tv Disrupt With Karen Finney MSNBC December 8, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
i want to thank everyone for being with us tonight here. thank you to president obama, of course, for being our guest on the "hardball" college tour. also to the american university for hosting us. good night. hello, disrupter. thanks for tuning in. i'm karen finney. this hour we're going to look at the aca rollout versus the gop reboot. and a new line of attack from the right wing, comparing the pope to president obama. >> i think there's a lot to offer in the republican message that hasn't been offered in the past. >> if you want to talk about a war on women, look no further than this health care law. >> the 113th hasn't passed the bills every congress does. like a highway bill or defense bill or farm bill or a budget. >> let me end by addressing the elephant in the room. the seeming inability to get anything done in washington these days. >> i mean, what do we need a budget for? clearly not for highways,
defense or food. >> congressional republicans are learning how to talk to women and how to run against women. >> trying to get them to be a little more sensitive. >> our message was weak. our ground game was insufficient. we weren't inclusive. >> i went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? they brought us whole binders full of women. >> i believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the civil war era. >> so there's no one solution. there's a long list of them. >> i tried to get him to be a little more sensitive. >> they've got to be embarrassed. >> you stay classy, san diego. >> and thanks for stopping by. >> but, mainly, stay classy. so team obama needed to reboot the rollout of the affordable care act. and according to their own post-election autopsy, the gop just needed to reboot
altogether. let's take a look at how each is doing. relatively speaking it was a good week for the obama administration. positive economic numbers and, as expected, there were ongoing improvements in the health care website. >> i understand why people would have been resistant to going on a website that wasn't working right. and, fortunately, because of some very hard work, we've now got it to the point where for the vast majority of people it's working well. >> the center for medicare and medicaid services announced on friday this past week more than 3.7 million people visited healthcare.gov. the error rate is down from one in four to one in ten. so as expected, progress is being made and more people are able to join and get access to health care. okay. so reince priebus and the gop had a little bit more time for their reboot. you'll recall they initially announced findings of the growth and opportunity project back in march. well, here's what they said they needed to change. quote, the republican party must focus its efforts to earn new supporters and voters in the
follows demographic communities. hispanic, asian and pacific islanders, african-americans, indian americans, native americans, women and youth. notice, old white men, not in that list. nine months later, how is that going for them? >> for everyone who's a value dick tor yan, there's another 100 out there, they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. >> barack obama, a lot of things he's done wrong, he's not a traitor as far as i can tell. i've not come across any evidence yet he's done one thing to harm. >> you look around the congress, a lot more females in the democrat caucus than there are in the republican caucus. you know, some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be. >> now, as my colleague jonathan capehart actually pointed out this week, autopsies are done on
dead things. so there you go. joining me now is msnbc contributor and "washington post" opinion writer, jonathan capehart. staff writer for par dor pandor daily, david sirota. you guys generally do pretty well talking to women. let's take it step by step, okay? >> okay. >> all right. here's the thing about women. no matter the message, it's the policies. like, they still just don't seem to get that. if we, you know, if we look at them -- i just want to play something ken blackwell actually said this morn ing. i don't think he got the sensitivity memo, though. >> at the end of the day, republicans don't have a problem working and talking with women. we control 30 of the governorships. we control 26 state houses and -- and senate chambers. you know, we, in fact, know how to speak to women on their policy issues.
>> okay. so the message i took away from that was, like, we don't have to know how to talk to women because we're in control. basically. if you look at, jonathan, what's been going on at the state level in terms of access to contraception and access to abortion care services and all of those really ugly conversations that we've been hearing in the states, i don't think they're going to do so well with women. >> remember, when a lot of these folks came into power, particularly after 2010, remember, it was all the economic arguments. you know, focus on taxes. downplay the social issues. downplay the gay stuff. downplay especially the women stuff. once they got into office, all of a sudden all these social issues came out of the woodwork. that's where we're seeing a lot of these anti-choice bills, whether it's transvaginal ultrasound watchamacallit issues. >> i'm proud of you. you said it. >> of course it's a very clinical thing. i think you raise a very good
point. come the next election cycle now that women and everyone knows what they're up to, there will be consequences for this. because, as you say, it's not the message. it's the policy that's the problem. >> you know, david, though, to that point, how about equal pay? if we're going to talk about economic issues, fine. equal pay. access to health care. for a lot of women, access to birth control, not having to pay that co-pay, that is an economic issue. because that's money that's in your pocket that can go to something else. and, yet, they're not so hot on either of those issues either. >> what can the republicans say on those issues? they can't really speak to those issues because they've got a real problem with their base. their base is based on firing up an angry, predominantly white male electorate. that is what they rely on in elections. so to then acknowledge that there's an equal pay problem, to then acknowledge the specifics of health care issues when it comes to women, means to potentially not fire up that base. so ultimately, the republicans -- republican politicians have to take a side.
they have to choose. which side am i on? am i on the side of the base of the party or am i going to try to expand the base of the party? right now they haven't made a choice. >> you know, jonathan, kind of to that point. if we take a look at african-americans, aside from the voter suppression laws, voter id laws which i actually think helped the turnout in the last election because people were so angry, so we had rand paul in detroit yesterday making, you know, an overture to african-americans, opening up the rnc's african-american outreach office. but interestingly enough, i think to david's point, i don't think that's necessarily -- that may be about african-americans in saying, hey, democratic policies failed you. come to us. it may also be for white voters in the suh bushburbs. more about what they perceive as their base. not necessarily about average african-americans. >> hey, look at us. we're not as hateful. we're not as exclusionary as the big bad liberal media, lame
stream media makes us out to be. look, we're reaching out to african-americans. where do we go to reach out to them? detroit. that's my problem. detroit. you couldn't go some place elsewhere the message would have some credibility? and you would send someone other than rand paul who was just at howard university condescending to black students there. >> exactly. actually, i have a little shot for you from rand paul i want to play. he was talking about his little visit to detroit. let's take a listen. >> over a billion dollars would be left in detroit. i'm also talking about restoring voting rights. i'm talking about school choice. i think there's a lot to offer in the republican message that hasn't been offered in the past. and i think there's only upside potential for voters in detroit or all the big cities for republicans. >> so, david, he was there talking about these freedom zones. which sounded a lot to me like clinton era economic empowerment zones. right? which i'm pretty sure at one point the republicans were not so much in favor of that.
is this part of the reboot? okay, we're just going to give them money? that also, that sounds like stimulus which, again, i thought the republicans were opposed to. >> i look at this as an attempt to legitimize what naomi klein has called disaster capitalism. rand paul shows up and says, listen, the problem with detroit, the problem for voters of color in detroit is democratic policies have been too intense. what we need to do is effectively deregulate the entire economy. we need to focus on cutting taxes for the wealthy. we need to focus on all sorts of right wing education experiments. school choice. vouchers. et cetera, et cetera. that's how we'll solve this problem. and i think there's a danger to this. because i think in a place like detroit that has been hurt by so many different things, that the republicans are hoping they can use a crisis like detroit to say that our policies, our economic policies are the ones that are going to liberate people. even though that's a misdiagnosis of what actually happened in detroit. >> i completely agree with that. let's talk about immigration
reform. and the latino community. again, i'm just going down their list. so, you know. so john boehner on november 14th says, we have no intention of ever going to conference on the senate bill. he even, you know, kind of brushed off those two sweet, precious girls who are trying to talk to him while he was having his breakfast. the one person,on than, who had made some inroads, i think you had wrote about this, was chris christie. this week he had a major change of heart, didn't he? >> yes. it was the week after thanksgiving. it was late november. chris christie won re-election in new jersey by winning 51% of the latino vote. and how did he get that vote? by campaigning on -- by saying he would sign the new jersey version of the dream act. he had lots of people, latinos, on record as saying i voted for him because of this. and then sometime around november 27th, on a radio show, he was asked about this. he said, well, i -- i don't favor the senate version of this bill. i don't favor it.
all the sudden you're like, whoa. wait a minute. >> yeah. >> you promised you would do this in the star ledger. the star ledger in new jersey, largest paper in new jersey, wrote an editorial hammering governor christie over this. this is governor christie first presents himself as the guy who should be the model for the republican party. >> that's right. >> but pivots, changes his mind. okay, flip-flops on immigration. because he knows if he wants to run for president there's no way in hell he can win the primary vote. >> you're being confused by governor christie versus his mind as candidate christie. he knows he has trouble winning a republican primary, a presidential primary, if he has supported the dream act. >> here's the thing. just look at the data. don't even take it from me. i know. i'm a progressive. i'm a democrat. from 2005, 2006, what happened? the republicans lost the latino vote because they were flip-flopping on things they were -- they promised that they would do. does he think that the latino community is going to forget that he said, i promise i'm going to do this and then said,
oh, i don't favor the senate version? >> again, i would say you're being confused by primary presidential candidate chris christie versus potentially general election presidential candidate chris christie. the first thing you have to do to become that primary -- that nominee of the republican party is to win the republican primary. and the way to win a republican primary is unfortunately the dynamics in that party is to fire up an angry white base and part of the way to fire up that base is to fire it up against latinos. >> and that's why i think chris christie will not get the republican nomination. he is a fantastic general election candidate. he could win. he can't win the republican primary. >> it shows by virtue of their own autopsy, they've actually created more problems than others. the last group i will mention is the lgbt community. look at what's happening with enda at the federal level. look at how chris christie kind of tried to shrilink his way through. >> whstill in that long list of
people who the gop autopsy said we needed to reach out to, which was everybody, they've failed everybody. african-americans. latinos. women. youth. and the gays. >> and guess what? there's another group that we're going to be talking about. jonathan capehart and david sirota, they're going to stick with me. because it's not just women and minorities and gay people or young people. now the gop has decided they don't want catholic votes either. that is coming up. >> need i remind his holiness, pope francis, charity is a gospel value. that puts free market capitalism on the right side of the lord. >> exactly! free market capitalism on the right side of the lord! who says you can't serve both god and money? who would say such a thing? [ male announcer ] this is jim,
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so rush limbaugh called him a marxist. others have criticized his, quote, ignorance and neosocialism. they are talking about the pope. and now the right has hurled a new insult at the pontiff with a foxnews.com column that declares, quote, pope francis is the catholic church's obama. god help us. that's right. god help us. the pope is like president obama. this dangerous duo spends their time striving for a better world of equality, faith and freedom. it sounds terrifying, doesn't it? and the hits just keep on
coming. that fox column goes on to say, quote, just as president obama has been a disappointment for america, pope francis will prove a disaster for the catholic church. right. so let's just get this. this is the pope who's already reinvigorating a church with more than a billion members. he's called on catholics to more closely follow the teachings of a little book i like to call the bible when it comes to focusing oncalled out the failures of trickle down economics. reportedly snuck outside at night to wash the feet of the homeless. that's the guy. it was put best in a washington post column. limbaugh is right. somebody did get to pope francis. it was jesus. although i keep wondering if what conservatives are really angry about is that the pope's focus on the poor undermines their agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, demonizing on social issues and cutting food stamps for kids. hey, if they want to keep up the
name calling, i say go for it. that's one more group of voters, by the way 75 million catholics in the united states, for the gop to kick out of their tent. jonathan capehart and david sirota are back with me. the pope and barack obama. it's a dangerous duo, david. >> it's an incredibly stupid comparison on so many levels. i think what it shows about what the pope said specifically about economics is so dangerous to the republican party orthodoxy. you have a religious leader now, a world religious leader saying things that run completely counter to republican orthodoxy. so he has the credibility of a religious platform in making an economic argument that makes a fool out of the republicans. that's very dangerous to the republicans. the republicans have banked on religious politics being defined as right wing economics and right wing social positions. in the united states we've had
history of 50, 60, 70 years ago where religious politics, catholic politics was based a lot on social justice. the republicans see the pope potentially as bringing parts of the catholic church and catholic politics back to a progressive economic agenda. >> how dangerous. now, jonathan, i have something i want to play for you that rush limbaugh said. i just want you to take a deep breath. we're going to take a listen. >> this is the president citing the pope. his new best friend. because the pope is ripping america. the pope is ripping capitalism. the pope, ripping ronaldus magnus. the pope ripping trickle down economics. obama is having an orgasm. >> i'm sorry? what? what? >> i can't even dignify rush limbaugh and what he said about the pope, about the president. look, these guys, to pick up on what david was just talking about, they're upset, yes, about
the pope's economic argument. but they're also upset about the pope saying, you know what? we shouldn't obsess over abortion. we shouldn't obsess over gays and lesbian. we shouldn't obsess over these social issues that get in the way of people of faith coming into the church. so the republicans are saying they have a problem with the leader of the catholic church, who is doing what the republicans refuse to do. which is go out and seek people to bring them in. >> you know what also strikes me, though. the pope, i'm going to call him an authority on the bible. i think that's a pretty fair statement. >> fair statement. >> for so long in this country, you know, right wing conservatives have used the bible and the teachings of the jesus christ as a weapon against democrats, against progressives. right? focusing on the social issues. and now we finally have a pope who's like, actually, no, not so much. it's the poor and trickle down economics is not actually based in fact. in fact, let's take a look at
how the pope is doing. because people seem to like him. he's doing pretty well. i think any politician would love to have these kind o numbers. among catholics, 79% favorable. 4% unfavorable. i mean, i don't know anybody that's got that kind of numbers. even among the general public. 58% favorable. only 12% unfavorable. just to remind, 78.2 million self-identified catholics. so i do not get the strategy of -- the worst thing you can say about the pope, jonathan, is that he's like obama? >> which i thought, according to these people, some of these people, not all of them criticizing the president, i thought the president was a closet muslim. not really a christian. >> catholic muslim. >> exactly. >> what are they saying about the pope, about the president? which is which? is he a closet muslim? or is he a christian who actually believes in the word and the teachings of jesus?
>> no! >> what it says about ministering to the poor. someone explain. >> i want to go back to how significant this potential shift is. i really think the republicans are freaked out. because they've had a formula that has said we're going to read selectively the bible and politicize selectively the bible along social issues and not economic issue. when, in fact, if a political candidate went out today and read word for word jesus's sermon on the mount, the republican party would call them a communist. they're afraid the pope is saying in his economic declarations this is a different kind of day. this is a new day where religious politics is going to be defined on those economic justice issues. >> actually, we have some sound from the other part of the dynamic devilish duo. president obama. let's take a listen. >> i think pope francis is showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice. i haven't had a chance to meet
him yet. but everything that i've read, everything that i've seen from him, indicates the degree to which he is trying to remind us of those core obligations. >> now, this from a guy, jonathan, who earlier this week was talking about inequality. and he was quite frank about both the economic issues and the social issues related to inequality in this country. i know that is now scandalous talk coming from either the pope or the president. because as we pointed out, that is not the doctrine of the gop. >> no. it is not the doctrine of the gop. but, look, the president's speech this week is the same -- pretty much the same thematically as the speech he gave in kansas. which is the same speech themematically the president has been giving since he got on the national stage, since 2004. the fact that the president is now joined, you know, rhetorically by the pope is a good thing. and a pope who, because of his words and deeds, is infinitely
more popular and powerful than the sitting president of the united states. >> you know, david, last point to you. because one of the things that strikes me here as we get into this, right, paul ryan, you know, considers himself a good catholic. we've got a budget coming up, right? there are opportunities, very concrete opportunities, december 28th, unemployment insurance runs out. for many republicans who consider themselves good catholics, to prove that they are -- when they talk about that they try to be good catholics and they try to follow the teachings and all of that, okay, then why are we going to cut unemployment insurance? i'm pretty sure if you go back and read what the pope would say, that's not what we do. right? we should continue to help. i am my brother's keeper. i should continue to help. i wonder on these economic issues if it will become a wedge in some ways for republicans in the way the social issues have been a real challenge for democrats now that we've got this shift to saying, how about the poor? >> it certainly could be. i think that is up to the democrats to actually make the argument on explicit terms.
as explicit religious terms as the republicans have used. i'm not saying i want democrats to go out there and make everything a religious or theological argument. >> sure. >> but in the same way that the republicans apply a moralism to their trickle down economics, it's incumbent upon democrats to now, when that budget comes out, to similarly add a moral, theological aspect to what they are pushing and what they are pushing back against when it comes to the republican agenda. >> for example, it's amoral to let children go hungry. a good place to start. thank you, jonathan capehart and david sirota. coming up, the big question. even if paul ryan and patty murray can get a workable budget this week, can the gop really break their five year record of derailing that deal? thrusters at 30%! i can't get her to warp.
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depends on what you mean by a lot. coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at asthma.com, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma. this week's forecast. the politics of getting a budget deal. will the deal that's expected to be announced on tuesday represent a truce between the two parties or a shot across the bough? can they get it done by friday the 13th when congress leaves town again for vacation? what ever doesn't get done by friday has to be basically put off until january 7th when they come back, because it's obviously a nice, long, lovely vacation. as details begin to leak out, we're keeping an eye not just on what's in the deal, but what isn't in the deal. so, for example, we've heard for some time now not to expect a grand bargain. now we're hearing that the deal won't include proposals on
unemployment benefits scheduled to run out on december 28th. why? well, at this point, the deal seems more likely to be a little bit not too big, not too small, but just enough to get just enough support on both sides. while making it so that there's not too much damage done to candidates who are going to, on both sides, frankly, who'll have to go home and defend it in an election year. but the big question is whether or not for the first time in five years the gop won't move to derail the whole process. my friend kiki maclaine is a former adviser to hillary clinton and vice president al gore. eric bullard is a senior fellow for media matters. thanks to you both for joining me. >> glad to be here. >> eric, i want to start with you. we're hearing what's in, what's out. there's really been a lowering of expectations as we've gone through certainly this last week. >> right. you think about how this used to happen five years ago. and for the last five years obama did talk about a grand bargain. the republicans tried to meet
him halfway. i think the shutdown changed everything. it was such a debacle for the republican party. you know, they had embraced this sort of sabotage approach to nongovernance. i think the assumption was they weren't going to do that again in january. but what they're going to do, what they're going to agree to do, barely there. this mini thing that will get us a few extra months. it's sad this is sort of the state of, quote, budget negotiations. but as obama and democrats have found, when you're negotiating with people who aren't particularly persuadable on anything, you're lucky if you can use sort of a up and down-aid like that. >> kiki, just on the politics of that, i think eric makes a great point. if i'm john boehner and i'm anybody, frankly in the leadership in the republican party, part of my concern is, we've got to have something that i know we are not going to shut the government down over. >> that's right. >> because they know they just cannot handle that another time. those numbers are already too low. >> yeah. i think the big challenge here,
karen, is that habitual behav r behaviors be put aside, right? it's appropriate i think at the time of the holidays. no matter how old you are, when you go home for the holidays, you all of the sudden revert to when you were 13 in the way you react to your brother. right? this is what happens in politics. we've seen a lot of that these last three years, right? people just behave in this very routine fashion they've gotten used to. i think by lowering expectations, what both sides are trying to do, what senator murray i think is hoping to do, is try to make sure that we can maybe break that. and so you don't break that with big, dramatic moments. you break that in small incremental steps forward. so that maybe you can change the environment for maybe how people are going to act come january. do i think it's sad that this is where we are? a little bit. but, you know, i'm a democrat. which means i was born an optimist. i believe all things are possible. so i'll take these first few steps as opposed to making grand, ideological statements that are big symbols and do nothing to really help us move
forward. >> one question follow-up to you, kiki on that, immigration reformers, they've been depending on a budget deal. i think they assume let's get that done, then we can get immigration overhamm eoverhaule. i think most of us feel that is pretty much unfortunately dead in the water. it should have been something, at least the dreamer portion, should have been something that could have gotten done a long time ago. >> well, it may have been able to have gotten done a long time ago. that's a disappointment. i'm not ready to give up on that. maybe not the whole shebang. but the dreamer portion. if we can get the budget moving forward that lets a litling bit of oxygen back in the room, right? i would suggest come this spring the desire to have an agenda of accomplishments to come home with can be a fierce motivator to both sides. >> eric, i would normally agree with kiki. but i feel like as of the last -- since 2010, the motivation is to go home and say, here's all the stuff i stopped from happening. not, hey, here's what i did for you since you elected me. >> accomplishments do not seem to be the norm for the republican party. in fact, they brag about -- what
did john boehner say? don't judge us by the bill we passed. judge us by the bills we repealed. they were bragging about the complete lack of activity or productivity. it really has sort of gone beyond gridlock into sort of sabotage. this is great. this does seem to be a truce. if something is actually -- two sides come together and something is actually passed, it'll be, you know, it'll be an improvement, absolutely. >> all right. we are going to shift gears to a topic that is near and dear to my heart and i know both of you will likely agree with me. that is on the subject of hillary clinton 2016. and i say this. i will be full disclosure, yes, i've worked for hillary clinton. i worked for her in the white house. i worked for her senate race. i am sick of hearing about 2016, not the least of which because, kiki, we have a president right now. he's got three more years. a lot of stuff that he needs our help on. >> yeah. i completely agree. the fact of the matter is, there's a president in an office. whether or not hillary clinton decides to be president doesn't impact what's happening today. more to the point is, i would like to hear from hillary
clinton when she's ready to talk about it as opposed to everybody else telling me what they think she's thinking about. >> that's right. eric, you wrote about this, this week. specifically looking at "the new york times" piece about how they're trying to, you know, the clintons are trying to get back in good with the black community. as you point out, there's so much that just wasn't even in that piece in terms of, you know, sort of the numbers where hillary clinton's favorability already is with the black community. where president clinton is with the black community. it feels like they're just trying to essentially that we have the quinnipiac poll. 88% of black voters favor hillary clinton. really? she's going to have to go to an event and figure out how to make nice? it strikes me, though. so many news organizations have invested so much. so many now have people on their payroll following hillary. >> full time. >> that they've just got to come up with stuff to write about. >> yeah. the stuff they come up to write about is sort of all news is bad news. "the new york times" could have gone the front page with, if hillary is going to run, boy, she has this amazing support
from the african-american community. won't that be good for her? won't that help her maybe fend off if someone wants to run to her left or things like that. there would have been a story there. "the new york times" decided, you know, she has to rebuild a bond. how do you rebuild a bond with a community that supports you 88%? >> right? maybe trying to get to the pope's number? 90 or something. >> just leave all that information out. leave all the context out. again, for the times, politico, "washington post," a lot of these places, you know, when it comes to hillary, all news is bad news. they've been covering the clinton foundation. it's like it's a charity, but it's depicted like a black star or something. >> you know, kiki, it used to be, the foundation does so much amazing work. for a time we were actually getting stories about that. now, of course, it's all gloom and doom. the other thing that really bothers me about this, i would say the two things are, number one, i think it's disrespectful to president obama. number two, it feels like a narrative is being built of inevidentability about clinton.
then if she does run, she will have to defend herself against. it's mostly been built up by the media. >> there were two moments in the past month that really struck me. they go right to the heart of what eric has written about. the first of which, i was fortunate enough to sit next to a very senior african-american political leader recently who was completely offended by "the new york times" story you raised about her relationship with the african-american community. couldn't believe they'd written it. wondered why he hadn't been called. that was just stunning to him. the second piece was a real understanding of the fact that she can't even wake up in the morning without somebody analyzing it. karen, as you know, i'm not a media basher. i believe most reporters are trying to do the right thing. there is a vacuum here for a reason. because she hasn't decided what to do. that's a vacuum that i would say is worth honoring. there is a lot of time to give people a complete picture of who she is and what she can be. thirdly is the notion that this president has a lot of work to do.
and for the editors who are budgeting space on programs and in the newspaper, let's get the time and attention to the problems we've got today. >> that's absolutely right. >> we've got a lot of time to worry about 2016. >> we have to leave it there. thank you, kiki mclean and eric boehlert. coming up, where do ted cruz and paul ryan go to get their marching orders? well, that answer is straight ahead. [ female announcer ] arms were made for hugging. hands for holding. feet, kicking. better things than the joint pain and swelling of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. if you're trying to manage your ra, now may be the time to ask about xeljanz. xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a small pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis.
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happens that more than 30 states have very similar stand your ground laws? or roughly 30 states have passed and continue to pass similar restrictive voter id laws? or in the all out assault on workers' rights, at last count, ten state legislatures are passing similar laws against paid sick days for the estimated 40 million americans who don't even get one day of paid sick leave. is that a coincidence? not at all. you can thank the american legislative exchange council, or a.l.e.c. y just this week members, lobbyists and members of numerous corporations met in washington for their annual states and nation policy sum it. some of the distinguished alumni include congressman paul ryan, speaker john boehner, former wisconsin governor tommy thompson. as think progress noted an economic policy institute report found, quote, for any problem a businessman might have from minimum wages to bargaining rights to corporate taxes, there's an a.l.e.c. bill to fix it. quote, over the past decade,
a.l.e.c.'s corporate backers have contributed more than $370 million to state elections and over 100 laws a year based on a.l.e.c.'s model bills that have been adopted. as the group met in washington this week, we learned they may be falling on hard times. according to "the guardian" following the negative attention on stand your ground laws after the death of trayvon martin last year, more than 60 corporations dropped their membership. i will mention that in full disclosure, our parent company, comcast, is still a member. but it wasn't just corporations that went running. as reported by "the guardian" this week, a.l.e.c. has also lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years. and in the first six months of this year, it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income. so what does that really mean for a.l.e.c.'s future? joining me now, "washington post" opinion writer dana milbank and contributing writer to nation, lee fong. i'm going to start with you,
dana. i read your piece this week about your endeavor to try to get into some of these meetings. you may or may not recall this. having been on the other side of that when i worked at the dnc and trying to not let you go some place you wanted to go, i would not have advised them to say no to you. they said no to you. tell us about that. >> they put out a press release, said it's open to the media. here's my chance to see phillip morris and altria and everybody else making the policies 30 states are going to adopt. i took two escalator flights down into the belly of the beast at the grand hyatt here in d.c. alas, i was turned away. you can go to certain open to the public workshops they have. where you actually see the state legislators sitting down with representatives from corporations and hashing out what are the policies that these corporations are looking for, yeah, sorry, we're not allowed to see that particular sausage being made. >> you know, we're used to
hearing about the losses they -- having -- after stand your ground, obviously you went to see sort of what you could see in terms of the process of how they do what they do. >> mm-hmm. >> but did you have any sort of preconceived ideas based on the fact that they've lost both corporate members as well as state legislators? >> i mean, there had been anecdotal information. i think until "the guardian" got ahold of these documents, i think everybody was is surprised at the extent to which they'd really been hurt by this. this organization is hurting. they have now abandoned the gun issues. they've abandoned some of the other issues that got in trouble. there's still a whole lot of controversy around it. of course, anything that's coke funded is going to raise certain eyebrows. they're even considering going into gambling to try to recruit gambling money to keep the organization afloat. when you're taking that gamble, then you know you're in a bit of trouble. >> i'm going to let you have that one. lee, one of the things that was
interesting this week in the piece that came out from "the guardian," lots of different revelations in addition to the budget, the numbers, all of that. this idea that state legislators are being asked to take an oath. i think the language is something where they are being asked to say -- this is how the kansas city star reported it. i will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first. a lot of states people said, wait a second. you're not supposed to put the interest of the organization ahead of the people who elected you. >> karen, a.l.e.c. has been under intense criticism over the last two years. this group has existed over the last 30 years. they're doing everything they can to prevent leaks, to prevent people from going to the media and informing the world about what's going on. at the end of the day, a.l.e.c. is a corporate lobbying organization. they help corporations develop model legislation and distribute
it among legislators. and although they say that they are all about the constitution and limited government, at the end of the day, if you look at the details of the bills, this is all legislation that helps corporations extract giveaways from the government. it's a little bit ironic that they would need a pledge of allegiance to a lobbying group if they really are about limited government principleprinciples. >> dana, ted cruz and paul ryan both spoke there this week. i think cruz said, you know, stand your ground. clearly this organization is still important to conservatives. >> they are. i mean, they've got 80-something alumni in the house. about a dozen in the senate. so they're influential on the national level as well. you know, state legislatures, republican state legislatures continue to rubber stamp whatever it is they're coming up with. so, i mean, they're financially weaker. they're losing some members.
but they are still getting legislation passed in a majority of the states around this country. >> lee, you know, part of what i think is interesting for people to understand about how this organization works and the model legislation and all that is, you know, it is not by chance that as we pointed out in the opening, oh, all the sudden 30 states have, you know, stand your ground law. or 30 states have voter id laws. or 30 states -- or ten states have laws restricting sick days. the idea being, i mean, if you take a look at north carolina, which i've thought for a long time as sort of ground zero for a lot of these republican policies, it's not coincidence that these things happen. this is part of that process, i think, for people to understand so that when they see what's going on in their own states, they're paying -- they know to pay attention. >> right. two things. you know, if a corporation like chevron comes to where i live, california, they go to sacramento to pass a bill, they have to register as a lobbyist. their fingerprints are all over a piece of legislation. when they want to enact very controversial legislation, they can go to a.l.e.c.
that's basically a loophole so they don't have their fingerprints on a certain bill. so if a corporation wants to enact something over 30 states, a.l.e.c. is doing them a great service. you're seeing a big backlash now. corporations needs this type of service when they want to push very con troversial legislation. even though a.l.e.c. has lost many members they're still chugging along. >> as i understand, next up on their agenda, the guardian reported 30-some states, penalizing homeowners to install their own solar panels. fun to watch. thank you, dana milbank and lee fang. that does it for me. thanks so much for joining us. please don't forget to share your thoughts. you can find us on facebook and you can tweet us @msnbcdisrupt. i will see you back here next week, saturday, 4:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. so i c
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