tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 8, 2012 1:00am-2:00am PDT
all right. when you appear as a guest on a sunday show and that includes my own as a news maker which is a term of art in the industry for people like the senate majority leader, the governor of new york, your job as a news maker is to not make news. making news is media jargon for saying something you haven't said before. your mission is to go on the shows and use words in combinations similar to combinations you have previously deployed. otherwise you commit the sin of making news. one of the obama administration's favorite restore cal strategies for escaping a question is to come out and say i'm not going to make news. >> i'm not going to make news on the president's on gay marriage. >> i'm not going to make news. i'm not going to make news on
that today. good try. >> i have almost all the confidence in the world that whatever i say is not going to make the news tonight. >> joe biden is the rare news maker who seems to relish in making news. here he was on "meet the press" yesterday asked about his position on gay marriage and here is what he said. >> the president has said that he views on gay marriage have evolved. he's opposed to it. have your views evolved? >> i think the good news is that as more and more americans come to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition, who do you love? who do you love? will you be loyal to the person you love? that's what people are finding out that all marriages are at the root about. whether it's marriage of
lesbians or gay men. >> is that what you believe? you're comfortable with same-sex marriage? >> i'm vice president of the united states of america. the president sets the policy. i am absolutely comfortable with the fact that many marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual are entitled to the same right, all civil rights and liberties and i don't see much of a distinction beyond that. >> in a second term will this administration come out behind same-sex marriage? >> i can't speak to that. i don't know the answer to that. >> you can see in his response there at the end to the question of second term policy making that he thinks he might have gone too far. perhaps minutes after the remarks on sunday senior obama campaign advisor tweeted what vp
said that all married couples should have the same rights is potus's position which is not exactly true. he didn't just say that gay couples have the same right, he said they should be able to get married. the reason the obama campaign was in a rush to assure everyone that news was not made because the president is not a supporter of the freedom to marry. despite a 1996 candidate survey he answered saying he did support gay marriage rights his position in recent years has been to support civil unions only. >> respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbian should get married, my feelings are evolving. my baseline is a civil union that provides them the protection and legal rights that married couples have.
i think that's the right thing to do. i recognize that from their perspective it's not enough. i think this is something we're going to continue to debate. i'm going to wrestle with going forward. >> that position increasingly puts the president at odds not just with the base of his party but with the american public. this blue line, the one that's going up, up is moving away from the president's current stated position on this issue. it's something of an awkward issue for the obama administration. it explains why the walk back has not been a straightforward but an attempt at blurring the line between what joe biden said on sunday and what the president has been saying for years and years. that strategy was undermined today when another member of the administration set forth and made news again. >> just a little ice breaker. do you believe that same sex men
and women should be able to get legally married in the united states? >> come on. you're going to start there. >> yes, i do. >> okay. >> have you ever said that publicly before? >> i don't know if i've ever been asked. >> we made news. >> that was sam stein saying we made news. he knows when news is made. that's the job at the huffington post. the real news is the growing momentum behind an effort to put a plank supporting marriage equality into the democratic party platform this year. if you were to poll the delegates of the democratic convention, a plank would almost win by a land slide. a group called freedom to marry has penned an open letter calling for a plank. 11 state party chairs has signed onto that petition. the texas democratic party chair saying in texas we love all our
families. we know to build a strong democratic party. we must honor the core principals of our party and champion the rights of every citizen. four former heads have signed on to the effort and so have more than 40 elected officials including the house minority leader nancy pelosi and mark udall of colorado and so has the man that is chairing the democratic national convention, los angeles mayor. there's really only one thing that seems like it could block official democratic party support for marriage equality. in the modern era, party platforms are unofficially he handed down by the nominee. there are very few platform fights. the context is that. with very little notice in fanfare the democratic party now appears to be on a collision course toward a platform fight. the kind of plat norm fight you rarely see anymore. the kind of platform fight that
would be distracting and embarrassing for the president of the united states. if he wants to maintain his current position on this issue and keep the party platform in line with him, he would have to go to the mat on this. we'd have to use precious political capital and fight against the stated preferences of the house minority leader, four former dnc chairs and it appears his own vice president. joining us is the founder of the freedom to marry campaign. they are the master minds behind the petition. great to have you here. >> great to be here. >> i want to get your thoughts on the vice president's comments. there was part of me when i heard about the comments on "meet the press" that thought maybe this is a calculated approach in which they will have people close to the president endorse full marriage equality, full freedom to marry and that
will seek to satiate the thirst. then i watched it and thought joe biden is speaking what he meant. >> i've known him since i interned for him in the senate. i saw him on tv speaking from the heart. speaking in real passionate and personal terms. he told the story of going into a gay couple's home and seeing the love in their kids eyes for their parents. talking about the families he's met and how he thought about his own values of the golden rule and opening his heart and changing his mind. that's the same journey that so many americans have been on. i think it was sincere and what believes and it's what a majority of the democrats believe and a majority of catholics believe and a majority of americans believe. >> why are you pursuing this
objective of getting an official platform plank in the party. why this year? why now and what do you think your prospects are for victory? >> it's important that the party as it does every four years put forward its vision and it's very much about fighting for families and fairness, fighting for inclusion. those are some of the noblest moments in the party's history. it's where the party is. they should say so. it's an opportunity to have this conversation. >> let's put aside any moral concerns and speak purely as if you and i are paid political hacks and our jock is purely is to get someone elected regardless of what the moral arguments are. i could see myself in the president's position saying there's some downside risk. the people that care about this issue are probably going to vote for you. row risk alienating people on the fence. let's find way to make this go
away. is that compelling? are you creating a political problem for a president that you broadly support? >> let's be clear, the only way to make this go away is for the president to be forthright in his freedom to marry and continue talking about the bigger, broader things he wants to discuss with the american people. things we all care about, jobs and security and education. until he does there will be the next question and the next wondering what about this, what about that. doing the right thing is also doing the right thing politically. the people that will vote for the president based on opposition for freedom to marry are such a small number and will never be for this president because he will never be anti-gay enough. the people the president needs
to get elected, the people who want to be with him want him to be where they are. that's for the freedom to marry. again it's not just democrats. it's not just young people. it's independents. >> the president has used this term evolving. it's been in some sense as the talking point that's used to describe his position on this specific issue, talking broadly about rights for lbgt folks. some people say it looks as if he's moved in the opposite direction if in 1996 he was in favor of this and then he was not. how do you understood that word evolving? what do you hear? >> i hear a fair reflection of a journey that so many americans have taken. people have wrestled with this as the president said. people have taken in new information and learned about
gay families and why marriage matters and thought about what the vice president said. love and loyalty to the person you love and added that said and said it's wrong to deny this to these couples. so many americans like the vice president have evolved in the way he described. at some point there comes a time that even people who may not care that much or be for the freedom to marry don't want to see inauthenticity. they don't want to see a president that seems to be on the advice of political operatives holding back or dancing. they want to see a president lead. this president has taken so many important pro-gay, pro-equality, pro-marriage steps of really truly historic magnitude that he's very little to lose and a lot to gain by completing the journey and being authentic. >> evan wolfson, thanks so much. really appreciate it.
huge cuts in government spending as a mean offense boosting the economy. yesterday was a bad day for austerity around the world. voters in greece threw out a number of politician who is are pushing for more austerity there. in the four years since the great recession through threw the whole world off its economic axis. do you respond by injecting stimulus into your ailing economy? in broad strokes the united states and president obama have chosen stimulus while europe has chosen austerity. austerity has turned tout be mighty unpopular. it's not just the french and the greeks that are rebelling. last month the dutch collapsed entirely.
this was the scene last week in spain. thousands of demonstrators took to the street to protest against the spanish's government insistence on austerity. it has proved to be unpopular across europe. it's because it hasn't seemed to work to get the economy going again. two years after the election of david cameron, the uk has slid back into recession. it's the uk's first double dip recession since the 1970s. this is what's happened to the u.s. economy and the economy of the uk since the great recession struck. they both cratered in 2008. since then they instituted harsh austerity measures. it's recovered but has taken a
turn for a worse. the united states rejected austerity measures and opted for a government stimulus package and this was the result, growth. slow and at times uneven but growth nonetheless. the u.s. has so far managed to avoid the double dip recession the uk is experiencing now. it's been the same story throughout much of europe has stimulus measures have jumped start the economy. here in the u.s. there's even evidence now that less austerity could have improved the economy even more. this graph was posted by justin lahart of the wall street journal. it showed if they kept workers the unemployment rate would be around 7.2% instead of 8.1%. in the face of all of this evidence we're in the situation in this country where one of two
major political parties is committed to austerity. massive cut, massive cuts in government spending. rejection of any government administered stimulus for the economy. precisely the policies that have failed in europe. we have one that will bring europe's misery to our shores and it's the party that's demonizing everything about europe. there is one last small glimmering home to escape the straight jacket of austerity in this country. you'll be shocked to learn the not so secret story of how republicans are cinching the belt on that one too. that's next.
louisiana republican david vitter is a very kind of guy. senators like david vitter can hold back the nomination of almost anyone for any reason. it's crazy rule. this is the man reason he makes headlines back home. in 2010, the louisiana republican blocked a string of nominees by president obama for positions in the criminal justice center. in 2011 he put a hold on the president's pick for the department of interior. this year a nominee gave up. he waited more than a year to be considered as chief scientist of
national oceanic administration. today he's back in the news for positions that are slightly obscure to the general public but the two single most important unfilled positions in the entire country. i really mean that. nothing less than economic recovery and the president's election chances rest on that. the two men are nominated to serve on the federal reserve board of governors and vitter explained it. i refuse to provide chairman bernanke with two more rubber stamps. this a breathtaking statement for two reasons. he's not saying anything about the qualifying indications but where the policy references might lie. one of them is a republican.
i don't know a single serious economist who thinks putting a hold on them is a good idea. i bet you can't find one. literally every republican economist thinks stein would make a fantastic fed governor. i agree. he's accusing ben bernanke, a registered republican and imagine appointed to the fed by w himself of being some kind of wild eyed activist liberal. third, vitter is saying though not quite in these words he opposes any effort to grow the economy. he opposes any effort to bring down unemployment. he's saying in that quote and showing that he wants the economy to grinds to a halt. he wants it too die. there are two strategies basically the federal government can use to help. the first is for the government to step in and spend money to
build roads and bridges. during the great recession president obama asked congress for almost $800 billion in stimulus spending. still, consider this chart. you can see the obama stimulus kicks in and then new claims for jobless benefits start following. the government starts spending and fewer people get laid off. the correlation is pretty direct. government spending props up the economy while the private sector recovers. the conservatives have tended to favor and that's through the federal reserve. until his death a few years ago milton freeman preached a gospel of monetary policy. the idea is they could make money cheaper to borrow. you're more likely to buy a car or buy a house. his idea is the federal reserve should take action during crises to make sure the supply of money expands as much as the economy
needs to grow. he served as an add visor of president reagan who considered him a hero and he was hero to ben bernanke. many people think he wants the fed to be more aggressive about putting more money into the economy especially as unemployment remains so high. he needs allies on the fed to make that happen. it's the one glimmer of hope that someone, anyone will join him and do something to hurry up with job creation rather than watch the labor market slowly burn. it's that glimmer of hope that david vitter wants to stamp out. joing us is betsy stevenson. great to have you here tonight.
>> great tot be here. >> what is the effect of these vacancies going unfilled? >> they are supposed to be 12 voting members. seven of them should be federal, should be governors. that means five of them represent the 12 federal reserve banks. those bank presidents get chosen by the individual bank boards. what we have right now is instead of situation of five governors and five bank presidents and two empty slots. we still have the same amount of work that has to get done and now it's falling on the shoulders of ten people instead of 12. >> you're saying the center of gravity is tipped. it's local bank president who is
are helping drive the policy. when ben bernanke goes to this committee, they're the ones who say basically, we're going to put more money into the economy. we're going to keep thing where is they are. we're going to take money out of economy. there's been a battle on this committee brewing over what the best path forward. >> there's definitely been a battle over thinking about, first of all, i think there's two issues. one is how much of our current downturn is still due to a shortfall in aggregate demand and easy impacted by monetary policy, and second of all, we really have a hard time forecasting where the economy is going in the future. when they are trying to think about how much accommodation do we need? they need to say what do we think gdp will be next year or unemployment? the question is how much are we willing to risk over shooting on
inflation in order to balance the risk on not over shooting on unemployment. people have difference tolerance levels. there are folks out there who want to tolerate zero. those are folks who want to get rid of the dual mandate. they do not want the federal reserve board to care about unemployment. they want the board to only care about inflation. >> let me translate that a bit. the fed has two jobs which is the dual mandate. they are supposed to reduce unemployment and make sure we don't get a ton of inflation. there's a tension between those two because you have to trade off between the two of them. they are sitting there as unemployment is very high and inflation is very low. the obvious thing as an amateur, but people who are watching this happen say we have very high unemployment. it's higher than it's been in a generation. we have long term unemployment that has tons of people sitting on the sideline, the fed should
be doing so much more to get that unemployment down. there's still people on the federal reserve board that are saying we've done all question do, this is it. that's the status quo right now? >> that's exactly right. i do want to emphasize, i have no idea what jeremy stein, what these guys would do. are they going to vote for more accommodating policy? i don't know. they are incredibly still and know the financial situation in and out. they will bring good decision making to the board of governors. that's what we're crowding out. peter diamond said we're drowning out skilled analytical thinking and that's a mistake for running our monetary policy. >> he was a nobel prize wink
economist that was blocked by republicans for reasons imagine similar to the reasons these are being blocked. >> he didn't make the cut because he showed in his research that he cared an thought about unemployment. that was a big no-no. these guys they are blocking now, they are financial market guys. they are not guys who have shown they care or think about unemployment. i'm not criticizing. the constraints were understood. the administration chose people to nominate that really you shouldn't be able to protest against. that's what the tweet was all about. these guys are just straight up thinkers. they served under both -- jeremy stein served under both administrations. they know the financial system. to put a hold on them is absurd. >> we have seen an evolution similar to judicial nominees. what is the threshold of
acceptability. you show you're a liberal and you're out. you can't just be a moderate. we're ending up in this position similar to what we're seeing in judicial nominees where we have this dysfunction born. thank you so mump in sharing your smarts with us tonight. it's a treat. >> great to talk with you. as i said, if you like the run out the clock game of obstruction republicans are playing with the fed, then you'll love what they are pulling in our court system. it's worse than it's been in a very long time. that's coming up. the wheat in every mini-wheat has gotta be just right.
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>> these victories in nevada and maine are not unique. last month they took over the louisiana caucuses. in massachusetts, ron paul delegates were elected over mitt romney's. ron paul supporters got a ron paul elected state party chair in alaska. paul supporters have secured him half the delegates in iowa. more than half the delegates in minnesota and washington state. all told ron paul has had victories in nevada, maine, louisiana, alaska, minnesota and washington. that's eight states. he's not going to secure the republican nomination, but he and his supporters have a foot securely in the door of republican convention. the question is, will mitt )90%3g
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arkansas. there was no controversy in getting them out of the senate judiciary committee either. this uncontroversial thing that the senators did tonight is the most difficult thing to get done in the current united states senate. tonight's vote only came about as a result of a deal senate majority leader harry reid struck back in march. he agreed to hold it on a republican bill in order to get republicans to agree too vote on two judicial nominations a week. that deal runs out today which means we'll be back to the broken status quo. rendered in shocking detail in a new report released today. the alliance for justice released findings on how dysfunctional they have come.
vacancies were double what they were. nearly one out of ten federal judgeships are empty. that is not to be the case in a president's term. vacancies on the federal bench declined by more than half, by 57%. in president bush's term they declined by 60%. current vacancies on the bench have gone up, not down. they have risen by 43%. i think this bears repeating. at this point in clinton's presidency vacancies declined 57%. at this point in bush's presidency, they declined 60%. at this point in the obama administration vacancies have increased by 43%. this isn't just run of mill politics and a case of everybody does it. things aren't just bad, they are historically bad.
there are consequences for that. two of the confirmations were for district court seats. the majority of federal cases are filed in district courts. leave enough of those seats empty and that creates emergencies where there aren't enough judges to keep up with the workload. at the beginning of obama's presidency there were 20 emergencies. there are now 34. that's an increase of 70%. the republicans have threw sheer implacable will and reputation converted extraordinary obstruction into something ordinary and routine. a vicious cycle sets in. my next guest is trying to get the media to see this for what
sit, an unprecedented crisis. the report is, i will admit myself to finding myself thinking this is run of mill and we've had these oscillating periods in which one party is controlling the senate and the white house and they try to do what they can. what makes this period different? why is it so much different than the first three years or first three and a half years of clinton and bush? >> what makes it so different is that republicans are engaging in an unprecedented level of obstructionism. it's pure politics. even nominees who they support they're actually blocking and preventing votes on. today, if you look at those 14 nominees who were confirmed over
the pass several weeks, we see that all of those nominees were pending on the floor last year. that just tells you how far back this senate is. there was a meeting today at the white house. i was gratified to see so many people activists from around the country who are involved in judicial nominations there to ask the white house to press for the confirmation of judges as well as put names for all of these vacancies in the pipeline before the end of the year. >> if it's just matter of the republicans being unprecedented in the way they have gone about this, what does that mean? what are the tools they are using and why would they do something like block nominees they support? >> they block nominees for the main reason of leaving as many
vacancies on the bench with the hope that a future republican party will come in and fill them. we saw this with the, at the end of the clinton administration. there were 61 nominees that never got a vote. george w. bush came into office and all those vacancies were filled. this is a very well orchestrated strategy. >> why are the republicans better at blocking judicial nominees and stone walling and using them tactics than demonstrates seem to be? >> i think we've seen with brown versus board of education and roe versus wade a very organized right wing constituency of the
republican party that cares passionately about the courts and they are joined in their passion by republican senators. i should say that today i was really pleased to see so many activists and a white house pledging to press ahead despite republican filibusters which we'll see, press ahead for the confirmation. i think it's an wakening on the part of progressives that this is important. nominees despite best efforts to curtail these votes or eliminate them. that was good to hear. >> but what does that mean? it has now become the case that you need to get above 60 to essentially put an end to whatever techniques they are using to stall and obstruct and you don't have those 60 votes, what do you do? do you put just political pressure? is it a matter of the president taking the rose garden and for democratic lawmakers to make this an issue at the top of the priority? >> pressing ahead is a few
things. one, it's the president talking about judges and talking about why courts matter. it's activists lobbying and pressuring home state senators to press for votes. it's individuals pressing for >> but what does that mean? it has now become the case that you need to get above 60 to essentially put an end to whatever techniques they are using to stall and obstruct and you don't have those 60 votes, what do you do? do you put just political pressure? is it a matter of the president taking the rose garden and for democratic lawmakers to make this an issue at the top of the priority? >> pressing ahead is a few things. one, it's the president talking
about judges and talking about why courts matter. it's activists lobbying and pressuring home state senators to press for votes. it's individuals pressing for harry reed to call up these votes. we have 19 nominees pending on the senate floor. we are calling on the majority leader to begin to schedule votes on each and every of the nominees as well as future nominees that are pending. >> we have a great new report today. check it out on their website. >> thanks so much. >> right after this show, how chris kristy's vice presidential prospect compares. >> and hear a rocker who actually sticks it to the man. the best new thing in the world. watch and learn, ted nugent. it's time to get going.
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