tv The Last Word MSNBC January 26, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EST
all of us here. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" who's going to be recapping the debate tonight. stick with us. have a great night. breaking news, the 19th republican presidential primary debate has just ended and after a day that saw the republican establishment in an all-out attack against newt gingrich in support of mitt romney, there were four men on the stage tonight, but the debate began as a one-on-one. fannie mae and freddie mac were a big part of why we have the housing crisis in the nation that we have. and we've had this discussion before. speaker gingrich was hired by freddie mac to promote them, to influence other people throughout washington, encouraging them to not to dismantle these two entities. i think it was an enormous mistake. i think instead we should have had a whistle-blower and not a horn-tooter. he should have stood up and say, this is a disaster, this is a crisis.
he should have been anxiously telling the american people that these entities were causing a housing bubble that would cause a collapse that we've seen here in florida and around the country. are they a problem today? absolutely. they're offering mortgages, again, to people who can't possibly repay them. we're creating another housing bubble which will hurt the american people. the right course for our housing industry is to get people back to work so they can buy homes again. >> the governor's been attacking me inaccurately and he knows it. the contracts we released from freddie mac said i would do no consulting -- no lobbying, none. but we began digging in after monday night because i had had about enough of this. we discovered to our shock, governor romney owns shares of both fannie mae and freddie mac. governor romney made $1 million off selling some of that. governor romney has an investment in goldman sachs, which is today foreclosing on floridians. maybe governor romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he's made off
of how many households that have been foreclosed because of his investments. >> my investments are not made by me. they've been to blind trusts managed by the trustee. secondly, the investments they made have been in mutual funds and bonds. i don't own stock in either fannie mae or freddie mac. there are bonds that they've held through mutual funds. i know that sounds like an enormous revelation. but have you checked your own investments? you also have investments from mutual funds that invest in fannie mae and freddie mac. >> joining me now are john heilman from the debate location in florida. he's the national affairs editor for "new york" magazine. tom brokaw, nbc news special correspondent and author of "the time of our lives," a conversation about america, who we are, where we've been and where we need to go now to
recapture the american dream. and chris hayes, host of msnbc's "up with chris hayes." tom, how do you score it? >> well, i always let the voters decide how they want to score it. i really just try to call strikes here. who scores the most runs tonight, we'll know when the florida voters go to the polls. i think objectively, however, there was a different mitt romney on the stage tonight. i think in the last ten days or so, the questions have been both, can he throw a punch and can he take a punch? tonight he threw a punch pretty effectively against newt gingrich at the beginning. the speaker did not look happy on that stage. i think one of the essential questions about his work for fannie mae and freddie mac has never been asked. for all the explanations and all the accusations against him, what, in fact, did you do for 1:6 million? that's a simple question. i think on the other hand, governor romney still and will continue to have difficulty explaining the difference between what happened with health care and massachusetts
and the obama plan. >> you have an insight, i believe, into these candidates standing up there that none of the rest of us can have since you've been at that moderator's desk at so many time and get them at close range. i had this feeling tonight watching gingrich and watching romney, romney prepares. he goes into debate prep sessions. he gets things, he memorizes things. he phrases them well. and gingrich, i have the feeling there's not that much prep involved. that he's actually just standing back in the batter's box waiting for his pitch, looking for that john king pitch that he can just knock right out of the park. if that pitch doesn't come, the magic doesn't happen. >> but newt gingrich has been doing this every day since he leeft the speaker's job and every day before that and when he ran for congress. this is a man who has been on a constant loop of being a politician someplace in here speaking on a wide variety of issues. so he's tuned up and ready to dance whenever the music starts. i don't think that's a real
problem for him. >> chris, when it came to that question about the investments in freddie mac -- and by the way, this mutual fund that mitt romney was talking about was called something like the government fund mutual fund. it's very -- half of it at least was freddie mac. you got the feeling that when romney turned to newt and said, you know what's in your -- that he didn't really know what was in his -- >> right, it was remarkable that gingrich would lead with that and not have already vetted and covered what the obvious response would be. and he didn't even have a response. he just sort of glouerred at him and went along. i thought gingrich seemed not particularly energetic. he really got his butt kicked all over the place tonight. and i was surprised by that because he obviously had a lot to lose because the polling shows romney trending upwards and newt regressing to the mean of what his polling has been and also because his best shot at the nomination, i think, probably his only shot, was to
parlay the momentum off of south carolina into a big win in florida. i thought -- it was almost like he didn't show up tonight. >> john, newt gingrich has gotten most of his momentum out of debates. what did he get out of this debate tonight and what did he need to get? >> well, lawrence, i think that chris hayes is right. i think this was an incredibly important debate. newt gingrich needs to win florida if he has -- if he's going to have any chance to win the republican nomination. he's performed poorly in both debates. to your point earlier, you have him exactly right. i think he came into this debate tonight and did no have a strategy, did not set out to accomplish anything in particular. he was extemporizing most of the time. mitt romney knew what he wanted to do, knew where he wanted to project strength. there was a point not only where romney had that canned line
where he came back at gingrich on his finances but where wolf blitzer offered gingrich is chance to let the subject go and gingrich backed down and said, i'm ready to call a truce on this. and romney stepped back up into this and said, i don't want to let it go, let's litigate the issue some more. that was a strong moment for him. throughout -- once gingrich decided to back down on the issue of finances and it was an issue where he was not well-prepared, there is data out there, there's opposition research out there that suggests that romney may not be telling the truth about whether some of these investments were in blind trusts, especially the ones on fannie and freddie, gingrich didn't seem to know about that. i thought once gingrich backed down on that issue, he was deflated and out of the debate for the rest of the time. the person that took the fight to romney for the rest of the debate was rick santorum. he had a good debate performance. but i don't think it will matter much for him. i think it's a big win for mitt romney and a big loss for newt gingrich.
>> i want to get to rick santorum. he really became a factor in the debate, if not necessarily the final outcome in florida. but i also want to talk about the day we saw that led up to this. tom, it's unlike any day i know of in republican party politics or democratic party politics where a party got together and said, there's someone we have to stop in this race, and the attacks came on newt gingrich like we've never seen. bob dole, which is not surprising, a romney endorser putting out a letter saying newt was a lot of trouble to deal with in congressional leadership. a shocking piece by elliott abrams goes back to the point where newt gingrich had real differences with ronald reagan on foreign policy and quoted newt gingrich in a 1986 house floor statement saying this about president reagan -- measured against the scale and momentum of the soviet empire's challenge, the reagan administration has failed, is failing and without a dramatic
change in strategy will continue to fail. president reagan is clearly failing. and this is newt gingrich who's been the reagan republican in the campaign so far. >> he said something even more damning than that. when ronald reagan was going to meet with mikhail gorbachev, he compared it to another leader meeting with hitler. i've looked at those diaries as well. it's such an insight into what ronald rageagan was thinking wh he was the president. newt gingrich is in there as a young congressman. it doesn't mean he didn't have solid conservative credentials when he was in the house or when he was the speaker. but his association with ronald reagan -- and he's even thrown in margaret thatcher on a couple of occasions -- does stretch the relationships that they probably had. >> and with dole, he called dole -- back in those days, the tax collector of the welfare
state. i working in the senate occasionally with bob dole trying to reach compromises, he would mutter to us about gingrich and these horrible stresses he has with newt gingrich. >> newt gingrich has something to say about something 24 hours a day, seven days a week. when you get into a campaign like that, that's going to catch up with you. >> i want to go to how gingrich defended his relationship to ronald reagan in this debate tonight where it came up. let's go to gingrich on ronald reagan. >> it's increasingly interesting to watch the romney attack machine coordinate things and all of a sudden today there are like four different articles by four different people that randomly show up. the fact is, i'm thrilled that michael reagan has endorsed me and will be campaigning with me here in florida. i remember very fondly in 1995 when we were at the goldwater institute and nancy reagan said, you know, barry gave ronnie the torch. and now ronnie's passing the torch to newt and his team in congress. so i think it's reasonable to say -- and i think the governor said it fairly, i am vastly closer to reagan.
those of us who were in the trenches fighting in the '80s, it would be nice to recognize who we did and not have orchestrated attacks to try to distort the facts of that period. >> for some of them, this might feel like ancient history. >> what matters is the subtext of all this, which is the signaling from the establishment. the actual content of who's closer to reagan is less important. voters make decisions based on the sources they trust and the sources they trust can be everything from a cable news network to talk radio to other elected officials that they once admir admired. and what's happening in the subtext by the concerted effort by the republican establishment is a critical mass of people that have some rep tigsal capital lenching it with the voters to say, stop, do not proceed. it will be a disaster. and the unanimity with which people have said that cannot but help to have an impact on
voters. a similar thing happened with howard dean in 2004. it wasn't quite as unanimous. but there was a moment in which much of the establishment -- this happened after al gore endorsed dean and all of a sudden people started to think, this guy might actually get the nomination. there was a concerted effort for people to come forward and say, do not do this, he's not electable. what's happening with newt is unlike anything i've ever seen because there's so much personal -- it's signaling from the establishment to the base voters saying, do not do this. >> in florida, newt gingrich is clearly taking on the establishment. he's not trying to duck and pretend this isn't happening and he's saying, you, the florida voters, have to rise up against them. >> yeah, and i think it's interesting, lawrence, there's been some reporting and i've seen it here a little bit myself where there's a really clear divide between the kinds of crowds that are showing up for romney events, the kinds of
crowds that are showing up for gingrich events. you're talking about a big class divide where you have a much more blue collar, much more tea party, much more populist crowd showing up for gingrich events and a much more upper crust, wine track for romney and the cucumber crowd showing up for romney and the beer crowd showing up for gingrich. gingrich is leaning into this. he's trying to say, do you guys really want to vote for the candidate who's the approved candidate of bob dole and john mccain? is that the kind of republican parrot that's the new republican party? that's not the party that we are anymore. his campaign is sending out a lot of press releases talking about the backing of the republican party. and the question is going to be, what is the republican party of florida -- >> just lost john. we're going to take a break here. john will be back. tom and chris will be back. stay with us.
coming up, more on tonight's debate with our panel and joining me later, the democratic senate candidate from massachusetts, elizabeth warren. we'll find out what she thinks about mitt romney, his taxes and how that's playing in massachusetts. that's coming up. [ slap! slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium rich tums goes to work in seconds. nothing works faster. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums ean. is another way to loo another way that reveals the lighter, mellower side of our roast. being blonde is nothing new but blonde roast is something new. something subtle. something soft. something with 40 years of roasting experience on its side. introducing delicious new starbucks blonde roast. the lighter roast perfected. ♪
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nine months, 11 days till election day. are you going to win? >> yes. >> how much do you want it? >> badly, because i think the country needs it. whoever wins the republican primary is going to be a standard-bearer for a vision of the country that i don't think reflects who we are. >> that was president obama in an interview tonight with diane sawyer of abc world news. back with us now, john heilemann of "new york" magazine, tom brokaw and chris hayes host of msnbc's "up with chris hayes." tom, i was struck by the absence of president obama in tonight's debate. here it is, the week of a state of the union address. there's plenty of obama agenda to talk about and attack in a republican presidential debate and he wasn't much of a figure in this one. >> but the big issue tonight was for mitt romney to try to kneecap speaker gingrich. i think that was a larger theme for him. so obama was set aside, a couple
of references to the speech, kind of dismissive, obviously about health care. they didn't like that. there was a fair amount of discussion, as you remember, toward the end about obama not being a great friend of israel. that plays very well in florida. it's a big issue. but, no, it didn't come up very much. and i've talked to some people in the obama white house in the last 24 hours or so and they're saying, let it be gingrich, let it be gingrich. >> obviously. chris hayes, on gingrich, if he is to survive, he was going to have to do something tonight that i don't think any of us saw. so if we are talking about romney going forward, what the obama campaign was watching tonight is a potential nominee having to talk about swiss bank accounts, having to talk about, how much money are you making from florida foreclosures, as asked by newt gingrich -- >> having to talk about his trustee and his blind trust. etch if that turns out to vet out and be the -- a proper defense of the actual transaction, a trustee and a
blind trust are things that most people are not using to handle their money. i think mitt romney -- the two biggest weaknesses that mitt romney would have if he proceeds to become the nominee, choosing to embrace the mantle of candidate of the 1%, of this kind of job creator figure who is using his business success almost as a cultural signifier to the republican base because he can't use other aspects of his personality or background to really win over the right wing of his party. that's going to be a liability. he's really embraced that. it's going to be impossible to run away from it. and i think his stances on immigration, he has delighted no getting to the right of his opponents in the republican primary on immigration. one of the most fascinating moments tonight, the immigration discussion that started off the evening, the tone was so different than it had been in previous debates, it's a lot easier to feed anti-immigration red meat to a republican crowd in front of a very white audience in iowa and new
hampshire, than it is standing in front of a much more mixed audience in florida. all of a sudden, they wanted to talk about how they weren't immigrants. that shows they have real vulnerability on that. >> i want to take a look at one of the rougher patches of the immigration section of that discussion tonight where mitt romney wasn't really sure what is in one of his ads about newt gingrich. let's listen to that. >> saying that speaker gingrich calls spanish, quote, the language of the ghetto. what do you mean by that? >> i haven't seen the ad. did he say that? >> as much as governor romney doesn't particularly like my use of language, i found his use of language and his deliberate distortion equally offensive. >> okay. and just because we don't get to see this very often in debates, cnn did a check about this ad. it really is a romney ad. i was doing a check, too, while that happened.
now let's run wolf blitzer demonstrating to mitt romney that this really is his ad. >> i'm here at a time -- all right. looks like we don't have that in our control room. in any event, wolf blitzer actually did the check and showed him, this is your ad. >> and mitt romney said, and i approve this message. >> at the end of the ad, he says, i'm mitt romney and i approve this message. >> that's one of the great high-speed possibilities of the internet that we can do that pretty quickly. but that was the kind of thing that this audience was not very comfortable with. >> no. and there was palpable discomfort throughout the entire conversation, i think, around immigration, precisely because all the candidates were attempts to thread this needle and because they've been doing this throughout the campaign. but it's been particularly true in florida as the stakes have risen. their superpacs and campaigns are running ads in a variety of different mediums that are incredibly negative and cutting and then they have to own them
standing next to the person on stage. that's always difficult. and tonight, i thought that no one seemed to really want to to embrace the most negative attacks that they've been wielding against each other in their advertising. >> john heilemann, there was an annex audience that it looked like they were in another building, a hispanic group that were sending in some questions from there. that's a kind of unique arrangement for florida to be having a debate with those two audiences. >> yes, it is. and it's a unique state, for sure, lawrence. but i think you know that this issue is -- to cut to the core of it, mitt romney -- newt gingrich is right about mitt romney. he has become the most right wing, anti-immigration, most restrictionist republican candidate among the presidential candidates. he's done that for a reason, tactically and strategically in this primary. it helped him to get rid of rick perry. rick perry's debate performances were bad. but the truth is a lot of the
damage was done by mitt romney against rick perry on the issue of immigration. it's helped him to help thwart newt gingrich in various ways in iowa and elsewhere. now romney finds himself in a situation where i think a recent poll has him with about 27% or 28% of support among hispanics nationally. that is a number that makes it impossible for mitt romney to win a general election. it is particularly problematic in the context of barack obama who is underperforming with hispanics right now. so there's a real opening for a republican candidate in a general election who can appeal to a large number of hispanic voters. but mitt romney in order to get this tom nation has put himself in a place where he can't get the number that he could get and the number he needs to get. we're starting to see the process, from this day forward, mitt romney trying to get into a more acceptable place with hispanic voters to allow him to be competitive in the fall. >> let's look the the two front-runners' answer to the final question that was about electability.
>> do you want freedom and independence and a paycheck and a job or do you want dependence and big government and food stamps and a lack of future? and i believe if we have a big election with truly historic big choices that we can defeat barack obama by a huge margin. but it won't be by running just as a republican. it will be an american campaign open to every american who prefers a paycheck to food stamps, who prefers the declaration of independence and who prefers a strong national security to trying to appease our enemies. >> i believe if you just elect the same people that change chairs in washington, not much will happen. i think if you want to change washington, you have to bring someone in who's been on the outside. i've lived in the private sector. i know how it works. i've competed with businesses around the world. i know how to win. i know what it takes to keep america strong. i know how to work in government as the governor of massachusetts.
i will use the experience of my life to get america right. and i can convince the american people that someone with my experience is very different than barack obama and that experience is how i'll beat him. >> tom, that just might be the perfect example about the difference between the two. here you have a carefully planned and rehearsed romney presentation on why i'm electable and newt gingrich goes off into things that include some guy named solalinski and what was that you said about electability, newt? >> newt gingrich goes out and portrays himself as somebody as an outsider but he always returns to the inside. he lives within the confines of the beltway in washington. that's where his business is done. on the other hand, tonight for the first time, mitt romney not only seemed to have his act together, but he seemed more appealing to a lot of people even though there's people in that audience tonight -- i think there's a poll out today that
you've probably seen, the new nbc/"wall street journal" poll, newt gingrich gets beat almost by a 2 to 1 margin in a projected election. that's beginning to erode the newt gingrich bump and the surge from last week. but if we've learned anything. if there's one short and enduring lesson and history from these debates and from these primaries that we've seen so far, check with us next week because it could change again. >> exactly. >> nobody has fallen in love here so far. some people have danced a little better one week than they have the week before. but the prom will go on. >> these are the nights when i hate the commercial breaks. we have to wrap it there. john heilemann, tom brokaw and chris hayes. thank you all very much for joining me tonight. coming up, what elizabeth warren thinks of her opponent scott brown's insider trading bill. and why does barack obama agree
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the problem with the answers from congressman gingrich and governor romney is that, well, they didn't always say what they're saying. governor romney was the author of romneycare, which is a top-down-run health care which has 15 different items directly in common with obamacare, everything from the increase in the medicaid program, not just that government is going to mandate you buy something -- mandate na you buy an insurance policy, something that governor romney agreed to at the state
lev level, something congressman gingrich for 20 years advocated that the federal government can force each and every person to enter into a private contract, something that everyone now at least up on this stage says is radically unconstitutional, congressman gingrich supported it for 20 years. governor romney supported it in the state, a state that is a pretty much a model for what obamacare is going to look like. >> joining me now from new orleans, tulane professor, columnist and msnbc contributor, melissa harris-perry. and from philadelphia, former pennsylvania governor and msnbc political analyst, governor ed rendell. thank you both for joining me tonight. governor rendell, there was rick santorum who almost, almost turned this into a three-way debate. he was very, very effective, banging away at the two front-runners from a republican perspective on health care. he scored a lot of points in
this debate. it might be too late for it to matter for him in the final vote total. but that's the rick santorum you have seen around pennsylvania for many years, isn't it? >> sure. people are always underrating rick santorum. but he knocked off a popular democratic senator to win his election. and another to win his election to the senate. he lost in 2006 but that was a wave election. so rick santorum is an effective campaigner. but rick santorum doing well tonight, lawrence, was good for governor romney because the votes that rick santorum gathered, probably not enough to vault him into serious contention. but if he picks up an extra 3% or 4%, that's coming from newt gingrich. >> i want to show you before we go to you, melissa, on this romney point, here is rick santorum again on health care. taking it straight to romney in a very powerful way. let's listen to this. >> i don't like the obama plan. his plan cuts medicare by $500 billion.
we didn't, of course, touch anything like that. he raises taxes by $500 billion. we didn't do that. he wasn't interested in the 8% of the people that were uninsured. he was concerned about the 100% of the people of the country. obamacare takes over health care for the american people. >> what governor romney said is just factually incorrect. your mandate is no different than barack obama's mandate. it is the same mandate. he takes over. you take over 100% just like he takes over 100%, requires the mandate, the same fines that you put in place in massachusetts are fine that is he puts in place in the federal level. >> melissa, when you hear rick santorum effectively and forcefully saying that mitt romney's mandate is identical to barack obama's mandate -- and that is true -- what you're seeing here is a republican primary campaign which is in effect, it seems to me, de-fanging the republican attack
on health care against president obama in a general election. >> maybe. you know, obviously there were a lot of points being scored tonight by santorum vis-a-vis romney. i'm not sure it fundamentally de-fangs the argument for the general election. in the general, the issue seems to be that it is president obama who initiated this rather than the policies themselves. there's such confusion about what the individual mandate is. it is not a top-down government-provided policy. it certainly does not end up covering 100% of people. so many of the things they're saying are things that progressives had hoped for. for example, a single payer system that was, in fact, government-run. instead, this is about private insurance. it has -- it is in many ways a transfer of income, even more greatly towards large insurance companies while helping to
provide a larger risk pool. it is all of those things. but i'm not sure that it de-fangs it fully because the issue really was about the fact that this president oversaw health care reform. >> all right, melissa and ed, hang on, i want you to come back and talk to me quickly about what happened yesterday in arizona with republican governor january brewer and the president at that airport. never seen anything like it. and ools, we'll be joined later by elizabeth warren, senate candidate from massachusetts. ♪ get a free balcony upgrade when you book now. limited time offer. some restrictions apply.
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in an interview with abc's diane sawyer tonight, president obama talked about his very strange encounter with z. governor jan brewer yesterday. >> what i've discovered is that i think it's always good publicity for a republican if they're in an argument with me. but this was really not a big deal. >> governor ed rendell, you've greeted a lot of presidents coming down the stairs in
pennsylvania. i've never seen anything like it. i would have loved to have seen 50 governors do that to richard nixon day in and day out if they got the chance. but we have never seen it. how did that happen? >> well, it's wrong in two ways, lawrence. number one, it's just impolite. and it's the president of the united states. they invite you to come and greet the president. i did it as mayor and i did it as governor. and if you accept the vegas invitation -- you don't have to go. if you're there, you respect the president. number one, you don't do that in public and disrespect the president. and number two, you don't tug on superman's cape. a sitting president may be of enormous value to the residents of their state. if there's a disaster and you want every county in the state
put into a federal disaster declaration, you better have a decent relationship with that president, at least a relationship that's a friendly relationship, if not politically allies. so it's dumb and it's disrespectful. >> melissa, we keep showing that dramatic still photograph. but i watched the entire video today, which is kind of rough. it goes over the roof of the car. of how long the president talked to jan brewer there. and it was longer than i have ever seen a president stop for a courtesy handshake with a visiting governor. and he wasn't talking most of the time, she was doing most of the talking. melissa, what did you see in that episode? >> well, the most charitable reading of it is, here are two public officials arguing about a book, which could be actually a really exciting outcome. that's my charitable read. but the fact is, when i see that still, i cannot help but to be reminded of the still photograph that was captured in 1957 in
little rock, arkansas, of the young woman hazel screaming at a young elizabeth eckford on her way -- trying to get into little rock high school, a central high school in little rock, arkansas. and the reason i bring up that image is because what we've come to know about hazel in the years later, hazel, the young who was screaming, was not herself sort of particularly full of racial animus or anything like that. but she was caught up in this moment of racial anxiety, of making this point against these people who are trying to come in and force their way into the school. and she sort of enjoyed the show of being able to yell at elizabeth eckford in this moment. but that captured the ugliness of the larger political milieu. >> thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> our pleasure. coming up, my interview with
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the insider trading bill is on harry's desk right now. >> i'm going to tell him to get it done. >> that was massachusetts republican senator scott brown lobbying president obama. he was actually asking president obama to in turn lobby senate majority leader harry reid to bring to a vote in the senate senator brown's bill banning insider trading among members of congress. the president had just expressed his support for such a bill in his state of the union address. a republican running for reelection in the predominantly democratic state of massachusetts, senator brown is now trying to find every way he can to appeal to independent and democratic party voters in
massachusetts. but his democratic challenger, harvard law school professor, elizabeth warren, is already running well ahead with 49% to brown's 42% in the latest poll. joining me now, democratic massachusetts senate candidate, elizabeth warren. thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you for having me. >> i want to begin with a trick question. what did you hear in the state of the union address the other night by president obama that you disagree with? >> the part that i disagree with, that's tough. can we start with the part i love best. when he talked about the consumer financial protection bureau. >> of course, of course. >> i was so tickled. that's right. and talked about getting rich cordray in there and getting the agency really up and running and saying to the republicans who have been blocking it, no more. we're turning this agency on full blast and going to make it
work. that was the part that made my heart sing. >> and he didn't mention something that scott brown is in favor of, which is banning insider trading in the congress. in fact, senator brown's introduced a bill to ban insider tradi trading. if you were in the senate now, would you co-sponsor that bill with senator brown? >> you know, i have to say, i think it's great to ban insider trading. what i'd ask for, though, is couldn't he make it just a little bit tougher? i don't think members of congress ought to own stock in companies that they're writing laws that could make a difference in the financial outcomes. i'm really kind of tough on this one. what i'd like to do is tweak it up a little. but i'm really glad to see it. i think it's the right thing to do. >> having worked in the senate and seen a lot of the financial disclosure forms, i would tweak it beyond that. i would say f you're in the congress, while you're in the congress, you simply cannot own stocks. why own stocks? there are plenty of other things
to do with your wealth if you have wealth when you go into the congress. >> you know, i'm with you on this. either don't own it or put knit a blind trust where someone else manages it and you literally can't see what's in there. i realize there are some wealthy individuals who have a lot of stock portfolios. but you're exactly right. i don't understand how people can be out there in the house, in the senate. they get inside information and they're making critical decisions. we need to feel like they're making those decisions on our behalf, not as an investor who would do better if the law goes this way instead of that way. i agree. >> yeah, i think there's something to be said for going a step beyond what is just the basic minimum that you'd expect from other people in congress. there should be some higher standard. i want to talk about mitt romney's tax returns. senator scott brown has endorsed mitt romney and he endorsed him before he knew what tax bracket he was in.
and when talking about the tax returns, senator brown said on a boston radio station before they were released, he said that mitt romney should release them but then about romney, scott brown said, he's in a category, a lot of those folks are in categories that we don't really understand. now, scott brown seems to be saying that mitt romney is in an income category that we simply can't understand. and that maybe when the information comes out, it won't make much sense to us. what's your reaction to that? do you understand the income category that mitt romney is in? >> yeah, actually i think i do understand it. and that is that mitt romney pays 14% of his income in taxes and people who get out there and work for a living pay 25%, 28%, 30%, 33%. i get it. mitt romney gets a better deal than any of the rest of us because he manages to earn his income in a way that has been
specially protected for rich folks. i think that's wrong. >> and going forward, the president has proposed the buffett rule, which you might as well call the romney rule kind of in reverse, have these people pay at least 30%. senator brown put out a press release after the state of the union indicating a few things he agreed with the press release on. that was not one of them. he does not seem to believe that there's any changes that should be made in the taxation of the super wealth of people like mitt romney. >> well, you have to remember, senator brown made quite a show of signing the grover nordquist tax pledge, even if it's fairness in the system. we talk about it with mitt romney and that brings to it the fore. but there really is this issue that keeps going round and round. and look at the big corporations. we now have these huge
corporations, the one that's been in the news a lot has been general electric. literally paying zero in taxes and every complication in the tax code that permits them to pay zero is absolutely sacrosanct, according to these republicans. but at the exact same moment, they say to young people, you're going to have to take on more debt to get an education. or they say to seniors, you may just have to learn to live on less. in my view, that's in many ways what this election is about. do we really believe that the investments we should be making as a country are all about protecting it for those who have already made it or do we believe it ought to be about investing in the future, investing in young people and honoring the promises that we've made to our seniors? i really think this is -- it's not finance. it's not economics. it's values. that's really what this is about. >> i think ross perot brought something great to presidential
campaigning. he brought graphs and charts and graphics. and he showed people the deficit. i wonder if someone can bring to a campaign charts and graphs and show that money that general electric is not paying in revenue to the treasury and what that means to other spending and other revenues to the treasury and how it affects the man in the street, how it affects the student going to state universities. and you know what, it sounds like it would take a professor to do that. >> you know, actually i have to say, i don't think this stuff is rocket science. i don't think it's that hard to do because ultimately we're going to pay something to keep this country going. we're paying something for national defense. we're going to pay in one form or another, the investments in our future for our regulatory structure -- the real question is, who's going to carry that and in what way? part of this that really gets to me, we say to the biggest corporations, you can get out
there and find all of these loopholes -- i read that general electric employs 974 people to make sure that it pays zero in taxes. how many small businesses can do that? small businesses -- it's not just individual versus business. this is really about kind of who can have oall the lobbyists and who doesn't? little businesses don't get to hide money in the cayman islands. they don't get to say, i'm going to restructure and call my contractors and do ale all these things to save themselves in taxes? they end up picking up the slack. the other part of it is when we don't make investments in america's future in education, when we don't invest in infrastructure, when we don't invest in research, who bears the burden on that? it's america's middle class. it's a series of choice that is we have to make here. and i just think we have to keep making them clearer and clearer and clearer, even if it means holding up charts.