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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/11/2016

Guests: Sam Seder, Mark Goodman, Kurt Loder, Hillary Clinton; Jeff Weaver; Olivia Nuzzi

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 11, 2016 Guest: Sam Seder, Mark Goodman, Kurt Loder, Hillary Clinton; Jeff Weaver; Olivia Nuzzi


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s time for us to have the kind of spirited debate that you deserve us to have.

HAYES: A statistical dead heat in Iowa has Hillary Clinton fighting to keep her lead.

CLINTON: President Obama and I were both in the Senate, and we voted no. Senator Sanders voted yes.

HAYES: Tonight, my interview with the front-runner, Hillary Clinton, on her new lines of attack on Bernie Sanders.

Then, Donald Trump continues going in on Ted Cruz.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can`t have a nominee who`s going to be subject to being thrown out as a nominee.

HAYES: As white nationalists go up with robocalls in Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture.

HAYES: And remembering a rock god.


HAYES: David Bowie`s impact on music and fashion and beyond.

DAVID BOWIE: There seem to be a lot of black artists making very good videos that I`m surprised aren`t used on MTV.

HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.

A shocking new poll shows the Democratic presidential nomination is more up for grabs than it`s been at any point since the candidates declared. And with the Iowa caucuses now just three weeks away, the gloves are coming off.

A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll of likely voters in Iowa shows Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a statistical dead heat with Clinton ahead by just three points within the margin of error. It`s the first time Clinton has seen her lead in the Hawkeye State challenged since the fall, when Sanders was able to parlay his summer momentum into a brief Iowa surge.

Meanwhile, Sanders seems to be narrowly maintaining his edge in New Hampshire, beating Hillary Clinton 50 percent to 46 percent among likely primary voters, likewise within the margin of error.

In that same polling from Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders even manages to outperform Clinton in general election match-ups, beating out the Republican candidates by wider margins. All of which raises a possibility that until now has been ruled out by everyone but the most fervent Bernie Sanders fans.

Hillary Clinton could actually lose the first two nominating contests of 2016 to the Democratic socialist from Vermont. And if that were to happen, it is hard to overstate how much it would upend Democratic Party politics in this country.

With the race tightening, Clinton has stepped up her attacks on Sanders` policies, slamming his position on gun safety.


CLINTON: President Obama and I and Senator Sanders were all in the Senate at the same time. Two of us voted against what the NRA says was the most important piece of legislation in 20 years for the gun lobby. Senator Sanders voted with them and through this morning has been unwilling to join the president and me in saying that this should be repealed.


HAYES: Campaigning today in Iowa, Clinton unveiled a new line of attack on Sanders over his health care plan.


CLINTON: I don`t believe, number one, we should be starting over. We had enough of a fight just to get to the Affordable Care Act. So I don`t want to rip it up and start over. But I sure don`t want to turn over health care to Republican governors, for heaven`s sakes. I don`t think that is a good deal for America. I think it`s a risky deal and it could hurt more than help a lot of families.


HAYES: Sanders` campaign responded in a statement, "Secretary Clinton is inaccurate in suggesting Republican governors will be able to circumvent the law and deny implementation in their states," referring to Sanders` bill that would create national universal health care.

On a campaign stop in Iowa today Sanders himself offered an explanation for Clinton`s criticism.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton and her campaign now know that she is in serious trouble. So, obviously, in that scenario what people do is start attacking. Suddenly, Bernie Sanders is no longer a nice guy and he`s wrong on this and he`s wrong on that and he`s wrong on that. That is not surprising when you have a Clinton campaign that is now in trouble and now understands that they can lose.


HAYES: Now, Hillary Clinton is expanding her efforts to challenge Bernie Sanders on his signature issue -- that would be economic inequality -- rolling in a brand new plan to impose what she`s calling a fair share surcharge, a 4 percent tax on people making over $5 million a year.

I got a chance to speak earlier with Secretary Clinton, who joined me by phone from Iowa. We discussed everything from the electability question to what Bernie Sanders said today about her campaign.

But I started by asking about her proposed tax hikes for the highest earners.


CLINTON (via telephone): Well, you know, Chris, right now, the super- wealthy and big corporations are using every trick in the book to game the system, to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. And that`s just not right. So, today, I am proposing adding what I`m calling a new "fair share" surcharge on multimillionaires and closing loopholes to make it harder to game the system.

I`m also pushing for the Buffett Rule, which sets a minimum rate for those at the top. And other reforms, like closing the carried interest loophole that allows some hedge fund managers to pay a lower rate than teachers or nurses.

I`m proposing every idea I can, finally to make those at the top actually pay their fair share. And that`s going to be a big difference in this campaign. When you compare with what the Republicans are proposing, it`s unbelievable. They want trillions of dollars in new tax breaks for those at the top. It`s trickle-down economics on steroids, and I`m not going to sit idly by and let them make these claims. And on the Democratic side, I`m the only candidate who has committed to raising middle-class income, not middle-class taxes. HAYES: Secretary Clinton, let me -- let me ask you this. You said you`re sort of thinking of every idea you can to sort of get at those higher earners. My sense from the reporting in "The New York Times" that opened a lot of people`s eyes to the low rates, effective rates those earners are paying, is that a lot of it has to do with what the capital gains rate is. Your husband quite famously cut the capital gains tax rate from I think 28 percent to 20 percent. Should we be doing things more broadly, like raising capital gains rates, raising the top marginal rates, adding another bracket? CLINTON: Well, Chris, I think that we`ve got to do a lot of different things. I`ve also proposed a different capital gains structure. You would pay ordinary income tax for holdings and assets for less than two years, and then it would drop until, on the sixth year, it would be 20 percent. You know, back when it dropped from 28 to 20, that was part of the budget deal, and there were trade-offs made. So, middle-class folks, poor people, got something for it.

And then when the Bush administration came in, obviously, you know, they lowered the top rates. And thankfully, that expired. So we are now in a position, I think, where we can go after these some of these schemes that you did read about. The kind of misclassifying of income, trying to make it look like it`s capital gain when it`s really ordinary income, going ahead and routing income through the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands or wherever. So I want to have a surcharge, so wherever the income comes from, whatever the income is, it would be on the adjusted gross income. And it would give us a chance to try to get around and end some of these abuses that are taking place in the tax system. HAYES: You talked about not -- growing middle-class incomes, not taxes, raising taxes on the middle class. And there`s a little bit of a debate right now about what the definition of "middle class" is. My understanding is that your campaign is essentially saying no taxes on households earning less than $250,000. But that`s still -- that gets people all the way up into, if I`m not mistaken, the 90th, 95th percentile in income.

I mean, isn`t middle class a narrower category than the category of people you`re pledging not to raise taxes on? CLINTON: Well, in fact, this was the pledge that President Obama made, that my husband made. And it is based on a lot of the expenses and costs that people face. Clearly, the median income is much less than that. But a lot of the people who are in the, say, $50,000 to $250,000 bracket are two-income families. They`re working at jobs that are not -- you know, jobs that produce great wealth. They might produce, you know, a comfortable middle-class lifestyle or an upper middle-class lifestyle. But when we talk about people who are really doing well -- a million dollars or more, and the surcharge on $5 million or more, you know, that`s a relatively small number of families. But their wealth has increased so much that holding them accountable with this surcharge would bring a lot of revenues into the Treasury.

And I think that we should be focused on the people who are really at the top. Because if you look at a lot of the work that, you know, progressive economists, that the Obama administration and before that, the Clinton administration did, ending up there makes a lot of sense when you`re looking at all the other costs that people are facing. HAYES: Let me ask you about politics for a moment; it relates to this. There`s new polling out showing essentially a statistical dead head in Iowa. Senator Sanders today said that your candidacy is in trouble. And there`s a perception -- and it`s been pushed by that campaign a bit, I think -- that some of the attacks, which have been substantive. They`ve been policy attacks on Senator Sanders, whether it`s on guns, whether it`s on single payer, whether it`s today`s proposal about taxing high income is being motivated out of a concern that this is a very, very tight race, that you`re attempting to distinguish yourself from him. Is that an accurate perception?

CLINTON: No, it`s really not, Chris, for two reasons. One, I always thought that this would be a close race. I`ve been, you know, around the track a few times, as you know. And it always closes. Iowa is famously unpredictable. So I am very pleased with my organization, where we are in planning for the caucuses, which are three weeks from tonight. But the other part of that is I have been laying out specific proposals over the course of my campaign. And I always said I was going to be laying out additional elements of my tax proposal, which I have. Now, it`s interesting, because Senator Sanders promised to be providing his tax plan before the Iowa caucus. And yet I don`t think we`ve seen those. So I think I`m telling the voters what I will do, where I will get the revenues from. You can see what I`m proposing, how much it would cost. I think that`s what voters deserve to have before they make their decision. HAYES: All right, final question. You know, I had someone who`s an adviser of yours, your friend David Brock, on this program. It must have been a few months ago. And we were talking about electability, which has become something that both you and Senator Sanders have been talking about on the trail. And I asked him, is Bernie Sanders electable in a general election? And he paused and he said, no, I don`t think he is.

Do you agree with him?

CLINTON: Well, I`m not going to speak for anybody but myself. I will leave that to the voters to decide about who is or who isn`t. But I can tell you this: I`m battle-tested. You know, I know how to go up against the Republicans. There`s hardly anything that you and the voters don`t know about me.

So, there won`t be a lot of, you know, new information coming out or new labeling coming out. I think that`s a big advantage. I think that going up against the Republicans this year where there is so much at stake, where every one of them is literally wanting to turn the clock back to trickle- down economics, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to go after a woman`s right to make her health care decisions, defund Planned Parenthood, try to do what they can to derail marriage equality, on and on and on.

I think it`s important for voters to understand that if they don`t want to see a Republican going back into the White House, then you know, I think it`s fair to say I`m the most prepared and ready person. Not only to win the election, but to be president. HAYES: All right. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, great pleasure. Come back again soon. CLINTON: Thanks a lot. Good to talk to you! HAYES: All right.



HAYES: I`m joined now by Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Jeff, let me start with the last thing Hillary Clinton said about electability. And the case as far as I can understand it was basically, this is -- Hillary Clinton is probably the most scrutinized and vetted figure in American public life and that`s almost certainly true or she`s in the top tier of that.



HAYES: What`s that?

WEAVER: I said absolutely. Go ahead.

HAYES: And that with Bernie Sanders there might be -- you know, with Bernie Sanders you might get some surprises, that there`s a long voting record. She talked about labels coming up. What do you think of that?

WEAVER: Look, Senator Sanders has been in public life now for decades. He is a well-known person in Washington, D.C. He`s been a United States senator since 2006. He`s been in the House since 1991. He was mayor of Burlington before that.

He has been in many very, very difficult campaigns against Republicans. And he has really been through the sort of -- been put through the ringer. So, you know, if there`s a suggestion people don`t know who Senator Sanders is I think is really not -- is really not fair.

I mean, look, the truth of the matter about electability is if Democrats want to win, you have to be able to win Democrats and you have to be able to win the lion`s share of independence. And the truth of matter is, is that if we look at the polls, I`m not just making this up, if you look at polling, he consistently does better with independents than Secretary Clinton does.

If you look at the recent polls coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire, in head-to-heads against the Republicans, he does far better than Secretary Clinton against every single one of them. I mean, for instance, in New Hampshire, he`s ahead of Trump by 19 points. She`s only ahead of Trump by one point.

The Democrats really want to be spending --

HAYES: Do you think those --

WEAVER: -- money in a general election to defend New Hampshire?

HAYES: OK. But do you think -- I mean, honestly now.


HAYES: Do you think head-to-head polling this far out from the election -- I mean, I remember six weeks ago Ben Carson was going to beat everyone in the field in head-to-head polling. I mean, that seems like pretty shaky data.

WEAVER: Look, that`s one proof point, right? So, his strength with independence is consistent and has been consistent throughout this campaign and that`s something you can`t deny. And Democrats are not going to win.

I mean, the number of people who self-identify as independents is far greater than Republicans or Democrats. I mean, I think you have to acknowledge a Democrat can`t win a federal election without winning lion share of independents. He definitely does better with independents.

I will say this also in terms of electability. Look, the truth of the matter is Democrats win when you have large voter turnouts. We saw that with President Obama when he won states that Democrats never thought they had a shot in like Indiana, North Carolina because he expanded the base of the party. He brought out young people. He excited a lot of people who don`t traditionally vote.

And that`s, if you look at Senator Sanders` campaign and what`s going on on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire, that`s exactly what`s going on here. He`s exciting a lot of young people, a lot of people who don`t traditionally vote.

And if you look at Secretary Clinton`s campaign, I`m not -- with all due respect I think you`ll find there`s a lot less enthusiasm in that campaign. They`re not sort of motivating the same type of voters that Senator Sanders is.

So, I think for Democrats to win not only the White House, because we don`t just want to win the White House, we also want to make gains in the Congress and the state houses, we`ve got to bring out a large number of people who don`t traditionally come out. That means young people, non- traditional voters and those people are being energized and excited by Senator Sanders` campaign.

HAYES: Let me ask you about the substance of today`s announcement.


HAYES: On this sort of surcharge idea -- I recognize you`re running this campaign and not an economic policy adviser to the senator. But I wonder - - I mean, on the point of releasing a tax plan, are we going to see a sort of fully formed tax agenda from the senator before Iowa?

WEAVER: Absolutely. He`s made that pledge and he certainly will. I will say he`s already released a number of components of his tax plan. For instance, he wants to put a tax on Wall Street speculation to fund his program to create tuition-free public colleges and universities and to lower student debt. He`s released a plan to tax income that`s hidden in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens in order to fund his plan to rebuild the infrastructure of America and create 13 million jobs. He`s offered a plan to lift the cap on taxable income and Social Security starting at $250,000 so we can extend the life of Social Security for 50 years, expand benefits for seniors, many of whom are trying to get by on $12,000 or $13,000 a year.

So, he has offered major pieces of his tax plan. He will be offering up the part that deals with individual income taxes before the Iowa caucuses.

HAYES: OK. And do you think that Senator Sanders -- I mean, what is the game plan here? Obviously things have tightened quite a bit in Iowa. They`re very tight in New Hampshire. You guys have a lot of money.

So, the question now becomes what are you going to do with all that money in the next three weeks?

WEAVER: Well, look, you know, we`re very gratified to have the resources that we have. I mean, one of the things that`s different about Senator Sanders` insurgent campaign that`s different than many other such campaigns in the past is that we have the resources to go the distance. I mean, we have over a million individual contributors, 2.5 million contributions. Average contribution $27. This is a campaign funded at the grassroots.

And these donors are available to give to us again if they choose. Almost none of our donors are maxed out. So, we will have the resources to go all the way.

So, we are obviously running ads on television and radio. We have digital advertising running. But we`re also running a very, very aggressive grassroots campaign, knocking on doors. We have thousands of volunteers in Iowa. We have literally hundreds of thousands of volunteers nationwide. On any given weekend there`s over 1,000 Bernie events across the country being organized at the grassroots level.

You know, and all that takes money to do that. And so, we are funding this grassroots campaign. And we are talking to voters through the paid media.

HAYES: All right. Jeff Weaver, thank you very much.

WEAVER: Hey, happy to be here.

HAYES: Still to come, meet the white nationalist who wants you to vote for Trump. At least if you`re in Iowa.

Meanwhile, as he prepares for his final State of the Union, President Obama makes an announcement about endorsing a 2016 kidnap. What he said.

And later, the life of the incomparable cultural icon, David Bowie. A final gift he left behind.

Those stories and more, ahead.


HAYES: Today, presidential candidate Chris Christie defended his friend, Maine Governor Paul LePage, who`s endorsed him, campaigned with him, and who also said this about drug traffickers last week.


GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: Now, the traffickers, these aren`t people that take drugs, these are guys that are named D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty, these type of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.


HAYES: After the firestorm that created, LePage stepped out to the mike to ramble through a non-apology apology. Here`s just a slice of it.


LEPAGE: I was going impromptu and my brain didn`t catch up do my mouth. And I`m not going to apologize to the Maine women for that because if you go to Maine, you will see that we are essentially 95 percent white.


HAYES: Christie referred to LePage today as a friend who had apologized.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I heard Paul`s remarks, and frankly, he`s apologized for them. We can`t judge people by one set of remarks they make, especially when those people apologize and genuinely apologize afterwards.


HAYES: I agree with the government about one set of remarks. But in case Governor Christie wants to do a little bit of Googling, he would find his buddy up in Maine is a compulsive repeat offender. At a certain point slips of the tongue start to look a lot more like moments of unintended honesty.


HAYES: New polls today bring more good news for Donald Trump as a white supremacist group plans a new wave of robocalls in support of the GOP front-runner.

In Iowa, where the caucuses will be held in 21 days, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Trump retaking the lead from Ted Cruz, though his advantage is within the poll`s margin of error.

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, a new Monmouth poll finds that Trump continues to dominate the field with more than double the support of his closest competitors. In both states it looks pretty grim for the so-called establishment.

Marco Rubio, who`s polling a distant third nationally, has not been rising in either early state and is running out of time to surge.

And Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush remains utterly unable to get any sort of traction. Those new polls have bush at just 3 percent in Iowa, at 4 percent in New Hampshire, despite $50 million in ad spending on Bush`s behalf.

In New Hampshire today, Trump continued to raise questions about whether his closest rival, the Canadian-born Ted Cruz, whose mother is American, whether Cruz is a natural born citizen and thus constitutionally eligible to serve as president.

Cruz maintains the answer is settled.


TRUMP: Lawrence Tribe at Harvard who`s a constitutional expert, one of the best in the country, said, and I wrote it down, this is not a settled matter. It`s wrong to say it is a settled matter because it`s absolutely not. It`s not a settled matter. That means that -- you know, a lot of people think you have to be born here, you have to be born on this land.


HAYES: In Iowa this weekend meanwhile, voters reportedly received a robocall from a white nationalist super PAC urging them to support Trump.


JARED TAYLOR, AMERICAN RENAISSANCE: I`m Jared Taylor with American Renaissance. I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don`t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.


HAYES: Smart, well-educated white people.

The founder of the super PAC that paid for these ads told Talking Points Memo today he plans a new wave of pro-Trump robocalls in early voting states, adding that America needed to have a, quote, "separate white ethno- state."

This follows a report from a Muslim woman who was ejected from a Trump rally in South Carolina on Friday with other voters. The woman, Rose Hamid, was wearing a hijab. She told CNN she experienced a, quote, "hateful crowd mentality" as she was being escorted out including from one man who questioned whether she had a bomb. She had a t-shirt that said "I come in peace."

And over the weekend, a CBS News reporter named Sopan Deb tweeted if a Trump supporter asked if he was taking pictures for ISIS and then began filming him. It wasn`t the first time this has happened. At a Trump rally last month, Deb said a man came up to him and said "go back to Iraq." Deb says he has never even been.

Joining me now, Olivia Nuzzi, political reporter for "The Daily Beast".

All right, Olivia, see, here`s my first question. People talk about, you know, the Iowa Republican caucus-goers are not necessarily representative of the national party. But I`ve got to think, I`ve got to think even among them, people don`t like a white nationalist calling them up and saying, we need more -- I mean, it just seems like maybe there`s going to be a backlash when like explicitly white -- they call themselves white nationalists. I will call them white supremacist groups, are cheering on a candidate.

OLIVIA NUZZI, THE DAILY BEAST: I`m not as confident of that as you seem to be. I think Donald Trump may be the only candidate who is not going to be -- would not be negatively affected by white nationalists coming out to support him. I mean, anecdotally back in October, I covered a white national involvement convention here in Washington and I saw people coming in with "Make America Great Again" hats on.

Anytime I talk to Trump supporters, pretty much whether it`s in person or on the phone, they`re very preoccupied with whether or not I`m a Muslim, if I`m a Christian, if I have encountered Jesus Christ. I think that there is a large faction of Donald Trump supporters who are sympathetic to these types of views.

HAYES: So, today, that we got the -- we got the FOX News -- Fox Business News saying who they`re going to have on the undercard and who they`re going to have on the main stage. They have demoted Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul to the undercard debate. They`ll be joining Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. The others will be left in the main event.

Paul basically saying he`s going to boycott this. You wonder how much longer Paul`s going to be able to hang on at this point.

NUZZI: Yes. Rand Paul also has a Senate race he needs to run. He needs to be able to fund that Senate race and continue funding this presidential race. I don`t know how he can manage to do that, frankly. He`s not doing well. His message obviously after the terror attack in Paris seems a lot less attractive than it used to seem, this message of non-interventionism. People just don`t want to hear it. Republicans don`t want to hear it, even if the general public does.

HAYES: Well, let me say this, because I think this is an interesting point, talking about this. Ted Cruz actually has tried to kind of carve out this path in which he sort of rhetorically as bellicose and militant and rabid as you can get, but substantively doesn`t seem to want to do a lot of military commitments, which actually seems to be in an odd way the perfect sweet spot for the Republican primary voter.

NUZZI: Well, it`s sort of what Donald Trump has said at times too.


NUZZI: He sounds a little like Rand Paul frankly. He sounds like a non- interventionist. He never really says he`s going to put boots on the ground but he`s going to bomb the hell out of ISIS, and so, everything`s OK.

HAYES: Right.

NUZZI: He`s sort of having it both ways. But I really do believe that Rand Paul, what he`s selling is not as attractive as it used to be.

And I think Ted Cruz has a way of talking about these things that sound more patriotic, if you will, to the average Republican voter than they do when Rand Paul talks about them. He says he`s going to carpet bomb them. We`re going to see if sand is going to glow in the dark.

You don`t really hear Rand Paul talking that way in a convincing manner.

HAYES: If you want to get a sense of what register the Cruz campaign is playing in, check out this super Pac mailer. I should say not the campaign`s allied super Pac.

"If we don`t defend our borders they will keep on coming." Pics of terrorists, drug lord, convicted felon. You can sort of draw your conclusions about what that visually that is supposed to communicate to the Iowa voter.

But Cruz and Trump are pretty much playing on the same terrain at this point and it shows in the polls.

NUZZI: It does, but if you look at the average of polls, the real clear politics average of polls, Donald Trump is still behind Ted Cruz in Iowa, and I think that`s really important to remember. We can`t put too much stake in any one poll.

I think until he -- I don`t know if it`s possible he`s really going to retake his lead there.

HAYES: And there`s a lot of pressure now. This is another interesting thing. Ted Cruz has not faced pressure. He now has pressure in Iowa because I think not winning Iowa would take a lot of air out of that campaign.

Olivia Nuzzi, thank you very much.

Coming up, President Obama prepares for his final State of the Union. Why he should be feeling pretty good about it ahead.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our ability to come together as one American family. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: All right. Today the Supreme Court heard a case that has the potential to decimate the way that public sector unions function and by extension all of the American labor movement.

Here`s what it states. A system established by a 1977 Supreme Court case that found that even if you opt out of joining a public sector union, if you`re a janitor or a teacher, you can still be required to pay a fee.

Now, that fee would cover the costs of the union bargaining on your behalf, because you`re included in their overall contract.

And that 1977 case meant that no one would get essentially a free ride. You know, receiving the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay for it.

Now, that fee is not as large as union dues, you`re not still a union member, and it does not go to things like ads for political candidates.

But, in the case before the justices today, a case backed by a conservative group called the Center for Individual Rights, ten teachers in California claim their free speech rights under the first amendment are being violated merely by paying that fee for collective bargaining.

The argument for overturning nearly 40 years of precedent is that the act of collective bargaining itself, when bargaining with the state government, is itself inherently political, that it`s speech and it`s enough to draw it under the umbrella of the first amendment.

Today, Justice Roberts said the effect of undoing the system would be insignificant because the majority of teachers appear to favor collective bargaining anyway.

The compelling counterargument is that workers will stop paying for collective bargaining once they realize they will get the benefits of it whether they pay or not. That is why unions are so invested in this case.

If the Roberts court overturns this decades-long precedent, public sector unions in 20 states could be affected and could face something that looks a lot like a death spiral.

And there is a much broader point to be made about what the court might do this term and the case they heard today.

When the Supreme Court overturns itself, when it rejects precedent and just comes up with a new interpretation, it is usually an indicator of something changing outside the court.

Brown versus Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson not only because separate but equal was no longer constitutionally tenable, but also because of the broad social changes happening in the country.

In this case, if decades of precedent is thrown out in the case before the court today, it is much more of a testament to the power of anti-labor forces outside the court than it is about the arguments made inside the Supreme Court today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I want us to be able when we walk out this door to say, we couldn`t think of anything else that we didn`t try to do, that we didn`t shy away from a challenge because it was hard. That we weren`t timid or got tired or somehow were thinking about the next thing, because there is no next thing. This is it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Tomorrow night the president will deliver his final State of the Union, a speech that in some ways is a victory lap.

After all, let`s keep in mind, this is a man that with a name like Barack Hussein Obama had the cards politically stacked against him from the beginning.

On top of that, he inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the most polarized nation since the Civil War, and of course, an implacable opposition.

His second term much like the first was supposed to usher in a series of dystopic scenarios according to his critics. Gas prices could skyrocket. America would undergo another Greece-style financial crisis, runaway inflation would make a return, record interest rates. Obamacare would kill job growth, according to the president`s many foes.

Instead, right now under Obama, gas is hovering around $2 per gallon, inflation has remained remarkably historically low and so far the United States has not become Greece.

Say whatever you want about Barack Obama, but he has just presided over a record-breaking 70 straight months of private sector job growth.

Perhaps this is why Hillary Clinton, who has been said many times over the campaign to be distancing herself from the president, is quite clearly attempting to bring him closer.

Even as the White House confirms that the president will not endorse a candidate in the democratic primary, that did not stop Hillary Clinton from today using the president to contrast her record with Bernie Sanders on guns.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was very proud of President Obama when he put out the plan he just did about what he thinks would help save lives. I agree with everything he said.

There was a vote in the congress, do we give the gun lobby, the manufacturers and the sellers, absolute immunity from my liability or accountability? President Obama and I were both in the senate, and we voted no. Senator Sanders voted yes.


HAYS: Joining me now, Sam Seder. He`s MSNBC contributor and host of the podcast Majority Report with Sam Seder.

I think as -- you know, today felt like a landmark day in the democratic primary because it was like really -- okay, this is real.


HAYES: These two candidates are within the margin of error in both the early states. You can feel from the Clinton campaign they recognize they have to make the case, and they are making it and they`re making it in a substantive way. This is not like smearing Bernie Sanders.

But it strikes me that the battle over who is closest to President Obama`s going to be very key in the next three weeks.

SEDER: Yeah, I think. So first off, it`s really real, and it`s sort of amazing, right?


SEDER: That we`ve got two of these races that are so close.

HAYES: No one predicted this race would be this close.

SEDER: No one predicted this a year ago. Certainly not in any of the establishment circles. Certainly not in the democratic party circles. So this is --

HAYES: I think even in lefty progressive circles to be honest.

SEDER: I think 1 out of 2 maybe would see a tight race but you`d be surprised.

I think that`s a big part of it. I don`t know how much that makes a difference in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it certainly makes a difference once you leave Iowa and New Hampshire in terms of that proximity to President Obama.

And I think certainly that`s also where Bernie Sanders has a lot of place to make up amongst African-American voters and against a lot of the sort of traditional democratic base. Not necessarily this so-called wine track as we used to call it on some level.

But I think we`re going to see more of that and I think President Obama`s going to come out there tomorrow night and I think there`s going to be a lot of soaring rhetoric and I think it`s going to be a little bit more partisan than 2004 --

HAYES: That is the big question, right? If he comes out there, look, he`s got nothing left to lose.

SEDER: Right.

HAYES: He`s got an opportunity in some ways frankly to frame some of the debate about the campaign tomorrow night. Really, ultimately no one -- it`s very rare that a speech like this is going to be remembered.

His legacy will be remembered longer than the speech will. So, in terms of what rhetorical function it`s playing, that`s what he could do in the short term.

SEDER: I think that`s true. But right now what he`s doing is he`s building his legacy.

HAYES: Absolutely. That I completely agree with.

SEDER: Doing podcasts -- I mean, honestly there`s a lot of that going on. I think this is very important in terms of setting the terms of the debate and basically saying like look, here`s -- if you want to attach yourself to me, this is where you go.

HAYES: And here is the choice --

SEDER: And here`s the trajectory I want to follow.

HAYES: That you know is going to be really interesting, him sort of laying out for the country what the choice is going to be coming down in the next nine or ten months.

SEDER: And I think you`re right about the vindication. He could actually do Mitt Romney`s highlight reel from 2012 --

HAYES: All the things --

SEDER: Just play it on the screen and go that, no. That, sorry.

HAYES: It`s true.

SEDER: All those things you promised, did it. And you know, I had my disagreements with President Obama, but he has a very strong case to make.

And if he wants to sort of push it to the future he has the opportunity to do that too.

HAYES: People forget that that summer before the financial crisis happened with him and McCain were going head to head, gas prices were like all anybody talked about.

It was a 90% gas price driven news cycle.

Sam Seder, thanks for joining me.

Still to come, Kurt Loder joins me to talk about the genius of David Bowie. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: FRom Mick Jagger to Vatican City, friends and fans are paying tribute to David Bowie today.

The Rolling Stones frontman called Bowie an inspiration and a true original. As the Vatican`s official newspaper says he was never banal. British Prime Minister David Cameron dubbed Bowie a genius, while Germany`s foreign ministry thanked him for helping to bring down the Berlin Wall. Madonna wrote that Bowie was the first person she saw in concert and it changed the course of her life.

More on David Bowie`s legacy, next.


HAYES: He was a rock god, a musical innovator, larger than life cultural icon, at once enduringly strange and exotic but also somehow charming. And tonight, generations of fans are mourning the loss of David Bowie, who died last night following an 18-month-long and largely private battle with cancer.

The career that spanned over six decades, David Bowie was a master of reinvention. Visually, musically, launching his first hit the same year of the moon landing with Space Oddity, to constructing his glam rock alter ego Ziggy Stardust, to creating a slew of pop hits, Fame was his first number one in the U.S.

Bowie fans delighted in his ability to surprise, whether it was singing Christmas carols with Bing Crosby or poking fun at Ricky Gervais on Extras, please look that up on Google.

But his parting gift to the world was one final album released last Friday on his 69th birthday.

Tributes have been pouring in from around the globe, from flowers laid near his birth place in London to his apartment in Manhattan. His fans remember the man not only known for his music but for social causes. Bowie recorded three albums in Berlin in the late `70s, performing the song Heroes in the divided city in 1987 and telling the crowd, "We send our wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the wall."

Earlier that decade, David Bowie took on the apparent racial divide on MTV, asking VJ Mark Goodman why the network was not highlighting the work of black musicians.


DAVID BOWIE, MUSICIAN: It occurred to me having watched MTV over the last few months that it`s a solid enterprise, it`s got a lot going for it.

I`m just floored by the fact that there are so many -- so few black artists featured on it. Why is that?

MARK GOODMAN, MTV VJ: I think that we`re trying to move in that direction. We want to play artists that seem to be doing music that fits into what we want to play for MTV.

The company`s thinking in terms of narrowcasting.

BOWIE: That`s evident. It`s evident in the fact that the only few black artists that one does see are on about 2:30 in the morning or till around 6:00. Very few are featured predominantly during the day.

GOODMAN: No. That`s --

BOWIE: I`ll say that over the last couple of weeks these things have been changing, but it`s a slow process.

GOODMAN: I know -- it`s funny. I think people have different perceptions. When you wind up watching, let`s say you watch an hour or two or even three a day, people somehow come away with different ideas about what we are doing.

We don`t have any kind of day parting for anything, let alone a black artist day parted out of what would be, quote, prime time. We don`t have that.

BOWIE: Because one sees a lot -- there`s one black station on television that I keep picking up. I`m not sure which station it`s on. But there seem to be a lot of black artists making very good videos that I`m surprised aren`t used on MTV.

GOODMAN: Of course also we have to try and do what we think, not only in New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also (inaudible) or some Midwest town, pick some town in the Midwest that will be scared to death by Prince, which we`re playing, or a string of other black faces.

BOWIE: That`s very interesting. Isn`t that interesting?

HAYES: Next, an MTV legend, the great Kurt Loder will join me to discuss that moment, to remember the genius of David Bowie. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: There`s a crowd gathered in London earlier singing Starman to honor the late David Bowie.

I`m joined now by Kurt Loder, former editor for MTV News, current film and music critic at Reason Magazine. Kurt, it`s great to have you here.

One of the most striking things to me -- well, first of all, this. We talked about he reinvented himself, his persona, his fashion.

The guy was just a musical genius. He was an incredible musician.

LODER: I think people forget about that. They say well, these costumes, and he had this cultural impact.

HAYE: Like this was shtick.

LODER: Yeah. He`s an astonishing musician. His voice was just unbelievable. He could play -- you know, guitar player, played keyboards, played saxophone. He was an all-around musician.

If you talked to him, you could really talk about the history of black music especially, and R&B and go way back in it, and also know what`s happening in Germany, or what`s happening in Japan.

He just soaked all this stuff up. He was an amazing guy.

HAYES: Someone had this line today I thought was interesting because I was doing this this morning, trying to noodle around with my kids, playing some Bowie songs.

Someone said there`s a lot of people right now trying to do Bowie sing- alongs and encountering how complex his songwriting was.

LODER: It`s true. I wouldn`t want to have to try to sing like him, he was really good. But people forget that. I think they`re sort of dazzled by all the other stuff, the costumes and the way he changed the way people felt about clothing and men wearing dresses and things like that.

HAYES: He also seems to have -- it`s such a hard thing for artists, particularly when they have success at a certain age, to not be pegged to that age forever.

LODER: It`s true.

HAYES: It`s hard to have second, third, fourth acts.

LODER: He never seems -- you don`t look back at him and say oh, that was that -- you say that was that period. But he kept moving on from it. He never seemed like he was a relic of some old age. He was always here right now, because he was doing his stuff.

HAYES: Yeah, and he also -- I was seeing today that he`s four years younger than Mick Jagger, and yet I think of him in such a different generation.

LODER: In a way, yeah.

HAYES: Partly because it felt like what he ushered in felt like a break with what sort of that era of late `60s rock had been.

LODER: And I think the Rolling Stones are an example of that. God bless the Rolling Stones, but they`re sort of like a greatest hits band in concert. You`re hearing stuff that was really big for them in the `60s, 70s, `80s, whereas Bowie could just keep doing stuff all night and all week probably.

I think his last album, which was just released last Friday, is one of his most experimental records.

I mean, here`s a guy who`s going to be 69 years old and he`s put this record out, that has some jazz guys on it you`ve never heard of and he put a video out that`s just astonishing to me. He was doing some of his strongest work at the end.

HAYES: I want to ask about that clip we played, a fascinating look at the early days of MTV where he is pressing them on the diversity of what they`re showing, and MTV actually tweeted that out today.

LODER: I`m sure they did.

HAYES: It was an interesting moment because you know, there was a moment when MTV had such profound cultural power and I wonder how much that resonated there.

LODER: I don`t know, that was five years before I arrived there. I was still at Rolling Stone.

But I think everyone on the outside looking at MTV saw that tragic lack of blackness. What`s wrong here? And Michael Jackson came in and just blew that all away because you couldn`t deny Michael Jackson.

HAYES: That is really interesting. I wonder -- I wonder what the sort of eulogy will ultimately be when 100 years hence we look back at this sort of MTV era.

LODER: If there`s anyone looking back.

HAYES: That`s right. If there is anyone looking back or it`s all, we`re all stored in some great machine`s brain.

Kurt Loder, great thanks.

LODER: My pleasure.

HAYES: Alright. That is All In for this evening.

The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.