ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
October 29, 2013
Guest: Deval Patrick, Sam Seder, Nina Turner, Jeff Denham>
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
And today, we watched as the federal official who oversees the Obamacare
exchanges appeared before a House committee to testify about the flawed
rollout of healthcare.gov. And we also watched as Democrats on that
committee reached their limit of just how much phony Republican concern
they can stomach.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: There had been a little bit and systematic
attempt on the part of the majority in the House and the minority in the
Senate to make it impossible for all Americans to receive quality health
And some of us will not stand for it. We will stand up for what is right,
for what is fair and what is just. Health care is a right and not a
HAYES (voice-over): Democrats today didn`t hide their frustration with
Republicans sudden concern with fixing American`s broken health care
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a false choice to say it`s Obamacare or nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious what you just said? Are you really
serious? After what we have gone through?
You can sit there and say that you had a legitimate alternative after these
years? We have gone through 44 votes, 48 votes now of you trying to
dismantle the legislation? You call that cooperation? I don`t.
HAYES: Republicans took their shots, too, both inside and outside the
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There is no way to fix
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you not know how many people have enrolled?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just an incredibly bad rollout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t read the law as Nancy Pelosi said you
HAYES: The GOP will tell you, it`s not just healthcare.gov that`s
glitching, the entire enterprise of Obamacare is doomed to failure.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: It`s more than a Web site, it`s because
this law itself is borne from an architecture, a foundation, that is just
HAYES: The foundation of the law he`s talking about is the system of
health care exchanges. But the exchanges that Republicans are now railing
against it are the backbone of the very same system they want. That`s
system is called the Ryan plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can have Medicare as is, or you can have federal
subsidies so you can go out and buy your own, is that correct?
RYAN: In the medical exchange, meaning, you have guaranteed coverage
options within Medicare, you get to pick among these plans, they have to
meet at least Medicare`s criteria.
HAYES: Yes, the Ryan plan, which passed most recently in March, uses
federally run exchanges just like Obamacare.
BOEHNER: It transforms Medicare into a plan that`s very similar to the
president`s own health care bill.
HAYES: So, let`s review. Obamacare takes everyone in the individual
market and puts them on regulated government run insurance exchange, one
step closer to single payer, but not there.
The Ryan plan takes seniors on Medicare, a single-payer system and puts
them on a government run exchange. One big step backward.
So, if you think the rollout of a federal exchange for 7 million people is
rough? Remember, it is the official position of the Republican Party to
add 50 million seniors to that.
And the same Republicans who spent their day grilling the top
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re saying the system right now isn`t working?
HAYES: That guy voted to put 50 million seniors on the system he`s railing
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is the same failure from the beginning.
HAYES: He voted for the Ryan plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a disaster of a rollout that`s occurring.
HAYES: And he voted to roll out an even larger federal exchange.
Yes, every single Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee voted
for a plan that would put 50 million seniors on to health care exchanges.
So, if, as conservatives say the rollout of Obamacare exchanges discredits
liberal governance, it discredits the conservative vision too.
HAYES: Joining me now is the governor of Massachusetts, Democrat Deval
Patrick. He`s helped oversee the implementation of that state`s health
care reform program. Approximately 97 percent of Massachusetts residents
are now insured, according to the latest data from the Massachusetts Center
for Health Information and Analysis.
And the first question, Governor, is, as we watch the rollout of the health
care exchanges, it is as if this is some completely untested Martian
experiment and there is no example of this ever having worked in human
history. So as someone who is the governor of a state where this
essentially a version of this law is implemented, what is your take on the
last month or so?
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, you know, we had glitches
when we got going as well. It was first, you know, too slow to get people
signed up and then more complicated than we anticipated. But we had a
great advantage here in the commonwealth that the president may not have
had, to tell you the truth. And that is, there was a broad coalition that
came together to invent health care reform here and then stuck together to
improve it and refine it as we went along.
HAYES: So --
PATRICK: And it was bipartisan, it had all kinds of participants from
policymakers and providers, down to insurers and patient advocates, and
they have continued to stick together to strengthen this program and make
HAYES: OK, so when you talk about glitches and I was going back through
some of the coverage of the waves of rollouts that happened under Mass Care
and it seems to me that some of the issues were similar.
I guess the first thing I want to ask you about is, did people go through
some disruption in the individual market?
HAYES: That`s the market in which people are joining these exchanges.
Does this look familiar to you as the governor of Massachusetts?
PATRICK: That`s right, Chris. And they did. It`s a big reform. So there
were a lot changes. It`s a complicated IT project to be sure, and even
more so by orders of magnitude at the national level.
But the thing to remember, I think, is that the ACA is not a Web site, it`s
a values statement. It`s about whether we believe that health is a public
good. The president does, a majority of the Congress does and it`s been
now upheld by the Supreme Court.
So, the question is, how do we get the problems fixed? I`m confident they
will be. And how do we really turn away from all the noise being created
by congressional Republicans who haven`t believed that people should be
insured against a medical catastrophe from the beginning.
HAYES: I am with you 1,000 percent about the values here, about the
necessity of public good. But let`s be vey clear here, all the good
intentions in the world do not matter unless the thing works. I think we
would agree on that.
PATRICK: That`s right. That`s right. And all I`m saying is that our
experience in Massachusetts was, we had great intentions going in. We felt
we had a really good plan on day one, we learned on day one and day two and
day three what was wrong, and we went to work to fix it.
We had tech surge, just like at the national level. We learned as we went
on how to make it simpler and easier for people to use and more effective.
And today, health care reform in Massachusetts is wildly popular and people
aren`t remembering how we had our own bumps when we got going.
HAYES: You know, the funny through the looking glass issue here, as
someone who comes from what I`ll call the single-payer left. There was a
degree to which many in the single-payer left viewed Mass Care with
tremendous skepticism --
PATRICK: You bet, yes.
HAYES: -- as this crazy, hybrid, jerry-rigged thing that was never to
work, and I remember lefty publications picking out the troubled stories in
the beginning as indications that the thing wouldn`t work and wouldn`t be
PATRICK: Right. Well, that`s exactly right.
In fact, there are supporters of mine on my left who have said from the
beginning, single-payer is the only answer. Frankly, if you listen to some
of the Republicans talk about how this basically private sector solution is
not a good solution, but they do believe that people should be insured
against a medical catastrophe, it almost suggests that they think single
payer is a good idea and we know that`s not -- that`s not the case.
HAYES: The last thing I want to put up this statistic, because that is so
important for people to see. After one month, the Massachusetts health
care program had enrolled 123 people, after two months, 2,089. And then,
after 11 months, it was 36,000.
So, all of this stuff came very late in the cycle, people tend to come
right before the deadline.
PATRICK: That`s human behavior, a deadline matters and having that
deadline and being disciplined about it. And also, you know, promoting the
programs, not just myself, and other public leaders, but we had the teams
help us out, the Red Sox and the Patriots, the Celtics and the Bruins,
because part of the population we were trying to capture were the so called
invincibles, those young, healthy men who weren`t insured and never thought
they would ever be sick.
HAYES: It`s, of course, the same --
PATRICK: The principle of insurance, of course, is to have everybody in
the pool so that you spread the losses broadly as possible.
HAYES: It`s the same dynamic right now.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, as a Cubs fan, I find myself rooting
for your Boston Red Sox, thank you so much. Thanks for your time tonight.
PATRICK: Thank you, Chris. Take care.
HAYES: Joining me now is Sam Seder, host of the online podcast, "Majority
Report", co-host of the radio show "Ring of Fire".
All right. Have you noticed that conservatives are now basically a kind of
impromptu "Consumer Report" squad for people in the individual insurance
market which is new, I think, I think it`s fair to say?
SAM SEDER, MAJORITY REPORT: Yes, I`ve never -- to be honest, I`ve never
heard the conservatives ever talk about the private insurance market. I
mean, look, they`re doing what they have always done. They are looking for
stories. They`re looking for some political traction. They want to get as
far away as they can from the government shutdown. And this is a way to
put some stance there. And yes, it`s incredibly hypocritical and it`s
HAYES: Here`s the thing that drives me crazy about the coverage of this so
First of all, just take a way the balance of coverage of people who are
getting blocked from Medicaid expansion, of whom there are millions of
people to go talk to, and are getting cancellation notices, they`re just
being told, sorry, you won`t get help, right?
HAYES: So, that`s personal.
Second of all, though, that market -- which I was in for a number of years
when I was a freelance writer, you get notices every year that your
insurance is changing.
SEDER: That`s right. I mean, the reality is, you know, you can say that
there`s 100,000 people from any given state whose insurance was cancelled.
But the fact is that if there was no Obamacare, if there was no Affordable
Care Act, you`d see probably about 80,000 of those people having their
insurance policy cancelled and turn over, I think there`s about 17 percent
of people maintained in the individual markets their insurance from year to
year because it simply -- this is not even talking about how substandard
that product is.
HAYES: Right. So, as someone who I think is also in the same place I am,
which I would say singer-payer left, right? I believe that we should just
-- everyone in the pool, Medicare for all, social insurance for everyone.
I`m very happy about the Affordable Care Act, because I think it gets us
massive improvement on the status quo.
SEDER: Well, your point about Medicaid is really well taken. I mean, you
know, there are millions of people who are being denied because of
Republican governors that dwarf the numbers of people who are going to be
dealing with any premium rate shock or having their policies cancelled.
So that really is distorted.
HAYES: But here, but I think it cuts both ways. Here`s what I think is
interesting watching this unfold. When you would make the argument during
the healthcare fight, from the single-payer perspective, what you hear from
people and it was in argument is that there are a lot of people who do not
want their health care to change, and what you would be talking about is
essentially just dislocating everyone, right? It would be new and
different for everyone and that would freak people out.
Watching the freak out happen right now makes me think that those people
have a pretty strong political point because we are dealing with 5 percent
of the insurance market -- 5 percent who are in the individual part of the
market and a smaller -- much smaller percentage of those are having their
plans cancelled because of the new regulations. That`s still hundreds of
thousands of people.
That argument in retrospect, which I didn`t buy at the time, looks stronger
SEDER: You know, the one part of that calculation that you`re missing is
that, if we were all going into like a Medicare buy in, everyone would know
before they got that cancellation notice, that`s where they were going to
SEDER: At this point, we don`t have --
SEDER: There`s uncertainty, we don`t know. We could have been much more
sure. And that`s really the issue here, right, is that the market has been
broken for a long time, the private insurance market. We are subsidizing
it to prop it up. We are basically keeping this private insurance industry
on life support.
And if we had a single-payer situation, there would be no uncertainty. It
would be very clear, people would get -- that`s what they want, they want
security from their insurance.
HAYES: This is great. There`s a bunch of headlines from the Medicare
rollout that I thought were pretty interesting, and an interesting
contrast, which gets to a little bit Medicare plan, that smooth opening
day, enrolling a Medicare, not a difficult matter, check out Medicare,
shows smooth going, there is a simplicity, and administrative simplicity to
something like single-payer that there is not and that gets us back to the
Ryan plan, which is going to put -- I mean, can you imagine 50 million
senior citizens on the version of healthcare.gov trying to figure out their
SEDER: Right. You`re talking about five times more -- at least the amount
of people that are looking for insurance on the private stages now. But
that`s not the worst of it. The worst of it is you`re taking people who
are in the most likely -- and put them into the risk pool.
So, what you would be doing is you would be raising the rate -- I mean,
it`s almost impossible to imagine how expensive it would be.
HAYES: The official Republican Party plank, they all voted for it, they
all own on it.
Sam Seder from "Majority Report" -- thank you so much.
Coming up --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I`m not going to ignore the mentally ill, and
I`m not going to ignore the drug addicted or veterans or very working poor
people on my watch. But that doesn`t mean I embrace Obamacare because I
think it`s not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, sounding like a
liberal actually. Well, except for that last part there. More on his
interesting transformation, ahead.
HAYES: We love hearing from you on Twitter and Facebook. And as of today,
the new MSNBC.com about which more (INAUDIBLE).
Later in the show, we`ll talk about Chris Christie`s role in the post-
Superstorm Sandy recovery effort. And this, the one year anniversary of
First, we want to hear what you think. Answer our MSNBC poll, a neat new
feature on the Web site. What do you think of Chris Christie`s performance
during Sandy? Do the job New Jersey elected him to do, go above and beyond
the call the duty, could have done more or failed the people of New Jersey,
on the poll at allin.msnbc.com, and Facebook.com/allinwithchris. I`ll
share the results later in the show.
We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Hi there.
Well, it`s a big day here at MSNBC. We launched our new Web site today,
and one of the tools you can make your own poll.
Here`s one we created. It starts with a, quote, "I`m concerned about the
fact that there seems to be a war on the poor." That`s a quote.
Which current or former cable news personality said this to "New York
Times"? Was it Ed Schultz, Rachel, Phil Donahue, Jessie "The Body"
Ventura, or other?
And if you selected other, you`d be right because it was this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASICH: Hi. I`m John Kasich, in tonight for Bill O`Reilly, who`s on
vacation and I want to thank you for watching us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, before he was a Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich was a
host over at FOX News. So, it raised quite a few eyebrows when he was
quoted in "The New York Times" this week saying, "I`m concerned about the
fact that there seems to be a war on the poor," that if you`re poor,
somehow you`re shiftless or crazy. You know what? The very people who
complained ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the WPA."
Just take a few seconds to remember why you know the name John Kasich,
because he enraged working Ohioans in 2011 by pushing through a restrictive
collective bargaining law. He was dealt a stunning defeat at the end of
that year when voters overturned the law. Kasich pushed ahead with his
agenda anyway, passing a budget that cuts taxes for the rich and implements
harsh restrictions to reproductive health.
At the same time, Kasich has defied his own Republican legislator and the
Tea Party by expanding the state`s Medicaid program under Obamacare.
There are two possibilities of what`s going on and they`re not mutually
exclusive. One is that he`s actually standing up against the right wing
elements in Ohio because he believes it`s wrong and inexcusable to make
more than 270,000 Ohioans go without health care for no reason other than
spite. Or Kasich realizes his first two years in office were far to the
right over the Ohio electorate, and this is an attempt to move back in line
with the public and possibly set himself up for an event up for an eventual
Of course, both of those things might be true.
Joining me now to discuss it, Ohio state senator, Democrat, Nina Turner.
She is challenging Republican Secretary of State John Husted, who is
running for reelection.
And, Senator, what is your read on the state of play of the politics of
Medicaid expansion in your state right now?
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER (D), OHIO: Complicated, Chris. On the one hand,
the governor should have definitely used political courage to force his GOP
members in the House and the Senate to bring it to the floor for a vote.
He refused to do that. They refused to do that. You know, one in six
Ohioans live in poverty so we need some real leadership here.
The fact that this was pushed through the controlling board, certainly was
not ideal, and GOP members have filed the lawsuit, so those over 275,000
working class Ohioans who do in fact need this Medicaid expansion will
still be in limbo because of the foolishness, folly and craziness that is
going on in Ohio.
HAYES: So, this is fascinating, I had not considered this. What I am
hearing from you is that actually going to the oversight board was kind of
a cowardly move. He should have actually exerted the power and leadership
over his own party to get them to bring the thing up for a vote and passed
it outright in the state legislature?
TURNER: Oh, absolutely, Chris, and leadership of the GOP refused to bring
it to a floor vote, so we will never know. Certainly, the word on the
ground was that there were some Republicans who would have voted for this.
That would have been a cleaner way, that would have been the better way.
And also, we had GOP members on the record voting against expanding
Medicaid to the working poor, voting against expanding Medicaid to
veterans. Voting against job creation, which they talked a lot about. We
are 47th in job creation in this state, Chris, we could use some of those
jobs but they refused to do it and now there is a lawsuit pending.
Let us not forget that this is the same governor that refused to set off
state exchange. Let us not forget that.
I feel a grandma moment coming, Chris, you can put truth in the river five
days after a lie, but truth is going to catch up.
HAYES: Do you think that the politics of this for the GOP as a whole in
that state are hurting them? I mean, what -- where are Ohioans on this as
TURNER: Yes, people realize that and I certainly have been traveling all
over state and they get who cares about them, they know that it is the
Democrat who stand up for workers, for women, for voters, for poor people,
and that the rhetoric coming from the governor certainly does not match the
actions of the GOP supermajorities in both the House and the Senate, and
that elections have consequences. So the GOP will feel that come 2014 when
voters vote their self-interests.
HAYES: Well, one of the people who will be on the ballot along with
yourself is Secretary of State John Husted. He`s a controversial figure,
he tried to pare back early voting back in 2012, was basically rejected in
the courts because of the lawsuit filed by the Obama campaign. He is now
come through with his new recommendations on paring back early voting.
This is what he says, recommendation start voting 29 days before the
election and ended on the Sunday before Election Day in presidential
elections and the Saturday before other general elections.
Interpret that decision for me. What do you think of that?
TURNER: It makes absolutely no sense. I mean, to -- and African-American
voters, voters of color in particular will be hurt by this. Souls to the
Polls is something that African-American churches use to bring voters out
to vote on Sunday. You know, the citizens of the state deserve a secretary
of state who wants people to vote, not somebody that will use their
political might and clout to try to suppress the vote.
And not only that, just recently making that recommendation, as you
remember, Chris, last year, he appealed all the way to the United State
Supreme Court to take away the last few days of early voting. Early in-
person voting is popular in the state of Ohio, but particularly African-
Americans over 15 percent utilize early in person voting and white voters
in the state tend to vote on Election Day, by about 4.3 percent.
So we know where the targets are. And it is wrong to try to stop any group
of people from exercising their right to vote because the ballot box is the
one place where we are all equal, Chris. We are all equal, but if you stop
people from even exercising that right to vote.
HAYES: I cannot imagine the possible justification for having Sunday early
voting on presidential elections and not on the midterms because of some
fear that there`s more fraud in the midterms.
Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, thank you so much for your time tonight.
The first House Republican to sign on to a Democratic plan for immigration
reform, Congressman Jeff Denham, will be my guest coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORELLA PRAELI, UNITED WE DREAM NETWORK: You have people like Senator
Rubio coming out, trying to defeat a measure he worked on trying to move
forward. And to me, that`s not leadership. I also don`t want us to be
overly focused on him because I think the people that really matter right
now at this point in the debate are Republican House leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was immigration rights activist Lorella Praeli on this show
last night and today, the pressure continues to mount on those members of
Congress she talked about, the House Republican leadership -- particularly
John Boehner who has still not brought up an immigration reform bill for a
vote on the House floor despite the passage of a bipartisan Senate bill by
a large margin.
Adding to the pressure, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is now
the second House Republican to sign on to a reform bill for House
Democrats, a move that prompted White House deputy press secretary to
declare there is more evidence of bipartisan Senate immigration bill would
pass the House if Speaker Boehner would allow a vote.
On top of this, "The New York Times" is reporting an unlikely coalition of
business executives, evangelical groups and prominent conservatives coming
together to urge House Republicans to put broad immigration legislation on
the House floor, ideally before the end of this year.
When the message kicked off over the weekend by Congressman Jeff Denham,
who became the first Republican to get on board and urge his colleagues to
do the same.
And Congressman Jeff Denham, Republican from California, joins me now.
He`s co-sponsors the House immigration bill introduced by the Democrats.
First of all, Congressman, I applaud you for your co-sponsorship of this
And do you agree -- don`t you agree that it is a huge mistake for House
Speaker John Boehner not to simply bring this to the floor for a vote?
REP. JEFF DENHAM (R), CALIF.: Well, I believe that we are going to see a
vote on immigration this year. They`ve had -- continue to have the
commitment of leadership in doing that.
My focus right now is to make sure that we elevate this issue, which is why
I coauthored this bill. Obviously I support it. It`s an important issue
to my family, an important issue to my community and I think it`s going to
contribute to the greatness of America. So the more that we can elevate
this debate and make sure that it`s brought up this year, I think the
country`s going to be in a better place for it.
HAYES: What good reason is there to not just bring the bill up for a vote?
DENHAM: Well, right now we need to make sure that we have got bipartisan
support. This can`t be a Republican bill or a Democrat bill. It really
needs to be a bipartisan bill.
HAYES: But wait a second. You definitionally make it bipartisan, that`s
why you`re on the show right now, it is a bipartisan bill, you`re here.
DENHAM: Yes. But it`s important to get 218 votes first. Working with my
Democratic colleagues, they have obviously shown that they can support this
bill, 185 co-sponsors already. Now it`s time to get a number of
Republicans on board.
And that`s what I`m going on and do. It`s my mission to go out and talk to
many other Republicans from throughout different areas of the United States
and really get them to ask questions and I want to answer their questions.
And if they have concerns with the bill, show me your amendments, but just
saying no is not an option.
HAYES: If you could get 20 Republicans, 25 Republicans, if you could get
that whip count to 218. Are you telling me you can go to House Speaker
John Boehner and say hey, we got 218, you should let this come for a vote?
DENHAM: My goal is to have a full debate on immigration. We have not done
that yet. You have heard specific pieces of legislation on the House on
border security, on internal security with eVerify. But we`ve never gotten
to the point where we`re talking about the Dreamers, the kids or the Enlist
Act, my bill, to allow immigrants to serve in the military or ultimately an
earned pathway to citizenship. It has to be all of those different areas
coming to a vote together.
My job now is to show that Republicans can support this too. And I`m going
to get a number of Republicans not only to support this bill, but to also
send a letter to the Speaker and continue to push in conference that this
has to come up this year. It`s a short time frame.
HAYES: Yes. What happens to the Republican Party if the Republican Party
is perceived -- and I would say rightly -- as the party that killed this
last best chance of reform?
DENHAM: Well, certainly over the last decade or so, you can blame both
parties, both parties have made mistakes. The president certainly had
control of both houses and the presidency and could have gotten this
But right now you know the Senate has pretty much said put up or shut up.
Now it`s the House`s job to act and I`m going to continue to push to get
this done. I think what really causes challenges in the election are those
extremes that say outrageous things and continue to label the brand of my
party or the outrageous things that have been said on the other side of the
aisle as well.
HAYES: Congressman Jeff Denham, just for those keeping track at home,
that`s 185 Democrats on that bill and two Republicans.
Thank you so much for your time.
Coming up in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Republican governor of New
Jersey Chris Christie is a pretty popular guy, but has he actually done
anything to deserve it? The question no one seems to be asking and
surprising answers later in the show, we`ll be right back.
HAYES: Just one short year ago, Chris Christie was the Republican governor
of a blue state who was managing to keep his favorability ratings just
north of 50 percent. And then Sandy hit and in the aftermath, Chris
Christie appeared on the storm-ravaged Jersey Shore, alongside the
president, who was about to win his state by 17 points.
He excoriated his own party`s leadership in Washington for delaying passage
of federal relief money for the state. And he saw his approval ratings
shoot through the roof with a more than 20-point jump after the storm.
And now he appears to be cruising toward reelection with polling numbers
that any national Republican would kill for while the Beltway press all but
declares him the front-runner for the presidential nomination in 2016.
But there is one question that never even gets asked in the coverage of the
storm and the recovery and Chris Christie`s political future. And that is
this: did Chris Christie actually do a good job of rebuilding New Jersey
after Sandy? I`ll be joined by some people who say, hell, no, later in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s no power, there`s no service, there`s no
phone. It`s like a scene out of some end-of-the-world movie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was a clip from a National Geographic special a year ago on
superstorm Sandy which, for the last year, I have seen up close how much
those hit by superstorm Sandy have struggled to put their lives back
For the past year I have been doing reporting for a special series on
Showtime, called "Years of Living Dangerously," which will premiere next
year, and it`s about climate change and its impact. And I`ve reported two
stories about the effects of Sandy on Staten Island and The Rockaways.
And here`s what I have learned. The people at the bottom of the social
pyramid, the poor, those without assets or no assets other than their home,
with debts piled up and low-wage jobs, those people who are just struggling
to hang on by their fingernails to something that looks like a middle class
existence, those people, when the waters come in from the storms, those
people are the first ones dragged out to sea and the ones who take the
longest amount of time to get back to shore.
According to a recent study out of Center for American Progress, "Many low-
income elderly and disabled residents of New York City`s public housing
complexes were stranded in their apartments for weeks after the storm due
to elevator outages.
"Other residents remained in the high-rises, despite having no heat or
power, because they had nowhere else to go or no means of getting out of
"And according to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, 55
percent of the storm surge victims in New York City were very low-income
renters, whose incomes averaged $18,000 per year."
There are two pillar central truths about America in the 21st century.
One, it is unequal and it is getting more unequal.
And two, the changing climate is going to produce more extreme weather and
When you put those together, unless you get very serious very quickly,
those two trends are going to rip our social contract apart.
Climate change and inequality are two sides of the same coin, and we need
to be addressing them together.
Joining me now is Nathalie Alegre, coordinator for Alliance for A Just
Rebuilding and Columbia University climate scientist Radley Horton. He`s a
consultant for the new Showtime docuseries, "Years of Living Dangerously,"
for which I`m a correspondent. It premieres next year.
And Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat from New York ,and I want to
begin with you.
You have seen up close what this looks like for folks that are working
class and poor and struggling to be in the middle class.
Where are the communities you`re working with a year later?
NATHALIE ALEGRE, ALLIANCE FOR A JUST REBUILDING: Well, (inaudible) Chris.
The very same people who are struggling the most before Sandy think about
low income renters, undocumented immigrants, public housing residents and
let`s face it, other than people of color are the ones who are suffering
the most after -- in their recovery after Sandy.
We at the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding are very concerned about growing
inequities, about appeal to recoveries where some folks are able to recover
faster and those that again were facing day-to-day economic uncertainty
even before the storm hit (inaudible).
HAYES: Congressman, I want to talk to you about this "Wall Street Journal"
story I that I just could not believe, I still cannot believe.
Here`s the key sentence, "New York City has been allotted $648 million in
federal aid to give out for housing recoveries assistance. So far" -- and
I am quoting -- "one person has received help, a Staten Island woman whose
damaged home was acquired this month."
What is going on with the federal response for folks in your district and
other districts who are struggling to put their lives back together?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), N.Y.: Well, the inability for the federal
resources that were authorized in January to make their way into a
community such as those that I represent is a very troubling concern.
One thing that was significant about the storm, 55 percent of those
individuals who were impacted by the storm surge were low income renters,
many of those individuals living in public housing communities in Far
Rockaway and Red Hook (ph) and in the Coney Island neighborhood that I
As already was indicated, these are people who were struggling prior to the
storm hitting; they were already under water economically.
The storm has exacerbated the situation. We need the federal aid that has
been allotted to make its way into these communities, but we also need to
reinvest in our public housing and our infrastructure and our operating
expenses so we can elevate the quality of life of these individuals.
HAYES: We are going to see more extreme weather, right?
RADLEY HORTON, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: Absolutely. (Inaudible).
HAYES: And we`re going to see more storms like this and we are going to be
dealing with from a resiliency standpoint, we are going to be dealing with
how you respond when extreme weather hits.
HORTON: Yes, that`s right. I mean, we look to the future, one thing we
can really say for certain, is we`re going to see higher sea levels,
greenhouse gas concerns, carbon dioxide already up about 40 percent since
the start of the Industrial Revolution.
In the New York City region, we have had about a foot of sea level rise,
the majority of it due to climate change, that`s already changed the
frequency of coastal flooding. Even if storms like Sandy don`t get
stronger in the future, just by virtue of raising that floor, you
profoundly increase the frequency of coastal flooding. And when you get
those floods they`re more extreme than they were in the past.
And in fact, one study shows that just that extra foot of sea rise that we
have already gotten, from the climate change we`ve had, meant about tens of
thousands of homes flooded that would not have flooded in their absence.
HORTON: That`s right. That`s right. And we`re expecting more in the
future. And of course it`s not just sea level, it`s higher temperatures,
giving us more heat waves (inaudible).
HAYES: Nathalie, one of the things that struck me in talking to folks --
and I have been doing interviews for a year now for folks in The Rockaways
and Staten Island, and The Rockaways particularly people that are poor,
working class, sort of struggling to make it, is how exposed to risk people
Like we`re having this conversation right now about the health care law,
and it`s all about risk and insurance. That`s the whole conversation,
right? You go along your life and sometimes you are befallen by a terrible
illness or horrible things happen, or you get laid off your job.
And life is so risky for poor and working class people in this country
right now. The added risk that`s coming from the climate model, Radley,
that you`re talking about, it`s just way too much for people to be able to
actually deal with.
ALEGRE: Yes, and I think (inaudible) are connected. So certainly thinking
that have to happen right now to make people`s lives better, one is that
people in their recovery, but I think more importantly, as we think about
how to physically protect New York City from climate change, which we need
to do, we also need to expand that concept of resiliency and also think
about economic resiliency, social resiliency (inaudible), low-income folks,
public house residents and all these vulnerable populations that are
already suffering before the storm actually attain economic opportunity
So for example, when we talk about building seawalls or bulkheads or all
these other infrastructure projects, we could easily say let`s make sure
that the jobs that are created (inaudible) go to these low-income New
Yorkers that are already suffering.
HAYES: Is there an appetite, Congressman, for that in Washington? We are
talking about -- there`s been some conversation about a huge seawall
project in the harbor in New York, which would be a multibillion dollar
Is there an appetite for building resilience at that community level?
JEFFRIES: Absolutely. When I`ve talked to residents in all of the
communities that have been impacted by superstorm Sandy that I represent,
Coney Island, Kenarsie (ph), Howard Beach, there is a desire both to
recover in the short-term but to have an understanding that their
communities are going to be protected from the future extreme weather
events that we can expect to occur because of climate change and global
The mayor has laid out a comprehensive set of proposals, some of which will
protect communities like Coney Island and others that will protect the
communities in and around Jamaica Bay; now we have got to have the will to
see those projects through; the Army Corps of Engineers will be studying
the projects that possibly can prevent damage from occurring at the level
that they have in the past.
Once that`s done, then we`ll have to get to work and get these projects
And I think what Nathalie said is important. We have got to make sure that
public housing residents, those who are struggling every day in terms of
their existence get access to some of the jobs that will be created in this
process so we can elevate them and their families as well.
HAYES: And quickly, Radley, there will be some places increasingly where
it does not make sense to relocate or rebuild as we become more exposed to
HORTON: That`s right. New York City may be a place that`s largely able
through this sort of blend, the suite of strategies, to stand firm,
including some green infrastructure solutions.
But there are other places that don`t have those economic resources; there
are other place where physically, even if you were able to build a seawall,
you`d have limestone underneath, that that sea water would percolate under,
going to flood anyway.
So increasingly, I think it`s inevitable that we`re going to hear about
retreat more and more as part of this discussion.
HAYES: We can cope with another foot. We can cope maybe with another six
inches or another foot on top of that, three feet, four feet, you start
getting to points where you can`t cope. And I just don`t want to end this
without saying that we need to reverse course now, we need to cap and limit
the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere because we are shooting
toward something that is way past sustainable.
Nathalie Alegre from Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, climate scientist
Radley Horton and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thank you so much.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, Governor Chris Christie has benefitted politically from
the hurricane Sandy aftermath. But should he be? We`ll talk about that
with someone who`s suing the governor, coming up.
HAYES: Earlier in the show we asked you what you thought of Governor
Christie`s performance during Sandy. We got over 1,000 participants. Here
are the results: 60 percent of you thought he did the job New Jersey
elected him to do, 18 percent of you thought the governor went above and
beyond the call of duty. Only 30 percent believed Christie could have done
more and a mere 9 percent think he failed the people of New Jersey. Voting
is still open. And I would say you should watch this next segment before
you vote if you haven`t yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey Shore is open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word is spreading.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), N.J.: Because we`re stronger than the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You bet we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That of course was a snippet from those famous New Jersey tourism
ads released as the state recovered from Hurricane Sandy to encourage
people to come visit and spend money there.
Even if you don`t live in Jersey, you`ve probably seen those ads.
Here`s something you might not know about the stronger than the storm ad
campaign. "New York Times" in outlining some Jersey storm victims
complaints over how Governor Christie has managed the recovery included
this tidbit, quote, "they accuse him of using the storm for his own
aggrandizement, particularly after he spent $4.7 million in federal money
to hire a politically connected firm to produce the television ads choosing
it over an agency that bid less but did not plan to show the governor in
Joining me now to provide some perspective on Chris Christie`s handling of
the Recovery Act effort in New Jersey that you are not likely to hear
anywhere else, Adam Gordon, staff attorney for Fair Share Housing Center,
which has sued Governor Christie over Sandy aid, and Congressman Rush Holt,
Democrat of New Jersey.
Congressman, I`ll begin with you, has Governor Christie done a good job of
rebuilding New Jersey in the wake of Sandy?
REP. RUSH HOLT, D-NEW JERSEY: He`s done a good job of building his image.
But it seems that the harder you were hit by Sandy on average, the less
satisfied you are with the response of the Christie administration. You`ll
hear -- you made reference to this lawsuit against him on lack of
transparency on how the funds are disbursed and only as a very small
fraction of the funds have been disbursed.
And so I think there`s a lot that`s lacking in the response. And I also
should say, the response should include a forthright recognition of the
reality of climate change, and the response should include keeping the
government open so that the -- so that the federal funds can actually be
distributed. You know, a billion and a half dollars in funds were delayed,
HUD funds, because of the government closure.
HAYES: I want to play this clip of Chris Christie talking about preparing
for the next storm. Take a listen and sort of eliding climate change.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: The fact is that we have to look at what`s happened in this
state and react accordingly and appropriately. And I think as I laid out
in my remarks, we are pursuing significant infrastructure improvements to
our state in order to try to make ourselves stronger and more resilient for
whatever the next storm comes.
The rest of that is a scientific discussion and debate that I`m simply not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You know, like the debate of whether to -- smoking causes cancer.
Why are you suing the governor?
ADAM GORDON, STAFF ATTORNEY, FAIR SHARE HOUSING CENTER: Chris, we just
heard too many stories from people calling us up, stories people like Dana
Rosario (ph), who lives in a house in Newark, in Ironbound, in a heavily
Latino neighborhood that was heavily impacted, she can`t get answers from
the Christie administration as to why she can`t get federal funds to
She`s tried. She had $140,000 of damage to her house and she`s still stuck
a year later in the same situation as she was the day after the storm.
HAYES: The money came into the federal -- from the federal government to
Chris Christie. He basically controls that money and there is no
accounting, as far as I can tell, there is no accounting of what has
happened to that money.
Am I right about that?
GORDON: That`s right, we asked at the end of July for basic questions
about where the money was going, data on who was being served, what
neighborhoods and what the guidelines were, because we got very strange
stories from people like Ms. Rosario (ph), who seemed like they should be
first priority for this money, but they can`t get answers as to why they`re
HAYES: Congressman, have you heard similar stories from your constituents?
HOLT: I have indeed. As I said, it seems on average that the harder
you`ve been hit, the less satisfied you are. And so people from afar,
maybe in other states, think that the governor`s response has been
wonderful. It sure looks good on film. But the closer you are to it, the
less satisfied it seems that you are.
HAYES: If that`s the case, though, Adam, then why is it the case that he
is apparently steamrolling to re-election? It does seem like people are
happy with what he`s done.
GORDON: Well, to back up what Congressman Holt is saying, there`s 75
percent of people said in a Monmouth University poll yesterday that -- who
were hit by the storm that they felt that the Christie administration`s
response doesn`t care about people like them.
And I think what`s happened is that the governor has --
HAYES: Wait, repeat that for a second; 75 percent of people who were hit
by the storm say that they feel that Christie`s response --
GORDON: Christie`s response has not helped people like them and doesn`t
take into account people like them. And I think these stronger by the
storm ads have created this masterful image paid for by our tax dollars of
a rebuilding that`s just not actually impacting the people who were the
HAYES: And you`re hearing more stories than just the one that you -- I
mean, there are many, many folks that you have been talking to that feel
like they`re in the same boat?
GORDON: We hear from people every day. They can`t understand why they
can`t get clear answers for why they`re not getting funding. We have heard
from Lee Siegfried (ph), who`s a disabled veterans from the first Gulf War,
living in Keansburg (ph), a very hard-hit town, who`s scrambling to try to
use his own money and he just can`t get any relief from the federal funds.
HAYES: Adam Gordon from the Fair Share Housing Center, Congressman Rush
Holt, thank you both, that is ALL IN for this evening,
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
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ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES