Kirsten Gillibrand Town Hall. TRANSCRIPT: 3/18/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, an All In 2020 special event –
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-NY: Now is our time.
ANNOUNCER: – from the battleground state of Michigan, Kirsten Gillibrand
makes her case to the voters.
GILLIBRAND: We have to restore the moral integrity of this country.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the New York Senator on her vision for the country,
how she plans to stand out in a crowded Democratic primary, and why she`s
the one to defeat Donald Trump.
GILLIBRAND: I have the compassion and the courage to get this done.
ANNOUNCER: This is an All In 2020 candidate Town Hall with Kirsten
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Hello and welcome to the Rochester Brewery and
Taproom here in Auburn Hills just outside of Detroit. It`s a great local
craft brewery, and we are here for the first Town Hall of this primary
season. We`re here in Michigan, of course, which is one of the three
states that flipped and gave the White House to Donald Trump in 2016
election. He won by a razor thin margin, just 10,000 votes across this
In 2018, things changed back, shifting back towards the Democratic Party
with big statewide wins for the Democrats here in this state and in
congressional districts like this one, which had not elected a Democrat to
the House for a full term since 1964. That streak was broken by Haley
Stevens who won here in 2016. All of these voters here are intending to
vote in the Democratic primary, and they want to hear from the candidate on
the issues that matter to them as we head into the 2020 race.
Tonight we have the newest candidate in the field. She just made her
formal announcement, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you. How are you, Chris?
HAYES: How are you?
GILLIBRAND: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: Come on up.
GILLIBRAND: Hey everybody, how are you? Hello, how are you? Good to see
you. Nice to see you. Thank you for coming. Thank you guys very much.
HAYES: Have a seat.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Have you heard the term Gilli-fam?
HAYES: Because there`s a Gilli-fam here.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
HAYES: We coined that phrase (ph). You know, this is a question that I
ask everyone who`s running, can it (ph) feel this crowded in a country
where tens of millions of people are constitutionally eligible, why should
you, Kirsten Gillibrand, you be the sole person that wields this powerful
office, why should you be president?
GILLIBRAND: I believe I`m the best candidate to take on President Trump,
because I have the vision of what actually needs to be done in this
country. I`ve listened to voters all across this country about what`s
going on in their lives and what their worries are and their challenges.
I have the compassion to fully absorb that and then offer a real plan, a
real set of ideas about how can we solve these problems, and I have the
experience. I`ve actually gotten things done over the last 10 years in the
Senate and 12 years in Congress, and brought people together to do the
And let me explain, when I talk to folks around my state of New York all
across your state and states around the country, they`re worried about
healthcare. They want healthcare as a right, not a privilege.
They`re worried about education; they`re worried about their kids in
crumbling public schools, early childhood education, affordable quality
college. They`re worried about jobs. They want to be able to earn their
way into the middle class, they want to live the American dream, and
they`re really worried about corruption and greed in Washington.
They want money out of politics, they want publicly funded elections, and
those are the things that I have actual legislation to get these things
done. It`s why I`m for Medicare for all, it`s why I`m for the Green New
Deal, it`s why I`m for rewarding work, and it`s why I`m for publicly funded
HAYES: So let`s talk - I want to talk politics. You said you`re the best
person to beat Donald Trump and policy. Let`s talk about records -
GILLIBRAND: And – But I just didn`t finish, the one thing I just want to
add is that my record in Congress is about bringing people together. Not
only did I win a two to one Republican district twice, the first time by
six points, the second time by 24 points.
Then I served the U.S. Senate for 10 years, every election I brought the
state together, I have the highest vote total of 72 percent. That`s higher
than anyone who`s ever run, President Obama, Secretary Clinton, any person
who`s run statewide in its history.
And I get bills passed, big bills like Don`t Ask Don`t Tell repeal and the
9/11 health bill, money for our first responders who were dying of cancer
because they did the brave things. But also smaller things that matter.
In the last Congress, the Republican House, Senate and president, I passed
18 bills into law, things that would help Michigan like money for rural
broadband, money for small businesses, money for made in America.
HAYES: So let me ask you about the - you did win this relatively
conservative district, in fact it was a quite conservative district, two to
one as you mentioned.
HAYES: And you had positions that were more conservative at times, you got
an A rating from the NRA, you ran ads about the specter (ph) of illegal
aliens. What do you say to someone who looks at your political trajectory
and says you were sort of pandering to those voters then and then you
became a state wide politician in New York and you became liberal, and now
you`re running a Democratic primary and you`re basically following what is
most convenient politically?
GILLIBRAND: First I also ran on, in 2005, Medicare for All because I
travelled around my district and asked people what they needed, they were
so worried about healthcare, they couldn`t afford it.
I also ran on getting out of Iraq, and when I started running on that issue
very few of the people in the district supported it. But by Election Day,
70 percent supported getting out of Iraq. So I led on that issue, which is
why I think I will be the best candidate.
Now, on guns, I should have done more. I regret, actually, not caring
about other communities. My community didn`t have the gun violence that
other parts of the state had. And in fact, the biggest issue for upstate
New York was hunting rights.
And you know, my mother didn`t just cook the Thanksgiving turkey, she shot
the Thanksgiving turkey. So I came from a different lens. But what - what
I regret is that I should have cared more about ending gun violence in
other places. And so, the first thing I did when I became a senator was
met with families who lost their loved ones to gun violence.
And when you - a mother or father who`s lost a child to gun violence, there
is no way you will ever not answer them directly and say, “I will do
something to end gun violence.” And that`s what I did.
HAYES: So that`s the change? I mean -
HAYES: - when you talk about your change on this, what you`re -
HAYES: - saying is you were convinced, through talking to these
individuals, that you had the wrong position, and you changed your mind?
GILLIBRAND: More than convinced, that I should have been better, that I
was humbled and regretted that I didn`t think beyond the needs or the
priorities of the people I represented, because the truth is we all have a
responsibility to end gun violence in this country. We have all to take on
the corruption and greed that the NRA represents, of the gun manufacturers
who want to sell weapons to everyone.
It doesn`t matter if you`re a teenager in a Walmart or someone on the
terror watchlist or someone who has grave mental illness with a violent
background or someone with a violent criminal record, the reason why they
oppose universal background checks is because they want to sell those
weapons to all those people.
And you know, we`re having a debate in this country about what`s capitalism
and what`s socialism. Well, let`s just find one really important
difference, there is a difference between capitalism and greed, and the
line is when a gun manufacturer says, “I want to sell this weapon to
anyone, at any cost and not care that it results in children dying on a
park bench in Brooklyn.” It is unacceptable and is why all of us are
required to stand up to the gun manufacturers, stand up to the corruption
and greed that runs Washington, and hold them accountable.
HAYES: You support publicly-funded elections.
GILLIBRAND: I do.
HAYES: You just talked about standing up for corruption and greed. What
affect do you donors have on you? You`ve been criticized for raising money
from Wall Street. You`re a New York Senator, and New York Senators of
whichever party get a lot money from Wall Street. What does someone
purchase when they max out to Kristen Gillibrand?
GILLIBRAND: Absolutely nothing. When someone gives you money for your
campaign, it`s because they believe in you. And my values have never been
HAYES: If that`s the case, why - if it`s the case, then why - why is it so
important to get publicly-funded elections? If there`s no input to output
HAYES: - then what`s corrupt about -
GILLIBRAND: The reason why - the reason why we need publicly-funded
elections, which is why I am, number one, not taking corporate PAC money,
not taking federal lobbyist money, not having individual super PACs. The
reason why I`ve made those commitments is because it`s a first step.
And the reason why we need to get money out of politics is because of the
way Washington works. And what I`ve learned in 10 years is that the
powerful have unlimited power, and money is the name of the game. So when
the NRA doesn`t want any gun reform, they funnel money into campaigns of
candidates across this country to make sure they don`t vote for common
sense gun reform.
If you believe healthcare`s a right and not a privilege, well, you have to
be willing to take on the insurance companies, because they funnel money
into Washington with the most sophisticated lobbyists in the world to make
sure we don`t have Medicare for all, to make sure they aren`t cut out of
the system, because you know what the insurance companies do? It`s a
middleman. They take a lot of money out of the system and doesn`t actually
provide true value. So that`s why we have to fight against that.
When you`re suffering from the opioid crisis, like they are in my state and
your state, states all across the country, what we have to do is take on
the drug manufacturers who purposely made these drugs stronger, more
addictive, and now that we have the documents, we know they did it because
they wanted record sales.
HAYES: Should there be some accountability –
HAYES: – for these corporations?
HAYES: Is that something that you would pursue through the Department of
HAYES: – if you were President of The United States?
GILLIBRAND: Let`s just take the opioid crisis, they should be prosecuted.
What we now know from internal investigations –
HAYES: Who should be prosecuted?
GILLIBRAND: I think the – the – what we know from the evidence that`s
been gleaned from what the Sackler family did and how they looked at drugs
as a way to make billions of dollars and making sure that the dosage was
higher so they are more addictive, the way they dampened down any
investigation, any – any transparency and accountability, that is what we
have to take on.
And so if you`re not willing to do the hard work, which I am, to take money
out of politics, to have publicly – publicly-funded elections, to ensure
voting right – we as people, as Americans, everyone in this Town Hall,
this is what democracy looks like, you looking me in the eye and saying “If
you`re going to be my president, this is what I expect of you.”
Until we restore what`s been broken, what`s been lost by getting money out
of politics and changing who has the power in this country – it shouldn`t
be the elite of the elite, the most wealthy and the most powerful companies
in America that can fund lobbyists, fund campaigns. It`s all related, and
that`s why I`m running for president, because – it`s not just about
President Trump, it`s about taking on the corruption and greed that defines
HAYES: Stick around. Don`t go anywhere at home. We`ll be right back with
this Town Hall with Kirsten Gillibrand in Michigan.
EDDIE OSMAN, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: That`s what you needed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
OSMAN: Here we go. My name is Eddie Ossman (ph), and I`m the owner of the
American Fuel Stop (ph) gas station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right across the street from you – there was a
manufacturer plant right across the street.
OSMAN: That`s correct. Used to be a Ford Motor Company doing the Lincoln.
Lincoln Town Car (ph), that was one of the profitable and busiest plant in
the United States, and this company here used to have almost about 7,000 to
8,000 people. People who worked over there for 20 years and suddenly they
have no idea where they`re going to end up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in this community it`s about jobs.
OSMAN: It`s about jobs 100 percent, and like you ask me what do you need
from my next candidate, what did I tell you? Jobs.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
HAYES: Obviously jobs and the economy rank very high in the list for
concerned Democratic primary voters. That was Eddie Osman. He`s a small
business owner and an immigrant from Lebanon here in the Michigan in the
11th district. We`ve also got some other Michiganders here - Rebecca
Plessener (ph). She`s a mom to a 1-year-old. She works at Ally. We`ve
got AJ Freer (ph) who`s a VP of the UAW local 600. He`s a third generation
autoworker. And Sonia Patel, she`s a member of the Democratic Club and
she`s got a daughter who`s headed off to college. Eddie, what do you want
to hear from a presidential candidate about the economy?
OSMAN: Jobs - what`s going to happen to our jobs? Do I have to worry
about it? Do I have to worry about my kids that are right now (ph) 15, 16-
years old? They`re going to go to college. Are they going to find any
jobs after they finish college? Are we going to be able to afford college?
What`s going to happen to the United States? Is it going to still be
number one economy power in the world? Or like they say in 2030 (ph)
China`s going to take over us? Is all the jobs going to shipped overseas?
Are they going to stay in the United States?
Are we going to be able to get a decent pay? We`re not going to get like
the minimum wage, live day-by-day. Something is going to be like the old
days. Something where America is great and still something is going to
make us afford to take vacations, not afford to not do that, afford to have
HAYES: What is the - your vision for what a middle class economy looks
GILLIBRAND: So I think the most important thing that we have to do which,
you know, frankly the country hasn`t focused enough on is rewarding work
again. Actually rewarding people`s work and what that means to me is four
The first is, let workers organize, collective bargain and form unions.
It`s so important when you have an –
GILLIBRAND: – a good (ph) representation because then you can – workers
can have a voice to make sure they have fair pay, good pay, and have good
benefits. It`s really important. We have to raise the minimum wage to a
living wage, $15, and get rid of the tipped wage and then index that to
GILLIBRAND: So, many more (ph) reasons why. The second idea is that we
have to make sure a full employment is actually a national priority, and
what that means to me to is to make sure that we can train workers. Anyone
who is underemployed or unemployed will get access to job training that is
created in our community colleges, state schools, apprenticeship programs,
not-for-profits, with the employers directly so you have a pipeline to jobs
and fully fund that.
The third thing I would do, which helps our moms and dads is, we have to
change the infrastructure of work and what that means to me is the National
Paid Leave Plan, we`re the only industrialized country in the world that
doesn`t have it.
We need to actually understand that all workers need that, whether it`s a
parent who`s dying and sick, whether it`s a loved who`s ill, whether it`s a
new baby. Affordable daycare, universal pre-K and making sure it`s equal
pay for equal work, and then –
GILLIBRAND: – that the infrastructure of work (inaudible). And last, we
need to reward good corporate behavior and punish behavior, so you need
carrots and sticks.
Carrots are things like a bill that I just passed in the last Congress,
again with the Republican House, Senate, and president signed into law,
which was a made in America bill to help more manufacturers get access to
more government funding to help them grow manufacturing jobs, and then if a
company ships jobs overseas, I`m introducing a new bill this Congress, that
they will be punished, that we can actually take back any tax deductions or
tax benefits they had and take away any tax breaks, because they cannot be
And if I am President of the United States, I promise you I will work on
rewarding work in all these ways, but I will also make sure no company
outsources our jobs without paying a penalty.
HAYES: Yes. So, I just wanted to follow-up, because A.J. sitting right
there works for UAW, and I have watched, in my career of following
politicians around, I have heard them talk about, we`re not going to let
corporations outsource jobs. Every politician I`ve ever seen, because it
gets applause. People don`t like outsourcing of jobs. And guess what`s
happened, lots of outsourcing.
HAYES: Donald Trump was the best at running this particular con.
HAYES: I guess my question to you A.J., as someone who watched this
happen, right, in terms of your membership, like what concretely, tangibly,
what are you looking for when people talk about making sure that the jobs
stay here in a place like Michigan?
A.J. FREER, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: It`s an honor, Senator. And we`ve seen in
the auto industry, over 30 years, the most dominant current example is
General Motors shipping five plants overseas. They received $50 billion in
a bail-out, you`ve been good in your voting record on supporting
autoworkers. I`ve checked it out. They received a five – over $500
million tax credit from Trump and his corporate tax cut.
Now, our workers that have been in auto factories work harder than anybody
else in the world, and we know that these jobs are being sent away to
exploit workers. They have no health and safety regulations in China and
Mexico. They have no rights to real unions, they have rights to fake
unions, run by companies.
As the President of the United States, the 50, 60-year-old auto worker
who`s seen his job leave is tired of hearing, you`re going to have to learn
a new skill set. They don`t want to hear you need to learn to code. They
don`t want burial insurance. They want their jobs. They want the right to
work in dignified, good-paying jobs, and they`re also concerned about those
good-paying jobs being here for their children and grandchildren.
UNIDENTFIED MALE: So we`re looking in the auto workforce for a real
solution to these problems that have developed over 30 years.
GILLIBRAND: OK, so I think there`s a couple of things we need to do. As I
said, making sure our unions are strong, fighting against right to work
states is going to be priority, because it`s just pushing down wages and
making sure people don`t have collective bargaining rights, which we think
is an outrage.
In terms of the auto industry particularly, I think there`s ways we can
incentivize keeping jobs here through the Green New Deal. One of the
things that that bill`s about, which we`ll talk about later I think, is
about energy efficiency. So when you have a manufacturer who`s making
cars, there`s a whole industry ahead of us about energy efficient cars,
about battery propelled cars, about less carbon emission cars.
We are the greatest investors in the world. People who work in your
industry have been investing and building cars for decades, for
generations. So why not unleash the innovation, the entrepreneurialism of
your industry to actually create the cars of tomorrow, and if you create a
tax incentive so that it`s so much cheaper to do that car manufacturing
here in America, because you are solving the problem, that is a win-win for
And so, I - the reason why I believe the Green New Deal is such a market
opportunity is because it`s a strategy to keep jobs here, to create
innovation, and I also believe we should put a price on carbon. And the
reason why this is so relevant to you – so when you have manufacturers
that send jobs overseas, they`re producing typical, traditional cars that
are polluting the environment. Why not reward the innovators in the United
States with much lower taxes and tax requirements to incentivize capital
flows to keep those jobs here?
FREER: Can I follow up on that?
GILLIBRAND: Yes, please.
FREER: I think you make outstanding points, and I love your vision. The
thing I`m interested also to know is, you talked about making it
incentivized for the companies to stay here.
GILLIBRAND: Yes, yes.
FREER: We`re looking for real solutions to make corporations want to stay
here, so that`s going to include more regulation. It`s going to include
more laws. Is there specifically things that when you win presidency -
FREER: - that you want to enact right away?
GILLIBRAND: Well, the tax benefits to make it cheaper to put a
manufacturing plant in Michigan today to manufacturing cars. That – money
flows when tax rates are lower. That`s just how the economy works. The
other thing I would do is take on China in a very different way than Trump
does. So Trump has started a trade war. When you start a trade war,
you`re not holding China accountable. In fact, you`re just raising prices.
Steel, a fundamental input for manufacturing, because we have a trade war
with China on steel, it`s raising the cost of you producing that steel in
American because of his trade war.
HAYES: Let me - I want to ask - stop for one second. Do people - how does
it feel - positive or negative about the tariffs? Negative? Put your hand
in the air if you`re negative on the tariff.
GILLIBRAND: Negative. The trade wars are a disaster, but you have to hold
China accountable, because what they did before is they would dump steel on
the markets and -
GILLIBRAND: - and totally undermine our manufacturing and our
competitiveness, and we didn`t hold them accountable enough. So there`s a
difference between holding a country accountable and starting a trade war.
HAYES: Let me turn to Rebecca -
GILLIBRAND: Should I follow up?
HAYES: I want to turn to Rebecca just for -
GILLIBRAND: OK, we`ll talk more.
HAYES: - time purposes and talking about for the - the situation you`re
REBECCA PLESSNER, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: Yes.
HAYES: Situation near and dear to my heart, as I have a 1-year-old at home
and three kids. What would you like to hear from the Senator?
PLESSNER: Sure. So I had a baby last year. He`s actually 11 months old
today, and I`m fortunate enough to work for a company that has a very
generous paid leave program, which was fantastic, but being off made me
GILLIBRAND: What`s your child`s name?
PLESSNER: His name is Theodore.
GILLIBRAND: Do you call him Theo?
PLESSNER: I call him Theo.
GILLIBRAND: Oh my, did you set this up?
HAYES: I did not, but I -
GILLIBRAND: That is my oldest son`s name.
HAYES: I know -
GILLIBRAND: And did you know Theodore means gift of God?
PLESSNER: I did not know that.
GILLIBRAND: Did you know that?
PLESSNER: He`s certainly a gift from god.
GILLIBRAND: That is the best thing about that name.
PLESSNER: Oh my gosh (ph), I love that. Well very cool.
GILLIBRAND: So tell me more about Theo (ph).
PLESSNER: Yes absolutely. So I just realized when I was off like how
difficult it is to be a new mom, how crazy I felt all the time. And like I
said, I had the time off, but I just don`t understand how women do it
without that flexibility.
So I know you talk about -
GILLIBRAND: How did you have the time off?
PLESSNER: Yes, so my company provides four months of paid family leave.
GILLIBRAND: Paid leave? Oh my goodness, so you`re one of the lucky ones.
Yes, she is a lucky one.
HAYES: Can I just say there is just a - there was a room wide gasp over -
over what is the bare minimum of OECD paid family leave in the rest of the
GILLIBRAND: Yes, you realize - you realize less than 16 percent of
American workers have access to paid leave. And we are the only
industrialized country in the world that doesn`t actually have paid leave
as a national priority.
So what`s your question?
PLESSNER: So my question is how are you planning to enact that, like what
are your visions for that, what are -
GILLIBRAND: Well the vision -
PLESSNER: – how are you going to get people to sign onto that? It seems
like a very obvious thing to me.
HAYES: That`s a good question.
GILLIBRAND: OK, I`ll tell you how. So first of all, the American people
want national paid leave. Let`s start there. We even have a president who
I agree with on basically nothing talking about the need for paid leave.
HAYES: It`s true.
GILLIBRAND: We have Republican candidates talk about paid leave and many
So the country is in agreement, we need national paid leave. The best way
to provide national paid leave is to make it an earned benefit, so that you
buy in over your lifetime whether you`re working full time, part time, big
business, small business, so that it`s yours.
It`s the way for a small state, like when I was talking about this idea
years ago, a place like North Dakota, they vetoed paid leave because the
state wasn`t big enough to pass it on their own. New York and California
have already passed paid leave. But not smaller states, because they don`t
have enough people. And so if you bought in .2 percent of your income,
it`s basically two dollars a week, would you pay two dollars a week to get
access to paid leave?
GILLIBRAND: Of course you would.
PLESSNER: Of course I would.
HAYES: So this works like social insurance, like -
GILLIBRAND: It`s like social security, it`s the cost of a cup of coffee a
week, and if I go to every employer in America and say would you buy every
employee of yours one cup of coffee a week so that he or she can have paid
leave when their family member needed it, overwhelmingly small businesses
that can`t offer it, they don`t have the ability, don`t have the resources
to offer it will say “Yes I can offer that.”
And there`s no overhead because it`s just like social security.
PLESSNER: So, sorry can I - can I clear up something?
GILLIBRAND: Yes, yes.
PLESSNER: OK, so both me and my employer would be paying into this fund?
GILLIBRAND: Yes, two dollars a week. So it`s not a lot of money -
HAYES: So like unemployment, insurance, disability, social security.
GILLIBRAND: It`s $104 a year for employees, you pay, they pay, that`s not
a great deal of money and one that if you create this fund, Chris, when
your employer says “Oh gosh, she`s going to be out for three months, I`m
going to have to hire a quick replacement worker or a temp,” they can use
your old salary to begin to fund that temp, because now you`re going to get
the payment straight out of your fund that you bought in.
So it`s yours. You get to take it with you everywhere you go.
HAYES: Sonia, you`ve got a - you`ve got a daughter who`s in college now,
is that right?
SONIA PATEL, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: No, she`s in high school, I have a son in
HAYES: Son in college, and you`re sort of thinking about what their career
or job opportunity is going to look like, what would you like to hear?
PATEL: Right, well I had so many fears for them that I didn`t have before,
I mean there`s -they`re children of immigrants, now I worry about my
daughter, I worry about, you know, if she`s ever assaulted no one`s going
to believe her.
I worry about the opportunities presented for her, I worry that she`s going
to out work anyone, but I don`t know if she`s going to be paid for that
work. I just - I feel as a mom in this day and age, everything is
GILLIBRAND: So many issues. OK, so we`ll talk about education first, and
one of the problems with President Trump is Betsy DeVos.
I voted against Betsy DeVos, I voted against most of President Trump`s
nominees for his cabinet because they were either unqualified or they did
not have the experience necessary. I have the best voting record against
Trump nominees of anyone else running for president.
GILLIBRAND: And the reason why I`m so disturbed about Betsy Devos`s exact
words, she said she doesn`t actually want to enforce Title IX requirements,
she doesn`t want to protect survivors of sexual violence on a college
campus. I`ve been working on a bipartisan basis – and remember,
bipartisan basis about how you get things done with – with an array of
senators from all different backgrounds including Marco Rubio on this issue
GILLIBRAND: – on this issue of how do we end – how do we end sexual
violence and assault on a college campus. We need transparency and
accountability, we have to have a nationwide survey so every kid in America
can fill out a form saying do you feel safe, have you been assaulted, if
you have did you report, if not, why not. That would create transparency
and accountability overnight.
We need memorandums of understanding to work with law enforcement so if
someone is a survivor and wants to go to law enforcement, they won`t` be
laughed out of the police station, which happens all the time. And you
need to make sure that you hold them accountable, and to make sure anyone
who deals in these cases is fully trained, so that`s issue one.
You also were worried about affordability. Student debt is one of the
biggest crises we have in this country today. I believe that the federal
should not be making money off the backs of our students and that`s exactly
what`s happening –
GILLIBRAND: So one of the quickest ways to get rid of student debt is
refinance all federal student debt at the lowest rate for debt that`s
available. So your house mortgage, your business loan –
GILLIBRAND: – today that`s about four percent. If you refinance all
federal debt at four percent automatically you would be $15 billion right
back into the economy.
GILLIBRAND: I also think that we should –
GILLIBRAND: – make college more affordable to more kids. Imagine telling
every American kid if you do public service for a year, you get two years
free of community college (inaudible) –
GILLIBRAND: Imagine if you told them – imagine if you told them if you –
if you do two years of public service, you get four years free.
GILLIBRAND: That would create a pipeline of kids doing service for someone
else. And I promise you, when you spend any time putting others before
yourself – any time, whether you`re in healthcare or education or as a
first responder or as someone in the military – it`s an expansion of the
G.I. bill. And it works. The G.I. bill is one of the greatest economic
engines in our history. So that`s my big idea for how more kids can get to
education that`s much more affordable, because it`s free (ph).
PATEL: I like it.
HAYES: We`ve got some more questions from folks here. I want to thank
Eddie and Rebecca, A.J. and Sonia. Thank you so much. We`ll be back with
some more Michiganders with their questions for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like lollipops.
TERESA BROOKS, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: You like lollipops?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BROOKS: When I was out knocking door-to-door for various candidates, I was
talking to a lot of people in the area. A lot of people are also
interested in healthcare and were concerned about healthcare.
My name is Teresa Brooks (ph). I am a wife, a mother, and a physician. I
never considered myself to be a political person, and that really changed
in 2007, 2008 with the candidacy of Barack Obama, and I was very inspired
by him. But then I stopped paying attention and I got complacent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to healthcare, what are you hearing from
BROOKS: Obviously I`m a physician, so I`m in the industry. And so, it is
something that I see everyday, day-in and day-out. And there`s a lot of
concerns that people have especially with their insurance - their health
insurance. People really want a healthcare system that can work for them.
I think it`s important for everyone to have access to affordable
(END VIDEO TAPE)
HAYES: That was Michigan physician Teresa Brooks who is here to ask a
question from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She`s joined by some other
Michiganders. We have joining her Rick Joseph who is 2016 Michigan Teacher
of the Year. He`s from the Birmingham Public Schools.
HAYES: We have David Sanchez who`s an immigrant rights organizer with
Michigan United. And Nayyirah Shariff who`s the director of Flint Rising.
Teresa, you have a question on healthcare for the Senator?
BROOKS: Yes, so I am a physician, and as a physician and a healthcare
provider, we are on the frontlines. So I`ve seen many concerning things on
healthcare recently especially. I have a patient who he works, he has a
job, but he cannot afford the premiums that are rising, he cannot afford
the $900 a month premiums. He also makes too much money to qualify for the
ACA and Medicaid, and he`s too young to qualify for Medicare. So he is
literally praying every day that he doesn`t develop some catastrophic
illness until he`s able to qualify for Medicare. I have a patient just
last week who told me he couldn`t afford his insulin, and he was asking me
what could he do.
And insulin, you can`t live without insulin if you`re an insulin-dependent
diabetic. It`s a life saving medication. And I have a lot of patients
that are of mature population and they live on a fixed income and they
cannot afford these rising premiums and co-pays and healthcare costs that
are happening. So, you know, I know that you support Medicare for All.
How would that work? How you would implement it, how would you get it
GILLIBRAND: Yes. So I believe, as I think most Americans do, that
healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. And that means you have
to fight for universal coverage that`s affordable and quality for
everybody. I think the quickest way you get there is you allow anyone to
buy into Medicare at a price they can afford – something like four or five
percent of income. They buy in, so it`s an earned benefit and they are
qualified automatically for Medicare. What that does at a minimum is
create competition in the system immediately. Those insurers, I don`t
think they are going to compete. They refuse to lower their rates; they`re
pricing people out of the market today.
But for the Affordable Care Act they were dropping people with preexisting
conditions and under President Trump they`re going to keep dropping people
with preexisting conditions. So the truth is, let`s have a not-for-profit
public option compete for the business. I think over a couple years we`re
going to transition into single payer.
HAYES: So I just want to be clear on that.
HAYES: So you`re not saying start with single payer. What you`re saying
is introduce potentially a buy-in option –
HAYES: – and it`s possible that private insurance continues to exist
under that –
GILLIBRAND: I dare them.
HAYES: That`s OK with you (ph).
GILLIBRAND: I dare them, because I don`t think they will meet the needs
because they`re a for-profit company. When your goal is to make money for
your shareholders, you are not giving that patient the medicine they need
or the treatment they need or the extra day in the hospital they need
because it doesn`t allow you to make enough money.
So I don`t think they will compete. So create this not-for-profit public
option as they transition. I imagine within a few years most of Americans
are going to choose Medicare, because it`s quality, it`s more affordable I
mean in your own mind, just think four or five percent of income on what
you make today. Is that cheaper or not? It`s going to be cheaper. If you
make $100,000, it`s $4,000 a year. It is cheaper.
And almost – most Americans earn less than that, so that would be what I
would do because Medicare works.
HAYES: Rick, you had a question for the senator.
RICK JOSEPH, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: I started my career in Chicago as a
bilingual (inaudible) teacher, Spanish is my second language and as a
National Board certified teacher I`m aware of the role that teachers play
as leaders. I also was recently in El Paso, Texas, and I`m happy to report
the only crisis on our border has been manufactured by this administration.
GILLIBRAND: True facts.
JOSEPH: And I would was there through an organization called Teachers
Against Child Detention and my colleagues Amy (ph) (inaudible) teaches
refugees and immigrants in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and one of her student
wrote this poem, I want to read it to you.
She`s from El Salvador. She says, there was nowhere else to but here. No
schools to danger. No friends to danger. No life to danger. (Inaudible)
– the painted ones, in the (inaudible) too much danger. They rape, they
rape, they rape, they kill. Girls have no chance. There was nowhere else
to go but here.
So the refugees that come to our Southern border, they come because of
these dire situations, so I`m wondering what you will do as president to
address these issues related to immigration and how we can uphold our
immigration policies so that we enshrine asylum seekers and refugees and
give them the opportunity to practice their rights and seek asylum. And
then in – on a greater level how can we address equity issues at the
federal level for education policy so we make sure that we are supporting
equitable funding initiatives across our country?
GILLIBRAND: So, immigration first to me (ph), education second. I
believe that immigration has always been a strength of this country. Our
country was largely founded by immigrants and largely built by immigrants.
Our diversity has always been our strength. It`s what creates
entrepreneurialism, in the nation all across America for our entire history
and in our best moments we have not of been afraid of immigrants. In our
worst moments we have.
We have a Statue of Liberty standing in New York Harbor with that beacon of
light and hope saying, send us your tired and your hungry, send us you
huddled mass of yearning to breathe free. She stands for something. She
stands for the fact that this country has always welcomed it – not always,
its best moments welcomed immigrants and that is not what we`re seeing from
this president today.
What he has done on the border is inhumane and intolerable. He is
separating families, children from parents, mothers from babies and locking
up people in facilities that are run by for-profit prison companies. It`s
an outrage. I would get rid of all that. That should not be under ICE, it
should not be under Homeland Security.
Immigration is not a security issue. It is an economic and a humanitarian
and a family issue. So –
GILLIBRAND: – there is no such thing as an illegal human.
GILLIBRAND: I believe we have to fundamentally transform how we treat
people seeking asylum and refuge, because in my state and I know in your
state, you have immigrant populations across this state. Refugee
populations that make your economy stronger, that make your city and states
stronger, that makes this country stronger, we should not be afraid of
refugees and asylum seekers and mothers and babies seeking our help.
HAYES: I want to see if David has a follow-up question about immigration
GILLIBRAND: Yes, go ahead.
DAVID SANCHEZ, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: Senator, thank you. Yes, I`m from one
of those immigrant communities you talk about, Southwest Detroit, born and
raised in Detroit. My grandfather came to Southwest Detroit in the 50s
just to make a better life for himself and his family and me, his grandson,
right, which is working out. So, I really appreciating him for that. And
there`s still family there that are making life for themselves, creating
that beautiful culture, diverse culture that you`re talking about, but
there`s also Michigan being right off of the border, border patrol and ICE
that is devastating families.
A lot of earlier immigrants decades and centuries ago didn`t have to go
through a huge militarized police force to begin to start their lives here,
right? I know grandmothers that have been detained in detention, low
hanging fruit who check in with ICE all the time. I know grandmothers that
have tethers on their ankles, unfortunately. All right?
And my question is to you – so for one, as a immigrant rights organizer, I
found a really great policy that – that I supported and tried to get the
senators in Michigan to support the DATA Act, which you sponsored. And
what that does is put some oversight on ICE and border patrol and collects
data of who they`re doing traffic stops for.
SANCHEZ: Right? And that`s how we can see if it`s racial bias or anything
like that. And I`m wondering how you would get Democrats and Republicans
together – right now it seems like we`re so far to the right. A lot of
conservative people have taken the country a step backward. I`m wondering
how you can bring us back to do things that just make sense, to hold up our
freedoms and values that we hold so dear.
GILLIBRAND: I think you have to talk about common ground. Because the
truth is everyone knows that diversity is a strength no matter where you go
in this country because they see it. So I would just remind them about why
immigration – and our story as Americans shows that our strongest and best
moments are when we welcomed immigrants and our lowest and darkest moments
are when we did not, – and remind people how important immigration is.
But the bill that you mention is something that I authored because we have
a community and border too. And anyone here in Michigan knows we do
enormously great things with Canada.
We have economics, we have businesses, cross-border transactions, we have
kids going on field trips. This is why our border matters and the way
people are treated at that border really matters, that`s why I authored the
legislation to say we need transparency and accountability, we need to know
how many times they`re stopping someone, what they`re stopping them for.
Are they stopping them because they don`t like the color of their skin or
are they stopping them because they actually have a concern? That`s the
data we don`t have and that`s why I supported that bill, because we have to
get rid of institutional racism.
And we have institutional racism in so many parts of our communities, we
see it in the criminal justice system but we also see it in every day
instances like healthcare, education and jobs. And this is one area where
I think transparency and accountability can help us.
HAYES: Nayyirah, do you have a question for Senator Gillibrand?
NAYYIRAH SHARIFF, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: Yes. Today is the 1,780th day since
Flint residents have had clean drinking water. And actually next month
will be the fifth year anniversary since the switch. And over the course
of those five years we have residents who are facing multiple adverse
health issues around drinking water and being exposed to lead, bacteria and
other contaminants. And one of the issues at the federal level is one
there is no money or investment to invest in our infrastructure where we`re
constantly having contaminants being reintroduced into our water system.
The other thing is we do not have any health-based standards at the federal
And how can you, one, ensure that there is long term recovery for Flint
residents, but because – not only do we have drinking water crises not
only within the state of Michigan but in other populations around the
country. So we`re also facing a burgeoning water affordability crisis –
SHARIFF: – because water is becoming more and more unaffordable for poor
income residents across the country.
GILLIBRAND: Yes. So I believe that clean air and clean water is a human
right, and I believe that every American should have access to it no matter
GILLIBRAND: I – I – I`ve been serving on a committee that`s in charge of
clean water for 10 years. I have made clean water one of my absolute areas
of focus and priority. I have a bill that we`re hoping to introduce in
this Congress called the Pipe Sac (ph), to do exactly that, to give
communities like Flint, Michigan, to actually form water, because I know
you`re running out of access to bottled water and people can`t afford it.
So you should have a right to clean water.
The second thing we should do, is for other areas of degradation, I know
you have PFAS in your state, which is a chemical that`s used in fire
fighting foam, it`s also used in manufacturing, you have legacy pollution
throughout your state because of your history of manufacturing. Polluters
should be paying. They should also be paying for medical monitoring, and
this is what Flint resident`s need.
You should have access as a matter of rights to full medical monitoring,
because whatever that – the toxins that your children, that your families
have drank during that entire time when you were exposed to toxins and
chemicals and led that are harming your children, your families and
yourselves, you should have a right to doctors that have the expertise and
that can monitor you over your lifetime and make sure you get the medical
help you need.
That is what we put in place when we passed the 9/11 health bill, because
these were the first responders who raced up the towers and came down and
then breathed in all the toxins because EPA told them the air was safe
under George W. Bush.
So, what we need, just like President Trump today, EPA is trying to roll
back every type of requirement should have clean air and clean water,
President Trump is letting polluters pollute and rolling back any
And as President of the United States I would make clean air and clean
water a national priority and no one in Flint, Michigan would not have to
clean water and wouldn`t have access to basic medical support and medical
HAYES: We`ll be – thank you all for your questions. We`re going to be
right back here in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with more with Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand. Stick around.
HAYES: We are back here with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Auburn Hills,
Michigan, and I want to ask you a question and we`re going to take a few
from the audience before we wrap up here. This is a question that I get
from a lot of people - viewers emailing me. It has to do with Al Franken.
There are people that e-mail me all the time who are angry at you because
they feel like you played some kind of untoured role in pushing out Al
Franken after allegations came out against him.
And then in light of a New York Times story about a staffer on your staff
who complained about sexual harassment from someone else on your staff and
fought - and quit in protest of the handling of that issue which she felt
was not handled, and people have e-mailed be to say what does - what does
the Senator say about her own record when it comes to sexual harassment?
GILLIBRAND: So I believe we as a society must value women. It`s so
important that we value women, which is why when a woman or a man comes
forward who has an allegation of sexual assault or sexual harassment that
you believe them, and that you do a full, thorough investigation so that
justice is possible.
I`ve been taking on this cause throughout my Senate career, whether it
happens in the U.S. military where so many survivors are disbelieved and
not just disbelieved but they`re retaliated against. I take it on, on
college campuses because there are colleges across America who`d rather
shove it under the rug than have transparency and accountability. I take
it on in Congress, passing – with the help of many colleagues, including
Ted Cruz – a new sexual harassment bill for how Congress deals with sexual
In terms of my own office, the woman who came forward, she was believed,
her allegations were taken seriously, they were fully investigated
thoroughly and immediately. Her allegations did not rise to sexual
harassment but we did find evidence of derogatory comments. The person
that she alleges against was punished and this employee was dearly valued.
I told her that she was loved by us, by our office, by personally, I hugged
her and she was deeply valued.
In terms of Senator Franken, it was a very hard issue for so many
Democrats, because the truth is we miss him and people loved him. But he
had eight credible allegations against him of sexual harassment for
groping, two of them since he was a Senator and the eighth one that came
out was a congressional staffer.
And I had a choice to make whether to stay silent or not, whether to say
it`s not OK with me, and I decided to say that. Now, Senator Franken was
entitled to whatever type of review or process he wanted, he could have
stuck it out, stayed in the Senate, gone through his ethics committee
investigation for as long as he wants, forget how many months. He could
have sued all of the eight women who came out against him. Those were his
choices. But I had to make my choice.
Now, I am a mother of boys and the conversations I was having at home at
the time were very upsetting. Because Theo said to me, “Mom, why are you
so tough on Al Franken?” And as a mother I had to be really clear, it is
not OK for anyone to grope a woman anywhere on her body without her
consent, it is not OK to forcibly to kiss a woman ever without her consent.
It was not OK for Senator Franken, and it was not OK for you, Theo, ever.
So I needed to have clarity. And if there are a few Democratic powerful
donors who are angry, because I stood up for women who came forward with
allegations of sexual harassment, that`s on them.
HAYES: Tell me your name and your question.
NADA AL -HANOOTI, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: My name is Nada Al-Hanooti. I`m with
MDH USA, we`re a nonprofit focused on engaging the – politically engaging
most of the minority communities.
So I`m a Palestinian American, I was – I was born to immigrant parents.
My mom was born and raised in a refugee camp in Syria. She actually just
received her citizenship three days before Trump`s inauguration. So with
the Muslim ban happening, my mom feared traveling because she does not –
she does not speak English, and she was afraid of harassment from Homeland
Security giving her dual citizenship. And this fear is with her having
And most of my community, the Muslim community does not have citizenship
and their fear – they have daily fears day to day with being deported,
being separated by their homes. And now with last week`s incidences we
have another layer – added layer of fear with New Zealand.
Our place of solitude and sanctuary, the mosque, has now been compromised.
My mom spends most of her time there. Our community members spend most of
their time there, and our president is not even defending us. He`s
promoting Islamophobia, and he does not see white nationalism as a threat.
So my question to you is what will you do about white nationalism and will
you repeal the Muslim ban - that executive order for the Muslim ban?
GILLIBRAND: I will stand up against white nationalism, and I will repeal
the Muslim ban as soon as I`m president of the United States. Now – but
to answer your broader question - to answer your broader question, one of
the reasons why I am running for president is because what Donald Trump has
done to this country. He`s made her family afraid to worship. He has
spread fear and hate and degradation across this country. He has spewed
hate, racism, anti-Semitism and has inspired more.
Now, Donald Trump did not create hate and racism and bigotry and anti-
Semitism, but what he has done is poured fuel on a fire that is raging more
than I`ve ever seen it in my lifetime. Hate crimes have gone up
exponentially all across my state, all across the country, because of what
President Trump has unleashed.
I had the courage to stand up for him - to stand up against him. I had the
courage to fight what needs to be done, because it`s not just about him.
It`s the corruption and greed that destroys everything in Washington. It
makes it impossible to do the right thing, to make it impossible to end gun
violence, to make it impossible to pass healthcare as a right, not a
privilege, to make it impossible to take on the drug companies on the
opioid crisis. So that`s really what we`re up against.
And so, each one of us has a choice today to say will we defend this
democracy? Will we as Americans fight for what we believe in? Will we as
Americans reject that hate that her family has to go through every day?
Will we say this is not who we are as Americans? Will we take back that
right to vote through making sure we have voting rights? Will you kick
money out of politics and make sure we have publicly funded elections?
Will you fight with every fiber of your being because everything that you
care about is at stake?
And let`s just talk about national security for one minute. I know from law
enforcement that this Muslim ban, that this hatred about Muslims means that
Muslims are afraid to work with law enforcement, afraid to come forward to
make sure our communities are safe as they always have.
I am a Senator from New York state. We are still often the number one
terror target in this country, so I spend so much time and effort getting
resources for our first responder to make sure they can have the money they
need, to make sure we deal with terrorism.
I`ve been on the Armed Services Committee for 10 years. I focus on how we
defeat terrorism worldwide, but I promise you, you do not defeat terrorism
by being hateful. And let me tell you another thing. When I went to Syria
- and God bless your mother to survive those refugee camps - I met with
mothers that could well have been your mother, and they looked me in the
eye and they said you are so afraid of Osama Bin Laden. When you turn a
blind eye to people suffering here in Syria, you`re creating thousands
So that is what Donald Trump is creating. He is making us less safe. His
hatred makes us less safe. His Muslim ban makes us less safe. So I will
protect this country. I will make sure that we are safe, but I will make
sure that we remember that we are at our best when we love one another,
when we treat others the way we want to be treated. When we believe in the
golden rule and we care about the least among us.
HAYES: I want to thank everyone here at the Rochester Mills Brewer and
Taproom, all the audience here in the great state of Michigan and Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand. Please join me in – in thanking her.
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prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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