tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC December 4, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST
contributor ary melburn of the nation, erin carmoan of salon.com, msnbc contributor and queen bee of thegrio.com joy reid and frank bruni of the "new york times." the fiscal cliff negotiations continue to play out like greek theater. entering from stage right, speaker john boehner issued a counter offer yesterday. from stage left a chorus of democrats who are shocked and outraged. the white house told boehner to, quote, get serious. nancy pelosi called it another assault on the middle class, seniors and our future. and senate na jorty leader harry reid took to the floor this morning. >> republicans again sided with the wealthy of this country. it won't pass. >> the gop proposal calls for $600 billion in entitlement reform, including raising the medicare age. it brings $200 billion from social security, adjusting the inflation rate and raises $800 billion in new tax revenue by
reforming the tax cut and closing loopholes. the plan rejects specifically raising tax rates, but it is significant that john boehner has gotten his entire leadership team, including congressman eric cantor, kevin mccarthy and even former vice presidential nominee and budget hawk paul ryan to publicly sign their names to a plan that through closing loopholes raises taxes. in an effort to give this offer more bipartisan credibility, speaker boehner said the plan is based on a proposal by former clinton chief of staff erskine bowles. bowles said he was flattered by the use of his name but satsz the proposal, quote -- so far, this greek fiscal drama has yet failed to return. the larger question for america, the play ends in tragedy on
december 31st. joining me now from washington, is the president for -- president of americans for tax reform, conservative counter broker and the man who does not believe in unicorns, pink or otherwise, mr. grover norquist. grover, what a day to have you on the show. thanks for joining us. >> absolutely. of course, you know, north korea and -- media announced they did find unicorns in north korea. >> we don't often take our cues from them. i am one that firmly believes in the existence of unicorns somewhere and hopefully maybe in this fiscal cliff deal. grover, the first question i have for you is this, your pledge, the pledge that many republicans have signed on to, opposes any and all efforts to increase marginal income tax rates and opposes any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits unless matched for dollar by further reducing tax rates. closing loopholes and ending deductions would seem to increase the tax burden that
americans are paying to the federal government. given that, do you support the proposal put forward by john boehner? >> well, because the proposal is significantly amorphous, you could get those revenues through economic growth and we don't really have things nailed down, i don't want to talk about a hypothetical, but there is a danger that when you put revenues on the table, even revenues through economic growth, if you grew at 4% a year, reagan levels, instead of 2%, french levels or obama levels, you would net $5 trillion in additional revenue to the government, you could pay down all of obama's additional debt by higher levels of growth, not raising taxes. so there's a lot of money to be gotten from growth. how they do this, we have to see it written down, but because the obama administration and spokesmen have been so emphatic about all taxes and no spending restraint, all taxes and actually spend -- another stimulus, another solyndra
stimulus program -- >> i don't think they've mentioned solyndra, grover, but i'm sure they appreciate your mentioning of it. >> they didn't? the whole idea of additional spending rather than spending restrictions -- they could save money by not continuing world war ii as well. so the obama administration is so far out there, that what the republicans are doing is pointing out how reasonable they are, taking bowles' idea, i see he's playing democrat partisan today -- >> part of that is actually putting revenue on the table which speaker boehner has said multiple times he's open to doing, that includes closing loopholes and ending deductions. not words that are political kryptoni kryptonite. for the republican party that has stoked the eyre on the ends of the spectrum including erick erickson they said this the gop
selling out. do you agree with that or not? >> not at this point. we were in this point two years ago when the same things were discussed with obama during the debt ceiling increase and at the end of the day, we ended up with $2.5 trillion in spending savings and not a dollar of tax increase. why? because obama overplayed his hand. he's doing it again. just as he did in 2008. he thought the country had given him a blank sheet of paper to work on. he did the stimulus spending. he went from 70% support down to below 50% and lost the house. now he gets re-elected with less strength, not against a war hero but a guy from massachusetts, and the republicans have the house and he thinks somebody made him king and he's going to have more taxes, more spending, and more regulations. it's a real problem for him. he doesn't have the mandate he thinks he does. so i think he takes us over the cliff because he doesn't -- he's got blinders on.
he doesn't see where he stands in the universe. >> okay. there are a couple things to unpack here. i want to go back to this question -- i think what i'm confused about is this kind of game of smoke and mirrors that seems to be playing out on the right. and i ask you again, is closing a loophole and ending a deduction the same thing as raising taxes? >> you have to look at the whole package. i mean i would think if you're going to -- and the other key thing here is, anybody -- >> is that a no? >> you have to -- first you have to look at the whole package and find out what's in it. to sit here and shoot at negotiating strategies and offers -- >> i know. i'm asking about a basic principle as far as putting together a deal here and its would seem to me the ideological argument furthered by americans for tax reform americans should not be paying more money to the federal government. you can do that through different ways. one closing loopholes and ending deductions, more coming is coming out of people's pockets to go to the federal government. that is something that has been
proposed by the speaker of the house. and i guess my question to you is, is that -- are they one in the same? >> whatever republican vote that someone has taken the pledge, only one "d" left, the other two "d"s that took the pledge broke it and lost their elections. but the republicans who made that commitment to their constituents have to look at their constituents and say i didn't raise your taxes. so that's the key question that you've -- that you have to handle and when all the moving parts are there and cliffs are up and down and so on, at the end of the day is it credible to say, that you didn't raise taxes or did you? the other question is, is this the beginning of showing obama being unreasonable and then -- for getting a better deal or beginning to go down the path bush '41 did where you actually end up all tax increases, no spending restraint, and it's very bad in the next -- very bad
for the economy and then because of that, very bad in the next election. >> okay. let's just move on to what happens if this plan goes to the floor. jonathan chait in new york magazines republicans are considering having their members vote present on an extension of the middle class tax cuts --. you've talked about not having fingerprints on the murder weapon. is voting present better than voting yes to your mind? >> it strikes me as an odd -- i have not heard anybody suggest this as a strategy other than democrats. it seems a way for the democrats to get what they want. there are a lot of people suggesting to the republicans that they give the democrats what they want, and i guess i would like to suggest the democrats should give the republicans what they want and then we can be even. but again, it's got to pass the laugh test not just for the next 24 hours after a deal is agreed to, but for two years. the bush agreement in 1990 didn't necessarily stink to high
heaven in the first four days. it's when you are trying to run for election two years later that people look at it, you know, after the iraq war for crying out loud, they went back and revisited and said, kind of like t.a.r.p., we were told it was an emergency, we voted for it, but two years out, it really looks like a bad idea, so any republican or democrat voting on one of these deals, my recommendation is they should have to stay for seven days, written down on-line so every american, not just the lobbyists in washington, d.c., for all the spending interests, but all of the american people, can see what's in this agreement and then and only then should people in the house or senate vote yes or no. because i think they'll regret if they rush into something that turns out like obama care was, to be very different than what was advertised. >> grover, let me give you break for a second and bring in my panel here who have been all diligently waiting patiently and
quietly. joy, david brooks writes in the "new york times" a budget stalemate on these terms will confirm every bad republican stereotype. so republicans have to realize they are going to cave on tax rates. the only question what is they get in return. that is david brooks writing that in the new york times. your thoughts? >> absolutely. republicans have managed to box themselves into exactly the stereotype that democrats presented about republicans and have been for a long time, which is that they only care about protecting the top 2%. protecting those top 2% is the hill they will die on and only thing that matters. it's interesting and you try to get grover norquist to, you know, explain whether or not ending loopholes and deductions which they won't be specific about is the same as a tax hike this is the same guy a year ago, grover norquist, said letting
the bush tax cuts expire does not violate his pledge. the republicans could do that. i'm wondering what changed? now all of a sudden it's about protecting the top rates. at the end of the day, if he used to think it was okay to let him expire and now he doesn't, it must be about the top 2%. >> grover, i want to let you respond to that and know this senate is going to be bringing a vote to the floor about just raising rates for the top marginal tax rates and letting -- and continuing the extension for middle-class earners. does that hurt the republican party and what changed? >> what she's quoting is a "washington post" misreading of what i had said in an editorial board meeting which what corrected that day. i said it correctly three times and evidently unclearly one time and the reporters decided to run with the one. but it was fixed before noon the next day. so, these things happen to those of us in politics who talk too often and can misspeak which is why we try to stay away from
hypotheticals and discussions about pink or silver unicorns and whether or not we'd like one and how much we'd pay for a silver unicorn. >> i'm with north korea. i don't think this is a unicorn. i think this is a steed. this horse has left the corral. the proposals are on the table and worth probably going through them. i will let you get a chance to respond to whether or notes this helps or hurts the republican party and that vote is in the house, not the senate. my apologies. >> this is why my argument is if we can get the negotiations on c-span, then we would see accurately what both sides are saying. what david brooks wrote is, of course, the democratic narrative and that's what obama's trying to sell. it is not actually what's happening on the ground in terms of negotiations, but there are no cameras in there and so the president's spokesman can walk out of the room as they did all the way through the negotiations on the debt ceiling and misrepresent what had happened. let's get c-span cameras and msnbc cameras in there so we can
ask obama about his $800 billion in savings from not sticking around in iraq. >> but really, grover, do you think that would help the republican party? >> yes -- no. it would help the american people accurately see what's going on. it's like solomon and the two ladies and the baby, whoever doesn't want the cameras in the room is lying. >> grover, one last question for you. >> yeah. >> an ideological question, which is to say, elected representatives are supposed to represent their constituents. abc washington post poll that americans are asked do they support raising taxes on those making over $250,000 a year. 60% support it, 37% oppose it. is it not the job of our elect the representatives to follow the will of the people? >> 63% of the american people on election day were opposed to raising taxes to quote/unquote reduce the deficit which is what we're being asked to do. so if you ask -- if you ask people if they raise taxes will they just spend it? most americans think they'll
just spend it. if you raise taxes on the rich, do you think they'll also raise taxes on the middle class? most americans think that's true as well. you have to take the question several levels. the american people understand if you tax the rich, be the democrats haven't finished the sentence. tax the rich first. obama, if he got his taxes on the rich, is still $8 trillion short over the next decade. that's where the energy taxes he's going to present and the value added tax that ultimately turns us into a european welfare state only of that can pay for obama's sized government. >> wow. grover, unfortunately we have to leave it there. our discussion of unicorns will continue, i'm sure, at least up until december 31st. thank you for joining us today as always. >> you got it. >> after the break, offer ver ses counteroffer. we will break both down with ezra klein when he joins us next on "now." i gave birth to my daughter on may 18th,
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under my plan first of all, 98% of folks who make less than $250,000, you wouldn't see your income taxes go up a single dime. all right. because you're the ones who need relief. we're not going to get it done unless we also ask the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on their incomes over $250,000. >> in case you were wondering if president obama campaigned on the message to raise taxes on the wealthy, the obama campaign has put together a reminder for americans and specifically republican americans. as it stands right now the white house has end kaltsed it will not respond to speaker boehner's
offer unless the gop agrees to raise top marginal tax rates. the president did do a little explaining over twitter yesterday. asked, is there a minimum ratio of revenue increases to spending cuts that you're looking for or simply a balanced approach? the president responded -- don't expect 100% my budget, room to negotiate. if you include $1 trillion plus in cuts already made, rough balance between revenue and cuts does trick. i'm having a hard time translating the president's tweets. translation, i won't get everything i want but at least -- but i want at least as much in revenue as in cuts. he was asked as a homeowner, i worry deductions for homeowners are at risk. is that the case. the president replied breaks for middle class important for families and economy. if top rates don't go up, danger middle-class deductions get hit. the gop is holding middle-class taxes hostage i'm not. joining me is msnbc policy analyst and columnist for "the washington post" ezra klein.
it is great to have you. we need your help today. >> you know what makes me sad about that twitter discussion. >> what's that? >> those were 140 character bites more substantive than almost any of the tax discussions in the media or in washington. they were beating us in 140 characters. >> the president's twitter -- you have to -- in too many abbreviations but i'm getting ahead of myself here. let's talk about those substantive tweets which is to say, i want to talk about the closing of loopholes. i spoke with grover norquist about this magic math that the republicans are doing. let's say they put closing loopholes and deductions on the table. the issue is whether anybody is going to go for this. the deductions that are there are very popular. the ones that would get the most revenue on the table are employer sponsored health insurance which is $164 billion, the mortgage interest deduction which is $100 billion, tax free medicare benefits $76 billion and charitable contributions no
one on either side of the aisle wants to get rid of, $51. why are we talking about the closing of loopholes and ending deductions? >> i don't think we should go too far here. it is worth talking about. it gets strange quickly. here's the way i've been thinking about it. almost all of these plans are just about deductions, not about exclusions. i've not heard anybody talking seriously about the employer health tax exclusion, that's a separate tax and not a deduction. when talking about all these plans the republicans have begun to broach about limiting deductions to save $25,000 or $50,000, you're talking really about three deductions and three only. 90% of that money would come from the charitable contribution dye deduction, home mortgage and state and local taxes. hitting charities, home buyers and hitting high-tax states most of which are blue which makes it not the worst idea for republicans sometimes. you take out the charitable, though, and all of a sudden
you're in a much worse place of revenue because that's where a lot of the revenue comes in. the problem with doing charitable deductions and eliminating that deduction is charitable contributions turn out to be extremely sensitive to their tax treatment. if you actually take that down, you get a real hit. that is not something where you can make a tax change and the real world doesn't suffer. the charitable section will convulse. there's a lot to be good to be had there and the white house' decision you can't have anything under $250,000, that is one of their signature principles here, is not necessarily a good thing. some of the deductions, raise the law right under 250 and i would be fine with that. until people are willing to get serious and say these are the specific deductions we're talking about and willing to look at the consequences it's hard to take any seriously. >> we were talking during the break about specifics and how terrifying it is for the republicans to get into specifics because as rez ra outlines the patient convulses
as it were. where is the hope in all this that a deal will get done? >> i don't think anybody wants to go over the cliff at the end of the day. we now have a really big round number from john boehner but nothing specific within it and as we went through and broke down this various deductions and loopholes many are popular, many of them make an enormous amount of sense and most of them benefit the middle class, not just the rich. i don't know where this -- where that part of the discussion goes because you're talking about unicorns earlier. they're imaginary beasts and this $800 billion through loopholes and deduction is about as real as a unicorn. >> i want to talk about the white house and sticking to the point about raising top marginal tax rates. that's the make or break. mar thiessen writing in "the washington post" --
>> basically that was an excuse for me to invoke the drug dealer's motto. are democrats overplaying their hand? >> to me, frank, you mentioned those magical thinking, sort of like we're just going to throw out the deduction and not specify it, that would be the only legacy of mitt romney that we're talking about right now. we all joked about how he was totally uninfluential in this party. this has stuck. didn't work for romney. people were not interested in that. i don't really see what interest the white house has in making a deal. so far all the public polling makes it look like, again, this could change, but all the public polling makes it look if we go over the cliff the republicans will be blamed and they're the ones being recalcitrant and the white house can make a deal on their terms because they won. >> in terms of who's going to get blamed if we go over the cliff, ari, is there a risk as the republicans put forth a plan f you're john public, does that
seem like a reasonable offer? i don't know. they're playing ball. do the democrats risk getting blamed if we go over the fiscal cliff now that there is a counter offer from the gop? >> that's the interesting question. connects with what ezra was talking about. do the actual sacrifices happen in your backyard and do they happen in the backyard of wealthy people who are a big part of the base of both of these parties let's be honest. you quoted mark thiessen quoting biggy smalls saying don't get high on your own supply. >> thank you for the rap encyclopedia acknowledgement. never sell no crack where you rest at. >> you planned that. you wrote that down. >> i write a lot of things down. >> go ahead. i'm sorry. >> but that notion that we know from politics which is not in my backyard. i think ezra is right. we have to look at where the bulk of these things are happening and understand why they're not serious. wealthy people do a lot of estate and charitable planning. the charitable deduction thing is not going to happen. it's also a terrible idea -- >> i mean independent of the
people for the charities themselves. >> that was my second point. it's a terrible idea because the whole reason we do this, right, is that we want to encourage people to give to charities and we want public services also outside of the government. if you were a conservative and you think that there are problems in this world that should be solved by something other than the government it's charities and churches. we can't go down that road. >> finish by saying that's where we go next, moving those off the table and being serious. >> ezra, you wanted to get in. >> jump in on charitable. i agree with pretty much everything ari said there. we shouldn't get overly invested in the wisdom of the status quo. one idea that some tax wonks like to talk about, which i think is a good idea, we talk about deductions all the time but we can convert these things called credit. instead of rich people getting a ton of money everybody gets some money for them. if you do that with a charitable instead of a rich guy getting this enormous deduction for all of their -- their $300,000 donation to their alma mater
andover just raised $300 million, i'm not sure the tax code needs to be encouraging that, if you change it to a credit, you could have people who make $50,000, make $40,000, make $60,000, they could then get a credit for donating to charity and what you would see if that was done is also a boost on the other side where more folks on the income level were able to donate to the charity or charity able to get more money and see a shift in the composition of charities that got that money from operas and alma matters to churches, to social non-profits to places that deal with hunger and poverty. so there are things if we're willing to get creative here, i can imagine really interesting new policy approaches. the problem again is that if all they want to do is cap deductions because they don't want to get in and deal with these specifically you can't do it. if you want to stay vague that means you have to remain larger than the confines of the status quo. you're going to have a lot of trouble with any deduction
plans, not unless you want to move to other credits and other things can you talk about it. >> do you think people will give less to the opera? what do you have against the opera? >> i have an enormous number of things against the opera. >> ezra klein, stick around. we're going to try to hold you for one more block if you have the time. >> no problem. >> to expand or not to expand. that is the question facing governors deciding whether to adopt changes from president obama's affordable health care act. i wonder if some of those governors got a few thoughts from the president and the white house today. the states of play just ahead. time for the your business entrepreneur of the week. lauren wanted to introduce the korean cabbage dish to mainstream america using her former skills as a marketer, she created mother-in-law's kimit chi, nonethic packaging to appeal to a mass market and the
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ideas about federal power as well as some of his colleagues. >> bobby jindal, mary fallen and susana martinez are my neighbors and governor in arkansas, they're all competitors. they are all competitors and they will make you stronger. that's, i think, the difference in -- between the two competing philosophies out there. listen, you know, we want to be left alone and do our own thing and you all don't come into our states and try to take our companies. >> we'll look at some of the governors attending today's meeting and discuss why it's harder to be a republican in a state house than under the capitol dome. that's next. you ever notice that some people just have a knack for giving the perfect gift? they put real thought into it.
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the table and part of these discussions. >> following meetings with lawmakers, ceos and middle-class families, president obama hosted a handful of governors from both sides of aisle. no doubt part of his great reasonableness tour of 2012. six of the nine member national governors association executive committee including wisconsin's scott walker, met with the president at the white house to talk about the fiscal cliff and other issues affecting their states before coming to the mikes to address their concerns. >> i think we all recognize that there's an impact on our states, certainly, by what happens here. >> we want to be a part of the solution to the problems facing our nation. >> we also are saying that states are willing to do our part. we understand it's going to be a shared sacrifice as you have to look at spending cuts. states are willing to do more with less. >> while the national dialog is focused on the fiscal cliff which has the potential to significantly affect state budgets many governors are also tackling the implementation of
obama care. starting in 2014 medicaid will be expanded to all americans within 138% of the poverty line, which is individuals making $15,000 a year or less, give health care to as many as 21 million additional americans. eight governors including one of those at the white house today, oklahoma republican governor mary fallin are rejecting the offer, concerned their states may have to foot the bill down the road. the president was sure to have some thoughts following their pow wow at the white house. the six governors are on to meet with house speaker john boehner and senate majority leader harry reid this afternoon, also sure to have some thoughts. joy, the medicare question is really interesting in terms of how the governors play this one. in so far as, if you're a republican governor and offered the federal -- the federal government says it's going to cover i believe 100% of the cost of expanding the rolls from 2014 to 2016 and basically between 95% and 90% thereafter, to say no at this point when americans
are hurting, we're coming out of a deep recession but you have 21 million people who could be offered health care, ta is a very difficult position for them to be in to say no, mostly on ideological grounds. >> right. i think it really depends on not only how many uninsured in their states but how strong the hospital interests are and how far they're willing to go to allow hospitals to be bankrupted because they're still going to have to care for those patients. i suspect states like florida will take the money. >> ezra, you're still with us here. state -- governering at the state level or being a republican at the state level is often very different than being a republican on capitol hill in terms of the ideological purity test. what's notable to me is, you're going to have some republican governors that are probably going to accept the expansion of the medicare rolls, and you also have republicans saying things like we need to look at shared sacrifice after meeting with the president. there is a difference when you are sort of in touch with your constituents at the state level versus someone that's sequestered in washington and
subjecting yourself to gop litmus tests. >> sometimes there is and sometimes there's rick scott in florida. it can go both ways on that. i think that what is notable is that -- and it goes to something joy said, these folks are going to get an enormous amount of pressure from their medical industries. the hospitals will be killing their governors for not accepting the medicaid portion because there's a dimension that gins to ratchet back the money that the federal government pays hospitals to cover uninsured people. we're ratcheting that back because we're going to be insure them and we're going to be insure them almost entirely at federal expense, but if you're a state like florida, say, and you refuse to take the medicaid money, it's to the just that your hospitals aren't going to get the relief from their current uninsured, they're going to get hammered on dish payments, and they're not going to like that at all. one other is quick thing i find amazing about this, if you look at a list of what states have
the largest percentage of the uninsured it's mostly red. i did this a while ago, seven or eight of the ten. the top ten most insured are almost all blue. the affordable care act is a large transfer of money from blue states to red states. state like texas or florida that is relatively meager medicaid is now getting an enormous federal subsidyp. to reject a deal that good, you might be able to do that for a year or two years, while hoping to be able to run in 2016, it's not going to go on much longer that than that. >> rick perry has made lots of questionable decisions expanding health care coverage or you fogh the planned parenthood debate was a powerful one in that it showed how far a republican governor was willing to go to deny women basic health care coverage on ideological grounds. >> absolutely. and i think that in fact, the medicaid expansion decision on the part of the affordable care act, supreme court decision that opened up the door to allow the governors to refuse it may make
it easier for states to reject the terms that the federal government is suggesting to them. that is a whole new world. in terms of these governors standing up and saying they don't want to be part of the medicaid expansion, one thing that is troubling that you're hearing right now from health care wonks is saying that this is actually kind of sabotaging the system. it wasn't set up to have the federal government step in and do this. they were trying to give the states more control. an open question is, if these governors stay recalcitrant, are they essentially going to set the system up to fail and they get what they want. >> that seems to be whether -- >> setting up exchanges sort of dismantle obama care or difficult to access it or ejecting the expansion, there has to be some -- the question is how much they're held accountable by their constits wents. >> this goes to a cynicism grover referred to in his interview with you where he said well, people think that if we raise taxes on the wealthy, eventually we'll result in higher taxes for them.
and part of the idea here is, people think if we can challenge this form of health care, distributed as ezra reported with very, very good mar gyps for these states -- margins from these states from the fed we can undermine the system. it's a deeply cynical view of how government benefits work and share the sacrifice. it can work in the short term because i don't know that people are super informed why they're not getting health care. >> and ezra, as you point out, a lot of states rejecting -- that are sort of throwing the exchanges for a loop which is to say not setting up their own exchanges or denying the expansion of the medicare rolls are ones they have high rates of the uninsured. texas number one in the country with almost 25%. unfortunately we have to leave it there, my friend. but thank you for staying on with us, the "washington post's" ezra klein. thanks as always for your insight and wisdom. >> thank you. >> 2012 has been a banner year
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pennsylvania state representative mike neck announced he was gay, becoming pennsylvania's first openly gay lawmaker. those milestones come as the supreme court is deciding whether to take up the issue of gay marriage this term. before the justices are several cases most of which challenge the defense of marriage act. doma is known as the 1996 law enacted by president clinton that ordered the federal government to recognize only marriages between a man and woman. in the intervene years since clinton passed the law, american attitudes have shifted. 2012 set to go down as one of the most successful years ever for the gay right movement. marriage equality advocates won at the ballot box when maine, maryland and washington voted to join six other states and district of columbia in permitting same-sex marriage and the year that president obama became the first sitting president to publicly endorse gay marriage, a powerful sign that once politically sensitive issue has moved firmly into the mainstream. frank, you have, i thought, an
incredibly moving and compelling op-ed in "the new york times" talking about doma and the thing that struck me is how far the country has come in a relatively short period of time. just because i was interested in comparing it to interracial marriage, in 1958, gallup showed that 4% of the country approved of interracial marriage. by the late 1960s it was 20%. and 1991, 48%, '96, 64%p. we've come a long way but not nearly as quickly on gay marriage, in '96, 27% thought it should be legal. by 2012 that number up to 50% and, of course, all the movement we've seen at the state level. >> it's astonishing. it shocked me how fast it's going. going in only one direction. that's one of the reasons the supreme court is taking its time. they can't avoid the issue. we'll find out soon enough. as we learned in the election there's way to look at polls and
say i see this. nobody argues when you look at polls about same-sex marriage it's going on a line toward more and more support. younger people favor this. that suggests 10 years, 20 years. everybody knows our country is moving towards this and the only question is what are the very next steps. >> and while you in your open letter i guess to bill clinton say it's time for you to apologize for what you did. doma was an unacceptable piece of legislation, distasteful then, it is beyond distasteful at this point. i'll read an excerpt. and you put it in the context of hillary running for office potentially in 2016. the two of you should be a more integral part of that pride, at the very epicenter of this. it's strange and sad you're not. >> it is sad to me.
i think in hillary's case this moved after she went into the secretary of state job. there's a kind of etiquette and tradition of the secretary of state not wading into domestic political matters. i frankly -- i shouldn't say frankly. >> you're definitely frankly. >> i think once obama came out for this, even though she was secretary of state, powerful, beloved enough, she could have said something. she will say something as soon as she steps out of this job, start your stop watch. it's only a matter of minutes practically before hillary clinton makes explicit what's implicit is she, too, is with the democratic party in support of same-sex marriage. >> what's interesting, who among us does not believe jet magazine is the arbiter of all things -- jet magazine had its first same-sex couple and wedding listing this month which is a huge move because at love people thought that in the african-american community there would be a huge backlash against president obama coming out for gay marriage that would hurt him in the election. the opposite happened. even within the african-american community which is very religious and which has a high number of evangelicals you've
seen a movement in favor of gay marriage. >> and in fact a lot of the same sex advocates thought maryland wouldn't be among the states. they thought it would be maine and washington but not maryland. maryland wouldn't do it at the ballot box because it's about 30% african-american. maryland did it. >> i'm curious why you think president bill clinton since he has the freedom hillary doesn't, why hasn't he apologized for this stain on his record? >> in 2009 before obama, not a very expansive or hugely heartfelt way, said i'm now for marriage equality. again it was not a big statement. i think he feels like i did that, what more do i have to do. i think doma is such a nasty bit of legislation, codified bigotry, it calls for more robust than that. >> the important divergence that frank is identifying between the two democratic presidents. president obama's justice department did make the unusual step of deciding not to defend
the constitutionality of doma, typically the justice department defends everything because it is the lawyer of the laws of the land. here they have the discretion to do otherwise. they did otherwise. it makes a difference. as the lower courts and potentially the supreme court, as they look at this, they look to the political branches and now we have the president of the united states, one of the political branches saying this is not constitutional, it violates equal protection, should be to a heightened scrutiny. you have arguments from holder we should look at discrimination against people who happen to be gay the same way we look at discrimination in the racial arena. that's a big step. >> you can decide as the obama administration has not to defend doma. there's still consequences to doma being on the book and reasons why it has to go away. >> absolutely. >> if you are a same-sex couple and married it in one of the states you're now legally married and one dies you face estate tax situations. >> yeah. >> that a heterosexual couple doesn't. every time you file federal taxes you are treated differently. it says these relationships are lesser. i think we've evolved to a point this country where we accept gay
and lesbian people as equal and say their relationships in the federal law are lesser than we're saying they're lesser. >> how it fits with the immigration debate as well. >> certainly. it's presently worth noting that bill clinton should maybe take a page from the joe biden playbook because he after all is the person we have to thank -- >> the joe biden playbook. >> and taking a page from it. >> thank you to ari, joy and frank for joining me today. that is all for us here at "now." see you back tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when joined by josh green, new york magazine's benjamin wallace wells, former communications chair karen finney, "washington post's" melinda headen burger and carrie kennedy. for a twitter tutorial, follow @nowwithalex on your twitter machine. "amount reports" is coming up next. anncr: some politicians seem to think medicare and...
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