tv The Big Picture With Thom Hartmann RT May 17, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
i'm same sex in perth apartment in washington d.c. here's what's coming up tonight on the big picture. today republicans on capitol hill grilled ex i.r.s. chief steven miller about his former employer's targeting of conservative groups g.o.p. leaders say that they just want the truth but what are they really after we'll talk about this and more in tonight's big picture rumble and republican party emerge from its two thousand and eight defeat as powerful as ever how did this happen and who backed the right resurgence tom leslie falling internets conversations with great minds.
it's friday which means it's time to rumble joining me for tonight's big picture rumble our marc harrold libertarian commentator and attorney case study or managing editor at the ross story or is cooper conservative commentator and senior fellow at the national center for public policy research thanks everyone for being here let's start by talking about the congressional hearings on the ira scandal today i want to play the opening statements here by congressman dave camp of michigan here let's play i'm. listening to the nightly news this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover ups and political intimidation in this administration it seems like the truth is hidden from the american people just long enough to make it through an election the american people have a right to the truth to a government that delivers the facts good or bad no matter what. or so once this truth that they're going to discover i mean i think republicans are already biased going into this about what they want to discover what do you think's going to actually be discovered abuse is using an organization as powerful it is is they all
like when bush did it and then when you are looking at the administration where it happens you have to ask how it came about now one of two things needs to happen this is ministration could come right out in favor of a new taxpayer bill of rights or they can fight and defend the choices than the stations that have been made and they are going home they are going to own these excesses what does this have to do with the taxpayer bill of rights the i.r.s. has been abusing its responsibilities to carry out the organization that i'm with three of the last five years has been audited not a five a one c three four i'm not a five a once in four but a five a one c three isn't isn't the bigger scandal here the way that five zero one c four is have completely destroyed our elections when it comes down to it when it comes down to it in congress is inability to regulate them properly which is looked at on the i.r.s. to try and you know this is no man's task trying to regulate these groups exactly i mean i can't say that it's
a good idea necessarily to target groups just because you don't agree with them ideologically but i think that citizens united really opened the doors to possible abuse and it's really clear that the i.r.s. even if they had gone about this in a more balanced way would have targeting tea party groups directly would have ended up going after conservative groups more disproportionately just because that's where more of the money was and so it just seems like. republicans are seizing on this they're really excited about having a real life scandal on their hands but it does it does show that you know this really has opened the door to political spending that's the reason why women asked are there a disproportionate number of right of center groups being. did for audits the answer should have been yes and here's why not no it's not happening if people are telling you that it's anecdotal that misleading statement made to congress is part of the reason this whole thing is happening or do you think this is really
a scandal that goes up a pretty high level of administration officials trying to influence the election by using the i.r.s. to target certain political organizations i don't know that it goes up that high i dis is a real problem though you know i've always said taxes are about social control to some degree you take people's money and when they do things you like to give it more of it back to him this is a real problem if the tax if the i.r.s. is targeting ideological grounds i think we can all agree on that what i see this is really about this has to do with obamacare a lot of this is obamacare they want to disk and i'm saying i think this is strategy and i'm not weighing in on i'm saying i think the strategy here overall is to be discredited really goes right to describe just and i just i think this is the strategy if they're excited i.r.s. has done the things necessary to discredit the i.r.s. but the reason you would want to let's say the i.r.s. is wrong here the reason you really want to bring that out and really bring it to the american people not just because of the injustice but put on my political strategic hat you want to try to discredit the i.r.s. as much as you can because they're the ones that are going to be doing obamacare and i think that's what this is really about if it's going further than justice of
the congressional hearings i think that's what this is really about well how do you get a circumstance where the chairman of the council of economic advisors is briefing reporters about the koch brothers tax filings but that's that kind of disclosure i am a member tickler use of the information makes people think you are accessing and abusing the process why if they are abusing this process why did they go after the koch groups why did they go after the rove groups or why did they just randomly pick these small ones that seem to be flagged the tiny ones when they were if they were really trying to influence the election they would have gone after the ones who are really spending all the money have been in the workforce again that this was obviously having a large tried orders having worked in a large federal bureaucracy ah. i understand that quite often it's a lot easier to use that force on those that can't respond nearly as well and nearly as effectively you can bring a swarm of i.r.s. agents against a smaller group and intimidate them what you can't do is that against someone like
karl rove's group and to the point had they simply answered the question yes we are disproportionately going after those groups because that's what we think the problem lies they wouldn't find themselves in this situation i mean the i.r.s. the monster as far as a lot worse than it is i mean how did they get capone they didn't get him about his crime first they went after taxes tax and force me can be very intrusive it can be very rough i mean there's nothing do doubt about it if they're targeting people because of their ideological belief that they're always there this outrage on whores for your average in two thousand and four when he was targeted by the hour is interesting actually at the time were you ready for this or you're not going to leave you are out of this is what. we said that we have to be very careful when dealing with groups that have this strong if we were ordered to be very very careful yes now what did the chairman julian bond then chairman say today what happened with us was different but go after these groups precisely because they are
they're conservative that kind of hypocrisy we did not exhibit and we continue not to exhibit and i think the point is that the very reason that nonprofit groups were banned from political activity in the first place is because there were right wing organizations in the one nine hundred fifty s. funneling money into trying to defeat l.b.j. this is a long running it was part of that has to do with the other side of citizens united the eight to one not going into effect we can blame whoever we want citizens united every it's the bogeyman right now of the left but it's a lot less potent as everybody would miss if the eight to one side not the five for side they created the eight to one the transparency you get the transparency in there in a lot of the hands of citizens united ok really dissipate so horace don't you think that these organizations better social welfare organizations do. i think they're abusing the process right now actually we don't have evidence that they are abusing the process what we have been in the air mass season of the election season to know these social well for what we are now they should say we must let we have all my
how is evidence that if they had tea party freedom the u.s. constitution or anything like that in their title they got flag not talking about iris oh right now what are we talking about talking about these organizations that are abusing their exempt status while i agree that where organizations that abuse their status yes i think that there is an organization you think general should step up and force me on that stuff i have no problem with requiring people to comply with the law when i have a problem serious rethink her i arrest not doing that but singling out people on ideological grounds is polish the i.r.s. to begin with and you don't have to start you have to worry about all this everybody pays a fair tax or flat tax you get rid of all of this problem would be parents aren't people clark the president here we go in turn have a debate on the i.r.s. and you don't think the i.r.s. and i should do what you just said a polish it moved on let's move on let's talk about the department of justice and this massive snoop on the associated press hundred offices hundred reporters started twenty offices we've seen calls up on capitol hill for investigations into this we've seen some republicans respond with with outrage this mark sanford today
said this was a massive overstep of the boundaries. i want to know what the strategy is on the right going into examining this story are they really outraged by it because you know this they've been fairly quiet so far and how this administration has been so forceful in going after whistleblowers and how the bush administration was. do they really want to find out what happened do they want to exploit it for political gain as they seem to be with the i.r.s. or bengazi or did they just really not care ok first of all four people died in benghazi and to say that people who stand up and talk about that are only doing it for politics i think is insulting to them secondly the i.r.s. has a record of abusing people and organizations and to stand up against them and say that that's politics as also and so. but the third point is this the constituency of the media that is mr obama's constituency our natural tendency might be to sit back get some popcorn and watch and you know i would have gone with what the
director did absolutely absolutely mark what are you sure you have to have a think you have to have a problem with what they did here you know if the question is why is the right not as upset about this as it is about other things i think it just what horace said i think you're basically stepping back a little bit and saying look there's been this this you know love relationship with the press and the president and the a piece going to take care of this themselves the journalists are basically going take care of this example that have to fuel it the same way as other things if they don't have hearings on the sort of thing this is a major battle here the magic if you if you're of the confidential informant or whatever for a reporter they can find if they can get the phone records of that reporter and see who they were talking to the week before the big story hit they'll figure out who the source was this is serious stuff and but i agree that it serious but i think that what we what we actually need to look at is that this happened thanks in part to policies that were pushed by republicans you know allowing wiretaps allowing e-mail searches those kinds of things are policies that were pushed by republicans and i think it's time for republicans to face up to what the rest are on the will
so blowers is what this investigation is trying to do to crack down on whistleblowers this is an unprecedented use of this or leakers this is a precedented use of a warrant to search as far and wide there is no example during the bush administration for anything like this now if you were telling me that the goal here was somehow to protect national security i would still say i want to talk to that federal judge and ask him what was he thinking or what was he smoking when he said just any numbers you want any locations you want just give me as many names as you want and i'm going to write a blank check that's not how a war is supposed to work i wouldn't worry as much about the partisan thing did the right do it is the left doing it this is how people in power at this is why you need. press and if they can ever get a hold of the press and really intimidate them we're not going to find out about these abuses of power for first place and that's the real problem really think this is liberal this is liberal conservative i think this is how people in power act when they can and i think you know
a within when in two thousand and seven arrested in two thousand and seven when this bill was introduced senator obama supported it in two thousand and nine it was reintroduced president obama try to water it down it seems to be something that goes beyond politics as mark said it just has to do with a very powerful executive it absolutely is and i think regardless of you know where we're at with the policies now i think it really shows that whoever's in power is going to use them for their maximum political gain a peak in benghazi and i.r.s. all show the limits to having a government that so huge that is very very difficult to manage if you don't believe that then you have to be sympathetic to the argument that this administration put in iris should exist like marc thinks that they're going to say how it exists elsewhere isn't so you know you don't have a lot of choices and either you have to say that they're out of control or a rogue agency or they're following orders and doing bad things you don't have a lot of new well you can say that it's a decent institution that has a couple bad apples working port of this one time but more of tonight's big picture rubble after the break.
let me let me i want to know what let me ask you a question. here on this network is what we're having a debate we have our knives out. is this just a bad state to get here in a situation where being i don't mean to talk about your name and. you know sometimes you see a story and it seems so you think you understand it and then you glimpse something else you hear or see some other part of it and realize everything you thought you knew you don't know i'm tom hart welcome to the big picture.
here is mitt romney trying to figure out the name of that thing that we americans call. i'm sorry i'm just a guy who cares about what you say are little you know what my peers. want to listen to featurism a liberal democrat. usually. you know the corporate media distracts us from what you and i should care about because they're profit driven industry that sells a sensational stick garbage he calls it breaking news i'm happy martin and we're going to break this that it's. looking pretty darn tough in the field that you will find it here if you're looking for relevant stories unique perspectives and tough questions to start.
looking back joining me right big picture marc harrold case in a horse cooper welcome back to shows at stud. ok so according the most recent analysis our deficit is shrinking fast we really don't have a deficit problem it's fallen by six hundred billion dollars a lot of it thanks to obamacare which brought health care costs lower by forty nine billion dollars new york times has a new analysis out now all this report about the deficit comes as austerity is being pushed more and more by conservatives and even some democrats new york times an analysis found that quote the nation's unemployment rate would probably be nearly a point lower roughly six point five percent had washington not cut spending or raise taxes as it has since two thousand and eleven and here's a graphic coming up showing the comparison between unemployment rates with and
without us austerity right there. so why isn't it time to pull back from the austerity here. in the first way we start with that is to redefine your misuse of the term now you just read the quote and it said two things they cut spending and raise taxes the tax hikes were significant and they were real the cuts were nominal we're talking i'm talking about payroll tax hike are you talking about the miniscule tax hike on the richest people in the country i'm talking about the tax hike that's also part of obamacare on on medical devices to affect some of the map yes actually this year and also. suntanning tax all of those things are kicking in this particular year in fact this is. not only going well there are examples of the taxes that are in fact already in place as well as the tax that he said was going to be a millionaire tax that actually reached down to people. less than half of that stuff
and then you got to ten is on top of that this is a significant tax hike on this economy with very very modest that's the definition of austerity that i described that is actually happening and we're in favor of something instead which would be lowering taxes and encouraging growth so i think what this really shows is that long term planning around debt and deficit is crazy especially when you have a real problem where people are out of work. states cut back lots and lots of programs and and workers in their budgets over the last few years and it's had a really damaging effect on the economy and i completely agree had we not done all of that we probably would be in a much better and more robust economic situation right now mark are you going to give credit to the president for cutting the deficit faster than at any rate since world war two where the credit would be because there's so much practice here's
what happens the bush administration. huge government the obama is huge government if you practice long enough with over taxing people completely over taxing them and having the government rise and rise to get bigger and bigger sooner or later with all that practice of taxing people too much and having to big government you will find a way so the numbers fit that you can bring in it's more deficit neutral i mean you'll find a way to sooner or later mission is that you are the more it's not more efficient because you're still taken so legally you would call the top tax rate dropping from ninety percent down to thirty five thirty seven thirty nine percent because it started out it's a good it's a good start with us if it's called taxing people to death we are taxing people to death because you're you're after details numbers you're like what's not ninety it's forty forty it's ok forty's way too high exactly way too high exactly and the other thing about it is you have to remember a couple things one the white house and c.e.o. have different definitions of baseline and to the way the tax cuts the bush tax cuts are either there or not impact these numbers and you're saying if your same tax rate was never paid by all of the people that it was supposedly assessed against you you that were you present it's all very high when you say that forty
percent is too high what are you comparing it to just some magic number in your head of what it should be or the economic reality of where tax rates usually are versus economic growth because historically your acquired tax rates have led to higher economic growth and better that is not already but is absolutely on track so this is very you know this you guys use that stat here on this program all the time heritage foundation and a number of the joint committee on taxation you've already have some you've already lost have often refuted this with factual analysis of what was really going on go ahead you would have a profitable analysis if you count war activities heading out of government spending you can't war activities that lead out of world war two as as the equivalent of government space there was actual productive activity happening there were there was a clip making there was an investment in a boat on the road below that we zoomed out they were doing this i'm best at what we're doing today because you want what no no no no no no no i'm going to do a lot of this is really going to be who you are doing isn't actually investment into
economic growth so you would support actual investment sure. private sector and investment would be something great to have you they course would support the private sector i missed when i learned i don't think he's a big fan of department of energy is invested in some prime which. because they were your ear assuming sometimes that government's out there to solve all the problems if you take enough money from people you might be able to make that work but there's still the f. there's still economic liberty and if you don't just take people's money even if you can make it balance in some balance sheet it doesn't matter do you talk about economic liberty when you have to give more of your money away you work longer for the government each year and they make decisions for you right we should be against people having their money taken away which brings me to the next topic about fast food workers and a new study here a new survey commissioned by this fast food workers campaign shows that. eighty four percent of those surveyed said their employees engage in practices that amount to what the group has identified as theft they're pretty much stealing wages making people clock in early not paying them for overtime everything like that all this is
backdrops now by these growing hunger strikes that have been going are not hunger strikes are wrong wrong wrong they're oblon they're growing fast food workers strikes new york chicago detroit. they're asking for fifteen dollars minimum wage or currently seven twenty five if minimum wage kept up with what it was in the sixty's had be about ten dollars let me finish ten dollars if you kept up with productivity and be up you know twenty dollars mark what's the point of having a job if that job isn't going to pay your wage to live on some of the more the job should they get fifteen dollars i'll say this if they can get fifteen dollars government to stay out of this i mean you want minimum wage i'm against minimum wage but saying they want fifteen let's say the minimum wage was ten if they can get the extra five dollars if they privately collective bargaining can get that because their services are that valuable to the company in the company cannot find somebody else to do it they'll get their fifteen dollars every one of the market doesn't make minimum wage if they all people are interchangeable everybody would make minimum wage people get paid more by what they bring to it as food workers
absolutely. yes food companies are very profitable yes and furthermore a lot of states have actually rolled back workers' abilities to collectively bargain and organize and i think that's actually a problem on but they're going to try but when the rates go way up the food prices are going to go up to bless people going to eat they're not going to need as many employees everything is it's not just some magic thing where you can just hand people taken from eight dollars an hour to fifteen and nothing's going to change but that's to drive the price of the food up and players from taking the wages that they are supposedly altering the cheating people i'm not talking about making a clock and all that those are unfair practices i'm not talking about that i'm talking about just this idea that they should get fifteen dollars because they want fifteen but as i said many of them whether it's blatant theft by not paying people for overtime or making them clocking in early or whatever earlier we are seeing as some sort of theft when you look at the way that productivity has increased for workers ever since the one nine hundred right along with the wages kept right up with it and then around the seventy's it broke and wages have stayed quiet so workers are not being compensated for their increased productivity isn't that
a form of theft first of all they're not workers they're people who happen to choose this as a career temporarily fat tell you really yes fast food jobs had noticed as fast while the jobs had never been intended to be career jobs they were intended to be entry level opportunities to learn a skill we don't have a new regular economy no way of turning the law our economy that is making so many people like this look at the statistics the recent college graduates they have a future that looks abysmal but the second point is this the problem is not minimum wage the problem is minimum skills as mark just pointed out i'm not up for any limit on what people can get if they go out into the marketplace you offer artificially by supporting it i'm out of them need based knew that we're right well and i'm sure that they're going to be consequence making sure that corporations don't drive us into the race to the bottom where we become like bangladesh that's what i'm worried about but you're blaming reagan obviously that hasn't happened when i like bangladesh i guess when you can't blame bush you blame reagan you keep
on. further back here we are having a lot of these are you know we saw the massive mine explosion we saw the west texas explosion we're seeing we're there's an investigation going forward that that may have been intentional and not an accident. all right well let's move out of here. during wednesday's house hearing holder was testifying for the house judiciary committee on oversight hearing and he was pressed by congressman steve cohen of tennessee on this particular issue take a look. one of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people's liberty for things that people are in favor of the pew research group shows that fifty two percent of americans think marijuana should not be illegal and yet there are people in jail and your justice department continue to put people in jail for sale and use on occasion of marijuana you have continued what is allowing the mexican cartels power and the power to make money ruin mexico hurt our country by having
a prohibition in the late twentieth the twenty first century we saw morris i've heard you rail about big government tyranny for a while even here tonight you've probably said big government several times congressman cohen there just said big government how do you disagree with his reasoning there when it comes to how i think he's just completely misplaced the priorities here but the real i mean are you the real question here is will mr obama and the democrats in general break off with their relationship with the big law enforcement which is all about setting up controls over guns and drugs or will he decide to go with the reverse in the weed smokers and all of them and break with the big gun court tell that wants to try to confiscate all of our weapons this president is more likely to stick with them because of the political benefits that he sees rather than standing where i think he wants to stand in the room with the reverse i think. i think i think you're right it the president has made this is and
he seems to be on. so you see the president colin needs to talk to the president and not make these. public claims that somehow it's republicans that are driving this well i think what's interesting about this debate is that actually all the obama administration is doing is i'm forcing federal laws that are on the books what it would actually need to happen is for congress to pass a law that would legalize these drugs or at least allow states to you know make their own laws on this issue like with immigration. i want to read more when here's the thing the ninety richard nixon declared war on people when he went with the drug war and then in the reagan administration would just say no which was very i think a naive approach but it didn't it didn't work here's the thing about i think a lot of this has to do less with guns but about private prisons and private prison companies and i'm for privatization almost everything but i say no to prisons i think that's my law enforcement background here's the thing the nine hundred seventy controlled substances act has marijuana as a schedule one drug one of the first things i say i'm for legalizing pot some you
say are you for legalizing heroin and i have say well maybe not but that's the counterargument but how can heroin marijuana be in the same schedule if people say i go to the point mark i want to play sot here real quick this is just play this up play the clip is. crack worse for a person than marijuana. i believe all drugs are bad is nothing that i mean worse for somebody to sell marijuana. i don't think you need a legal drug is heroin worse for someone's help than marijuana. again i mean do you know or i don't know i mean if you don't know you can look this up and that's why our drug policies are screwed up and marc harrold case tiger thanks a lot for coming in here. five years into the obama presidency in the right is as powerful as ever and well financed as ever how did this happen and how can progressive fight back journalist leave falling into nice conversations with great
minds. of potentially deadly blizzard taking aim for the northeast it's expected to hit stunning in a few hours from new york to maine we have team coverage of the storm. but what we're watching is the very heavy snow moving into boston properly or today it was very sticky you can see it start to become much more powdery so the bottom line there's still a lot of snow out here the place for snowball fight. d.c. it is going to be pretty incredible today there and even record snowfall throughout much of it might still be slow to be driving lessons to them urgency here except.
i think a little worse if you're going through. the white house or the. radio guy for a minute. but i want. to give you never seen anything like this i'm told. is it possible to navigate the economy with all the details such as dixon information and media hype will keep you up to date by decoding the mainstream. if in your mind.
for tonight's conversations with great minds i'm joined by lee fong lee is a reporter reporting fellow with the an investigative fund of the nation institute has covered the complex world of lobbying and public policy at think progress the boston globe and the national nation magazine one of the first journalist to uncover the network of donors behind the tea party his new book the machine a field guide to the resurgent right is a must read for anyone interested in learning the real story behind the rebirth of the republican party in the age of obama and great to have you with us thank you so much i just quit correction i just wrote that right one column for the boston globe but i really appreciate it thank you so let's just spectacular work. for it let's
start at the beginning of the book which we already showed on the screen but the book is called the. cian why the machine. well you know maybe i could've called it the jungle or something of that nature because there's just kind of complex web of ecology of. music and maybe too many metaphors here but so many think tanks funders p.r. consultants lobbyists you know trade associations all of these interconnected groups that combined work towards similar goals advancing tax cuts for billionaires pushing the austerity rolling back industrial regulations rolling back the welfare state and in each kind of kaga this machine is interesting but the way that they that each party interacts with one another and advances similar goals that influence not just public opinion or an advance of a singular candidate but reshape the laws that we all live under best machine that
i'm trying to talk about here isn't this in many ways the realisation of lewis powell suggestion to his next door neighbor and best from the i forget his name the guy was the president of the nixon of the and while nixon appointed him to the supreme court but is given to his he wrote this memo to the u.s. chamber of commerce that president of the u.s. chamber back in about seventy one i think the one so isn't this the realization of the palmetto and in many ways that's right and you know that the kind of put yourself in powell shoes nine hundred seventy one i mean this is. around the time when the civil rights movement had had already deeply affected the nation the environmental movement was kicking off rachel carson's book because spring and unsafe at any speed had come out or that it was right and you're right and ralph nader powell you know struck the fear of god into powell you see it was named in the memo several times he's saying if folks like nader continue to gain popularity on college campuses continue to inspire these mass movements we're going to see
a fundamental shift in the parish. in the united states and what he recommended was this similar machine that's described in this book and you saw out of that memo from lewis powell. really a network of think tanks but mostly based in washington d.c. the american enterprise institute was initially kind of a trade association the minute american enterprise association they kind of changed their name heritage foundation and the american legislative exchange council all of these groups the cato institute which was originally the charles koch foundation all these groups kind of founded in the wake or around the time of the lewis powell memo and what's interesting i think a lot of research has already been done on this is that these types of organizations this political infrastructure set into motion reagan revolution all the way through george w. bush and his big economic domestic policy agenda what's new about this political machine that i'm talking about in this book is that in the wake of the two thousand
and eight elections you saw the same type of fear that lewis powell had in one hundred seventy one and conservative party in disarray the party in disarray for world concern the gallup poll showing the republican party the most at the lowest levels of approval rating ever right you see the even below nixon yet at all it's long as the gallup has been taking those poll numbers and you saw democrats for the first time not just having big majorities but big progressive majorities the dixiecrats are kind of faded away you saw pundits kind of an almost in a consensus in the media predicting big waves of progressive reform looking at the partisan alignment but also saying that look at a public opinion folks are tired of the supply side theory they're tired of the years of bush and deregulation they're ready to turn a page they're ready for you know a watershed moment of you know the employee free choice act tax reform you know big changes that could shift the balance and power of change the kind of trajectory of
income inequality that we've been. personae years in other words there was a consensus that the reagan experiment the reaganomics experiment had failed that's right and that we were going to return to new deal nomics yeah it was something some kind of. some kind of make sure. you know exactly and. these conservative planners these billionaires saw all this moment and they recognized it and what they did is they started reinvesting in this machine that had been started in the seventy's so you see the same types of think tanks popping up in every single state capital all across the country. that's explored in the book you see new efforts to hire organizers to develop a new populist movement that could counter kind of. obama enthusiasm you see consultants hired to develop a new kind of media media ecosystem that can counter the kind of gains made by the left in online media since two thousand and six you see all of these efforts
happening almost at the same time in two thousand and nine two thousand and ten and these planning efforts really reshape banks they not only stopped a lot of the big progressive reforms in their tracks but they laid the foundation for one of the biggest republican upset victories in all of american history on the two thousand and ten campaign and that was very important because that victory trickled down to the state legislatures in the state legislatures in turn. vastly gerrymandered states to make a democratic majority or a progressive majority that you saw after the two thousand and eight election nearly impossible at least for the next decade. so the situation was that the republicans were in disarray they were they felt they were doomed obama comes into office he's got this he had a super majority until scott brown was appointed and there's that al franken issue
but he still had a. substantial majority and now. i don't think anyone expected that lobbyist would come in and work with minority leader mitch mcconnell to abuse the filibuster he did but in any case he had a sizable majority but it was there was this remarkable thing that happened you know right about that time the president is elected and all of a sudden there's this tea party express across the country and you know we're we're we're did this come from i mean one of the narratives that has kind of taken hold on the left i think is that. the tea party was this astroturf group you know done for economic purposes but really what they were doing is they were drawing on mostly white racists or you know the first black guy in the white house holy cow we can't have that kind of thing. to what extent is that narrative true versus it was really a genuine astroturf organization or i guess i guess that's an oxymoron but. i mean
what is it what happened here i think it's a combination of a lot of factors and what's interesting in the book or at least what's new and novel is that. you know there's always been a kind of friction in the republican party and there was a tidy relationship between the reagan years and the bush years where big business republicans had compromised with social conservatives and evangelicals folks motivated by religion or abortion some of these hot button issues have provided kind of the foot soldiers to the kind of purely economic lobbyist types of the jury falwell's ralph reed's of the world right that the moral majority of the christian coalition types they have worked with the republican party for a good thirty years and that relationship started frying in the end of two thousand and eight not only because of demographic reasons but also because of. the scandals the sex scandals that came out in the last years of the bush years and we saw we see this as an a focus on the family of this big social conservative group lang off
a lot of their staff just because you know they're losing poppy. they don't have the same clout at the same time. and this is a little bit of a different perspective. libertarians and corporate lobbyists have been tinkering with and developing their own social movement based almost solely on economic issues but. generating it not on religion but on a different idea of the birth of this nation not on the christian fundamentalist view but on this kind of myth that the boston tea party was symbolized. the creation of america and that the boston tea party was somehow this anti-government anti-tax rebellion that defines who we are as a people and. we kind of explore how this idea was. used in in one thousand nine hundred thirty there were there were tobacco lobbyist who wanted to fight the clinton health care plan and they said as philip morris we
can't go out there and fight this excise tax that was planned or used to pay for clinics health reform plan as the philip morris we need a third party validator so why don't we develop a tea party so they went out and hired literally that phrase oh not just the phrase you know the imagery of the flags they went and hired p.r. firms corporate p.r. firms to go to kentucky go to d.c. and organize these rallies and this is in ninety three it's ninety three it just didn't take off i mean they had these rallies it just didn't have cache and we see this over and over again in one thousand nine hundred seven dick armey with a set of other republican congressman they go to boston at that moment they're working with a bunch of corporate lobbyists that are trying to push the flat tax they want to get rid of the progressive income tax replace it with a flat tax ever in pain with the same amount they dumped on the harbor they launched all these you know kind of organizations to support a new boston tea party to support the flat tax they were just kind of lampooned in
the media no one took them seriously and we see. the koch brothers. their groups. this is first on the economy which changed to americans for prosperity this kind of grassroots organizing organizing group trying to develop tea parties in two thousand and three two thousand and four going to places like michigan and north carolina organizing rallies bussing people the problem was the time just wasn't right and we see in two thousand and seven two thousand and eight a group of libertarian billionaires developing. a think tank called the same atoms alliance in chicago that's basically just a think tank to develop populist ideas and they're literally giving out thousand dollars five thousand dollars grants to folks who will go out and do courageous tea party activism so they see to this idea and they had a template for a lot of these folks are the same actors that became the leaders of the tea party movement in early two thousand and nine literally dick armey and americans for prosperity they had tried this before so that the left over from the so the tobacco
industry they tried it than the flat tax industry they tried it and but this time didn't catch on this time because they were genuinely under siege or because of the element of an african-american in the white house or was a boat i thought was both it was it was a lot of planning a lot of money but a lot of good circumstance because you know obama you can't just blame these quote unquote astroturf groups you have to also blame obama obama took his grassroots organizing group and folded it into the d.n.c. and left it there he stopped using the populist rhetoric and he actually stopped using the populist tactics early in his administration he also did a lot of things that kind of engendered populist outrage by refusing the claw back those bankers bonuses from all those banks that were bailed out by tarp pretty much as opening the field for populist anger for anyone to swoop in so in a way he he said it that's remarkable more of tonight's conversations with great minds we fall right after the break.
let me let me i want to know what all the let me ask you point. here on this network is we're having the debate we have our knives out. the scientists by staying married to get married at the rate we're being i don't want to talk about surveillance me. you know how sometimes you see a story and it seems so for lengthly you think you understand it and then you
glimpse something else and you hear or see some other part of it and realize that everything is i don't know i'm sorry welcome as a big picture. talking about the same story doesn't make it news. no puff pieces i mean tough questions make it. worse for those. white house to give a. radio. minute from a quick. quote good because you've never seen anything like good control.
welcome back to conversations with great minds tonight i'm joined by a leaf on reporting fellow for the investigative fund at the nation institute and author of the new book the machine a field guide to the resurgent right it's so lee this isn't you've been we've been talking about the tea party in the whole national thing in the republican philip morris starting this a ninety three this is all at a national level and yet when you look at i grew up in michigan and michigan was always a labor state and it was always it was always a blue state it i think it arguably still is a blue state except that we have a republican senator republican house and republican governor and and we and michigan just lost you know just got this right to work for less law passed you know it's like it's the ground shifted the state it's somehow and you know i said
you know i still have a lot of family there i go back there every year. i don't think the ground has shifted at the level of the people it seems more like but i'm not really sure what's going on other than the device family an enormous amount of money being dumped into that state what is happening at the individual state levels around this country and how is it coming about how it how did michigan wisconsin. simply put it takes less money to buy a state where the state politics is much cheaper than on the federal level and you know in two thousand and nine when republicans saw democrats progressive's controlling the gears of power in the white house and congress. and they made a concentrated effort to build up their infrastructure in the states the political infrastructure was this in anticipation of the census which the constitution says every ten years we you know every year that ends with zero we have to do a national census and then redraw congressional districts based on the you know it
was just coincidental with two thousand and you know if it was explicitly part. the plan you know ed gillespie this republican strategist and lobbyist has been around forever but you know he almost immediately went to work and late two thousand and nine and helping with these efforts and providing funds and setting up some of these so-called five a one c four groups that are working in the states to elect more republican state legislators but some of the big money folks. went in and created new think tanks that would foster and nurture existing state based conservative think tanks in state capitals and in addition create a new group called the the franklin center that. their stated mission was you know we've had this financial crisis where all these reporters are being laid off you have state capitals that are being covered by no one except maybe a reporter this is our opportunity to go in and change the news so they went out
and hired at least one hundred former journalist but to report from a conservative view you know blaming the budget crisis only on teachers so we're saying that the only way to fix a problem in the state would be to remove collective bargaining rights or roll back some other union right so this was all kind of happening at once in some states where there are already conservative state based think tanks like michigan the mackinaw center you see their budgets increasing almost immediately but we never i mean i do about the back and center for years nobody ever really took them seriously that in there was some other guy in the northern part of michigan who was you know constantly doing ballot issues and things were they were considered right wing crackpots and you know other than the only right wingers who were really taken seriously were that of australia you know out of grand rapids his nephew i guess erik prince started to it turned out it was shooting range in the blackwater and is now hiding out in the police but so continue with your story mackinaw center which
you're right it's just for a very long time you see their budget increasing sharply you see them hiring all these. former broadcast and print journalists who have been laid off or. close to laid off. in other states like wisconsin at the time completely controlled by democrats democratic governors democratic legislature very pro-union you see these conservative planners going in finding an existing think tank wisconsin public policy foundation and then creating a new kind of action oriented think tank called i'm a kiver institute in the state doesn't come out with academic papers like a traditional think tank their purpose is to drive public opinion and to lobby the legislature so they're hiring folks to just get video cameras and go out and film union rallies to go out and conduct polls that pressure republican politicians to take on unions you see so you either see existing state based conservative think tanks grow rapidly after two thousand and nine or in states where there isn't much
conservative infrastructure new think tanks are founded and these organizations started laying the groundwork for not only big victories in two thousand and ten but big policy big political victories in two thousand ten terms of electing republicans with big policy victories after those republicans get in we can look at the history of campaign finance and something's fundamentally changed here because not only are campaigns won on election day but you see this permanent drumbeat every day even after election day where these this these infrastructure organizations are pushing very far right legislature really very far right policies on the legislature and the very west counterparts don't have that really an equivalent organization so that a lot of them are a lot of these folks in michigan and wisconsin are simply kind of swamped they don't they don't they didn't see what was coming and i don't think they're still prepared and they don't have the resources in michigan is
a good example of the kind of union backed organization that. media and political research. has i believe about seven hundred thousand dollar annual budget mackinaw center americans for prosperity michigan and one of these media outlets combined of about five million. you know here's an interesting anecdote in two thousand and three when we started our radio show. the first network that picked us up it was called i.e. america radio it was out of detroit it was owned by the u.a.w. and we run stations all over the country and on sirius satellite radio and the you the u.a.w. pulled the plug on that network the day that air america started you just said ok that's it you know it was over the air america and but that was kind of the progressive infrastructure i mean and it was basically that the entire network had three employees i mean it was usually it was is a little thing run out of this little offices they did a lot with little in detroit and and now there's nothing to the best of my
knowledge i mean i look around and i don't see any progressive infrastructure anywhere at least anything that would you know outside of you know the established union infrastructures which are which are under siege everywhere you look i don't see anything growing is there an equivalent there's a fundamental. asymmetry i suppose if you look at you know one of these state based think tanks one in texas just like the mackinaw center texas public policy foundation they accidentally spilled their donor list in two thousand and ten so we've got to look at how these groups operate from the inside. so while yeah unions provide farms first semi similar organizations. on the left corporations make up the difference on the right because a corporation can provide funding for this type of political infrastructure and give it a clear return you know they're getting a tax cut they're getting help fighting regulation and then this is
a this is important because there are a lobbyist everyone knows it's coming from you know for. eisenhower texaco whatever but these organizations are a third party validator because they typically don't disclose their donors and but they can go out and just as aggressively lobby for the same goals and you look at the texas public policy center or texas public policy foundation how they've grown so quickly a lot of that money is just corporate money from fortune one hundred companies that are seeing i suppose a very big return on investment by funding these conservative infrastructure groups yeah i've seen some studies in fact you might have been the source of one of them one of the most profitable businesses in the united states is investing in members of congress even that there are companies that have had literally returns of over ten thousand percent investments in particular nemeses of legislation or sort of pools are a great example of this but you know traditionally big business has funded you know fifty fifty democrats republicans and they've mostly funded candidates or they were a political or if there are three words exactly but in you know in the even the mid
ninety's you see all of the big fortune one hundred companies basically splitting down down the middle you know there's some aberrations like the oil companies have been more pervert republican some broadcast little bit more program a crack but what we're seeing a big difference here is not only are the campaign donations shifting more public and by the that these corporations are now finding political infrastructure ideological infrastructure but the stuff that the tea party as part of their i suppose their business model right so it's like the whole memo revisited on steroids so what's the role the koch brothers play in all of this they get a lot of publicity is kind of the granddaddies of this their father fred koch started the john birch society my dad took me to a job or society me when i was a little kid yeah i remember it and i remember the signs you know peter old warren you know they were so freaked out about brown versus board what is their significance in their role exaggerated are they just the bogeyman of the press on
the left or is there something you know going on there you know for. one of the founders of the john birch society he was very paranoid that the civil rights movement was a kremlin conspiracy for african-americans to take over u.s. citizens or u.s. cities excuse me and he actually had a kind of a reason to be fair and i have one little scoop in the book about how the f.b.i. was actually monitoring him because it's because he was saying such crazy stuff. but no the koch brothers in one sense they are like a lot of these republican donors who provide tons of money into politics but what makes them unique is that richard fink one of their top lobbyist one of the top advisers. kind of pioneered this model that sets them apart from any other big conservative donor and that's he said well you know we we we idolize frederick hyatt you know the libertarian academic and hyatt has this model of the production process you have the mine there were all material or extracted you have to bring it
to your factory you've got to refine it or process that manufacture it market it distributed sell it he said why don't we take this process that's fundamental to our capitalistic system and apply it to politics so what's unique about the koch brothers is that they find every level of how public policy and public opinion are shape so they have thousands of grants and scholarships to high school and college students to take up these conservative ideas they found. professorships and endowed chairs at universities all over the country they not only fund of course so many think tanks here in washington d.c. but think tanks across the country including but texas public policy foundation we found out from the disclosure was. above that their political action committee is of course one of the most active they've got the grassroots groups like americans for prosperity they're very active in dark money and just and constant attack ads
or issue based propaganda they've got a system. where they can shape. whether we're talking about health reform climate change tax policy but they can have people on t.v. and folks walking around talking to legislators all the time and you know the meeting last week and it is another good example you know the koch brothers convene these twice annual meetings of other conservative donors sometimes supreme court justices sometimes politicians just decided to double down and they decided to double down they had another one of their big meetings we have to wrap it up thanks so much for being with us thank you tom great really appreciate you doing a great relief to see this and other conversations of the great minds go to our website at conversations great mind studying.
well coming up on our t.v. the justice department's tracking of a.p. phone that still leaves the obama administration red in the face while obama has defended the subpoenas of phone records while holder tries to shield himself from the scandal or the drama unfolding here in d.c. even after the u.s. invasion of iraq the country still faces continuous violence the country is plagued with insurgent bombings that are taking their toll on infrastructure a look at the results of the war from inside iraq just ahead. a group of russian developers have created a new social network so what's so special about it all about communicating with other people even if you don't speak the same language more on the network that weakens the language barrier later in the show.