Skip to main content

tv   Democracy Now  WHUT  September 19, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

6:00 pm
09/19/12 09/19/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from chicago, this is "democracy now!" >> where trend have people understand that when people come together to do with problems of education, the people actually working in the schools need to be heard. i think this has been an opportunity for people across the nation have their voices heard. and i think we're moving in the right direction. >> the strike has ended. chicago public school teachers return to the classroom nine
6:01 pm
days after launching their first strike and a quarter of a century. chicago teachers union president karen lewis joins us to talk about the strike, chicago mayor rahm emanuel, and what this means for education reform across the country. then mitt romney and the 47%. >> pulitzer prize-winning journalist david cay johnston on the secret romney video that has shaken the presidential race. the net romney's on tax policy. >> romney's plan is george to be bush's plan on steroids. george w. bush gave 12.5% of his
6:02 pm
tax cuts to the top 10th of 1%. romney's plan gives one-third of the tax cuts to the top 10th of 1%. theey's plan gives 57% of total cuts in his package to the top 1%. that is people that make more than about $400,000 a year. astonishing how heavily weighed it is to the top. >> we will speak about his new book, "the fine print: how big companies use 'plain english' to rob you blind." all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. road in chicago. here the chicago public schools are back in session today after the governing body of the chicago teachers union voted to suspend a nine-day strike. on tuesday, teacher representatives accepted an
6:03 pm
agreement with the city, calling for a double-digit salary increase over the next three years as well as compromise over the contentious issues of teacher evaluations and job security. uncertainty remains over how many schools chicago mayor rahm emanuel will try to close now that a deal is in place. analysts have estimated as many as 140 chicago-area schools could face closure in the near future. we will have more on the chicago strike after the headlines and joined by the chicago teachers union president karen lewis. the the obama administration has won in an emergency freeze of a federal judge's recent decision to block a controversial statute that gave the government the power to carry out indefinite detention. an appeals court agreed to stay judge katherine forrest's ruling against a provision in the national defense authorization act, or ndaa, authorizing the imprisonment of anyone deemed a
6:04 pm
terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. the state will remain in effect until the appeals panel considers the case. a federal appeals court has overturned a rule requiring third-party groups to disclose the funders of election-related television ads. the ruling overrides a lower court decision that said the 2002 mccain-feingold act on campaign finance reform likely intended to require such disclosures. it marks a major victory for republican-length groups including u.s. chamber of commerce, americans for prosperity, and crossroads gps, which had altered their ads after being compelled to disclose who funded them. in a statement, democratic congressmember christopher had hollen of maryland, who brought the initial case that won the disclosure rule, said --
6:05 pm
the magazine mother jones has released the full version of the secret mitt romney campaign speech that has sparked a national controversy. in one excerpt from the tape, recorded at a romney fundraiser in florida earlier this year, mitt romney says palestinians don't want peace with israel and suggests his middle east policy would be to do nothing and hope for the best.
6:06 pm
>> the obama campaign has pounced on romney's widely reported statement on the video that nearly half the country is dependent on government aid and sees themselves as victims. in washington, white house press secretary jay carney drew a contrast between romney and obama's view of the electorate. >> when your president of the united states, your president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you. you have heard the president say so many times, because he deeply believes in it, that we are in this together, all of us. the president certainly does not think that men and women on social security are irresponsible or victims, that students are not responsible or
6:07 pm
victims. he certainly does not give middle-class families are paying too little in taxes. >> we will have more on the romney tape later in the broadcast, speaking with pulitzer prize-winning journalist david cay johnston. the united nations arab league envoy to syria lakhdar brahimi has wrapped up his first visit to the country since taking over from kofi annan. speaking tuesday in jordan, he said the situation on the ground in syria is getting worse by the day. >> the situation is very bad. it is worsening, not improving. syrians on both sides say from time to time we're going to win very soon, and three months or two months. i do not think it is true. i do not think any side is winning out or any time in the future. -- i do not think any side is
6:08 pm
winning now or anytime in the future. it is a huge threat for the region. >> striking miners at south africa's marikana mine have agreed to return to work after a six-week walkout that saw major unrest and a number of deaths. at least 34 miners were killed in a demonstration last month after south african police opened fire. on tuesday, the miners voted to end the standoff with management by accepting a pay increase of 22%. union representative bishop seoka hailed the deal. >> 22% is very high. we don't think that is ever happen in the history of negotiations. the negotiations by the union [indiscernible] >> the u.s. agency for international development has announced its departure from russia after being ordered to
6:09 pm
halt operations. the russian government has given usaid until the end of the month to shut down after accusing it of political interference. earlier this year, russian president clinton accused unspecified u.s. groups of -- russian president vladimir putin accused unspecified u.s. groups of meddling in russia's politics after protests erupted against his government. a federal judge has ruled on the anti-immigrant law, the show me your papers measure, requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop before releasing them. critics say it enables racial profiling. on tuesday, u.s. district judge susan bolton ruled arizona police can begin enforcing the law immediately. a justice department probe has found a north carolina sheriff and his deputies routinely discriminated against latinos by illegally stopping, detaining, and arresting them without probable cause with the goal of
6:10 pm
helping to deport as many as possible. the investigation found alamance county sheriff terry johnson called latinos topcoat eaters and ordered roadblocks in latino neighborhoods or on the people of color were stopped. johnson also reportedly ordered his deputies to arrest drivers to appeared latino for minor traffic violations, while merely giving warnings to white drivers. the justice department also says sheriff johnson tried to obstruct its two-year investigation by falsifying records and withholding documents. the pennsylvania supreme court has handed a state judge back his ruling that upheld the state's new voter identification law and instructed him to consider whether the state can actually provide ids to all eligible voters in time for the election. under the ruling, judge robert simpson must hold a hearing and rule before october 2 on whether the law can be implemented without disenfranchising people who lack id.
6:11 pm
if he's not convinced that there will be "no voter disenfranchisement," he must block the law from taking effect. pennsylvania's law is among the strictest to pass as part of a nationwide effort critics say is aimed at disenfranchising lower-income residents and people of color who tend to vote democratic. the burmese pro-democracy leader aung san suu kyi is in the midst of her first visit to the united states in more than three decades. after spending 15 years under house arrest, aung san suu kyi recently was elected to parliament and allowed to travel abroad as part of the ruling burmese junta's efforts to ease its global isolation. speaking in washington, d.c., aung san suu kyi called for an easing of sanctions on burma. >> in the last years of military rule, the united states sanctions were blamed for all the economic ills of burma and
6:12 pm
other ills as well. there's great eagerness for the sanctions to be removed. on my part, i do not think we need to cling onto sanctions unnecessarily, because i want our people to be responsible for their own destiny. >> and those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we're on the road in chicago, as part of our 100-city election 2012 tour. chicago public school students are returning to classes after the governing body of the chicago teachers union voted to spend -- to suspend its nine-day strike, the first teacher strike in chicago since 1987. the decision came after hours of closed-door talks among union members who had asked for time to review details of their proposed new contract. union president karen lewis spoke to reporters shortly after
6:13 pm
the vote. >> we are trying to have people understand that when people come together to deal with problems of education, the people actually working in the schools need to be heard. and i think this has been an opportunity for people across the nation have their voices heard. and i think we're moving in the right direction. >> chicago mayor rahm emanuel framed the end of the strike as a victory for the city's children. this came after he sought a court injunction to force an end to the walkout. following tuesday's vote, the mayor said the new contract could bring welcome changes to the city's public schools. >> this settlement is in honest compromise. it means returning our schools to the primary purpose -- the education of our children. it means a new day and new direction for the chicago public
6:14 pm
schools. in his contract, we give our children a seat at the table. in past negotiations, taxpayers paid more, but our kids got less. this time our taxpayers are paying less, and our kids are getting more. because of the past contract, teachers and principals had to make false choices about where they spend their time because there were so little of that. this contract is a break with past practices and brings a fundamental change that benefits our children. we have been discussing the need for more school time as a city for over a decade, but lacked the ability to achieve our primary educational goal. we have been discussing the need for more reading and more recess, for more science and sports. for more math and music, geometry ,gym. for as long as i can remember, we've been discussing that.
6:15 pm
each time it was postponed are rejected because the changes were considered too difficult. today, that iraq and those false choices come to in and. >> since the 800 delegates of the chicago teachers union's voted overwhelmingly to suspend the strike, the agreement will go for the entire membership. the deal calls for double-digit salary increase over the next three years, including raises for cost of living, while maintaining other increases for experience and advanced education. this is a teacher and union delegate who voted to end the walkout. >> i feel like we got something we can go back to the classroom with dignity with. we did not win as much on fair compensation, but we have position's going back, p.e. positions, a promise of hiring 100 more support staff. with an anti-bullying clause. even our mayor is joining in.
6:16 pm
i think we're going to go back being able to be advocates for better classroom conditions. we have eight parents member on each class size panel, even though we fought on class size was some of the non permissible material. there is no merit pay in the system. we were able to fight back on the performance evaluation reform act that was designed to get rid of 6000 union members in two years. kind of reinventing seniority. i feel really good right now. >> for more we're joined in chicago by the woman who led the city's first teachers strike in a quarter of a century, karen lewis is president of the chicago teachers union and also part of the union's caucus of rank-and-file educators, known as core. she used to teach chemistry at martin luther king high school on the south side of chicago.
6:17 pm
welcome back. >> thank you for having me. >> this is a bomb at this week in chicago. this is the first morning after the teachers were made to go back. do you feel you have won the strike? >> absolutely. i think teachers across the country realize how important it is to stand up as a union together and fight back against things that are actually bad for children. i want to tell you that as we went through the contract, basically article by article, one of the things that got the absolute most applause of the night was a lesson plans. the teachers could do their own lesson plans. it is like things like this that are making our lives absolutely insane, that we have been micromanaged into doing things that we know are harmful for children. to finally stand up and say, you know, this is not a good way of doing school because somebody in
6:18 pm
an air-conditioned building with a spreadsheet things it is a good way of doing it, this has been a real victory. >> let's talk about what you believe you have achieved. on the strike end of things, that had to do a salary and other issues like that. >> it did. we are prohibited from striking for just about everything else that other districts in the state can strike four. so it is about compensation and benefits and procedures. we were able to strike over the salary. we were able to strike over the procedure of evaluations. we were also looking to do some other things that even though they are not permissible or strike a ball, that we cannot settle the contract without. that included the content of the evaluation copies. >> i want to talk about that, but in terms of salary, what did you achieve?
6:19 pm
>> we pay, which is something there were absolutely adamant about. they wanted to take away [indiscernible] advanced degrees, take away our steps that are for experience, and the way we have been doing things traditionally for some time. they wanted to replace that with some sort of merit pay. or as they call it, differentiated compensation. it was tied to evaluations. we were adamantly against that for a variety of reasons. that took an awful lot of wrangling. in terms of that, austerity contracts compared to what we had before, but at least we were able to maintain this. when we argued about it they said, well, we have given your steps. we said, you need to understand, we had never lost them. that was something in your mind. i think that is problematic. we also got a right to recall in
6:20 pm
schools where enrollment drops. if that enrollment comes back up, if the projected incorrectly, then we got the right to recall. which we have never had, by the way. in many districts, when things like this happen, the right to recall is no big deal. but now we actually have it. we got an anti-bullying measurement or article. one of the issues about that is our members have been so miserable in the schools. we have had a lot of problems with principles changing people's programs in order to set them up for failure. it is like i know of a national board certified teacher in science who taught seventh and eighth grade science and she is given a kindergarten class. this is like an inappropriate -- there is no reason for this. these are the kinds of things going on in chicago that were
6:21 pm
really driving people to easily decide to make a decision to strike. >> i want to play for you comments by two chicago teachers who participated in the strike. james cavallero is a special education teacher in chicago. >> we would like to see our class sizes be smaller, seymour wraparound services, more social workers, more nurses from other services are kids can get. in special education, we would like to see more special ed teachers hired so it can really benefit those kids that really need as much one-on-one attention, even the smaller group attention. >> and this is a fifth grade teacher in chicago, speaking about the impact of the strike. >> we have gained dignity and respect for our profession, for our school communities. we have regained unionism and what it means for working
6:22 pm
people. today our struggle has not just been about simply a contract, because a contract is worthless unless our people to enforce it. this has been about returning power to where it belongs, amongst the working people in the communities they serve. >> two teachers talking about the strike. we're joined by karen lewis, the president of the chicago teachers union, just came out of negotiations. their responses, what they have said, what this meant for the teachers as well as parents and students. what has been fascinating watching this from afar and then coming to chicago, is the level of support you had. even the kids were out and teachers were scrambling, overall, the support from the committee. >> we have been working on that for quite some time. before we ever gained office of the union, we worked very hard
6:23 pm
against the school closings that have been going on. we have reached out into the community, worked with parents and students -- when you build relationships like that, it just grows. the whole idea to us of a union movement in school means you have to have all the stakeholders there. and that is something that has been missing, i think, from people in general across the country. unionism has soared have been like the school system, very top down -- has sort of been like the school system, very top down. the gentleman you spoke to our on our bargaining team. we had members from all over the city in different areas -- high school, grammar school, paraprofessionals, clinicians -- all on our big bargaining team, so they could see the process
6:24 pm
of negotiations. that it wasn't a little room with just two or three people in it haggling out, you know? that made a difference because people felt involved. it was also the reason why we were not able to come to an agreement on sunday night, because people had not seen the language. and because of the lack of trust between the staff and management, they really wanted some time to look at that agreement as opposed to just looking at a framework. so it took them a couple of days, and it happen. >> we will come back to this discussion. our guest is careless, president of the chicago teachers union. back to school, that is the word today all over chicago. we will talk about what this means for the country. chicago is an incubator for what is called school reform around the country. what does this strike mean? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
6:25 pm
6:26 pm
>> singing "chicago teacher." there are graduates of the chicago public schools. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we're on the road in chicago on our 100-city tour. the new chicago teachers contract could allow the mayor to solidify his main reform objective of lengthening what happened to be one of the
6:27 pm
nation's shortest school days in years. he spoke about this on tuesday. >> our elementary school students will gain an extra hour and 15 minutes every day and two additional weeks every year. our high school students will be in front of a great teacher for the extra 30 minutes, just like here at this school. and two additional weeks each year. for the 6000 plus students who are entering kindergarten, the additional kindergarten students we put in, they will have an extra 2.5 years in classroom by the time they graduate high school. that 2.5 years of additional education is a new day and new direction for chicagos children in chicago's schools. but that was chicago mayor rahm emanuel, the former chief of staff of president obama. karen lewis is our guest, the president of the chicago teachers union, just after the vote for suspending the teacher strike.
6:28 pm
the first teacher strike held in a quarter of a century. your response to what rahm emanuel considers his greatest achievement, the lengthening of the school day? >> that was his mantra of the very beginning. i think it is interesting when you for started out, he claimed students would have four extra years because of this horrible, horrible short school day. now it is down to 2.5 years. we know quantity is not quality. and from the very beginning, we did not fight him on this longer school day because the law gave him the opportunity to impose it. but we wanted to make sure it was a better school day. a better school day for us included a broad, rich curriculum for our students. we were concerned the direction of school reform is about standardized testing. it is about math and reading all day, which does not engage children. we wanted to make sure they had
6:29 pm
art, music, world languages, things that also stimulate critical thinking. we wanted to also bring the joy of teaching learning back into the classroom. >> i was speaking to some people last night were pointing out that rahm emanuel's own children go to the lab school as the president obama, the secretary of education also what they're himself. what are the standards of the lab school when it comes to the number of teachers for the ratio of kids to teachers, the length of the school day? >> i'm not really sure about the ratio, i know it is a lot smaller. >> it is a private school. >> i also know that they have nine art teachers and quite a few music teachers and a real commitment to a rich, broad curriculum. as a matter of fact, when we heard the mayor was sending his children to the lab school, we
6:30 pm
went on their website and pull down with their educational program looked like and said from the very beginning, we are glad that rahm emanuel knows what a good education looks like so we are going to make sure that every child in chicago has that opportunity, too. >> the role of the democratic party, unions' traditional support the democratic party, but wasn't the romney-ryan ticket, congressman ryan applauding mayor rahm emanuel, what he was trying to do? >> the school reform issue is an issue of billionaire elites, by and large, and very non- partisan. so it is no surprise the romney-ryan ticket would support any anti-union beef the mayor has.
6:31 pm
other people that ran for mayor were actually told, are you going to crush the unions? that is part of your in for a dollar in for a dime with us. that does not surprise me. but politically, i really was not thinking about that. none of us were. we were just trying to build some unity in our union, which have been extremely fractured for a while. what we wanted to do was in power our rank-and-file teachers so that the real work of the union is in the buildings, not in an office downtown. we wanted to go from a service model to an organizing model so that people that are feeling empowered can also do what is best for children. >> what about president obama? he comes from here. where was the democratic party? where was the president in showing support, expressing support? you had the republican ticket
6:32 pm
supporting rahm emanuel. what about the democratic ticket and the president? >> i don't know. nobody contacted us, so i -- again, you know, we were not looking for political solutions to this. i think there are other ways to deal with political solutions, but in terms of this strike in this aggregation of power to the rank and file, i think that is kind of threatening to just about every political institution. i don't think it really matters. >> i want to ask about a comment made by a wealthy venture capitalist who is helping lead a drive for more charter schools in the city. he is also a close behind-the- scenes adviser to mayor rahm emanuel. on tuesday he said --
6:33 pm
karen lewis, you're the president of the union, your response customer >> i know it bruce when i first took this job. he was quite impressed with me and invited me on a board he was on. we also went to the same undergraduate school. >> where did you go? >> we both went to dartmouth. i am a few class is ahead of him. we have seen each other a variety of times. he has always made it clear that he did not believe in unions or any collectivism. the problem is, he has the wrong idea of what this union is. that may be so for other unions, but we purposely tried to change the culture of union said that the union is about education, is about comparing teachers and professionals and --
6:34 pm
professionals and clinicians. as a result, the union officers took significant pay cut so we could have been organizing department, a research department, so that we did not do the in the way the old union was done because those days are over. the people like bruce rauner and separate them from the teachers. they are absolutely wrong in this area and acted that way the entire time because they did not understand what we were really doing, which was organizing our members, not about the whole -- yes, we have to negotiate for what ever, but that is not our main focus. our main focus is trying to make education better because we feel we can solve some of the problems -- the longer school day was a hot, but a real mess until we sat down with them and said, ok, you cannot afford to pay us this entire length of day because the arbitrator told you that, so here is a way to figure this out by staffing up to you
6:35 pm
can save some money. we actually brought back to the board. they were close. they're absolutely clueless and try to figure out the problem. we are teachers, we are problem solvers bruce rauner has remember, i am two years out of the classroom. i am not a bureaucratic union hack. >> let's talk about your background, a chemistry teacher here in chicago at martin luther king high. explain what core is and where you came from. >> we were sitting around a table, literally eight of us, reading about the school closings in chicago and understanding this was basically a real-estate plan. it still is, by the way. and not an educational plan. so we were trying to figure out how do we actually use our voices to attack that?
6:36 pm
we did book clubs. literally, we started as a book club. we read "shock doctrine." >> the book by naomi klein. >> yes, and it put in perspective what these people were doing and how they amassed this power over the last 30 years. then all of this started in chicago at the business school, right? so we started just trying to take off small bites of the apple by going to the school closing hearings, demanding the board of education come to these hearings. they were not. again, we have been appointed new world control board that are not accountable to anyone, and certainly not accountable to the community. when the committee would come and beg for their schools -- this is one of the saddest things. children, teachers, and that such teachers at first, but parents and community members begged for their schools.
6:37 pm
and that fell on deaf ears. people felt completely at empowered that if the decision was made, it was made and there was nothing you could do about it. in the first year we started, we got six schools take the hit list. that had never happened before. we change the way the board of education did things. the school board came to the schools. we said, he should come and look as people in the eye and explain to them why. that had never happened. >> where did the kids go when a school closes? >> it depends. a lot of times kids will go to another school or some just get lost in the shuffle. none of this had been taken into consideration. they had no plans for closing the school and doing anything a properly for the children. they had no plans of bringing the faculty of the two schools together to have some conversation so there was some continuity of instruction for children. none of that.
6:38 pm
no safety plan. chicago is a pretty dangerous place, as you may have heard, and there's absolutely no plan for how we were going to get kids safely through different territories. none of that -- we would bring this up and beg them, don't do this because it is a mistake. they just absolutely ignored the community. this year, their parents from more affluent communities that were ignored. so there was this whole feeling of the board of education is completely unaccountable. there's something wrong with this. >> on the issue of accountability, before the vote to suspend the teacher's strike, mayor emmanuel spoke about the need to hold teacher's and principal's accountable. but to that clip. >> [indiscernible] improvement in the education of our children, and create a culture where people are held accountable for the results.
6:39 pm
these principles are being clear that one of the goals the last they chose this and want to be held accountable. we expect -- they expect to produce results. to do this, they have to also be a to choose the teachers that work in the building. these individuals are trained. some are former teachers, now principals. the key is about which direction they're going to take and whether we will have a school system built for accountability that holds our principals accountable. in the school, rather than downtown, making the choice. >> that was mayor rahm emanuel. karen lewis? >> the whole accountability movement is a disguise for pushing for another agenda. here's the problem with the so- called principle accountability and flexibility.
6:40 pm
in chicago, the shelf life of a principle is about 4.5 years. so the question to us is, are recorded just have a lot of turn every four years or so? that is average. so have less than that on some ins. the days were the principal was in the school for significant. time, and new families, understood the neighborhood, those days are over. so what they're doing is turning through principles and then they want to turn faculty through that, too. there are some schools we have absolutely no veteran staff and no one in the middle part of their career. second-year teachers are mentoring first-year teachers. that is a plan for disaster, quite frankly. we want to know who is accountable for destroying neighborhoods? who is held accountable for the lack of stability throughout the city that has all of these other
6:41 pm
implications? the whole accountability movement is just appeared in one direction. so where is the accountability up words? who lose their jobs for the hot mess they create for the rest of us? >> finally, have other teachers unions around the country been calling you? >> absolutely. not only calling us, but sending as letters of support, sending as -- sending us money. new york city sent as $10,000 for our solidarity fund the -- and york city unions it as $10,000 for our solidarity fund and advertised it was taken out. it was just a really, wonderful outpouring of support. >> like around issues of what is called merit pay?
6:42 pm
>> we have not talked about it, but i'm sure those conversations will get started because i think we have changed the conversation in this country. >> and the issue of school reform nationally and what even that turned "school reform" means? the person hailing this is on a .ump irt duncan >> we have never liked it or like those programs. we found to be extraordinarily destabilizing. and also, the idea of a market approach for public education, as far as we're concerned, tramples on democracy. public schools are the place where you get to learn about democracy. it has been trampled on. in chicago, that the potential for that. we of local school councils of elected parents and community members and staff who are supposed to choose principles, evaluate them, look at how the discretionary funds are spent.
6:43 pm
the local school council in schools that are very high functioning, the local school councils are also high functioning. but in the schools that are not so much, you find those are not functioning as well. >> and evaluating teachers according to the tests? >> that is something the law requires now. so it is not light we had published it is not like we had a choice around it, but what we did not like is the mayor and cbs decided to pylon and add extra things not in the law. that is part of what we see. there is like this whole thing about, oh, and tougher on my teachers than you are. it is like some kind of competition among the elite to have who is the baddest person in the room. my concern about all of this is that we care about kids because that is the work we do, and this mayor has said he cares about
6:44 pm
students. i would like to hope he does. i know he cares about some of them. 25%, he told me, were never going to be anything, never amount to anything, and he was not going to waste money on them. if we decrease wages for everybody across the board, we see that and see the lack of resources coming into play. all of this makes perfect sense when you understand what their calculus really is. >> karen lewis, you were a stand-up comic. was there anything funny about this strike or wais the coming? >> i find humor in just about everything, to be perfectly honest with you, it is how i get through the day. there have been some funny moments, but by and large, this is absolutely serious. i think the sea of red and a show of support -- i mean, there's something to be said when people are bootlegging or
6:45 pm
t-shirts, you know? >> you're talking about the red t-shirts they are wearing? >> we told everybody to meet each other in the parking lot and walk together as a union back into the building. >> careless, president of the chicago teachers union, -- karen lewis, president of the chicago teachers union, thank you for being with us. she is part of the union's caucus of rank-and-file educators, known as core. she was a chemistry teacher at martin luther king high school on the south side of chicago. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
6:46 pm
>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. 100-city tour. we're in chicago.
6:47 pm
in a nearly under recording released by the magazine mother jones, mitt romney tells a crowd of donors what he thinks 47% of americans are dependent on government and see themselves as victims.
6:48 pm
>> on tuesday, mother jones released the full, unedited 49- minute video of romney speaking on may 17 to wealthy donors to the home of controversial private equity manager marc letter and over time, florida. tickets for the dinner cost $50,000 a plate. in comments that have received less attention, romney has also heard on the original tape joking to his audience that he would have a better chance of selection had been born a latino. also during the dinner, romney discussed foreign policy positions that have raised further questions and some palestinians have "no interest whatsoever in establishing peace." and the topic of iran, romney "america to be held up by the black male on tuesday, mitt rd
6:49 pm
his comments on the cavuto's show. >> we were talking about a campaign and now he is going to get close to half the vote and i will get half the dougboat. i want 51% or more. we have different views about america. the president's view is one of a larger government did it take and or the president is and he likes redistribution. i disagree. i think a society based upon a government spent nation, where government plays a larger role, redistributes money, that is the wrong course for america. it will not help america or help people out of poverty. i think the right course is for government helps those that are in need. we are a compassionate people. then let people build their own lives, great enterprises. we believe in free enterprise, not redistribution. the right course for america is to create growth, create wealth,
6:50 pm
not redistribute wealth. >> president obama addressed romney's comments during an appearance on "the late show" with david letterman. >> in 2008, 47% of the american people voted for john mccain, not for me. what i said on election night was, even though you did not vote for me, i hear your voices and i am going to work as hard as i can to be your president. one of the things i have learned as president is you represent the entire country. when i meet republicans, as i'm traveling around the country, they are hard-working family people who cared deeply about this country. my expectation is, if you want to be president, you have to work for everybody, not just for some >> for more we're joined by
6:51 pm
pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist david cay johnston, author of that a number of books. his latest just cannot this recall, -- came out this week called, "the fine print: how big companies use 'plain english' to rob you blind." explained mitt romney's comment, the 47%. parts first of all, many of the 47% are people who work, work that crummy jobs at crummy pay because of the republicans, america with two children does not been income-tax until the make $44,000 a year. he is actually consulting many people who voted are likely would vote for him. many of the people in this 47%, which is a brief anomaly because of the economy, are retirees. because social security is the major form of income, they do not make enough to pay taxes.
6:52 pm
this is an astonishing statement to suggest 47% of the population are miniatures to just live off the government. >> what about, for example, retired military? rex they would also fit in that group. romney, if you chose to, could a fallen into this group -- he will give us his taxes, so we don't know. his approach is very much a country club, have no contact with people working class people are middle-class people. it represents in us versus them philosophy, the exact opposite of what you saw in the comments
6:53 pm
barack obama made about, i'm president of everybody including people who voted against me. >> clearly, he was deeply concerned, animatronic, about this figure getting out because he held a news conference at 10:00 at night, and talked about how maybe he spoke and elegantly. >> i think he was appealing to donors. there's a deeper question. here is a businessman who holds himself out as a master at figuring out how to make a lot of money off of a business, either buying one and sucking the capital out of it, or building one, as he has done, but he appears to have no business plan for a campaign. he stumbles from place to place, has not thought through what he is doing. i think that should raise serious questions in the minds of voters about the man's judgment and about whether he is going to be a president who does research and and wristbands --
6:54 pm
and aunderstands, or have an ideological view that drives all of his decisions as president. >> can you explain their romney's tax plan? >> yes, it is vague. the much fuller explanation is paul ryan's tax plan. basically, he believes people whose income comes from capital, like him, from dividends, interest, capital gains, rent, should pay little or no tax. he would exempt america coming up to $250,000 in taxes on capital gains and dividends. you could on $12.5 million worth of stock, collect at the current rate and pay no taxes whatsoever. ryan would completely eliminate taxes on capital on the states and gifts. that is the end of america as a country of strivers if that happens.
6:55 pm
we would become like france and the late 18th century, were your economics were determined at birth by who you picked as your parents. if you did not pick parents already rich, then you're going to have a tough life. this is a plan for dynastic welcome a plan to take care of the already rich and not a plan to help get ahead. >> david cay johnston, and explain how mitt romney has been able to keep his tax rate so rolow? >> for the one year we have this tax return from his income is almost all of what is called carried interest. even though he did not have capital at risk, he was paid fees from bain capital. that turns into dividends, capital gains, which under the
6:56 pm
bush and ministrations tax policy, are taxed at 15%. that is the rate paid by schoolteachers. mitt romney is making over $20 million a year. if you are a worker that makes that kind of money, you pay 35%, not 15%. romney pays taxes on behalf of his five sons. he and his wife put in property values of about $1 million. the trust fund is now worth $100 million. that tells you how poor the gift tax in america is. his sons get tax-free income for life. each having roughly $20 million working for them and they do not have to do a thing to get their income. >> david cay johnston, what is most important to understand about the fine print? i'm talking about the title of your new book, "the fine print: how big companies use 'plain english' to rob you blind." >> this book, i spent four years
6:57 pm
on end. it is original research, not anything you'll find going to google. i shall in the book how we have rewritten commercial rules that some date back thousands of years, the companies now have been raising prices in many industries will above the rate of inflation. businesses have rules passed the required to pay them a tax that they do not have to pay to the government. imagine how well off would be if someone else pay the taxes. i have a large insurance company going to a man paralyzed from the neck down and asking him to die because it was costing too much money to keep him alive. that is how out of control things have gotten with business in america. what romney and ryan posed is unshackled business in america. through the book, i show how dangerous conditions are popping up all over. in california, eight people were killed, including the staff for
6:58 pm
his job was to investigate the safety of natural gas pipeline, which blew up and killed her. >> i want to continue this conversation offline. we will post a conversation about the book on david cay johnston, thank you so much for being with us. his book is, "the fine print: how big companies use 'plain english' to rob you blind." democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
6:59 pm