need to do, but I still think the 9 out of 10 number is
not going to be honestly reached on any short period of time.
HAYES: Yes, it seems to me -- and I think you and I differ on the border -
- but it seems to me like this is a recipe either for a kind of massive
escalation and bureaucracy with no check on it or for everyone to kind of
game the numbers because --
WILLIAMSON: Like public school teachers, right, and just making up the
results as they go along.
HAYES: Thank you very much, Kevin. Thank you for that.
PERRIELLO: You also see politics of this in a way that aren`t just the
national politics of one party or another. There are some individuals
And I think when Senator Rand Paul moved sort of into Rubio`s space of
saying I`m the one who`s going to convince conservatives we should move
forward, you`ve got a lot of interesting moving pieces. But I think,
ultimately, as was mentioned before, you have human beings behind this.
PERRIELLO: And I think when the DREAM Act went through as an executive
action, it appealed because of the American dream story. I think you see
the same thing in the gun debate with victims and survivors. People care
about these stories. I think they are going to matter.
HAYES: But the issue here, I think, when you`re talking about this deal-
making, we`re talking about guarding your right flank, right? If you`re
guarding the right flank with this 15-year penalty for some of the tries
(ph) for creating gun register, OK, fine, that strikes me as largely
Guarding your right flank with, you know, things that are either going to
tear families apart or put people --
WILLIAMSON: I`m really annoyed by this human being sort of language.
You`re talking about an economic question. There are tradeoffs. There are
tradeoffs on this side. There are tradeoffs on that side. There are human
beings on both sides of these tradeoffs.
You know, having an amnesty for 11 illegals will, in fact, not serve some
people`s economic interest very well. Those people are human beings, too.
GUPTA: Right. Let`s be clear, 1,100 families a day are torn apart right
WILLIAMSON: Let`s be clear that the United States government has the duty
of the United States citizens.
GUPTA: The numbers out there today, and we`ve seen prior to today, that`s
why we have the grassroots pressure that`s out there, because ultimately,
we need a common sense immigration system that brings humanity back into
our -- the system.
HAYES: Yes. And I actually don`t think -- let me say, you`re right --
WILLIAMSON: Humanity is a meaningless word.
GUPTA: It`s not a meaningless word.
HAYES: No, human dignity is not.
WILLIAMSON: You have lots of people with different interests on both sides
of the debate.
WILLIAMSON: We`re just talking about have the government make a decision
on which group of interests is going to be served.
HAYES: That`s partially true, that is partially true, and that`s part of
coalition politics. But I think, you know, if you look at some of the data
here, right? The best we can tell, there is some ways to pressure effect
on low-end of the labor scale by the kind of immigration we have. That`s a
real thing, right? There are interests on the other side.
On the other side of that, when we`re talking about human dignity, we`re
talking about people literally being torn apart. We`re talking about a
level of violence to one`s integrity as a person and as a family that I
don`t think there is an interest on the other side. I agree with you,
like, you can use the word --
WILLIAMSON: Well, unless you call the rule of law as being legitimate
interest, which I do. I mean, you sent people to jail, you tear up
families, too. You`re enforcing the law either case.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a whole another story, actually.
PERRIELLO: So, I think saying there`s humanity on both sides (INAUDIBLE)
some moral equivalence on both sides, and I think why you`ve seen this
tipping here is because I think most Americans feel the fairness is tipping
in the reaction of having some system that makes sense here, that gives
people a path to citizenship that is hard as heck. This is not a cake walk
PERRIELLO: It`s a lot of years, a lot of work and time (ph).
HAYES: Delores Huerta, thank you for joining us from Washington. It`s my
understanding it`s your birthday. And I wanted to wish you a happy
birthday. It`s real honor to have you on.
HUERTA: Thank you very much. And one thing, you know, a lot of people --
if they don`t have to face deportation, that would be a big plus. There`s
a lot of families who can (ph) stay together.
HAYES: Sarita Gupta of Jobs with Justice, Kevin Williamson of "National
Review", Tom Perriello of Center for American Progress -- thank you so
much. I really enjoyed. I`m pro humanity.
A battle of two titans and what has become the Super Bowl of failed racial
outreach. Truly cringe-inducing stuff coming up.
HAYES: Up until today the clear and unambiguous front-runner for 2013`s
coveted award for Most Cringe-Inducing Attempted Racial Outreach by a White
Man was, obviously, country singer Brad Paisley. You may have seen this on
the Internet. It`s a song called "Accidental Racist;" it`s very earnest
and it`s Brad Paisley reaching out, trying to move us past our past.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "ACCIDENTAL RACIST")
"I`m proud of where I`m from but not everything we`ve done."
(END AUDIO CLIP, "ACCIDENTAL RACIST")
HAYES: Yes, that is LL Cool J participating in the background. Now from
the moment I first heard this song this week, I was utterly convinced they
should just shut down voting in the category Most Cringe-Inducing Attempted
Racial Outreach by a White Man for the rest of the year. Nothing is going
to beat this song. In fact, this will probably win the award every year
for the next 20 years.
And then today something amazing happened.
Senator Rand Paul went to Howard University, and I`m here to tell you,
ladies and gentlemen, we have a new front-runner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Some people have asked me, are you nervous
about speaking at Howard? They say, you know, some of the students there,
they may be Democrats. So -- but an unjust law is any law that a majority
enforces on a minority but does not make binding upon itself.
PAUL: One of the African-American U.S. senators was a guy named -- I`m
blanking on his name -- from Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brooks.
PAUL: Brooks, Edwin Brooks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, so, actually, it was awesome that Senator Paul spoke at Howard
University. Every major political figure should go to Howard University.
The last major Republican to speak at Howard was then Senator Majority
Leader Bill Frisk in 2004 at the commencement.
Way back in 1981, then Vice President George H.W. Bush spoke at the
school`s commencement, too.
Every major political figure should speak to different constituents and
different groups of people with different opinions, so it is admirable to
go to a place where you know people probably aren`t going to agree with
But to simply leave it at that and say, good for you, buddy, would be
succumbing to what you might call the soft bigotry of low expectations.
It`s admirable to talk to crowds of people who don`t agree with you, but it
is not admirable to assume that the people at one of the most prestigious,
renowned, historically black universities in the nation don`t know the most
basic facts about the history of the Republican and Democratic parties and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: How many of you would have, if I would have said, who do you think
the founders of the NAACP are, do you think they were Republicans or
Democrats? Would everybody in here know they were all Republicans?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PAUL: All right. All right. You know more than I know. OK, and that`s -
- and I don`t mean that to be insulting. I don`t know what you know and
you don`t -- you know, I mean, I`m trying to find out what the connection
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Of course they knew. Of course they knew. To tell the students at
Howard University that Republicans started the NAACP is, as Dave Wiygul
(ph) called it, Randsplaining.
And what is even less admirable, really, is outright lying. It`s one thing
to have the courage to speak to people who are going to disagree with you,
but also have the courage to defend something that your audience may very
well find most odious.
Here`s Senator Paul on his support of the Civil Rights Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I`ve never wavered in my support for civil rights or the Civil
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now if you were jumping at your television screen, saying, but I
saw, on this network, yes, yes, you were right, yes. This is what wavering
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: There`s 10 different titles, you know, to the Civil Rights Act, and
nine out of 10 deal with public institutions. And I`m absolutely in favor
of one deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would have
tried to modify that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was, of course, Candidate Paul in 2010 on "THE RACHEL MADDOW
Following his interview with "The Louisville Courier-Journal":
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended
discrimination in all public domains, and I`m all in favor of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But?
PAUL: You had to ask me the but.
I don`t like the idea of telling private business owners -- I abhor racism;
I think it`s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your
restaurant. But at the same time I do believe in private ownership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That, too, is what wavering looks like.
Both Rand Paul and Brad Paisley seem to think that the way to bridge the
racial divide is a double helping of sheer earnestness. And if you don`t
believe me, here`s just another little taste of Paisley.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "ACCIDENTAL RACIST")
"I`m just a white man coming to you from the southland."
(END AUDIO CLIP, "ACCIDENTAL RACIST")
HAYES: But earnestness, as nice a trait as it is -- and, believe me, I
know whereof I speak -- is no substitute for a sophisticated understanding
of how our past relates to the present, for a commitment to policies that
would bring about material improvement.
Contra Paul and Paisley, achieving racial progress in this country isn`t
just a matter of having the right conversations. It`s about bringing about
And if history has taught us one thing, it`s that equality comes from
struggle, not from group hugs.
We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Due to time constraints tonight, "Click Three" had to hit the
cutting room floor, but fear not, fans of awesomeness on the Internet, it
will be up on our Facebook page tonight at Facebook.com/AllInwithChris.
While you`re there, you can like us, yes, please, like us, like us, like
When we return, the Obama budget and some truly stunning reactions to it.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to deficit
reduction, I`ve already met Republicans more than halfway, so growing our
economy, creating jobs, shrinking our deficits, keeping our promise to the
generation that made us great, but also investing in the next generation,
the next generation that will make us even greater.
These are not conflicting goals. We can do them in concert. That`s what
my budget does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was the president today in the Rose Garden, introducing his
2014 budget, a budget that reduces the deficit by an additional $1.8
trillion over 10 years. It`s a document that, among other things, makes
good on some of the best progressive promises that came out of the
president`s last State of the Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): It raises the minimum wage to $9 an hour, calls for
$12.5 billion to avert teacher layoffs and for additional hiring and spends
$66 billion to expand preschool education.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It also notably cuts subsidies for farms and pharmaceutical
But buried on page 4 of the White House-issued summary, in the section
titled "Cutting the Deficit in a Balanced Way" lives the most controversial
bullet point of the entire budget, which reads as follows --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): -- "$230 billion in savings from using a chained
measure of inflation for cost of living adjustments throughout the budget
with protections for the most vulnerable."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now you may or may not be familiar with the notion of chained CPI,
so here`s what that complicated but very important sentence means in
Right now, as the cost of living rises, Social Security payments increase
to keep up. But the president`s budget proposes changing the way the cost
of living increase is calculated to a measure that shows the cost of living
going up more slowly than the current measure.
That means the distance between those two lines that Social Security
benefits will rise more slowly. And, simply put, this is a real cut in
benefits, as in the actual dollar value you`ll receive in Social Security
benefits will be less.
According to the Center for Economic Policy Research, for the average
worker retiring at 65, mean a cut of about $650 every year by age 75,
$1,130 every year by age 85.
If the president`s proposal were not a real cut in benefits, it would not
be a savings to the deficit. It`s not a controversial point. The proposal
lives within the cutting the deficit section of the budget and comes with a
promise of $230 billion in savings.
This is why the embrace of chained CPI by the president is so
controversial. This is why the president`s budget, despite its abundance
of progressive bona fides, has left many Democrats and activists on the
Left asking themselves, WTF.
Joining us from Washington, Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat from Oregon;
here at the table is Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst, Bloomberg
View columnist; Heather McGhee, vice president of policy and outreach at
Demos; and Mattie Duppler, director of Americans for Tax Reform.
Senator, I want to start with you. You have been one of the vocal critics
of the president`s chained CPI plan.
If this is a relatively modest cut and if it does the thing of doing more
the further you get into the out years, why isn`t the perfect thing to
include in this budget?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, first let me tell you what chained
CPI stands for. It stands for cutting hard-acquired income for the elderly
and disabled. That`s exactly, that`s exactly what it -- what it does.
It`s a cut in real benefits; as you just said, over 20 years, it`s $1,000 a
And here is the thing: it -- there are ways to adjust Social Security that
might resonate with fairness, but creating an accounting trick that creates
a less accurate estimate of the real inflation cost that seniors face is
HAYES: But people who argue for it say that it is actually more accurate
and the reason is it`s more accurate is because the way it calculates is it
takes into account the fact that consumers make substitutions as the price
of certain relative goods goes up and down. So actually, the real effect
of it is that this is the more accurate measure.
MERKLEY: Well, and they are wrong. I mean, the argument is that, look, if
the price of apples go up, you buy more bananas and we`ll take that into
account. And that sounds very good until you realize that the CPI we have
right now is not based on what the elderly buy, it`s not the basket of
goods senior citizens face. It`s a different basket, a basket that doesn`t
go up as fast.
MERKLEY: If you want a CPI index for the seniors, then CPIE for elderly
much more accurately tracks it and it`s a higher CPI. So this goes in
exactly the wrong direction.
HAYES: Jonathan, I feel like you`ve been someone who`s been vocal in
calling for Democrats to compromise on entitlement reform or social
insurance cuts -- I prefer the latter phrase.
So what`s your reaction to the senator and to this budget?
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if the senator can propose
another reform of entitlements that can raise $230 billion and that doesn`t
hurt truly vulnerable people -- and, remember, the president said in his
budget this will not hit truly vulnerable people; that`s who he`s
protecting in the rest of his budget -- if the senator can come up with an
alternative to that that has any kind of a chance of passage, I`m all ears.
I`m not wedded to chained CPI. What I am concerned about is that there`s
this sense on the Left among those like me, who are very strong supporters
of that social contract that Franklin Roosevelt established, there`s a
sense on the Left that we can protect it all in amber, preserve it in
amber; we don`t have to change anything.
That is not possible. So, when you say what would you change, I`d say,
well, raise the cap.
HAYES: Raising the cap means raising the cap of payroll taxes so that you
can fund the Social Security --
ALTER: -- over $113,000. That is not going to happen.
HAYES: But it should happen! But it should happen.
ALTER: In other words, so the question here goes to the president`s basic
question, which is, is the perfect the enemy of the good?
HEATHER MCGHEE, VP, DEMOS: So, you`re saying it`s not politically possible
because Republicans would never accept it? Is that what you`re saying?
ALTER: I`m saying that if you`re going to get revenue increases, which the
president wants and has in his budget, that there are more politically
palatable places to get it.
MCGHEE: So here`s the problem --
ALTER: (INAUDIBLE) people who are making $115,000 and would be, you know,
MCGHEE: So, here`s the problem, the entire need for a deal, as you were
talking about, Chris, earlier in the segment, has to do with this urgent
priority that is a Washington obsession, which is to actually lower the
deficit; when, in fact, the most urgent need outside of Washington is to
create more jobs, to raise take-home pay and to deal with the fact that
employers that have walked away from pensions and 401(k)s are abysmal at
actually protecting retirement.
And so we`re actually going to need a more generous Social Security package
in the future. It`s not just related to what`s actually going in the
economy. And that`s what`s so difficult about this whole conversation.
ALTER: And just very briefly, I agree with you in the short term. We`re
on completely the same page. But to say with the baby boomers retiring and
these unbelievable, you know, boulders coming down the road on the next
MCGHEE: -- out of balance.
ALTER: -- to say that -- the idea that nothing has to be done on Social
Security is not --
HAYES: Let me say -- let me just (INAUDIBLE) intervene and register my --
I`m not for preserving in amber, I`m for pouring more amber in and
basically expanding. Right? So I think we should expand Social Security.
ALTER: But then kids won`t get anything and the seniors will get the whole
HAYES: We need to tax people a lot more.
(INAUDIBLE) you, Mattie Duppler, who.
You guys, the great thing about this -- I learned this morning, you oppose
MATTIE DUPPLER, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Right. And this is the thing
about President Obama (INAUDIBLE) to bring the Left and the Right together;
there`s something in this budget for everyone to hate. And it`s not that
this is a Republican problem with chained CPI; progressives were out in
front on Friday when this got leaked, that this was a huge problem for the
Left and their priorities.
But the problem that we have with chained CPI is that it`s not just on the
benefits. It`s not --
HAYES: You`re fine with the benefit cuts? We should be (INAUDIBLE)? No,
I wanted you to say that.
DUPPLER: From the benefits side of things, if you`re looking to reform
entitlements, it`s good that we`re actually talking about the outlays that
are coming out of these entitlement programs, because, obviously, that`s
the problem that no one`s addressing.
The other side of the coin, though, with chained CPI is that it hits the
tax code. What it does is it slows the -- it slows the tax brackets, the
way you measure where people are falling in their tax brackets. So as you
said before, if that`s growing more slowly but income`s still coming up,
people are moving into higher tax brackets --
HAYES: It`s a tax hike. And that`s actually part of the savings.
And I want to --
HAYES: -- well, right.
And I want to talk about -- I want to talk about the politics of this,
because one of the ways it gets reversed (INAUDIBLE) -- and Senator
Merkley, I want you to weigh in on this in a second, which is that this is
a way to kind of come to the table more than halfway.
So I want to play some of the conservative reaction to this and Republican
reaction to chained CPI that was in the budget just from today. We`re
going to play that right after we take a quick break.
REP. GREG WALDEN (R), OREGON: Because the budget really lays out kind of a
shocking attack on seniors. When you`re going after seniors the way he`s
already done on ObamaCare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare to put into
ObamaCare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you`re crossing
that line very quickly.
PAUL: You know, I think senior citizens are squeezed.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: If the president`s going to take Ms.
O`Reilly and everybody else, seniors who don`t have any money away, then
those left-wing groups may have a point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those left-wing groups have a point. Those are conservatives and
Republicans, including the head of the NRCC, Representative Walden,
blasting the president from the Left for cuts in Social Security. And
Senator Merkley, what do you think when you see that?
MERKLEY: Well, Greg Walden is from my home state of Oregon. And so here
the president --
HAYES: What does Walden stand for, do we have an acronym, W-A-L-D-E-N?
MERKLEY: No, I don`t have one quick for you. No, he`s a good man, and I`m
going to say this on this issue, he`s right.
And but here`s the thing, it`s very cynical, because the president put it
in because Republicans asked him to make it part of the deal, and then
immediately attack him for it.
But I do think if you`re going to take a political calculation, you should
believe that you`re going to be able to sell what is fair, and this is
where Jonathan and I disagree, because this is an unfair strategy.
Now, means testing the top 25 percent of income earners, something like
that, that strikes people as fair. This was designed, as Roosevelt said,
insurance against need. And so something like that, a much fairer deal.
HAYES: Totally disagree with means testing, and here`s why. Universal
programs -- if you study the history of social democracy in the U.S. and
across the continent, the thing that makes them work is universal pay-in
and everybody gets out. And the reason that Bill O`Reilly is on his air
last night, is because the program is universal. The political
constituency exists for it because of its (INAUDIBLE).
ALTER: Nobody`s talking about taking it all away from the people who`ve
paid in, just having them get a little bit less if they are still working
and they have other assets. That is done all throughout Europe. The idea
that all of these social programs that we both respect, that they don`t
have means testing --
HAYES: Not respect, we need love, love.
ALTER: The idea they don`t have means testing around the world is not
accurate. They do have (INAUDIBLE) testing around the world.
DUPPLER: (INAUDIBLE) same thing, though, from a Republican or conservative
perspective is that for the president to say he`s coming to the table with
entitlement reforms and his entitlement reform is a middle class tax hike,
what does that say about the president`s priorities?
That`s why conservatives are all scratching their head, asking why is this
your entitlement reform when we have got these behemoths of entitlement
spending -- Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
MCGHEE: He`s reformed multiple times, over both in the Affordable Care Act
DUPPLER: Right, in the Affordable Care Act and --
MCGHEE: -- billion dollars in this proposal. I mean, it`s honestly --
ALTER: -- privatize, that`s not much of an answer.
MCGHEE: Honestly, the real issue here is that the only people who actually
want to cut Social Security -- and I think it`s important that Republicans
will never say, please, give us Social Security -- what they will say is
entitlements, listen to the language, because that just doesn`t mean Social
Security, which everyone loves, including the majority of Republican
DUPPLER: Well, why do Republicans (INAUDIBLE) Social Security?
MCGHEE: (INAUDIBLE) class.
DUPPLER: Well, but you`re just saying that this has to be Republicans`
priorities, why? Republicans have offered just as many plans to reform
Medicare as President Obama had.
MCGHEE: Paul Ryan didn`t even touch Social Security. He left that for the
DUPPLER: So why are you saying that Republicans have to take it on, then?
Why is that (INAUDIBLE)?
HAYES: Look, look, let me, let me -- look, I`m happy -- I`m happy to --
I`m happy to offer the following truce to all parties: Republicans don`t
have to cut Social Security and Democrats don`t have to cut Social
Security. I think a wonderful peace that could break out on Washington and
bring everyone together, Senator Merkley, is that we don`t cut Social
MERKLEY: It sounds like an absolutely good proposal.
HAYES: NBC`s Jonathan Alter, Heather McGhee of Demos and Mattie Duppler of
Americans for Tax Reform, and in Washington, Senator Jeff Merkley, thank
you so much, Senator, for coming on tonight, I really appreciate it.
All right, I like that. That was good. And we should talk again in the
future about expanding Social Security.
New America foundation has -- you`re grimacing.
HAYES: New American Foundation --
DUPPLER: I`m not anti-entitlement programs.
HAYES: -- New American Foundation, they explain it, we`re going to talk
about that at some future show. But right now, that`s it for ALL IN for
this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I like it how you left it, where you just
established peace in the land. This is how it`s going to be. You don`t do
it and you don`t do it. Whoo!
MADDOW: I`m with you, man.
HAYES: All in an hour`s work.
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