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tv   Martin Bashir  MSNBC  December 4, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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joy reid, all yours. >> leave it to ari to bring back eddie murphy. president obama is making a list, and he's checking it twice. >> this is the defining challenge of our time. making sure our economy works for every working american. that's why i ran for president. the basic bargain at the heart of our economy. this increasing inequality is most pronounced in our country. a child may never be able to escape poverty, because she lacks a decent education or health care. that should offend all of us. what drives me is a grandson, a son, a father, an american, is to make sure that every striving, hard-working, optimistic kid has the same incredible chance that this country gave me. dr. king once said, of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking. not anymore. if you still don't like obama
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care, you owe it to the american people to tell us what you are for. not just what you're against. here at 30 rock, we are counting down to tonight's lighting of the famous rockefeller christmas tree. that war on christmas, a lot of hum bug, of course. but as president obama prepares to join in the national tree-lighting on friday, he's got a few other things to attend to. first, including a long list of policy goals that he wants to achieve for the american people. starting, of course, with the affordable care act. the affordable care for all. so just this afternoon, the president kept up his three-week push to promote the affordable care act. this time in a white house youth summit. >> i'm going to need you all to spread the word about how the affordable care act really works. what its benefits are, what its protections are. and most importantly, how people can sign up. i know people call this law obama care. and that's okay. because i do care. and -- i do.
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>> that event highlighting the crucial importance of getting young people to sign up for coverage under the affordable care act. but it is this president's earlier address that offered the clearest picture yet of the president's second-term priorities. with the health care law just one part of a vision focused on greater economic equality. and for this president, it's a political mission that's rooted in the personal. >> the combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the american dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe. so what drives me is a grand son, a son, a father, as an american, is to make sure that every striving, hard-working, optimistic kid in america has the same incredible chance that this country gave me. >> in addition to the president's policy achievements, including the affordable care act, the president offered his support for raising the federal minimum wage and said he'll
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outline new initiatives on things like assistance to the long-term unemployed. and if republicans have any ideas, he would welcome them too. >> if republicans have concrete plans that will actually reduce inequality, build the middle class, provide more ladders of opportunity to the poor, let's hear them. it's not enough anymore to just say we should get our government out oh of the way and let the unfettered market take care of it. for our experience tells us, that's just not true. government can't stand on the sidelines in our efforts. because government is us. >> yeah, sure. try it telling that to everyone's favorite by stander, the huge fan of the congressional recess, house speaker john boehner. he hasn't obstructed anything, really. >> to date, the house has passed nearly 150 bills this congress that the united states senate has failed to act on. these bills would do things like increase the supply of american energy and build the key stone
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pipeline. roll back red tape and unnecessary regulations. >> right. build the key stone pipeline, roll back regulations. but wasn't there something else? something the house voted on like 40 times? what was it? >> delay the individual mandate and allow the american people to keep the health care plans they would like. or just scrap the health care law wreaking havoc on our economy. >> oh, yeah. that. let's bring on our panel from washington, political strategist, angela rye, principle of impact strategies and msnbc contributor, jared bernstein, senior fellow at the center of budget and policy priorities. jared, start with you. this is president obama going deep. he really went in on an issue you have been working on for a long time, which is income inequality. what was your reaction to the president's speech today? >> i did think it was a speech of some depth. and i wrote that, because i thought that it was a very skewed diagnosis.
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we used to talk about inequality and i've been looking at that phenomenon for decades now, and throw up our charts and say, boy, look at that, folks, isn't that that a problem? what the president did today, is he tied that to the lack of opportunity, to the lack of mobility. even to problems in overall economic growth. financial instability. bubbles. the kinds of problems that have been really tanking the economy now for a number of business cycles. so it was a very complete diagnosis of the problem. and i thought the prescriptions, which you began to get at in your introduction, went right to the heart of it, as well. a real role for government in addressing this significant market failure. >> and, you know, angela, i want to play a little bit more of what the president had to say. because he did also go at some of the middle that people have about inequality and where it comes from. take a listen. >>. >> the gap in test scores between poor kids and wealthy kids is now nearly twice what it is between white kids and black
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kids. the opportunity gap in america is now as much about class as it is about race. we've got to move beyond of the false notion that this is an issue exclusively of minority concern. >> and angela, how important is it for the president to start to try to bring back in this racial discussion, always dangerous when the president tries to do it -- when this president tries to do it but to try to separate out these notions of makers and takers from issues of race. >> well, joy, he also talked about his white grandfather, who because of the gi bill, received an education that absolutely paved the way for him becoming president of the united states. the president's discussion on economic inequality or income inequality and the other gaps that exist in the american culture that preclude people from -- proceeding towards the american dream are not new. he's addressed this in the state of the union. he addressed this when he asked congress to pass the american jobs act. he addressed this when he tried to deal with so many other things for small and minority businesses, through
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regulations -- i'm sorry, the administrative process, through executive orders. he has done all of that and more. and yet it continues to fall on deaf ears. why? because, as you have played, speaker boehner wants to continue to protect the key stone pipeline and try to create additional loopholes for folks with tax codes. so it's really very difficult when you have a president on one side of these issues and a congress that is just reluctant to do anything to ensure equality for all. >> and jared, angela mentioned things again, the key stone pipeline, prescriptions you hear from the right that really don't seem to comport to what the president is saying but really what the american people are saying. you are starting really see a consensus among a lot of people that the idea of raising the minimum wage is a good idea. that we're not a makers/takers economy. that people aren't excited about the idea of low wages and people having to work on every holiday. and of management making 200 times what their workers are making or ceos making 200 times -- >> 273, i think it was. >> 273.
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so why do you suppose that this sort of consensus on one side has not -- has not affected republican thinking? >> well, i think it's pretty simple. i think that in terms of economic policy, republicans have been stuck ever since the days of reagan, if not before, on basically two things. cut taxes for wealthy people and did he regulate. and in many ways, the last election was a bleb plebiscite. in fact, in both of his campaigns. and, again, the kind of reagan-era tricklel down. that latter thing doesn't work. that's clear. what the president said today is for the rest of my term, i'm going to be focused on measures that work to address things that you care most about. he may not be able to get over legislative goal lines with this. but for him to be using the bully pulpit to raise these issues i think is exactly right. >> no, and angela, that is a really good appointmepoint. you live in the legislative world. and the chances of the president getting this agenda through the
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house of representatives in particular are probably very slim, if not none. so how important is it for the president to keep on using the bully pulpit to keep on reminding americans that he and they are on the same side on these issues? >> whether it is trayvon martin, joy, or some other issue that seems to be falling on deaf ears because people haven't heard it from him is absolutely abundantly important. he does have a small window for which he can act. i don't know in 2014 if the house would flip to democrats. it's not looking that way. so he has to continue to utilize every other available effort. that would be through the administrative process, through regulations. executive orders. executive actions. and if he can continue to push this agenda through, through that way, that's probably his best bet. it will be very tough on the hill. we have not seen much happen from the house side. it is the most inactive congress in the history. i think it's going to beat that record for the 113th, and deductible did for the 112th. >> jared, give us some hope. is there something the president
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could do legislatively for the average worker? >> yeah, there are actually a couple things. i was thinking, as angela was talking. one is that he could pass an executive order that would improve the job quality of workers under federal contract. that's something i worked on when i was there, and that's kind of teed up. so i would go with that. here's a new idea. something i've been working on with a colleague named ross eisenbray. he would suggest we change regulations regarding overtime hours so more workers would be covered with overtime. that's another interesting executive order. i'll have more to say about that perhaps sometime when we can dig a little deeper into that one. >> all right. i think your phone might be ringing. the white house might want to -- til, both of you a call. thank you so much angela rye and jared bernstein. coming up, the calls for action. the 911 tapes from the sandy hook shooting were released today. but will anything make our lawmakers listen when it comes to guns?
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the 911 calls from inside sandy hook elementary school recorded on the morning of december 14, 2012, were released to the public this afternoon. throughout several calls, some panicked, some calm, the 911 operators remained professional and clear. advising callers to take cover while they worked to mobilize the response to the school in a matter of minutes. in one recording, a teacher calls from inside her classroom, describing gunshots in the hallway, and showing concern only for the protection of the children in her care. in another, a 911 operator speaks to a teacher, who had
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been shot in the foot and yet still works to calm the children inside of her classroom. and keep them safe. a custodian named rick thorn stayed on the phone with police for several minutes, reporting that he heard shooting and even acted as a liaison between the police on the scene and the dispatcher on the phone. now, due to the sensitivity of this issue, nbc news has decided not to play the audio from these recordings. a position advocated by some in the community, including victims' families. as newtown first selector pat loej put it, the release of the tapes will create a new layer of pain. hearing those calls takes us back to a day of horror and tragedy. my plea is for the media to treat us kindly and to recognize that there's great personal pain in this event, and little public good to be garnered through the general release. we're aware there are differing views, especially since the threat of gun violence and the mass shootings that president obama fears are becoming the new
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normal are something that affect every american. for more, i'm joined by goldie tayl taylor, whose column breaking bad can be read on the grio and rosenth rosenthal, stop handgun violence, an organization dedicated to the prevention of gun violence. thank you both for being here. john, nbc news is not playing the tapes. we're not going to play them. it's an issue that news organizations have to wrestle with, whether there is news value that would add to the public understanding of what happened or whether it sort of becomes just prurient. based on what you know in the 911 tapes, do you feel there is anything in them we could have learned something new from? >> i absolutely think that we should hear those tapes. and i'll take it a step further. when 26 and 7-year-olds are massacred with an ammunition clip and congress does nothing, absolutely nothing to curtail
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access to these military weapons, we can't even get a background check requirement for all gun sales, never mind a ban on assault weapons. i actually think we should show the photographs of what 6 and 7-year-olds look like after being hit with 3 to 11 rounds with a military style weapon that you can buy without an i.d. or background check thanks to a spineless congress. we need to see these images to realize it could be our children and until we do and take it personally, this madness, 83 more gun deaths every day, 30,000 more americans since sandy hook 12 months ago, and nothing is done about unrestricted access to guns. shame on us. >> you know, and goldy, i think the frustration you hear in john's voice is something a lot of us felt. a lot of people felt that, you know, for god sakes, after 26 children and their teacher -- 20 kids and 6 teachers were killed,
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surely that would move people. does john have a point that maybe because we have protected the public from it, we have protected lawmakers from really having to grapple with the horror of what happened in a really stark way, that that's maybe some of the reason why people have let it go. >> you know, i certainly understand john's frustrations, and on the one hand, absolutely. these tapes belong to us, as taxpayers. you know, these are public records and by law, i think they have to be released. on the other hand, do i believe that having the public at large listen to these tapes will inflame them in such a way they will pressure congress to make a more aggressive move or any move at all towards gun control? i don't. i think 30,000 gun deaths in this year -- in every year, in our communities, are happening. people are watching these tragedies unfold in their own enableds, on their own blocks in their own houses, for god's sake. and no one is stepping up and limiting high-capacity magazines, limiting military style assault weapons.
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you know, limiting the kinds of ammunition that adam lanza and others have used out there. you know, these kinds of common sense gun control laws ought to be enacted. but the fact is, this congress even did a voice vote, a cowardly voice vote to extend the ban on plastic weapons. and so i don't know that this congress has the guts, has the wherewithal, to move forward on common sense gun control legislation that frankly could save lives across this country. >> and john, goldy mentions the plastic weapons, extending the 25-year ban for another ten years. and there was pushback on that. this is not something upon which there was unanimity. you actually did have some second amendment advocates saying no, there are -- they disagreed with the idea of preventing these plastic guns, which can -- they can get past metal detectors. >> it's absolutely correct. and the gun industry was given absolute immunity by this congress. and president bush. and teddy bears and toy guns are regulated, but real guns are
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not. so the gun industry is free to do this. and, you know, a gun -- you can sell a plastic gun today that has a metel afiring pin and it's perfectly legal. and it will evade a lot of metal detecti detection. frankly, our gun laws -- the sooner we wake up and understand that our federal gun laws are designed to provide unrestricted access to all weapons, without detection, and the fbi is limited to maintaining gun purchase records, even from dealers for only 24 hours because congress says you can't trust congress. so gun policy is to provide unrestricted access to guns. the more gun violence, the more mass shootings, high-profile mass shootings or even better for the gun industry, because gun sales go up. and then more money goes to the spineless members of congress for giving them immunity from lawsuits and lack of regulation. >> and you know what, goldy, we have had -- look, the reality is, these tapes are out. they're on the internet.
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so they are in effect out there anyway. you had had one of the parents from newtown actually do an open casket funeral, because she wanted the governor to see her son, to see what it did to her little boy. what that gunshot did to his face and really disfiguring him. she wanted that to be seen. so that happened. so the things that john has talked about, they have actually happened. and yet we still do have this complete inaction. and not just that, backlash. you look at in colorado, where lawmakers who even try to do any kind of gun reform, they get a push it is back from the nra. so in your mind, is there anything, is there any -- anything that can move congress on this, or does the public have to actually begin to weigh in here? >> i think until the public acts, acts in a meaningful way and moves on this congress, then we're not going to see any meaningful legislation. i certainly respect the parents of newtown. i think one of the mothers took the -- may may til's approach and let the world see her son in hopes that would shock us into a
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brand new consciousness. unfortunately, it really hasn't shocked us into a consciousness. every year, illegal handguns on the streets of our cities are killing black, brown, boys and girls. and no one is doing a dan thing about that. english they're practicing a policy of containment. if we did meaningful things, like improving the early childhood education,er health care, all those kinds of things that really put hope into people's lives, we could do something. but on the other, there are just simply types of weapons, styles of weapons, that should not be in the hands of civilians. and certainly everyone, including people like adam lanza, who was suffering from complex mental health issues, should not have access to guns. and so i think that there are some meaningful issues here that have got to be on the table. whether or not this congress or the next takes them up is up to us. it's up to us to make this move on congress. and force their hand on these things. >> and john and chris, we're looking at pictures of the victims in newton, what this is about at the end of the day. if the pressure point is not politics, john, what is it?
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is it the pocketbooks of gun manufacturers? what -- give us something affirmative that people can at least have some hope. where are the pressure points that we can see change on this issue? >> the pressure points are really holding congress accountable. and holding the gun industry accountable. one company alone, certainris capital management, wall street firm, owns bushmaster, the weapons used at sandy hook. they also own shaw's and star supermarket and osco drug and stuart health care. we ought to be boycotting these irresponsible businesses. and we ought to be holding our members of congress accountable. and, you know, as i said on this program after sandy hook, on msnbc with general mcchrystal, who was describing what these kids having gotten 3 to 11 rounds, what they would look like from a military style weapon like the bushmaster ar-15. he said they would not be recognizable.
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now, why wait until it's your own child? why wait until it happens in your own community? connecticut changed laws after sandy hook. colorado after columbine and aurora. massachusetts, even, after a massacre at a office complex. look, america. wake up. and hold your members of congress accountable. and you can go to stop handgun violence's website or go to the brady or others. but get involved. 30,000 americans he have year. that is more americans killed by guns in the last 40 years. >> indeed. >> than all service men and women, u.s. service men and women killed in all foreign wars combined. and no background check for assault weapons. >> indeed. unconscionable. and we truly appreciate that advice. john rosen that will, goldie taylor, thank you. >> thank you. and ah, so you can see like right here i can just... you know, check my policy here, add a car, ah speak to customer service, check on a know,
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stay with us. the day's top lines are coming up. but first, we told you the
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you may be muddling through allergies. try zyrtec-d®. powerful relief of nasal congestion and other allergy symptoms -- all in one pill. zyrtec-d®. at the pharmacy counter. from the uber president to the i-word, here are today's top lines. when wacko birds attack. >> over the last two months, washington has been dominated by
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some pretty contentious debates. >> can you just list for our audience the ways in which you think -- this president has overstepped his constitutional authority? >> the attack of the wacko birds. >> a long list. it is a long list from this president. an uber president. >> ooh. >> you have the rise of an uber presidency. >> uber president with no respect or little respect for the constitution itself. >> running out of ammo, the right wing has resorted to blaring even louder. >> i think the ultimate check is elections. >> it's not enough to say the president did a lousy job rolling out the historic health care law. >> i don't think you should be hesitant to speak the word in this room. >> no, the screaming you hear now is -- >> a check on executive lawlessness is impeachment. >> if a president is ignoring entire categories of the law -- >> just impeach him. >> barack obama ought to be impeached. >> the word we don't like to say. >> we also talked about the i-word. >> we're down to the i-word
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piece. >> impeachment and i'm not about to utter in this particular hearing. >> whether it be immigration, marijuana, mandatory minimum, what is the remedy tore the legislative branch? >> i think the president has decided, congress can't challenge me, can't control me. >> congress will be left like a line like a constitutional landscape. >> he will spend money if he decides to. >> thomas, this is our statement here. i'll read it to you. if you would like. >> he'll write regulations if he decides to. >> the growth and opportunity project. >> and he will defy the constitution if he decides to. >> that's simply not true. >> the american people that have to rise up. >> let's get right to our panel. joining us now, krystal ball, co host of "the cycle" and james peterson at lehigh university. oh, krystal. uber president. oh, krystal, krystal, uber president. i can a lot of liberals would be surprised to find out this president was practically a monarch. >> he has like super powers.
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if i was artistically talented, i think there is a comic book angle here that could be interesting. >> okay. could be. >> but this is part of a long-standing conservative narrative ever since this president was elected. they find any way they can to undermine his legitimacy, to even hold the office. there are still a lot of right wing memes out there that you may have heard over thanksgiving about how he may have stole the election and not legitimate to be our president for the second term. of course the birther stuff. even the extent of the challenges to the health care law. you know, yes, it was passed through congress. so legitimate there. there were -- went up to the supreme court. it was affirmed in the supreme court. he was re-elected. he won re-election. and yet still republicans refuse to accept that it is the law of the land and continued to try to vote to repeal it. there is just -- they don't think that this president and it's a winning argument with their base, deserves and is legitimate to hold the office.
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>> krystal makes a good point. it does really feel, james, like the supposed district dictatorial activity, what he has done, has been to sign bills, right, that republicans don't like. >> right. >> to -- exist, basically. they don't want him to -- just performing the normal functions of president are seen as dictatorial. appointing judges to the d.c. circuit. which all presidents do. so the idea that when he tries to do things that presidents ordinary do, he is seen as a dick da dictator what is that about? >> there are a lot of things. some of it, sadly, is about race. some of that is about the sort of way our political processes have atrophied. partisanship doesn't exist in the same vein. there is no compromise. can i just do an english professor reality check? >> please do. >> the term "uber" means outstanding or supreme example of something. so if they're saying he's the uber president, that's
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essentially saying he's the best example of what a president is. and so i hate -- >> so maybe should embrace it? >> i mean, i just -- i don't know, maybe we should embrace it. but i just want to clarify and define what uber means. it doesn't mean monarch or taking too much power. it means the best example, supreme example of something. so if they're saying that obama is that, that's a little bit freudian, isn't it? >> you know what, james, that's almost as probably unadvisable as describing a law in which 40 million people get health care, as obama care. >> right. >> and then thinking that people are -- >> that's their -- that's their logic. >> you know, i do want the to -- let's do the history professor thing a little bit. because krystal, there was this thing during the bush administration called the unitary executive. and this was the idea that was put forward by dick cheney and david addington and their crew that george w. bush had to have extraordinary power. he could set aside the geneva conventions on things like torture. so is the irony just being missed by republicans, that they used to want george w. bush to
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be extraordinarily power and now they don't like president obama being an uber, meaning awesome president? >> yeah, they were totally comfortable with president bush having wide-ranging executive -- far-reaching and you know, ground-breaking really executive power. this president not so much. but the thing that i find really fascinating too, and you'll remember, it started very early when he started appointing people and he had the -- what they were calling green jobs czars and other things. the czars, that was the initial. but they vacillate. they can't decide which attack they want to go with. he's either this like supreme dictatorial, you know, heavy handed leader, or he's totally feckless and leading from behind, and he's -- >> exactly. >> just observe ohhing his administration without actually taking part. so they go between these two extremes. basically finding any angle that they possibly can. to attack and undermine this president. >> james, i feel like we need to now hear from our dictatorial czarist uber president. let's listen to him and hear just how extreme he sounded
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today. >> i've never believed that government can solve every problem or should. and neither do you. we know that ultimately our strength is grounded in our people. individuals out there striving, working. making things happen. it depends on community. a rich and generous sense of community. >> okay. so james, government can't solve every problem. individualism and community. which of those three things is the most dictator-like? >> right. absolutely none of it. >> conservative-sounding principles, right? >> absolutely none of it. progressives will say too little or not enough and folks on the right will say it's crazy, socialism, he wants to have the largest government ever. remember, this government is at the lowest level of discretionary spending in the last decade or so. deficits being reduced. all sorts of cuts all over
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throughout this government. we're in a recovery from a recession. we're not adding federal jobs. and so the idea that he is sort of taking this government in a direction that it's never been in before is absolutely absurd. and just a little more history here. history will say this is the president only in this period of time who talked about contracting executive power. he's the only one who is publicly talking about reeling in executive power. when he responded to the heckler for the immigration piece, he's talking about really inexecutive power, let's do it through legislative processes instead of through executive orders. so you won't see any other modern era presidents talk about it. certainly no one previous in our lifetime to president obama. >> some happened with don't ask, don't tell. oppose the left people saying he should do something in executive order and he wanted to go through congress. so krystal, is the point hear really that republicans are facing the frustration of knowing that president obama did in a sense triangulate some of their issues on the border. a lot of liberals upset because there have been a lot of deportations. reduce the federal work force, reducing the deficit. sort of the issues you traditionally run against a democrat on.
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he sort of co opted them and leaves republicans with little else. >> this is something i've been thinking about as a broader trend, not actually just with this president. but democrats really since clinton have adopted conservative values and conservative policies. health care being the obvious example. >> individual mandate. >> came out of the heritage institute. sprang out of hillary care in response to that. so, you know, i think that is in some ways part of the problem. what are you going to offer as your market-based solution to things like climate change when cap and trade is the market-based solution and you've already demonized that. what about when the affordable care act already is that and you have demonized it. i don't think they have anywhere to go to actually solve these problems anymore. >> yeah. i think the operative phrase there being what are you going to offer. >> exactly. >> all right. krystal ball, james peterson, thanks to both of you. coming up, the latest on efforts to find a diplomatic solution with a nuclear iran. and what one congressman says
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is -- what one congressman says a worst-case scenario might look like. [ male announcer ] a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, this can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain and improve daily physical function so moving is easier. because just one 200mg celebrex a day can provide 24 hour relief for many with arthritis pain. and it's not a narcotic. you and your doctor should balance the benefits with the risks. all prescription nsaids, like celebrex, ibuprofen, naproxen and meloxicam have the same cardiovascular warning. they all may increase the chance of heart attack or stroke, which can lead to death. this chance increases if you have heart disease or risk factors such as high blood pressure
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this is the creamy chicken corn chowder. i mean, look at it. so indulgent. did i tell you i am on the... [ both ] chicken pot pie diet! me too! [ male announcer ] so indulgent, you'll never believe they're light. 100-calorie progresso light soups. today, members of the house foreign affairs committee got their first classified briefing on a proposed six-month deal with iran. a first step toward preventing that country from developing a nuclear weapon. the outline of the deal includes requirements, such as daily inspections, continued sanctions and an end to any enrichment that could produce a nuclear bomb. in exchange, iran gets about $7 billion in frozen assets, and the promise of no sanctions for the duration of the six-month agreement. after the classified briefing, democrats sounded skeptical of iran's intentions. republicans, on the other hand, sounded skeptical of iran and president obama. >> i believe, with everything
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within my being, that iran will obtain a nuclear weapon. if we go down oh the road that the obama administration wants to take us on. >> the level of naivete that barack obama has shown regarding iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability begs my ability to articulate. >> those comments are down right dovish compared to the opinion of one other member of their party. >> i think if you have to hit iran, you don't put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and set them back a decade or two or three. >> right. because the way to stop one country from going nuclear is to nuke them. coming up is the power fading for one political money machine behind stand your ground laws? but first, indeed, it's always 5:00 somewhere. so be sure to tip your bartender. >> if you're a bartender, have a happy hour. and also probably get health
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insurance, because a lot of bartenders don't have it. ♪
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ordinary folks can't write massive campaign checks or higher, high-priced lobbyists and lawyers to secure policies that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else's expense. and so people get the bad taste that the system is rigged. >> the role of money and interest groups in politics came to bear in the most unlikely of places in 2012. in the controversy surrounding the shooting of trayvon martin. the topic was stand your ground laws, which many americans were first introduced to in the run up to the trial of george zimmerman. these laws generally give people the right to use deadly force, even outside their home, if a
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legitimately believe they are under threat of attack. the law says you have no duty to retreat from someone who you believe threatens you. passage of these laws in florida and other states was aided by a nonprofit organization well-known in political circles, the american legislative exchange council, better known by its acronym, a.l.e.c. today, however, "the guardian" claims a.l.e.c. is facing a backlash, citing what the authors say are internal memos, they are having a funding crisis and decline in membership over its criticism in its policy on gun laws, specifically stand your ground. in response, a.l.e.c. is targeting more than 40 lapsed members as part of a quote, proddel gal son product. one is general electric. like other membership organizations, membership regularly expands and contracts for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to organization, and membership policy priorities, elections, turn limits, mergers and shifts
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in government affairs, focus following the trayvon martin tragedy. critics distorted the role a.l.e.c. played, certain private sector members chose to withdraw their support for the exchange council while we respect the decisions of past members, a.l.e.c. moved forward, grew membership, focused on transparency and the renewed organization focused on limited government, free markets and federalism. that is a statement that was sent to us by a.l.e.c. that we just presented you now. so joining us now, ed pill beington, one of the authors of "the guardian" piece and author of "big money" about the role of cash and politics, which will be published in june. welcome to both of you. and i want to come to you in a second to talk to you about your extraordinary reporting but first go to ken. you heard the lengthy statement i read from a.l.e.c. explain to viewers what a.l.e.c. is what they do? >> a corporate bill mill, a nonprofit organization that accepts membership dues, mostly
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from corporations, but also from foundations, mostly conservative foundations, to craft legislation, sort of model bills, if you will, that will -- are sort of there for conservative state lawmakers across the country to take and file as legislation. sometimes you see these a.l.e.c. bills turn up with very little change introduced as bills in state legislatures that cover the state legislature in pennsylvania and washington state. and in many cases, they are the -- they are models that are tweaked slightly in legislation that becomes law. stand your ground is one example that is controversial but very effective over the years with a relatively small budget. their budget was around $10 million in 2011. in advancing legislation that serves interests of these corporate sponsors. these corporate sponsors don't want any part of controversy like that, which erupted around the stand your ground laws and touched on a.l.e.c. in 2012 with the shooting of trayvon martin.
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and so what you see then is a little reluctance of some of these corporations that have been well-served by a.l.e.c. in the past to be associated with it, hence ed's great story. >> and ed, because, of course, now it became public. and the point being when these corporations can have an organization like a.l.e.c. write bills in their favor, it's fine. but when it became controversial, this caused them to lose members. give us more of a description of just what did they lose? what was the amount of donors and the amount of money we're talking about. >> well, a.l.e.c., the success of a.l.e.c., i think, has been founded upon its secrecy, so these big corporations -- we're talking some of the biggest companies in america, coke, pepsi, mcdonald's, walmart. you've already mentioned ge. so some really major corporations in america have joined this membership. they actually join up to a. a.l.e.c., party to it. it's secret and does stuff they like. it reduces their corporate taxes.
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if you're an energy company, it reins back regulations against climate change emissions. it does stuff companies like. it increases their profits. but something they like even less than taxes is publicity. >> right. >> of a bad nature. and the documents we got, which opened a window into the work that a.l.e.c. does showed how much corporations heighted that. and at least 41 listed by a.l.e.c. themselves under this title, prodigal son project, trying to get them back now to become members again, have left since 2012. left a few months after trayvon martin died. >> so the idea is they're trying to create sort of another entity that can then be donated to instead of a.l.e.c. proper? >> yes. and that's part of it, trying to get around the name of a.l.e.c., which has become slightly sort of dirty or smelly, perhaps, in public for the time being. but also they're trying to get away from any threatened future of the irs coming after them for lobbying. they are a charity. they're tax-he exempt. they're creating legislation was
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claiming a charity doing no political work at all. and therefore tax-exempt. so they're trying to set up a new project called the jeffersonian project, which will be a different tax exempt status that would allow them to do more lobbying. >> ken, there are obviously some changes perhaps afoot in what these tax exempt organizations could do. how might that impact this idea that a.l.e.c. creates this new 501(c)(4)? >> from what i understand, this 501(c)(4) created fits the definition of what they're supposed to do. that is lobbying on legislation, issue advocacy, where the 501(c)(4)s kind of ran afoul in the mind of critics of what the tax law says, is when they became more overt political organizations and gauging in campaigns, airing attack ads, the karl rove group, americans for prosperity, the koch brothers group, where they went after president obama. well, that is more overt political activity, whereas
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these 501(c)(4)s are supposed to do more issue-based lobbying. and that, as i understand, is what a.l.e.c.'s new organization actually proposes to do. it's sort of like they this come up to the line of the 501(c)(3) status, which says you have ton an educational organization and we're kind of coming close to lobbying or at least raising criticism that that's what they were doing. so now they form a 501(c)(4) that allows them more flexibilities but still have to fall short of political activity. >> education being a term of art. thank you so much. great reporting. we will definitely check out more on "the guardian." thank you. and we'll be right back. this is the quicksilver cash back card from capital one. it's not the "fumbling around with rotating categories" card. it's not the "getting blindsided by limits" card. it's the no-game-playing, no-earning-limit-having, deep-bomb-throwing,
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tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. and coming up right now, "the ed show" with ed schultz. good evening, americans. live from new york, let's get to work. a strength in our safety net for a new age. helped make sure we didn't go hungry. >> president obama wanted income redistribution along with health care access. and the only way to do that, to make money from the haves and give it to the have nots. >> at this festive season of the year, mr. scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute. >> the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care or a community that viewser


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