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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  November 20, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PST

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>> all right. well, that concludes the formal part of today' ceremony. i want to thank all of you for being here. obviously, we are deeply indebted to those who we honor here today. and we're going to have an opportunity to take some pictures with the honorees and their family members. the rest of you, i understand the food here is pretty good. so i hope you enjoy the
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reception. you know, i hope we carry away from this a reminder of what jfk understood to be the essence of the american spirit, that it's represented here and some of us may be less talented, but we all have the opportunity to serve and to open people's hearts and minds, you know, in our smaller orbits. so i hope everybody's been inspired as i have been participating and being with these people here today. thank you very much, everybody. [ applause ] >> the presidential medal of freedom ceremony has just wrapped up at the white house. among the 16 recipients this year, oprah winfrey, loretta lynn, and the last democrat to occupy the oval office, former president bill clinton. given that last week president obama might have preferred to bestow on mr. clinton the medal of freedom of opinion.
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>> i'm grateful, bill, as well, for the advice and counsel you've offered me on and off the golf course. and most importantly for your life-saving work around the world. >> by all accounts, 42 and 44 are not close. advisers can see the two men don't particularly like each other, and their relationship is purely transactional. as reported in the book "double down," following a round of golf in 2011, designed to break the ice and formalize clinton's role in the re-election effort, president obama told an aide, i like him in doses. clinton's recent comment that the president should allow americans to keep their substandard individual insurance plans was just the most recent example of the big dog running off the leash. in june clinton opined that president obama risked looking like a total fool with his cautious, consensus-seeking approach on syria. during the campaign, clinton praised mitt romney's sterling business career just as team obama was spending millions
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defining romney as a corporate raider. clinton announced democrats should accept a temporary extension of the bush tax cuts, directly contradicting the obama campaign platform. "new york" magazine writes, organizing skittish red-state senators is one thing. organizing bill clinton is another. indeed, much of the acrimony dates back to 2008 in the democratic primary when clinton called then-senator obama's opposition to the iraq war a fairy tale and compared obama's south carolina primary win to jesse jackson's victory 20 years earlier. even on the eve of candidate obama's coronation in denver, clinton wasn't quite ready to deliver a full-throated endorsement. >> is he ready to be president? >> well, in the -- you could argue that no one is ever ready to be president. i mean, i certainly learned a lot about the job in the first year. >> but the thing that really
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truly bothered clinton more than anything else was a remark that can datd obama made during a 2008 interview that the former president could not abide. >> i think ronald reagan changed the trajectory of america in a way that, you know, richard nixon did not. and in a way that bill clinton did not. >> burn. that comment reportedly irked clinton so much that he returned obsessively to the slight throughout the 2008 campaign. whether or not it still bothers clinton to this day remains unknown. this afternoon, both presidents will visit john f. kennedy's grave site at arlington national cemetery, providing yet another opportunity to watch their complicated relationship unfold. joining me today, political reporter for the national journal, alex wald, senior fellow at the center for budget priorities, jared burnsteen, and executive editor of,
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richard wolf. you know the obama presidency. you've written many books, but one specifically about inside the obama white house. we have footage, i think -- we will play this footage. it will be played endlessly throughout the day and evening of president obama awarding the medal of freedom to president clinton. >> look at the warm embrace. >> psychologists will be looking at this tape again. there does not seem to be a ton of love lost here between these two men. and i want to know your thoughts. just in terms of, you know, the comments that bill clinton made recently about the individual insurance plans. some people have said, oh, it's part of a grander calculation. some people have said frank bruney said it's bill be bill. you could view it as payback or, clinton is looking to 2016 and he's helping hillary. regardless of how you look at it, it isn't particularly good for president obama and their
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relationship. >> no, it's not. and at least they share the jaw clenching, right? they do that well together. >> you can see the clinton jaw, the clenching there. >> how long do we have to stand next to each other? they're both very, very competitive people. ironically, of course, their policies are really very similar. so the distinction between these two individuals is pretty small, other than the fact that they're competitive and can't stand each other. so i may have exaggerated. they just don't like each other. >> in doses. >> sure. by the way, this president doesn't like anyone much in more than a dose. >> everyone should be in a liqui-cap. that would make it easier. >> i do think there are lock-standing things here. bill clinton is always going to be a playing a strategic game. and he's really, really good at it. arguably, he's much better at it than this president. he's clearly positioning himself and his wife for whatever distance they need to have from this president right now. it's a very, very fine needle to thread. he has to put some distance
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there and not alienate everyone, not the least of whom is president obama. president obama is going to actually have to return the compliment that bill clinton gave in the last cycle and the one before. he's going to have to deliver his base to hillary clinton if she is, indeed, the nominee. so bill clinton can only push it so far. he needs to be aware of that, even though he obviously doesn't much like the company. >> i return to something that john howman wrote last year, which was bill clinton marveling at obama's inability to do easy things. this is as true then as it is today. clinton was vastly impressed by obama's ability to get health care passed as clinton had been unable to do. at the same time, he was baffled by obama's failures at the basic blocking and tackling of politics. his i understand lairty and alienation of the business community. as a former clinton hand put it, he thinks that obama gets all the hard stuff right but doesn't do the size stuff at all. here we are sitting, joy, where president obama, the hard stuff,
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getting people to be interested in health care, wanting to sign up, that stuff was done. the easy part, arguably, the website, getting that up and running, rhetorically giving yourself enough room so you don't have to administer administrative patches, president obama has not done well. >> the caveat is it's not often two former presidents are pals. eisenhower famously couldn't stand nixon. reagan never had george h.w. bush up to the private residence. it's difficult to do that job when you're one of 44 people with the ego and skills to become president. it's not exactly cool having somebody hanging over your shoulder backseat driving. i think for clinton and obama, the other thing is they have opposite skill sets. clinton, i had somebody describe it this way. if you played golf with barack obama, by the end you'd have
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played a round of golf. if you play golf with bill clinton, you would have changed all of your policies and had gone back to go and vote on ten things and he would have given you a whole agenda. he's a much more gregarious, people-oriented person. barack obama is a more solitary person and doesn't enjoy the politics of politics. the two are just not the same kind of person. >> i think they're both cerebral, but that's expressed in different ways. clinton is more of a social animal. the president is seemingly not. what is interesting to me, jared, is at the beginning of the president's tenure, he saw himself as very much more progressive or at least more left leaning or tried to position himself more so than bill clinton. you know, it was written last year, obama came to share an ambivalence towards clinton's policies that was common on the left. in '96, clinton, after vetoing two versions of controversial welfare reform legislation which he deemed too harsh, announced he would sign the slightly modified third version. obama saw clinton's election year decision as a sellout. he told one newspaper he found
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it disturbing. in the end, i am not sure that in terms of fiscal policy and position on anything from earned benefit programs to sort of budget cutting, obama is that much more different than clinton. >> yeah, i was going to say that. i think that -- i don't really agree with that quote, the way it's played out. i can see where it looked that way back then. first of all, in terms of the relationship, let me quote the buddha, who said -- >> please, please. >> sometimes the big dog runs with you, sometimes the big dog runs against you. >> yes, yes. >> i just made that up. the point being that let's not forget that bill clinton has been tremendously helpful as explainer in chief. look, i think if you actually look at the policies at this point, there are ways in which bill clinton, particularly on tax policy, has been more progressive than barack obama. i mean, remember, barack obama locked in 80% of the bush tax cuts permanently. bill clinton made the tax code more progressive.
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after that, i think there are more similarities than differences on their economics. the context is totally different. bill clinton actually benefitted from a bubble, the dot-com bubble that drove the economy in the latter '90s. president obama took office after the collapse of the worst bubble since the great depression. let's face it, i can't remember a president who's faced a worse congress than obama. i'm not saying it was an easy ride for clinton, but he certainly faced a much more facile congress. >> alex, the question to richard's first point, which was the road ahead here and where bill clinton sort of must -- the thin line, the thin red line, if you will, he must tread between at once aligning himself with the best of the obama presidency, which is to say, i think, building a grassroots network at this point, potentially health care, depending on what happens and anything else the president may get done, and that is a big anything else question mark, and then also distancing himself from the worst of the obama presidency. the bigger question is also,
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what role does bill clinton play if hillary clinton is on the main stage? the assumption is he will be behind the scenes with mark pen and the inner circle. if you look at bill clinton during hillary clinton's tenure of secretary of state, he was incredibly hands off and sort of let her do her thing. >> right, but he's still this huge presence. no one can command a room like bill clinton. he was the star of the democratic convention. his speech was better received than barack obama's. they both need each other. they both can use each other. obama could use clinton more to win over democrats in congress, perhaps, or win over the base that has been, you know, disillusioned with him recently. and absolutely, as richard said, clinton is going to need obama's base and going to need obama's donors especially, a lot of whom did not go with clinton, turned on clinton in the primary, which was seen as a big betrayal. he's going to need them to come around to hillary if and when she runs in 2016. >> and he's going to need
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african-american voters. the breach between the two was very real. this time you won't have that kind of a fight. hillary clinton will have the opportunity to get the african-american base, but she's going to need the enthusiastic endorsement and support of barack obama in order to secure the turnout and the intensity. >> richard, as a student of political history, what do you make about president obama's comments or then-candidate obama's comments of being a change president, that ronald reagan really shifted the course of american political history and bill clinton did not. i mean, you could say a lot of things about the obama presidency that are historic. but in the framework of policy, where do you think it the obama presidency lies? >> well, he told me something similar in that 2007-'08 campaign as well. he certainly would like to be, his ambition has been to change the course of history. not just as the first african-american history, but what he could do in office.
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health care is right at the middle of that. it's not a coincidence we're talking about that today. he put all of his chips on it, and it's no coincidence as well, yes, it spoke to his personal experience, his mother's sickness and the general economic problems that health care poses for the whole country. but in addition, it was the thing that brought down clinton in that first term. it was the thing they couldn't achieve. >> he slayed the giant. >> and here he did it. clinton is full aaware of this, that here he's poking holes in the failures -- >> that is such an astute, shrewd, psychological analysis. >> it's the same thing playing out over and over again. >> it is. >> so has he done it? well, obama's claim to historic legacy beyond being the first african-american president really is two things. recovering from this financial collapse, which is no small thing. even bill clinton said maybe he couldn't have done it himself. >> which was a huge concession at the time.
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maybe. >> and secondly, health care. >> yeah. >> so it's not a small thing. >> and let's keep in mind, joy, also, that president clinton had to seed the mantle of being america's first black president when he actually got our first black president. >> which can't have been easy, for god's sake. he plays the saxophone. >> we're going to leave it there. after the break, a newly released report confirmed what many have already feared. despite next year's plan troop pull-out, the u.s. will have a military presence in afghanistan for years to come. we'll discuss forever wars when nbc's richard engel and ayman mohyeldin join us next on "now."
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the war in afghanistan has
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already gone on for 12 years, and it looks as though it's going to go on for a lot longer. with all signs pointing to continue u.s. involvement for at least another decade. according to a draft of a key u.s. afghan security deal obtained by nbc news, the u.s. is prepared to maintain a strong military presence in the country for many years to come. the deal, which is not final and is yet to be signed by either country, would take effect on january 1st, 2015, and remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond. the exact terms of the agreement are still up for debate. afghan officials tell nbc news they hope that the u.s. and nato will commit to 10,000 to 15,000 troops, but u.s. officials say the number of u.s. troops would be closer to 7,000 or 8,000. the report concludes that without a strong u.s. military presence, afghanistan will likely collapse into civil war. two other sticking points for the agreement, whether u.s. military personnel will be given immunity to afghan law and
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whether u.s. forces will be able to enter afghan homes for so-called night raids. according to karzai's spokesman in a phone call yesterday with secretary of state john kerry, the afghan president said that he would end his opposition tonight raids if he received a letter from president obama apologizing for what he termed military mistakes in afghanistan. national security adviser susan rice has denied these reports. the u.s. afghan security agreement will be debated this week in kabul by a traditional loyal jury ga, a council of about 3,000 village elders, governors, academics and religious scholars. karzai has said he will not sign an agreement without the approval. to say these are uncertain times in the mideast would be a vast understatement. reports of the deal in afghanistan came only hours after two bombs exploded at the iranian embassy in beirut, killing over 23, injuring 100.
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an al qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility. joining us from kabul is nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel. richard, i'd like to start with you first. what does a u.s. presence of 7,000 to 8,000 soldiers in afghanistan mean effectively? what is the end goal there? >> reporter: the end goal is to prevent this country from sliding into absolute anarchy and chaos and civil war, whether a few thousand troops would be enough to do that is an open question. this draft agreement, which we obtained, calls for obligations. it calls for the united states to remain committed to propping up the afghan security forces, to paying for the afghan security forces whenever the afghan government falls short. currently the afghan government always falls short. it is billions of dollars short
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every single month. and it also sets up a parameter for u.s. troops to continue to operate in this country, allowing them exclusive use to afghan bases, allowing them to have their uniforms, have their weapons, have their mail, have radio frequencies and operate like a military under a new agreement. so it calls for a series of obligations and it goes through 2024 and beyond. the only way according to the agreement to cancel it would be with written notice two years prior. so it is a very robust, it is a very wide-ranging agreement, and it is effectively a continuation of the afghan war in this advisory role. >> ayman, i want to ask you, the provision that the u.s. would be able to continue to conduct night raids and would have immunity from afghan law would seem to suggest that as richard
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said, while the end game may be stability, there is more than meets the eye, as it were. there are sort of counterterrorism and national security interests here that are not delineated by just having regular troops on the ground in afghanistan. >> that's absolutely right. it's always a very sensitive subject for these host countries. this was also something we saw when the united states was getting ready to leave iraq and the iraqi government felt that the u.s. having that type of immunity would be an infringement of iraqi sovereignty and something that would be very sensitive for the afghan government, perhaps even create political problems as the afghan government tries to at least through political negotiations reconcile some of the differences that are ongoing in that country with parties that are considered enemies of the united states, including the taliban and elsewhere or other organizations. the problem there being obviously comes down to an issue of immunity. there's been already a lot of growing criticism inside afghanistan and across the region against the way the u.s.
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and nato allies have carried out operations in afghanistan that have led to the killing of so many innocent civilians and many times without any type of justice or punishment for those actions. so that would certainly be a very political problem going forward, if, in fact, they are granted that type of immunity. >> richard, as ayman outlines, there are domestic concerns that hamid karzai has with these night raids, these special ops missions. the letter of apology would seem to be a real deal breaker, if you can call it that for the united states. i mean, i ask you this, and it's obviously a leading question given the statement i made, but the president could never sign a letter that apologized for u.s. operations in afghanistan. i just don't think there's a political will or room to do that, given the tenor of, you know, the political discourse at present right now. >> right, but could he express regret for civilian lives lost in the course of legitimate military operations?
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probably. it depends on how it's cast for karzai's internal politics. karzai has got the politics of the jurga. he's also got his survival at stake. he's not doing this deal to help the american military or contractors. he's doing it because he needs to survive in place and so do his armed forces. what can the president give him in terms of the political cover to do so? because i think most people look to this and say this is perpetual war. they said, a complete withdrawal would not actually help america's national security interests given the dangers of civil war and collapse of the country, the return of the taliban, and the need for counterterrorism operations. so what diplomacy can you come up with? what fig leaf could you come up with for the domestic politics? >> richard engel, how much room do you think hamid karzai has? how willing are they, how willing is the karzai government to negotiate with the obama administration on the language of athere's a
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great deal of flexibility. in fact, karzai's government does not want this letter. this is about karzai himself. by the way, karzai is not particularly concerned about winning over public opinion. karzai has said he's not going to run in the next elections, which are just in april. so this is more about his legacy. he wants to be remembered by his people as the man who came into this country who helped bring it, if you will, into a modern era and then who stood up to the americans and said we're going to keep an american presence here for our long-term stability, but we're going to do it with the americans begging to stay and with them confined to their bases. so it is not that he has an aggressive populous and is facing an imminent election. >> ayman, i want to turn quickly, if we can, over to the bombing in beirut. i wonder whether you think retaliation is a certainty here.
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we know that the iranians have a huge stake in syria and the survival of the assad regime. what do you make of the road forward? >> well, retaliation is certainly inevitable but not necessarily by iran. it could certainly be by any of its proxies. it doesn't have to be inside lebanon. already the entrenchment of the syrian regime backed by iran is going to complicate matters further. that's precisely why the situation in syria that has dragged on for so long has become a regional problem, not simply a domestic problem for the syrian people. now that you're seeing these kinds of bombings and attacks, whether they happen inside turkey or lebanon, the humanitarian crisis that's spilled over, it's likely to see the allies of iran, including hezbollah, which has already come out and said they're going to fight to the bitter end, if you will, that it's a signal that is an indication that this type of violence is going to continue and perhaps even grow on a much larger scale not only inside syria but now in
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countries like lebanon. now that, as you mentioned, this attack was claimed by an al qaeda affiliate, you can expect these types of organizations to carry their fighting beyond the borders of syria whenever they have the opportunity to retaliate. >> richard engel, on that point in terms of al qaeda taking, owning this attack, do you think that the increased presence in al qaeda in and around syria is one of the reasons that the u.s. is trying to carve a larger provision in this agreement with the afghan government in and around special ops, night raids and so forth because of the concern about terrorism? >> reporter: i certainly think it has to do with counterterrorism. i'm not sure if it has to do with counterterrorism in syria and the larger lavant. but absolutely the fundamental to this agreement would be a continued counterterrorism role. in fact, i think it's the first clause in the draft that we obtained of the bilateral
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agreement. u.s. troops would remain and would couldn't a counterterrorism role. that means drones. that means potentially these raids into afghan homes if some agreement was reached, if some sort of groveling letter was extracted from the white house. the counterterrorism role is something that benefits both afghan government and the united states. it's primarily the reason the united states would want to keep a residual force here, but it's not necessary to have 7,000 to 8,000 troops on the ground to do that according to military experts we've spoken to. >> nbc's richard engel from kabul, thank you. and stay safe. and thank you to nbc's ayman mohyeldin from london. coming up, long before the declaration that corporations are people too, companies were receiving plenty of tlc. we will discuss corporate handouts and taxing questions just ahead. ♪ ♪
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pampers. it's good to feel wanted, and in the case of big companies searching for state tax breaks, it can also be very lucrative. we'll discuss corporate welfare and the race to the bottom next on "now." [ superfan ] we're hitting the road to help america discover the new helper. you've got to try this sweet & sour chicken helper. i didn't know they made chicken. crunchy taco or four cheese lasagna? can i get another one of those actually? [ superfan ] hey, america, we're here to help. ♪
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or more on car insurance. yep, everybody knows that. well, did you know the ancient pyramids were actually a mistake? uh-oh. geico. fifteen minutes could save you...well, you know. we put forward a very specific set of proposals that would lower the corporate tax rate, broaden the base, close some loopholes. i don't expect republicans to adopt exactly the proposal that we've put forward. this should be bridgeable. >> it should be. reaffirming a plan he laid out over the summer, president obama told "the wall street journal" yesterday he wants to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to
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28%, while eliminating loopholes that enable corporations to keep profits hidden overseas. the same day, the top democrat on the finance committee laid out a proposal to establish a temporary 20% tax rate on billions of dollars in corporate earnings that have been parked abroad. a small move meant to address a massive problem. here at home, states are engaged in a race to the bottom, lavishing corporations with excessive tax breaks to attract new businesses. such sweeteners are only getting more saccharin and creating more cavities. a report by good jobs first listed 240 state tax breaks adding up to over $64 billion since 1976. the vast majority of those tax breaks happened in the past decade. last week saw a new low as washington state offered boeing nearly $9 billion, that is billion with a "b," to stay in the evergreen state. $9 billion in taxpayer money to
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a company that saw revenues rise 11% to $22 billion in the third quarter alone. and it is not just boeing. alcoa, the aluminum giant, received $5.6 billion from the state of new york, while nike took $2 billion. "usa today" notes redistribution goes to the rich as often as the poor. as this graphic shows, corporate taxes seen here in dark blue have fallen substantially over the decades, even as individual tax income rates have remained relatively static. if you listen to some people, what's the big deal? after all, everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. >> corporations are people, my friend. we can raise taxes -- of course they are. everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. >> indeed, governor romney. the earnings go to people, a
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very few, very wealthy group. jared, i don't think -- this is something that has quietly happened and is more than in vogue. it is now almost business as usual, giving these corporations massive tax breaks to bring them to states. i think what is stunning to me, and this was in the wall street journal, is how the tax language for each state tax code is written around corporations. i'll give you an example. in sears in illinois, sears, which has been based in chicago since 1887, threatened to move out if it didn't get incentives. an exemption was passed for a, quote, discount department store that had at least $40 billion in sales in 2010. legislation in illinois and other states typically is written for specific companies without naming them. sears agreed to stay. >> look, i mean -- by the way, that group good jobs first does tremendous work in this area. if you're going to make a deal with a corporation, if you're going to chase stadiums or corporations, whatever, put in claw-back provisions at least, so when it turns out they turn
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around and split on you, you can get something back. look, what you hear -- and you heard the president say it -- is a lot of rhetoric around corporation tax reform. everyone says let's bring down the tax rate. statutorily, the rate is high relative to our competitors, but of course nobody pays that rate. the reason is there's so many loopholes. let's close the loopholes, broaden the base. pretty much everyone you put up there is enjoying one of those benefits. that's why corporate tax reform is so hard. there are winners, but there are losers as well. now, the plan that senator baucus put out yesterday, we can get into the weeds if you want, but one part of it i think is actually worth folks like us paying a lot of attention to. there's about $2 trillion or so sitting abroad in the foreign earnings of american multinationals. he says, let's bring that back and tax it at a 20% rate. so that's below the statutory rate i mentioned earlier. that's $200 billion for the treasury. it's a one-time thing, so he's not building it into the base, which he shouldn't do.
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that's correct. let's take that and invest it in infrastructure. let's capitalize in infrastructure bank. that would be one way of interesting -- getting a lot of people interested, including good politicians, in that idea. >> but the question of what to do with those revenues if you did tax corporations on this is a huge sticking point. alex, i think it's important to debunk one of the principles here, which is we've got to lower the corporate tax rate because then we'll create jobs. as pointed out, it is a lie, basically. u.s. corporations need lower taxes to make investments and new jobs. wrong. corporations are sitting on $2 trillion worth of cash, which is what jared just said, that they don't know what to do with. the largest corporations alone are hoarding almost $1 trillion. and to the idea that somehow u.s. corporate tax rates are higher than the tax rates of other economies the u.s. has an effective corporate tax rate of 27.1% compared to 27.7% in the other large economies of the
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world. these are perpetuated by corporations so they have the most favorable economic conditions. >> and this has been true throughout the entire recession. you could have ended the recession almost overnight if every corporation just decided to spend down their cash reserves and hire a bunch of people and recapitalize on new product lines and whatnot. i think we have to think about this as almost a situation of hostage taking. it's one thing for a state to attract a new business to come in with a tax break, but it's an entirely different thing when you have a company like sears or like boeing, which has been based in a state for a long time, and just one day they say, you know what, texas is looking pretty good. we might go to texas unless you give us another tax break. we're going to take all these jobs with us. what is the state going to do? you haveemploying people who se for companies and try to entice them and pull them in. rick perry has almost made a game of this. it creates this race where everyone is competing and the taxpayers lose in the end. >> i also think it speaks to a more fundamental shift.
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mitt romney touched on it. this notion of sort of the corporation as the new god, right. they will continue to sort of rewrite tax code as they will because we need these corporations. and we do need corporations. we do need business. but do the detriment of, you know, the working and the working poor in america, at the same time that yesterday we're talking about walmart putting up signs in its ohio store encouraging low-wage workers to donate canned food to other low-wage walmart workers. there is no accountability here. >> no accountability. and also, the corporate e those has been decoupled from the interest of the people who work for them. it used to be at least a somewhat symbiotic relationship, at least when there were unions. at first, the idea was we'll get all these people, pay them $2 an hour, put them in company housing and they'll do what we tell them. then there was an equilibrium. it was somewhat in balance. now you have absolutely a divorce of that.
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right now the idea of improving shareholder value sometimes means laying more people off because the lower your payroll costs are, the better your stock looks. so the interests are sometimes countervailing. you have people who work for corporations right now that have the weakest representation in terms of unions. we've gut the union movement. you have now whole regions stealing corporations by saying, we're the nonunion region. you can come down here and not have to worry about union bargaining. come south. so it's really a terrible time at this point to be a worker relative to a corporation. >> there's a technical point i want to add here that's very, very important for anyone watching this. when you hear people talk about corporate tax reform, too often they're framing it as revenue neutral. let's keep the amount -- so that might be be okay if the revenues from corporations were at some historical average level as you saw in your chart earlier. we need to be careful not to lock that in. >> i think, you know, richard, to the narrative here about the individual versus the
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corporation, i mean, the supreme court is take up corporate personhood cases. this is very much more than a meme. i feel like this is the direction in which society is headed given the fact that our government is almost completely broken at this point. the power becomes ever more privatized and the power structures that exist in sort of the corporate grid do not favor sort of democratic ideals and the individual. it's what's best for the corporation. it playing that mitt romney tape is great because it's vintage romney and that's always great, but that was accepted by the republican party. he was made their candidate for president in 2012. >> you know, look, if the corporations really believe in the capitalist system they've set up, they ought to believe in the power of their shareholders. it's shareholder pressure saying bring back this cash. it's not doing anything over there. either give it back to me or invest in a product. so the capitalist system of these corporations they're advocating for isn't working. shareholders are not being
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served. each one of those big companies has very well paid lobbyists. until politicians are willing to say there's a greater good here, greater good for the companies, for the stock market, greater good for our voters and country and saying individual lobbyists, sorry, this isn't going to work. until they get that courage, none of this is going to change. >> or until people are saying this is totally unacceptable for you to give nike $2 billion to stay where nike is always going to stay. >> i think we would be remiss to not bring up the name of grover norquist. he's been leading the charge. this has been a decades' long effort. we can only talk about taxer reform as revenue neutral. we can't even talk about it. we can't even conceive of raising revenue because we know it's going to be a nonstarter from the begin ning. that's been tremendously powerful in moving this debate to the right. >> corporations are not people, and also we should raise taxes. i said it. i'm still on the air. we're going to break.
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coming up, earlier this year, he declared that his favorite vacation spot was carte han ya, colombia. now he's been charged with cocaine possession. that's what we're talking about just ahead. we know we're not the center of your life, but we'll do our best to help you connect to what is. yep. got all the cozies. [ grandma ] with new fedex one rate, i could fill a box and ship it for one flat rate. so i knit until it was full.
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we are expecting the obamas and clintons to arrive at arlington national cemetery for a wreath laying at the grave site of the former president john f. kennedy. we'll bring it to you live just ahead. people a sticker and had them show us. we learned a lot of us have known someone who's lived well into their 90s. and that's a great thing. but even though we're living longer, one thing that hasn't changed much is the official retirement age. ♪ the question is how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years.
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instead of capitol hill, republican congressman trey radel found himself in court this morning. the florida freshman pleaded guilty to possession of cotan and was sentenced to one year probation. radel was caught buying coke in
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dupont circle on october 29th. as democratic leader nancy pelosi noted last night, the drug bust is ripe with hypocrisy. >> it's really interesting right soon on the heels that date, on the heels of the republicans voting to make sure that everybody who had access to food stamps was drug tested. it just -- it's like, what? if you get food stamps, you have to be drug tested. so i hope it will humanize, shall we say, their thinking. >> yeah, humanize. i doubt, joy. but i think leader pelosi makes a great point there. all this talk about the welfare queens and the food stamp takers and they need to be drug tested, when it's people in congress, mainly trey radel, who bought 3.5 grams of cocaine. >> the republican party is one who elevated a guy whose company kited $1.8 billion in medicare fraud to the governorship of florida. there is sort of a two americas attitude. it is sort of fitting that is the state that mr. radel comes
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from. by the way, it is a felony. he's going to lose his right to vote. i don't think rick scott is going to help him get it back. >> wow. richard, it's interesting. we've talked a lot of rob ford. they've both said, this is a disease i have to deal with, the disease of alcoholism, the disease of addiction. they sort of ask for the public's kind-hearted -- they appeal to the kind-hearted in what is an obstruction -- not obstruction, but definitely not lawful behavior. i guess, why do we afford our elected representatives, or why should we be asked to afford them this leeway, given their abusive power. >> right. by the way, trey radel cannot be his real name. when it comes to the voter roles, he'll be fined. look, to be serious for a moment, he clearly does have problems, mental problems, addiction problems, whatever they are. politicians do -- they are
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human. they do have problems. the question is whether you have any compassion to voters before you admit your problems. i don't know about the mayor of toronto, but this tea party crowd has not shown any compassion to anyone gaining government benefits. if you're going to get your freedom fries in the congressional cafeteria, you, too, maybe should be drug tested. >> in florida, they wanted to drug test state workers because they dislike them almost as much as the poor. >> and to be clear, this is a guy who has the resources to deal with this versus -- >> exactly. the people that need the most compassion and need the actual resources are the people precisely they're trying to strip. all right. on that note of indignation, we're going to leave it there. thank you to alex, jared, joy, and richard. that's all for now. see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern. "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next.
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