PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 11/27/2016
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: November 27, 2016
Guest: Bob Herbert, Richard Cohen, Susan Del Percio, Liz Plank, Kendall
Fells, Jared Bernstein, Charlie Rangel
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The racial divide in America, a special look at race
after the Trump election and the truth about so-called identity politics.
Also, conflicts of interest, growing pressure on Trump to separate his
business from his administration. We`ll also preview Tuesday`s big protest
for a $15 minimum wage.
And take stock of the Obama economy. And Trump`s plans to change it.
From Rockefeller Center in New York, this is “PoliticsNation” with Al
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton. We start today
with a special look at the politics of diversity in America. A debate
reignited by Donald Trump`s win. Conservatives have been accusing
progressives of dividing Americans. Focusing too much on race. Ethnicity,
sexual orientation. They call it identity politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the American people voted for was the end of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to be fooled by people who don`t want
to play identity politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don`t like identity politics, no matter who plays
it. Let the left play identity politics. That`s their currency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats play identity politics. They put people in
groups, you`re a woman, you care about this, you`re Hispanic, you care
about that, you`re african-american, you care about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This idea has gained steam. A New York Times column made a big
splash, even Bernie Sanders picked up the theme saying that to win
elections, the left needs to move beyond, quote, identity politics. But,
of course, there`s an elephant in the room, during the campaign, there
actually was a candidate who used ugly rhetoric to divide Americans by race
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: People that were
cheering and the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab
populations, they were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.
A hostility toward me by the judge, tremendous hostility beyond belief. I
believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine, he`s Hispanic, which is
Get him out. Are you from Mexico? Are you from Mexico? Are you from
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say
that you don`t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in the
TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don`t know anything about David
Duke, OK? I don`t know anything what you`re talking about with white
supremacy or white supremacists. So I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This past week, Trump said he doesn`t want to energize the so-
called alt-right movement. Disavowing the white nationalists who used Nazi
salutes and telling supporters who harass minorities to, quote, stop it.
But all that came after his campaign of fear-mongering. A campaign that
didn`t respect the diversity of challenges facing Americans. Immigration,
equal pay, voting rights, these issues affect different people in different
ways. And you can wage all these battles while also fighting for fairness
and opportunity for all Americans.
Joining me now is Bob Herbert, former New York Times columnist, and
Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos. And Richard Cohen, President and CEO
of the Southern Poverty Law Center. His organization has tracked over 700
reported hate incidents since the election.
Thank you, both, for being here.
BOB HERBERT, DISTINGUISHED SENIOR FELLOW, DEMOS: Great to see you.
RICHARD COHEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Thank you,
SHARPTON: Well, what are conservatives really saying when they attack,
quote, identity politics? I`ve been reading your column for years and the
times are writing since then, and, I mean, identity politics, the thing
that really has bothered me about this is they act like minorities,
African-Americans, Latinos, women, identify themselves. We were identified
and discriminated against. You can`t now deal with those issues without
dealing with those that were identified as the victims.
HERBERT: This is the old bait and switch game. The Republican Party,
which is the party that has been offensive on these issues of race and
ethnicity for decades now is just trying to, like, point to the other side
and say, hey, any problems that we have with divisiveness in this country
is your fault. And of course it`s not true. When the Democratic Party and
when liberals and progressives start to talk about issues that African-
Americans care about or that Latinos care about or that gays care about,
it`s because we want those groups to be included in the mainstream of
American life. They`ve been traditionally, historically excluded. So
we`re trying –
SHARPTON: And still are.
HERBERT: So we`re trying to bring folks into the mainstream, but the
republicans, it`s different. I have said for many years, and I`ve written
this a number of times that the Republican Party has served as a safe house
for racism. It been a place where people who are racist, who pursue racist
policies can feel comfortable within that party. There`s a reason why the
Republican Party is, essentially, an all-white party right now.
SHARPTON: And, Richard, and we talk about republicans, but how does Bernie
Sanders join in on this saying that we`ve got to move beyond identity
politics and, I mean, you`ve talked with – about the changing demographics
in the country. But don`t politicians have a responsibility to reach out
to different groups and address their unequal treatment, whether it is
African-Americans or Latinos in terms of employment, criminal justice,
where there`s wages in terms of wages. That`s not identity politics,
that`s identifying inequality and addressing those constituents that face
COHEN: I think that`s right, Rev. It`s the politics of justice, not the
politics of division like the Trump campaign wage. Ms. Clinton`s slogan
was stronger together which is the opposite, I think of identity politics.
Of course, Mr. Sanders, Senator Sanders has a point. Her message didn`t
resonate well on issues of income inequality. And that`s an issue that
unites working people, whatever their race is.
SHARPTON: I agree with you.
COHEN: Yes. And so, you know, I think all politicians need to speak to
all people and not – and not just a small segment of them.
SHARPTON: And I agree with Senator Sanders and respectful on that. But
don`t throw those of us discriminated against under the bus while you do
that, because we have issues of class and race and gender in this country
and we don`t need to sacrifice one for the other.
Let me tell you something that was really caught my eye. Trump voters were
polled. Trump voters. They were asked a question, who do you think faces
a lot of discrimination? Their top pick, 45 percent were white people.
Forty percent said Muslims face a lot of discrimination. Twenty-two
percent said black people. Nineteen percent said Jewish and Hispanic
I mean, does this explain why some on the right are so dismissive of
identity politics when they think white people are discriminated against
more than anybody in the country?
HERBERT: This is the message that has been projected by the Republican
Party and by republican candidates. A recent poll showed that a majority
of Trump voters believed that unemployment has gone up during the years of
the Obama administration. It`s their – they`re traveling in a world
that`s not part of the real world. It`s not part of reality.
I think an important point to consider is this. If Trump didn`t occur in a
vacuum. And they try to show that he`s some kind of deviation from the
republican norm. He`s not really. He`s just more outspoken. Do we
remember Lee Atwater and the tricks that he used to play? Do we remember
that after Ronald Reagan secured the republican nomination for president in
1980 his first stop was Philadelphia, Mississippi, where the three civil
rights workers were murdered?
This has been a pattern for the longest time and now it`s coming to a head
under the Donald Trump banner.
SHARPTON: No doubt about it. And, Richard, you know, and again, we`re
against discriminating and attacks on any. There were some attacks on
whites, we denounce that. To act like the discrimination is more against
whites given unemployment, statistics, criminal justice, the facts bear out
whether discrimination still remains. But we need all Americans around us.
But I want to ask you something about you have said that you`ve seen a
spike in incidents of hate and intimidation since the election. Watch
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Symbols of hate, spray-painted on a playground in
Brooklyn have sparked outrage. That playground named after the late
beastie boys star Adam Yauch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone put swastikas in “Go Trump” messages on Yauch`s
the playground where children play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several cases of vandalism and racial messages reported
have been reported around the University of Florida campus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, hate crime concerns in a nadig neighborhood.
A man receiving threatening letters containing racial slurs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump supporter threatens a Kansas City store
owner all because of what he looks like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Richard, does Donald Trump bear any responsibility to forcefully
come out, not just in some benign way, but forcefully come out and denounce
these acts and say that his justice department will not tolerate acts like
this once he becomes president? Does he bear that responsibility?
COHEN: He`s made very tepid disavows of the racial attacks, the racial
violence, the harassment that`s taken place in his names. But he needs to
do more than disavow it. He needs to take responsibility for it. He needs
to recognize that his words, his campaign, has fomented this. And so he
needs to speak out forcefully, but he needs to do a whole lot more to
repair the damage that he has done, whether that be in inclusive
appointments in his administration, whether that be policies that, you
know, forcefully go after people with hate in their hearts, who commit
violence. He needs to do all these things, and not simply, you know, leave
it with I disavow them or stop it. He needs to do much more.
SHARPTON: And, again, I think, Bob, that we can do that and must do that
to disavow wrong, even, and especially when it`s one of a group that you
may be a member. But we also can focus on the interests of people, even if
the other people that focus on it better. One part I agreed with Senator
Sanders is we don`t need just a woman, but a woman that stands up for
I supported and thought a white candidate for mayor in New York was better
than the black candidate in supporting him. But it does not mean I don`t
want to deal with that identified group`s history of being discriminated
HERBERT: Well, black people have been voting for white candidates ever
since we –
SHARPTON: Did De Blasio –
HERBERT: So there`s nothing new about that. But on this point about the
responsibility that the president-elect has to denounce the hate speech and
the hateful acts that are occurring, he actually needs to do more than
However one feels about the way he ran his campaign, he`s the president-
elect now, he needs to reach out and ease the fears of so many different
people in this country, the Latino children, who are worried about their
families being broken up, black children who have been the targets of
hateful acts and that sort of thing, Muslims who don`t know what`s going to
happen under a Trump administration.
He needs to reach out and say, I`m the – I`m going to be the president
now. We are going to try and bring everyone together and this is what I`m
going to do to ease those fears.
SHARPTON: And protect everyone and enforce the laws equally.
HERBERT: Equally, right.
SHARPTON: Bob Herbert and Richard Cohen, thank you for your time this
HERBERT: Good to see you, Reverend.
COHEN: Good to see you.
SHARPTON: Straight ahead, conflicts of interest. Why the early days of
the Trump transition are raising a lot of eyebrows? Then the fight for 15
workers is in hundreds of cities, fighting a renewed battle to raise the
minimum wage. We`ll talk to one of the leaders of the movement.
SHARPTON: The president-elect is facing growing pressure about separating
his business from his administration. Donald Trump has business interests
in at least 18 countries around the world. But Trump says he sees no
problems with his children running the business. Here`s what he told “The
New York Times.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In theory, I could be president of the United States and run my
business 100 percent. I assumed that you would have to set up some type of
trust or whatever and you don`t. And I was actually a little bit surprised
to see it.
So in theory, I don`t have to do anything. So I don`t have to do anything
but I want to do something if I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Already in the transition, we`ve seen some problematic moves as
president-elect he`s met with business men behind a Trump Tower in India.
Foreign diplomats have sipped on Trump brand champagne at his hotel in D.C.
And Trump admits he, quote, may have encouraged a British leader to oppose
the kinds of windmills that he says would block the view at his golf course
in Scotland. And there are many more examples.
This should have been a bigger issue in the campaign. No one noticed a
year ago when Trump admitted to conflict of interests in an interview with
his future adviser, Breitbart`s Steve Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you do with turkey? Is turkey a reliable
partner? I know they`re an NATO ally. Are they a reliable partner?
TRUMP: Well, I also have a little conflict of interest because I have a
major building in Istanbul and it`s a tremendously successful job. It`s
called Trump Towers, two towers, instead of one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Liz Plank, senior correspondent at fox.com.
And republican strategist Susan Del Percio.
Thank you, both, for being here.
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Great to be here.
LIZ PLANK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Susan, is this a bigger problem than Trump expected it to be
since it wasn`t a big issue in the campaign though as they should have
DEL PERCIO: A lot of people thought it should have been, and that would
have been recognized, should he have disclosed his income tax returns.
That never happened. So now, yes, it is snowballing into a bigger issue
because people don`t know what interest he has and where. But to your
point about it becoming a bigger issue in the campaign, the fact is, is
that the Clinton folks never saw it polling that high, and while it was
certainly an important issue, it was not one that really mattered when it
came down to voters. So they went past it.
But I think that Donald Trump really has to disclose his income tax returns
to at least show that he`s willing to be somewhat transparent in what the
conflicts potentially could be.
SHARPTON: Liz, it was an issue in the campaign, but now you see people
like Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren really
jumping on this. Will this be a key focus in the next year ahead, let`s
PLANK: I think it should be not just for politicians, for the media, I
mean we`re accountable to the people who voted for him and didn`t vote for
him. And this is not just I think a special – a sort of conflict of
interest story, it`s also a corruption story. I mean, there`s possibility
here for a lot of corruption in our government.
DEL PERCIO: But to say it`s a corruption story right now, potentially.
PLANK: But if you look at – if you look at the facts, we`re used to
corruption being rich people buying political favors. But it could mean at
a certain point political favors are needed in order to advance
economically. I mean, if you look at other countries like Italy, right?
Berlusconi, a lot of people think and sort of comparing the two on many
fronts, but Berlusconi was in the European Union. He had people that he
was accountable to, Angela Merkel, I mean people basically to call him out
and Donald Trump doesn`t have that.
SHARPTON: But let me raise this, you mention polls earlier, Susan, you
know, a recent poll asked whether Trump`s plan for his children to control
his business, 59 percent says it does not go far enough to prevent
conflicts of interest for his children. Does the public care about this
more than Trump might think?
DEL PERCIO: Well, we`ll see. I mean, what we have – what we know right
now, at least is the polls though, is that Trump is about eight or nine
points more popular today than he was when he was elected. So he has –
his popularity has increased. It depends – as they start doing internal
polls in the Trump team does and other things come out publicly, they`ll
react to it, but the thing that Donald Trump is unlike Hillary Clinton,
where people – those who disagreed with her felt that she was getting rich
off the system, people feel Donald Trump is already wealthy, he doesn`t
need the money. So not that that`s a reason that things couldn`t happen,
but that`s the current viewpoint.
SHARPTON: But on this children issue, Liz, I mean, in January, Trump
himself seemed unsure in a debate in January, if his children running his
company would be enough separation. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If I become president, I couldn`t care less about my company, it`s
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you`ll put your assets in a blind trust?
TRUMP: I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don`t know if it`s a
blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric runs it, but is that a blind trust? I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But, Liz, his children also some of his closest advisers. I
mean, how would that be a blind trust?
PLANK: Yes. I mean, I think he absolutely knows it is not a blind trust.
And, look, Ivanka is on the transition team. She`s going to be hiring
people inside the White House or be at least involved in it. And so
obviously, there is a problem there. And I think that`s where framing is
so important. And I think to your point a lot of voters already see Donald
Trump as being wealthy and that`s why they voted for him. So that`s
appealing to him.
SHARPTON: Well, we don`t know how wealthy he is because we haven`t seen
his tax returns.
PLANK: Exactly. But I think the framing here is important, because if he
keeps all these hotels, who`s going to pay for the security, right? And
all of these places around the world, the map you showed earlier? That`s
going to be the taxpayer. Look at New York and Melania, this is different
from the issue. But Melania is staying in New York is costing New Yorkers
a million dollars a day. Framing the issue as what voters are –
SHARPTON: And costing taxpayers, not costing rich Donald Trump, if he is
rich, and at some point that might be a very serious public concern. You
know, Susan, you mentioned Mrs. Clinton. There was this big issue of
whether she was doing something, making deals, while she was secretary of
state. He`s the president and we`re talking about things around the world
about a man who we don`t know whether he has a certain amount of wealth or
not or whether there are liabilities outweighing what we see as assets, but
really don`t know.
DEL PERCIO: That is correct. But at the end of the day, because a lot of
these conflict of interest laws do not pertain to the president of the
United States or the vice president, it becomes an issue of perception. If
it becomes a big enough problem for him, they`ll have to address it. But
Donald Trump`s methodology is if it`s not a problem now, I don`t have to
deal with it. So we shall see.
SHARPTON: And if the laws – if the laws don`t apply to the president, he
doesn`t have to deal with it. If he was on the other side, maybe he would
say it was rigged.
DEL PERCIO: I would have no doubt.
SHARPTON: Liz Plank and Susan Del Percio, thank you both for being with
DEL PERCIO: Thanks, Rev. Great to be here.
SHARPTON: Up next, what Donald Trump`s election means for the fight to
raise the minimum wage. Massive new protests just days away.
Then the democratic lawmaker who wants to get rid of the system that gave
Trump a win despite losing the popular vote by a lot.
SHARPTON: On Tuesday, workers in 340 cities will protest to raise the
federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. That`s nearly double the current
minimum. The president-elect has been all over the map on this. First,
rejecting the idea of raising the minimum wage, before saying, states
should raise it to $10 an hour. And then suggesting the federal government
should raise it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Taxes too high, wages too high, we`re not going to be able to
compete against the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do not raise the minimum wage?
TRUMP: I would not raise the minimum.
Minimum wage has to go up. People are – at least $10 but it has to go up.
But I think that states, I think that states should really call the shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining us now is Kendall Fells, one of the leaders of The Fight
for 15. Thanks for being here, Kendall.
KENDALL FELLS, ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE FIGHT FOR 15: Reverend, thank you
so much for having me.
SHARPTON: Is Donald Trump`s election a blow to the cause?
FELLS: I mean, look, Reverend, The Fight for 15 was going, you know, on
November 7th and it`s going to be going on November 9th. What workers are
saying now is under no circumstances will they back down in any corporation
or politician that thinks that they`re going it use racist policies, deport
immigrants, put their hands on our healthcare, block our increases, our
wage increases are going to be met with unrelenting opposition for The
Fight for 15.
This movement was counted out. These workers were counted out back in 2012
when they started the demand the $15 in the union in New York City. And
now $15 is widely recognized around the country as the bear minimum people
need to survive and these workers aren`t going to back down, Rev.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you, let`s make this live and tangible to people
watching. Describe what a family or mom or dad goes through and trying to
survive what the current federal minimum wage. What is life like with the
current minimum wage for average mom or dad that`s trying to make it with
FELLS: I can give you a great example. One of our great leaders, Terrance
Wise, from Kansas City, Missouri, was working at Burger King and working at
Wendy`s at the same time, working about 60 to 70 hours a week, making about
$9 an hour, you know, gone about 12 to 16 hours a day. His wife is a home
care worker. He has three daughters. He still ended up homeless. This is
with him having two jobs, his wife being a home care worker, he still ended
up sleeping in his van with his daughters.
SHARPTON: Two jobs, his wife a home care worker and he ended up homeless.
FELLS: Absolutely. And that`s a lot of the workers in our movement, we
first started, we have workers who are working 40 to 60 hours a week that
are sleeping in cars, sleeping in parks, standing homeless shelters. I
mean, look, Americans are paying about $7 billion a year, just to subsidize
workers who work in the fast food industry because these companies aren`t
paying them enough money. And it`s the same thing frankly in airports.
Four decades ago, you know, you had an airport job, you worked for the
airport, you had a pension, guarantee raises, great raises, you know, job
security, now you work for an airport, it`s just like a fast food job.
You`re homeless sleeping in a park with your children. And I don`t think
that`s the type of country that we want to live in.
SHARPTON: I`ve talked to a lot of the airport workers and I think SEIU
32BJs and others as organizing, it`s amazing what they have to deal with
and then they don`t have the wherewithal to live.
Well, Kendall Fells, thank you for joining us. And we`ll be watching all
over the country as you advocate $15 an hour for federal employees.
FELLS: Thank you so much for having us on, Reverend, really appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Thank you. And I`d like to just make a quick note about one of
Donald Trump`s cabinet picks. It grabbed my attention, because it directly
impacts our kids. This past week, Trump picked Betsy Devos to be his
education secretary. She`s a leading proponent of school vouchers. Her
nomination was quickly denounced by teacher unions. It has been denounced
because she is really in many ways the personification of those they fear
would really, really be an end if not severe reduction to the fight for
public education and teachers that are in public schools to privatization
through vouchers and a lot of moving toward charter schools. This is not a
good appointment, in my opinion.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Change has come to America.
Healthcare reform is a law of the land. An operation that killed Osama Bin
Laden. This ruling is a victory for America. We shall overcome. Yes, we
SHARPTON: This morning, we start our special series on the Obama legacy.
Over the next few weeks, we`ll look at both his lasting achievements and
the policies threatened by the incoming Trump administration. We start
with the economy. Here`s a look back at where we`ve been since President
Obama came into office with America on the edge of a possible second grade
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The crash of the titans. Wall Street in panic mode
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the ugliest days I have ever seen in my
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All wiped out about $700 billion, the biggest shake-up
since the Great Depression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Polls reflect both the nation`s confidence that Obama
can turn the battered economy around.
OBAMA: It will take more than a month or a year and will likely take many.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama`s first order of business, trying to
deal with the economic meltdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president`s economic stimulus plan, it passed
late last night.
OBAMA: The most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president moves full steam ahead with his
OBAMA: More families will stay in their homes.
We will not let our auto industry simply vanish.
Everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their
The American people will never again be asked to put the bill for Wall
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The senate has rejected president Obama`s streamlined
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not going to compromise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re afraid of the word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I reject the word.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gridlock in the middle of the night. No solution in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first government shutdown in close to two decades.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama vowed to combat income equality with or
OBAMA: But America does not stand still and neither will I.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president announced plans for a series of executive
OBAMA: Now the economy is adding private sector jobs and has been for six
We`ve had eight straight months of private sector job growth, 28 straight
months, 51 straight months, 71 straight months, 14 million new jobs.
Inequality is still too high. But the agenda I`m putting forward will
point us in the right direction.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is a man who played a key role in the economic
recovery, Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to vice president Biden.
Thank you for being here.
JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you
for inviting me.
SHARPTON: Jared, we just saw some of the president`s biggest achievement
on the economy. What can Trump roll back and what will stand the test of
BERNSTEIN: Far too much. By the way, that was a great reel. And thank
you and your team for putting that together. Really important stuff. I
know that in this town of Washington, we get a lot of economic amnesia and
I`m afraid it`s about to go to work.
Well, first of all, Donald Trump can reverse the executive orders that you
heard at the end of that discussion, where we`re already hearing things
about immigration, things about the overtime rule, things about the higher
behind minimum wage for workers on federal contracts those can go pretty
quickly. Doesn`t even need congress for much of that.
But of course, we also at the heart of their agenda is to repeal, they say
repeal and replace, I don`t know about replace, but I know they`re sure
about repeal when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. Now, this is a
measure that is newly ensuring over 20 million people, and it`s helping to
slow the rate at which healthcare costs are growing, essential for our
fiscal well-being. That is really in the sights. And I could keep going.
That`s just a couple right off the top.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you some specifics. I read Paul Krugman a lot in the
Times, New York Times, and he talked about this infrastructure, a proposal
by president-elect Trump. I hear a lot of democrats saying, well, maybe we
can work together on infrastructure and you say not so fast. And it sounds
a lot to me like Krugman, which you are trying to –
BERNSTEIN: I think once democrats get a look at what the Trump team is
proposing, at least as of yet, they`re going to run for the hills on this
one, because this is not a simple infrastructure program, which, by the
way, is kind of hard to get wrong. You appropriate funds for public goods
for roads, bridges, water systems, think about Michigan in that regard.
That need the work and then you go out and you do it and you help give some
people some jobs in the meantime.
Under president-elect Trump, the idea is to privatize these infrastructure
projects and give investors an 80 plus percent tax credit for their
investment in these projects. Now, anytime you have a private investor,
paying for public infrastructure, it means that they have to get a return
on their investment. So you can`t fix a water system or public school.
You have to go to a toll road or something else that spins off a user fee.
So this is the privatization of public infrastructure, a terrible idea.
SHARPTON: For profit, for profit.
BERNSTEIN: Exactly. Wasting these tax credits on investors who frankly
they don`t need the extra money.
SHARPTON: Wow. Now, let me ask you about the – where would your – where
would you think – let me ask you it this way, where do you think the
economy would be today if it wasn`t for the obstruction by the GOP under
the years that the president served? Because we play on that reel how
there was an increase in private sector jobs and he kept going every month.
But he could increase public sector jobs because jobs bill and the
infrastructure bill under Obama was blocked. Where would the economy be if
we hadn`t had the obstruction of the GOP under President Obama in?
BERNSTEIN: Well, it`s a great question. Here we are in year eight of an
economic expansion. And that`s actually a pretty long expansion and as you
heard the president say, towards the end of that clip, 70 plus months of
job growth, in the private sector, but we`re still not at full employment.
The unemployment rate is very low. But if you look at under employment,
there`s still six million people who are working part-time, they`d rather
be working full-time jobs, but the plans starting with the American jobs
act that congress just drop kicked right out the window back in 2011 would
have helped us get to full employment by now.
Instead of adding, you know, 150, 160,000 jobs a month, we would have done
better than that, and the unemployment rate would probably be even a little
lower than it is, but more importantly, labor force participation would be
up and the underemployment rate would be down, people would have the hours
they seek, wage growth would be a bit stronger as well.
SHARPTON: This is for real people, real families, real Americans. Jared
Bernstein, thank you for your time.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Coming up, should the Electoral College be abolished? That`s
SHARPTON: When it`s all counted, Hillary Clinton will likely win the
popular vote by over two million votes. But, of course, Donald Trump will
still be president, thanks to the Electoral College. The electors meet on
December 19th to formally select Trump as president. But many Americans
want to change that process, including my next guest, Congressman Charlie
Rangel is retiring after 46 years on Capitol Hill. But he`s going out
He introduced a bill that would abolish the Electoral College, and provide
for the direct popular election of the president and vice president.
Rangel told me why he`s doing it in a recent interview.
CHARLIE RANGEL, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR NEW YORK`S 13TH CONGRESSIONAL
DISTRICT: First of all, it ain`t over until it`s over. Technically, the
constitution doesn`t require anyone to be elected president on December
19th, electors do it. And so Senator Boxer and I have a resolution in to
review the amendments as well. Both of you (inaudible) past. But anytime
you find out that most of America hasn`t the slightest clue that Mr. Trump
is not elected, he will not be elected until December 19th, I thought it`d
be worthwhile to bring it up.
But what has happened here is that Mr. Trump has violated every rule of
civilized politics. There`s been no rules to capture him in. So therefore
there is no idea what the congress has to do and who they have to respond
to. You do not know a person that`s in business that refuses to share his
income tax as to whether there are potential violations of conflict of
interest. How could you possibly know? You don`t know a man who tells you
that he`s going to pull out the international trade agreements,
international nuclear agreements, he`s going to deport people that are in
this country, who are you talking about?
SHARPTON: Now, you`re saying that because we have yet to see his tax
returns and other things, we do not know in any real way what possible
conflict of interest he`s saying there may not be because there`s nothing
in front of us to examine.
RANGEL: And there`s never been a person like him. Have you heard of a
scenario where a potential president of the United States or perhaps the
president, who runs the business, is meeting with heads of foreign
countries who may want to stay in this hotel or may not, but he`s bringing
in his family to advise him.
There was a comedian, who called (inaudible) Peter, you could not create a
more impossible situation in terms of the facts as they are. But let me
get back to my point and you follow your agenda, how would you find out how
many people really know that they never voted for bush? I mean, for Trump,
that they never voted for Clinton, they voted for the college of
electorates. I wonder how many people know that until the – there`s no
president-elect. We make it up. Until the president elect – college of
electors get together and review what the popular vote has done.
SHARPTON: They should entertain not voting and electing Donald Trump. Are
you saying that this morning?
RANGEL: People think of me as trying to make trouble. But we are the
college professors. We are the intellects. We`re the business leaders.
Why aren`t they saying, well, yes, but that hasn`t happened before, well,
yes, it is true that most of the electors, they just follow the popular
vote. Why? They never thought anybody could con the people. I mean, the
person who lost received over a million votes more than Mr. Trump and we`re
SHARPTON: Three and a half, yeah.
RANGEL: And so anyway all I`m saying is that that you can`t give up on
this great country. Someone who has given a – talking about Thanksgiving.
This isn`t no matter how badly you beat me, better start thanking God for
what you got. I thought I`d start thinking about how emotional, how
unbelievable, what a nightmare, how can you pull this on us after we bring
Obama in, we do all these things, we got an attorney general, and this
nightmare is going to be here, and someone tapped me on the shoulder and
said, are you the one that people came over in slave boats and half didn`t
make it, are you the ones that built the – and didn`t make it? What about
getting lynched (inaudible)
I mean, did white ministers, Catholics and Protestants or Jews ever stop
talking about this and you complaining now? I said, no, just that I didn`t
expect this, that`s all. So I intended to retire. How the heck am I going
to retire when there`s still some juice left in this constitution that
SHARPTON: Congressman Charles Rangel, I thank you. You swinging all the
way out the door. Congressman Rangel, thank you for your time.
RANGEL: Thank you, Reverend. Good to be here.
SHARPTON: All right.
Next up, our second chance long overdue. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: This past week, 79 families learned that an incarcerated loved
one will be home with them to celebrate next Thanksgiving. President Obama
commuted the sentences of 79 more nonviolent drug offenders, bringing his
total number of commutations to over 1,000. That`s more than the last 11
presidents combined. Of course, we`ve been covering this issue a lot here
on “PoliticsNation” for the last year.
We`ve been following the story of one man who understands firsthand how a
second chance can turn a life around. It was almost a year ago exactly
when the president commuted Alton Mills life sentence for nonviolent drug
ATLAS MILLS: I knew that one day I was going to go to jail. But I didn`t
have the thought in my mind that I was going to be going to jail for the
rest of my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s never been in prison his life and he`s going to a
prison and he`s going to die there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He missed his daughter growing up. He missed
birthdays, graduation from the eighth grade, graduation from 12th grade.
He came through that door and he cried. He cried. He said, I`m not going
to get emotional. And I thought I would never see you all again.
SHARPTON: This week, we`re going back to check in on Alton again. He`s
just had a major personal development in his life. Stay tuned for that in
the coming weeks. Many say don`t be soft on crime. No, we shouldn`t be
soft on crime, people ought to do the time if they do the crime, but the
time should correspond with the crime. Don`t be soft on families, while we
shouldn`t be soft on crime. Fair is a theme that we should always
That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here next
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