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Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 01/24/15

Guests: Bryce Covert, Hector Cordero Guzman, David Boaz, ChristopherPersley, Madeleine Villanueva, Ella Bravo, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, JulianMcPhillips, Jill Filipovic, Mike Pesca

HARRIS-PERRY: This morning, my question, just how soft are Tom Brady`s hands? Plus, the GOP punts on its abortion band. And the universal coverage we almost got. But first, President Obama keeps it classy. Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry, let`s take a little journey together, back to January 2009. Do you remember? In a historic political victory, President Obama assumed office and as he did, the country was making a less triumphant history, the worst economic prices since the Great Depression. Unemployment was 7.8 percent, joblessness would peek above 10 percent by the president`s first October in office. The economy had shed more than two and a half million jobs the prior year and our national GDP had in fact decreased the final quarter prior to his election. Household debt was at a near record high in the foreclosure crisis and mortgage meltdown meant American families were watching their hard-earned wealth evaporate. The situation was so dire it led the satirical newspaper "The Onion" to declare, quote, "Black man given nation`s worst job." This financial crisis set not on the agenda of the Obama administration, it also set the tone. For the past six years, the president typically has tempered his public remarks about the economy by acknowledging that there was still work to do, hills to climb, barriers to be overcome before we could begin to truly see the economic crisis in our collective rearview mirror. Maybe it`s because we`ve grown accustomed to his measure tone, that the president sounded so different during Tuesday night`s State of the Union address. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: America, for all that we have endured, from all the grit and then hard work required to come back, for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this, the shadow of crisis has passed. And the State of the Union is strong. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: And so it seems, the shadow of the crisis has passed. But if the crisis is over, then why exactly did the president spend most of the next hour discussing his policies to address the economy? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it. (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: And let`s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulative wealth. They`ve riddled it with giveaways that the superrich don`t need. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s about the economy, but don`t miss this because even for historic president who presided over historic economic crisis, this particular way of thinking about economic crisis is noteworthy. Because traditional indicators show that this president`s economic legacy is secure. The economy is growing, unemployment is down to 5.6 percent, gas prices are at their lowest in years. Consumer confidence is at its highest in over a decade. New homes are being built, the stock market is humming along, he`s won. Indeed as he`s noted on Tuesday, he won twice. But even with both of those electoral wins and an economy around which many presidents would take a victory lap. President Obama has drawn the nation`s attention back to the economy. This time with the goal of making its address to stark divide between the haves and have notes. The 99 and one percent parts of the economy that American social movements first introduced to our political lexicon, the president wants us to talk about class. Yes, I said it, class. The class is - rarely used to organize politics in America. Since the young Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville traveled our nation in the 1830s filling his notebooks with his observations of this grand experiment and self- governess happening across the Atlantic and wrote no novelty in the United States has struck me more vividly during my stay there than the equality of conditions. Despite the genocide and expulsion of indigenous peoples, despite the entrenched system of Southern slavery, despite the subjugation of women, as a European traveler, Tocqueville was taken aback by the egalitarianism of America. And we have remained people deeply invested in this idea of democratic meritocracy. We are invested in the belief that while inequality may exist, it is not permanent. Individuals may face struggles, but our politics are not defined by ongoing class struggle. The American dream acknowledges that not everyone starts in the same place, but it promises that no matter where you begin, it is hard work, individual sacrifice, and hard earned merit that are always most important in determining where you end up. So much so that middle and working class for once, ubiquitous self- definitions for Americans because nearly all of us tended to identify with the striving center of our economy. In recent years, this has changed. As Pew reports, the proportion of Americans who identify as middle class has dropped sharply in recent years. And this has happened while those who identify as lower classes increased. The shadow of the economic crises may be over, but a new and perhaps more durable crisis has emerged, American economic inequality may be more stark and more definitive than ever, and with this economic reality comes a fundamental shift in American politics. We are now having a conversation about class. Joining me now, Robert Traynham, an MSNBC contributor and former Bush-Cheney senior advisor. Bryce Covert, who is an economic policy editor for ThinkProgress and contributor to "The Nation." Hector Cordero Gumez - excuse me, Guzman, who is professor at Baruch College of Public Affairs and David Boaz who is executive vice president at the CATO Institute and author of "The Libertarian Mind: a Manifesto for Freedom." OK. So this is just to all of you guys. Are we in a new place? Are we now in an America that thinks about class as central to how we`re going to organize our politics? ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. Melissa, back in November, eight out of ten American voters said that the economic situation that they currently find themselves in, or that they feel that they`re in is the number one issue as to why they`re voting for whatever members of Congress that they voted for. We now know that the vast majority obviously voted for Republicans. This moment that we`re in reminds me a little bit . HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, no, back up, that`s not quite right. So there are more Republicans who won, but not because there was a vast majority more Americans who voted for them, but rather because of the way that the districts are measured. TRAYNHAM: But hold on, but some of those incumbent Democrats lost. HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. Sure, sure, sure. TRAYNHAM: That just makes you . HARRIS-PERRY: Right, I just don`t - just not quite - that there`s a vast majority. TRAYNHAM: I understand. But the reality is eight out of ten still said what they said in terms of the economic . HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. TRAYNHAM: They find themselves in. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. TRAYNHAM: This moment, this economic moment that I find that I think we`re in reminds me a little bit of 1991 when George H.W. Bush said the economy is strong, but people were saying, I don`t feel that. It doesn`t make sense to me. The reason why it doesn`t make sense to me, is because the harder I work, the more money I bring in, I still cannot make basic ends meet. This is not about going to Disneyworld, this is not about going to France, this is about trying to put my kids through college and making car payments. And so what the president is I think trying to frame is saying, the fundamentals are there, we`re doing great, however, the economic disparity that we currently find ourselves in, there`s a lot of work that needs to be done. HARRIS-PERRY: So, not only is that sort of a critical point of view, but before I start, I also want to point out that, as what we are saying, Americans actually are not as we typically have when we have economic struggles, we blame ourselves, we decide to work harder, but in recent Pew study, 62 percent blame Congress a lot, 54 percent blame financial institutions, 47 percent large corporations, just over a third blame the Obama administration, but only eight percent blame the middle class themselves. Is this there for the shift? The sense that it is institutional, structural things that are tipping off from benefitting from the overall improvement in the economy? BRYCE COVERT, ECON. POLICY EDITOR, THINKPROGRESS: Well, as Robert said, you know, the fundamentals are there, the economy is doing so much better than it was during the recession and even the beginning of the recovery, but people aren`t feeling it. And we have had many years of so-called recovery where this has been true, things have been gradually getting better and the average American is still having a really hard time paying her bills, feeding her family. Working multiple jobs, and they know that they`re working hard, and they don`t see the rewards, and I think they`re starting to say look, I`m doing what I`m supposed to be doing and this American dream is not coming my way. HARRIS-PERRY: So, are we wrong to be looking to the institutions that we`re blaming? In other words, to say, if I think that Congress is the one standing in the way? Shouldn`t I be looking for government redress of that should be - I mean many libertarians might claim, no, actually, you don`t want sort of government coming in to try to fix these? DAVID BOAZ, EXEC., VP. THE CATO INSTITUTE: Well, we should certainly look for redress. Libertarians who are tend to say, there are laws we should repeal rather than new laws and new taxes that we should pass. Because there are a lot of laws ranging from the taxing cartel to the licensing to the too big to fail bailouts for banks that help the rich or at least the established against people who are not yet established. And so, in my view, if you had a freer market, you would have more people succeeding, more people with the opportunity to succeed. And that is a problem that both parties are responsible for. You try to change any of these things from terrorists to protect, businesses that produce in the United States, to the too big to fail and the bailouts to the taxing cartel on the local level, and you`re going to get both Democrats and Republicans resisting change that would open up the economy. HARRIS-PERRY: But part of what`s interesting is you hear is the president does seem to be suggesting both last week and then in the State of the Union saying there is one place we are going to have to tax in order to really change this, and that is the ability to give all of the money to the next generation. Right. That we`re going to need to tax that inheritance in order to provide a more even playing field for others. HECTOR CORDERO GUZMAN, PROF. BARUCH COLLEGE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS: My sense is that there`s some consensus that the recession had a devastating impact on the middle class and on the poor, correct? And the recovery has not been even for all those sectors of the economy. BOAZ: Yep. Yep. GUZMAN: For the rich and the very rich, the economy has recovered spectacularly. For the middle class, it`s been, you know, a rough going. And I think a lot of the policies that the president proposed, higher minimum wages, paid sick leave, training, community college, are policies that are designed to move more of that middle class, more of the lower class into the middle class and more of that middle class of the latter. There is a huge gap between Americans notion of fair distribution of wealth, and the reality of that distribution of wealth, right? If you ask Americans they`ll tell you, 30 percent of the top 20 percent should make 30 percent of the pie. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-huh. GUZMAN: OK? What it really is, it`s 84 percent. Right? So we have a pie that very few people are eating big chunks of. And it strikes oddly to Americans sense of fairness and opportunity. And they`re not blaming themselves because obviously for many people, they`re working harder than ever. And earning the same or sometimes less than ever. And that`s the challenge. HARRIS-PERRY: Pause, we`re going to get everybody back in on these questions, but when we come back, I`m going to ask, is it class or is it race? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda - I know because I won both of them. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Now that American politics is increasingly infused with conversations about class, an old question has once again become relevant. Why did the United States never develop a dominant left wing working class party like our European counterparts? In short, what has kept class from being the primary source of political identity in America? One offed sided answer, race. The argument suggests that the deep scar of slavery and the injustices of Jim Crowe have meant racial, rather than class issues have been most relevant for dividing the parties and defining the debates. Then 35 years ago, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson published his foundational book. "The Declining Significance of Race" and proposed that race was no longer the primary barrier to mobility for black Americans. Look, instead Wilson counselled to the bitter pill of poverty. He wrote, "As the influence of race on minority class stratification decreases, class takes on greater importance in determining the life chances of minority individuals." That provocative thesis, class over race set the stage for debate that rages today about the sources and remedies for American inequality. But even as President Obama encourages us to think more carefully about class, evidence suggests that race remains a powerful indicator of life, opportunities, and outcomes. For example, the infant mortality rate for black mothers is more than twice as high as the rate for white mothers. And that disparity persists across socioeconomic status. The issue gets even stickier when we consider economic mobility. Not only are lower income black Americans less likely to experience upward mobility, but once they`ve made it to the middle class, black families actually move downward. 68 percent of white children born to middle income families will earn higher income than their parents. But the majority of black children from middle income families will end up earning less than their parents. And almost half will fall from middle class status to the bottom of the income distribution. This is a report by the Brookings Institute found that achieving middle income status does not appear to protect black children from future economic adversity the same way it protects white children. Meaning that despite the popularity of Drake`s track, we actually started from the middle, now we`re here. Up next, President Obama`s middle class economics and racial inequality. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: So now we`ve got to choose what our future will look like, and when I look up at this crowd, it`s your generation in particular that`s going to have to decide what this future looks like. Are we going to accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well or do we commit ourselves to an economy that generates opportunity and rising incomes for everybody who`s willing to work hard and make an effort? (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: That`s a choice we`ve got to make. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, that was President Obama continuing the arguments he made in the State of the Union for more fair economy, but part of what I found interesting where also the Republican responses. I want to listen to two. I want to listen to Mitt Romney also talking about economic inequality and then to Rand Paul in his response, which also sounded quite different. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY, (R) 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a tragedy, a human tragedy that the middle class in this country by and large doesn`t believe the future will be better than the past or that kids will have a brighter future than their own. Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty in America than ever before. SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: Good evening, I wish I had better news for you, but all is not well in America. America is adrift. Something is clearly wrong. America needs many things, but what America desperately needs is new leadership. Pitting one American against another is not a pathway towards prosperity. The president is intent on redistributing the pie, but not growing it. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So in response to get Rand Paul doing, a kind of pushing back against it, but in the days before, you`d had Mitt Romney also making a kind of inequality argument, what does that tell you about where we are politically? COVERT: Well, Rand Paul so has said income inequality is real. It`s - there was sort of like a truther (ph) thing going on about income inequality, like climate science, it doesn`t exist, Republicans said, you`re being a class warrior. Now a bunch of them are saying it does exist and it`s Obama`s fault. Which is interesting because it has grown under his watch. And I think where you`re going to see the diversion is, so what do we do about it? You know, Obama`s talking about capital gains taxes. And that is one of the biggest causes of income inequality, but you can imagine Republicans are not going to jump on that boat. BOAZ: You asked earlier why we don`t have a left wing class-based party in America, which is something political scientists have asked a lot. And maybe the answer is, race, that just sort of divided us into two classes and that`s all we needed, but, it may be, but I think it`s also that the American tradition of individualism, antistatism (ph), what I would call equalitarianism - not egalitarianism. We don`t expect that everybody will be equal, people have different talents, different amounts of luck, everything, but equality under the law, equal dignity and there obviously race was a terrible exception, but equal dignity under the law. Miss Manors (ph) writes about this, you know, in "Jeffersonian Manners" (ph) that in Europe, there is a real class system, even today. Whereas an America it`s always been the case that the shoe shine guy, the small businessman, the lawyer in the big house, still regarded each other as political and social equals, even though they had varying amounts of money. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So here`s the question, though. So, what if that is no longer true? So, what if - what if I sort of say, OK, that is at minimum, it is part of our self-understanding that`s deeply entrenched, but that exactly the issue is this idea that children will not do as well as their parents and they`re working hard doesn`t pay off, if that`s true, then how do we begin to correct that issue? GUZMAN: When the top one percent of the population is making 41 percent of the wealth in the country, clearly calls for solutions. Right? And it clearly speaks to the game being somewhat rigged against the middle class, against the working class. That`s why the policy correctives of wages, training, paid sick days, paid family leave, are opportunities to let the bottom of the labor market go up. So that people can catch up. I find it curious that we seem to have more sympathy for billionaires than we have for the average working person that`s trying to work at McDonald`s or somewhere else, trying to raise a family. BOAZ: When you say more sympathy for billionaires, can you give an example? GUZMAN: Well, all of the concern from a policy perspective to ensure . BOAZ: The tax perspective? GUZMAN: That they`re so-called freedom to earn a greater amounts of money, preserve while the rest of the society is enslaved by poverty and enslaved by inequality. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, this is a real challenge, right? This question of . GUZMAN: What freedom are we talking about? HARRIS-PERRY: And in part, like even from the bottom, because of this belief in class mobility, people were, have typically been in America unwilling to tax at the top because they believe, well, someday, you know, someday I`m going to be . GUZMAN: I`m going to get there. I`m going to get there. HARRIS-PERRY: But if people no longer believe that. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. If people no longer believe that . (CROSSTALK) GUZMAN: But that`s one million dollars. BOAZ: I get you. GUZMAN: We are not going to get there. BOAZ: But they didn`t all start there. Sam Walton didn`t start there. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: But the thing is Walton`s such a great example, then Walton`s children are born and they are born there. So like, and it is one thing to be . (CROSSTALK) BOAZ: Born there either, but his grandchildren are born rich. HARRIS-PERRY: And without having to have achieved that. BOAZ: Right. Right. HARRIS-PERRY: And to me, that`s the question is, is not - I mean I think we can have question about ethics of how someone gets there. But the real question is why his grandchildren then deserve to be in that class having only just been - having not earned his way. Before we go to break, I do want to update you on the huge winter storm impacting more than 6 million people this morning. That system is dumping snow and rain from eastern Tennessee into northern Maine. More than a foot of snow has fallen in Amarillo, Texas, double the record for this time of the year. As the storm heads up the East Coast and into New England, some places could get up to six inches of snow. And another storm system is coming in right behind this one. For the latest, MSNBC`s Chris Pollone joins us from Andover, Massachusetts. Chris, what are the conditions like where you`re at right now? It`s looking - looking like you`re standing in the snow there. CHRIS POLLONE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Melissa. We`ve had these big, fat snowflakes falling since about 5:30 this morning here in the (INAUDIBLE) valley of Massachusetts. And as you can see, if you take a look behind me, you can see that the roads here are completely snow- covered. It`s been really treacherous all morning, and the town of Andover has really been running a lot of plows this morning, spreading salt and sand. But they are not able to keep up with the pace of this snowfall. Now as you can see, people are out and about. It`s not as busy as it would be on a normal weekday, Obviously, it`s a Saturday, so they`re making their way slowly up and down the road here. We do know that there are several accidents out in various towns, spinouts, car crashes, minor things, no major injuries, and on the Mass Turnpike, the speed limit is down to about 40 miles an hour. There`s been a tractor trailer rollover in Southborough, Massachusetts, that`s been cleaned up in the last hour. So far slow going out here on the roads. We`re expecting about five to nine inches of snow. We probably have three to four inches here already. And it is a heavy, wet snow. Great for snowballs, but if you have got to get out and shovel this, it is not fun. And it can actually be very strenuous activity. So that`s the story here in Andover, Melissa, will send it back to you. HARRIS-PERRY: Chris Pollone in Massachusetts, making what I presume are fully inflated snowballs. Thanks and try to stay warm with us. Up next, how Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is taking money from kids to clean up his own mess. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SAM BROWNBACK (R) KANSAS: Friends, it is time for a new school finance formula. (APPLAUSE) BROWNBACK: And that formula should reflect real world cost and put dollars in the classroom. With real students. Not in bureaucracy, in buildings, and gimmicks. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe you saw my letter last week to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, but I don`t think he saw it. Maybe it was returned to sender. Because in that letter I detailed the governor`s recent doubling down on his march to zero income taxes. His refusal to ask the states wealthiest to pay their fair share while simultaneously hiking taxes on cigarettes and liquor. Now, this week more details about Governor Brownback`s plan to fix his state`s mangled finances are coming to light. The governor wants to cut classroom funding for Kansas schools by $127 million. I want to underline that. As part of the plan to dig the state of Kansas out of a nearly billion dollar hole which the governor helped to create, he wants to cut classroom funding by $127 million. And Kansas, you may remember is the same place where a state court panel ruled just last month that the education funding was so low, it was unconstitutional. Joining me now, from Kansas City, Missouri, is Joan Wagnon who is chair of the Democratic Party of Kansas, she`s the former secretary of revenue for the Kansas Department of Revenue and a former state representative. Joan, I want to ask you about the plan, the formula that was put into place in 1992, you were part of that, to help people who aren`t from Kansas to understand what it is that the governor is now doing and how that will impact that formula. JOAN WAGNON, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF KANSAS: The `92 formula came about because of a court case that said we were not funding all students equally. Before that, it had just been legislators lined up and whoever had the most votes, their schools got the most money. So this formula does exactly what the governor says he wants a new formula to do. It delivers money equitably to all students and it makes sure that they are, are treated equally and adequately. The adequate is the problem because he won`t put money in it. So when he`s cutting this 127 million now, the formula can`t possibly work because it doesn`t have enough money in it. What the old formula or the current formula does is make sure that poor kids get a little extra, students who maybe speak a second language or English is not their first language, students that live very, very far away from their school district have transportation money. So there are a number of factors that are taken into account to make sure that it`s - there`s equity. In addition to that, property tax, which districts get less state aid than the poor property tax districts? And so, that`s part of the fairness. People have talked about scrapping it, I don`t know how they`re going to get rid of it and still be constitutional. HARRIS-PERRY: So help me to understand a bit here, what the governor`s other options would be. I mean you`ve got a billion dollar deficit, he`s saying, well, here`s a place where I can kind of go and pull some of it out. What other alternatives does he have? WAGNON: Well, the first thing that he could do that would be correcting the problem is get rid of his tax proposal. He`s giving 190,000 people who are primarily business owners like doctors and lawyers no tax. They pay zero income tax in Kansas. And he`s cut the higher rate much lower, it`s a 27 percent cut at the top, he could restore those cuts, he could take away that exception, and he had - plenty of money to fund schools, to take care of people in need, to fund Medicaid expansion and all of those things that are so very important. HARRIS-PERRY: So what are the politics then of Kansas that, I mean clearly the governor was reelected and must believe he has a kind of political basis for doing this. WAGNON: The governor was barely reelected, he even got less than 50 percent of the vote, but what he has is an awful lot of very conservative Republicans in the House. But they don`t like this plan either because what the governor wants them to do is raise cigarette taxes and raise liquor taxes. Take away exemptions in the income tax for the home mortgage exemption on your federal tax. They don`t like his plan either. So what they`re going to have to do is realize that we cannot go to zero on income tax and sustain the services that we have and the losers are going to be children in the classroom, poor people, and in fact, he`s going to destroy the business climate of the state. HARRIS-PERRY: Joan, hold just one second, Bryce, I just to want get you in on this, because it does feel like it is kind of a demonstration project, then we`ve been talking about this morning around issues of inequality. COVERT: Absolutely. I think Kansas has been an experiment in trickled down economics. If you cut taxes, will your state grow, will the pot grow for everybody, and the evidence right now coming out of it is no, you`re going to have a huge budget hole, the jobs rate in that state has lagged behind the national average, and he`s now having to resort to things like cutting education to cut paper over that hole. So, you know, we`re looking at income inequality, always has to go back to tax rates because that`s been the biggest driver for income inequality. We can look at those experiment and say, maybe we need to look at the top and how people are taxed and think about rearranging those rates so that they`re a little bit more fair. HARRIS-PERRY: So, David, I mean this feels to me, again, kind of - this is the thing that we`ve been talking about. If poor children in Kansas don`t have the same, literally don`t have the same opportunity to rise up that ladder as say the Waltons, like it`s - this is the kind of thing that it seems to me strikes Americans as patently unfair. BOAZ: Yes, poor education for poor children is a very big problem in our country. What the governor said in the clip, and I`m no expert on it, but what the governor said in the clip was that he wanted to move money away from the school of bureaucracy and into the classroom. Considering that we have quadrupled education spending in the United States, and yet test scores have stayed flat for 40 years, that suggests that putting more money into the schools is not the answer. And that`s why libertarians have talked about giving poor kids options. Let them go to non-governmental schools to voucher a tax credit or something like that. And Governor Brownback seems to be only talking about rearranging money in the public schools. I don`t think that`s a sufficient answer to the problem of poor schools for poor kids. HARRIS-PERRY: Joan, I`m going to give you 20 seconds to just finish us up here. Would you like to respond to that? WAGNON: Yeah, there are a number of ways to solve the problems, and getting vouchers for poor children, school choice we already sort of have that in the ability of people to move from one district to another. As long as they don`t upset a racial ballots. So, that alone is not going to solve it, but what`s wrong is the money does go to the classroom. It`s, it`s not truthful that it doesn`t go to the classroom. It does. HARRIS-PERRY: Joan Wagnon in Kansas City, Missouri, thank you so much for joining us. And, of course, we are reminded when we start talking about Kansas and education, that, of course, it was Brown v Board of Topeka, Kansas. That questions of fairness is right there at the center of our nation. Robert Traynham is going to be back in the next hour. Thank you to Bryce Covert, also to Hector Guzman and to David Boaz. Up next, more on America`s children and why some parents are now paying more for child care than for their mortgage. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: So, if you haven`t had to foot the bill for child care lately, you might not realize - the sense of it is. In 31 states, you`ll pay more to send an infant to fulltime day care than to send a student to the public college. That can be a big burden on many families, or particularly on low income families who are likely to spend 30 percent of their income on child care. So during Tuesday`s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out some initiatives to help parents. Here`s how he introduced the topic. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority. So this country provided universal child care. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Wait a minute, can we hear that again? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: During World War II when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority. So this country provided universal child care. So this country provided universal child care. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: You know what, universal child care, in this country? Well, sort of. The Lanham Act of 1940 established facilities in 635 communities across the country that cared for kids while their fathers were at war and their mothers were at work. The centers were placed in towns that could prove they were contributing to the war effort. And for no more than 75 cents a day, about 10 bucks in today`s dollars, children received meals and early education. The last center closed in 1946. Universal child care was actually much closer to becoming a reality in 1971 when Congress passed the comprehensive Child Development Act, it laid the foundation for a network of child care centers open to families of all income levels on a fighting scale. Congress even managed to authorize money for the program, but when it landed on President Nixon`s desk, he vetoed it. That leaves us where we are today with a system that my first guest calls a no-win situation. Ellen Bravo is the executive director of Family Values at work. Also at the table, stay at home dad and blogger for the Brown Gothamite website, Christopher Persley, and Madeleine Villanueva, who is a family child care small business specialist from the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families. Ellen, why exactly is child care a no-win situation in our family - in our country? ELLEN BRAVO, EXEC. DIR., FAMILY VALUES AT WORK: Think of it like this, parents can`t afford to pay what they`re paying, including middle class families, certainly not low income families, and child care providers often live in poverty, and there`s a high turnover which is bad for everybody. There`s no way that they can pay more or they can earn less. And so, we can`t fix it unless we add a third leg to the stool. And that`s public subsidies. Think about public education, it wasn`t always public, it wasn`t always free, and it wasn`t always available to everyone. HARRIS-PERRY: And it may becoming none of those things again. BRAVO: Yes. But it changed over time, and the length of time changed, and we need to change it now again. We need to lower it, start at age three, and then we need a system, and guess what, we know what it looks like. Because another branch of government does it, the military. Right now today, they know how to do quality, they know how to do sliding scale. They invest in training, they have good pay for the people who provide it. They have a coordinated link system referral. We could do that. It`s not about money, it`s about politics. HARRIS-PERRY: So, Ellen, this is such an interesting point that you lay out for us. It`s one that I want to dig into here. So how can it be that it is so expensive for parents to pay for child care, but that child care providers, in fact, makes a little less than teachers who we already know don`t make enough. Often sometimes poverty level wages. MADELEINE VILLANUEVA, FAMILY CHILD CARE SMALL BUSINESS SPECIALIST: Yes, in New York it is estimated to make about $24,000 a year. The high cost is normally associated with the private care sector as opposed to the publicly subsidized family child care providers. But the cost is high in many cases just because of a lot of the regulation and the cost of renting the space. They have to do background checks, fingerprinting for all of their staff. There`s a lot of administration related to it as well in terms of assessing the children, all of that. HARRIS-PERRY: And these are protections we want, right? These are the protections that both child care providers as well as obviously parents undoubtedly want. When you talk to the folks that you are working with who are providers, would they welcome something like what the president was suggesting on Tuesday night? VILLANUEVA: Well, right now it`s not certain how those moneys will be allotted, definitely it would be helpful to have money going towards professional development, because some of the regulation does require a lot of the providers, nonetheless, they don`t have the support in order to comply with the rules or regulations. Some of them do need to understand how you perform an assessment since they`re behaving more like child development specialists when their backgrounds really haven`t sort of been in that. They`re not trained to do that. So providing them the assistance in order to comply with all these regulations would definitely be very useful. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to go to the parental side for a second, I have a baby about to turn one, and obviously this issue of a no-win situation can also feel that way when there are two parents who are also both working, and then you look at the cost of child care, and if one of the parent`s income doesn`t meet or exceed it, you start feeling like, well, maybe, maybe we just shouldn`t even be trying to earn an income in this circumstance. CHRISTOPHER PERSLEY, STAY AT HOME DAD: That`s exactly where we were. We did, I wanted to be home, so that`s when the conversation began. And we started to look at the finances and we uncovered that it just didn`t make a lot of sense for both of us to work if one of us wanted to be home and we were possibly going to put ourselves in debt to do so. If both of us continued to work. So, I do feel blessed to have the opportunity to be home with my daughter and have that experience, but, it`s not just a great thing for me, it`s also a financial consideration for us. HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I want to talk a little bit more about this, Ellen, and talk then about whether or not what we ought to be doing is subsidizing child care, subsidizing households who have young children. Like what are the multiple ways we could be thinking about reducing this cost? More when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Those time we stop treating child care as a side issue. Or as a women`s issue and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: High quality child care openly benefits not just individuals or families, the entire nation. That`s the argument that President Obama has been making this week. So Ellen, in the break we were talking about, OK, so child care, centers are one way to think about it, but there`s other proposals out there, talk to me about that. BRAVO: Well, let`s talk about infant care, the best providers of infant care are parents. Right now one out of ten pregnant women go back to work before four weeks. Was pointing this out. And one out of four before eight. How do you find infant care at three weeks or five weeks? How about dads who go back after a few days? They may not be sore or lactating, but they are not sleeping. And they also want to bond with those kids. So, what if we had a system when we called it paid leave, which the president talked about. He talked about paid leave, and he talked about paid sick days because kids need their parents then too. Because they`re all connected. And they`re connected also to the economy. If we let parents do what they do in Iceland, three, three, three, three months for the mom, three months for the dad or the same-sex partner and three months they share. It`s going to move to five, five, two. And guess what happens. Most of the men take the leave after a year and a half, the couple, 70 percent of them are sharing childcare. We have a system where instead we push people into financial crisis. And that hurts the economy. You ask small business people, people who don`t come buy their shoes or go out to dinner - their roof fixed because they are in poverty, because they had a baby. Bad for kids, bad for families, bad for the economy, paid leave will help fix it. And so will paid sick days for sick kids. HARRIS-PERRY: So, this strikes me as so important, that it`s the other piece of it that on the one hand, we may want to push universal child care down so we`re starting to think of three years old rather than five years old as the time when kids enter into collective spaces and we share that burden as a nation. And there`s lots of good economic benefits for that investment, but on the other hand, the idea of going back to work when you have the four week old makes me want to cry because they`re so tiny and you`re still doing so much work of bonding, so is there like when you think about as a stay at home parent, what are the policies that you would need to make it really possible for you, and for others who might want to make the choice that you make to be able to stay home? PERSLEY: I think it definitely should be something for, and there should be an option for both parents and encourage both parents to take the time, very similar to the format that you were just discussing. There`s such a, a stigma attached to men and dads staying at home and I think we need to really move past that. I think there are a lot of fathers who have so much to offer who are just so committed to bringing home that money and doing that and doing this and kind of forgetting about the opportunities of staying home and building that really wonderful report (ph). So, I think first and foremost, it needs to start there that that encouragement for both parents to stay at home. Much in the way that the president mentioned. It really is a job for both parents. HARRIS-PERRY: And when you talk about stigma, because that seems to me to also be true for the professional men and women, most, mostly women who are doing the work of infant to five-year-old child care. We think of kindergarten teachers as teachers and high school principals as educators, but despite the fact that we know how important those early years are, we often don`t think of the women who are providing child care for 18 month olds and two-year-olds as professionals who should be paid and supported the way professionals should be. VILLANUEVA: And I`m glad you bring that up because I think it`s important to start breaking the myth that this is babysitting. It`s not babysitting, and yes, they do offer custodial care, in that respect, they`re cared keepers, but they`re also, you know, nutritionists, they have to cook the food, they have to make sure it`s healthy in order to comply with the food program. They also have to have an emergency plan, so their emergency management personnel, whether it`s in shelter or in the evacuation plan, they also need to know CPR and first aid. They have to maintain a clean place. So, they need to know hygiene and sanitation standards, they also need to be as we mentioned earlier, child development specialists in certain respects. So, they`re wearing all these hats, they also need to be social workers, they are mandated reporters, by the way, and then they manage the operation. So they`re, you know, operations person, and then the business owners, and the entrepreneurs at the same time. HARRIS-PERRY: And therefore probably ought to make more than minimum wage. I just think about Deidre who is the primary childcare provider for my daughter - my older daughter and Hillary who provides childcare for our baby now, and how critical they are to the work of raising those kids. Thank you to Ellen Bravo and to Christopher Persley, also to Madeleine Villanueva. Coming up next, revolt in the Republican ranks over key conservative issue and the hot mess that is the National Football League. There is more "Nerdland" at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Something gotten extraordinary happened in Congress this week. A group of Republican lawmakers stopped their colleagues from voting against reproductive rights. House Republicans had planned to vote Thursday on a bill to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of presentation. That was the plan. And we all knew it was coming, we were waiting for it. Part of the reason we know it was coming is because the timing was not random. Never let it be said that House Republicans lack for dramatic flair. They had time to vote for Thursday, the 42nd anniversary over Roe v. Wade and the date of the annual March for Life, anti-abortion rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C. But at the last minute, leaders pulled the bill from consideration. They just bailed. Let`s be clear by Washington standards, this is embarrassing stuff when everyone knows you`re going to do something, and then at the last minute, you have to not do it because you realize, uh-oh, we don`t have the votes for this. When you have to take your tale and run, well, it`s kind of weak. And it was all thanks to a revolt led by Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers. Now, you may remember Representative Ellmers from this moment in 2013 questioning the nation`s top policy official about Obamacare`s insurance requirements. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Single male, age 32 does not need maternity coverage. To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, ladies, time has expired. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-huh. That was an oldie, but goody. OK, she`s not exactly the most progressive woman in Congress, but for Ellmers and other, 20 week abortion ban went too far, one important way. The bill`s exception for rape would only count if the rape was reported to law enforcement. Ellmers may have foreseen critics saying that requirement boiled down to determining whether a rape was legitimate. And so, she told her colleagues to consider the optics, especially how the bill would look to younger voters that Republicans are desperate to get in 2016. She said, quote, "We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again. We need to be smart about how we are moving forward. The first vote we take or the second or fifth vote shouldn`t be on an issue where we know that millennials, social issues just aren`t as important to them." Ellmers and another Republican woman pulled their names from the bill`s list of co-sponsors this week and the House leaders decided to cancel the vote rather than pass an abortion bill opposed by some of their own party`s women. But Thursday, it was still the March for Life in Washington, still the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that abortions are constitutionally protected and Republicans were determined to pass some kind of an abortion restriction. So, for the third time, the House passed a bill that would expand the ban on federal funding for abortions. Congresswoman Ellmers did vote for that one, so did nearly every other Republican man and woman. Here at the table, former Bush-Cheney advisor and MSNBC contributor Robert Traynham, MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon, and executive director for the National Latino Institute for Reproductive Health, Jessica Gonzalez Rojas. So, nice to have everybody here. Robert, are the Republicans embarrassed about needing to pull this? Is this about elections mattering and women being -- I`m just wondering about the internal Republican politics here. TRAYNHAM: Well, a couple things, first and foremost, I think it`s great that Republican women are speaking up and thinking about this, and, obviously first and foremost as a woman, but also thinking about the optics of this. We also should keep in mind that Congresswoman Ellmers comes from North Carolina, which is a deep conservative state, in many ways -- HARRIS-PERRY: Excuse me. TRAYNHAM: In many ways. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a purple, purple, state. TRAYNHAM: President Obama won in 2008, but he lost it in 2012. HARRIS-PERRY: Purple, purple. TRAYNHAM: So, I`ll just say, OK, purple. HARRIS-PERRY: OK. TRAYNHAM: But regardless, it is a state that is definitely progressive in many, many ways. My point simply is, is that members of Congress are getting up to speed about the optics of this and the policy ramifications of what they do as it relates to the political lens. Before it was always about, you know, this was the right thing to do and the politics doesn`t matter. Well, the politics do matter here, and I think the congresswoman and other members of Congress are saying we need to think about this in a way that not only speaks a language to a new generation of voters, but also do we really need to be talking about this when we when we need to talk about the economy and so forth? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s also interesting question -- I mean, to hear, to hear the congresswoman talking like a cable news exec trying to figure out how to get millennials, right, all obsessed with these days, how to get the millennials to pay attention to us, is this indicative that the potentially abortion has moved, maybe to the land of marriage equality as no longer a wedge issue to be utilized by the parties? IRIN CARMON, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: I feel like I`m taking crazy pills this week. There is so much about this conversation that has been left out, including the fact that Ellmers and many of the other female colleagues that raised concerns about this voted for the exact same language requiring rape victims to report to the police before they qualify under the exception, including the fact that the dream for the anti-choice movement is to have no rape expectations because they don`t think they should exist. They think, and it`s internally consistent. If you believe it`s a leg, you shouldn`t have a rape expectation. HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. CARMON: The worst nightmare this week for the Republican Party is that now everybody is talking about women and they wanted to be talking about fetuses. And so, you know, it`s great actually to see that Republican women rising up. But I think we also shouldn`t lose sight of the fact that even if this provision is taking out, it`s still an incredibly restrictive ban on people who are often in very straightened circumstances and even if the reporting requirement is taken out, it`s still unconstitutional, it`s still affects people who are in, facing really difficult choices in their lives. And it wouldn`t be some kind of feminist victory, even if the small provision was taken out. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting in part because the focus on the 20-week ban is one that is, that hits to the heart of something that is maybe somewhat different than a kind of general pro-life, pro-choice narrative that we hear. So, help us to understand, 20 weeks, the folks who are generally, typically, seeking termination at 20 weeks, what is happening that leaves people that late in their pregnancy to seek -- JESSICA GONZALEZ-ROJAS, NATIONAL LATINO INSTITUTE FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: I think the challenge here is that, women have so many circumstances, and it`s hard, we don`t to want create a scenario where there`s good abortions and bad abortions. We have to be compassionate about all the circumstances that women face. And the scenario`s really interesting, and what`s happened in Congress was not a victory, right? It was taking a bad bill, already really bad, harmful bill and making it worse, because HR-7, what they ended up pushing attacks low income women. So -- HARRIS-PERRY: How so? Explain that. GONZALEZ-ROJAS: So, HR-7, what it is that it`s taking the Hyde Amendment, which is a writer to the federal appropriations bill, it has to be considered by Congress every year, and it makes it, takes it, it puts it on steroids, it expands it, then codifies it. So, I`m working and a lot of my colleagues are working with millennials, with young people, with women of color, with communities of color across the country to lift the bans that deny abortion coverage. So, to see this codified would really -- it`s just heartless, target those struggling to make ends meet and completely out of touch of the lives of women. HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I`m going interview the lawyer who says that he is prepared to go to court to defend the fetus. This guy is fascinating, I`m looking forward to this conversation. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, imagine you`re a young woman living in Alabama, not yet 18 years old and you`re pregnant. You decide to terminate the pregnancy. Your parents refuse to give you the permission required by law, or you cannot for whatever reason ask them for permission. You`re only legal option is to ask your local court to waive the parental consent requirement. You must claim, and the judge must agree that you are, quote, "sufficiently mature and well enough informed to intelligently decide whether to have an abortion." The court must provide an attorney, if you want one. The judge can also, if she or he wants to provide another lawyer -- one to represent the interest of the presentation itself, the embryo or fetus inside the woman`s uterus. Fetus lawyers, this is not a dystopian fiction. This is a reality under a new Alabama law that sets aside state funding to pay attorneys to represent embryos or in the words of Alabama`s legal code, the interest of the unborn child of the petitioner. Now, an in Alabama, a minor seeking an abortion can essentially be put on trial, the fetuses lawyer can cross examine the minor, they can call witnesses against her, they can drag out the proceedings by asking for more time to gather evidence, and the local prosecutor can do the same. If the minor goes through all that and is granted permission to get an abortion, it`s not necessarily over. The embryo`s lawyer or the local prosecutor or the minor`s parents can appeal. Just how does an attorney represent the interests of an embryo or unborn child? Our next guest has been that attorney and can explain. Joining me from Montgomery, Alabama, is Julian McPhillips, a civil rights attorney and a former Democratic Senate candidate. I am so looking forward to this conversation because I am so interested that you are a civil right`s lawyer, you do a lot of work around people who you see as the underdog. So, talk to me about how you see this kind of representational work. What is it that you`re doing in this case? JULIAN MCPHILLIPS, ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, the greatest underdog in life is a baby sitting in a mother`s womb with a mother trying to decide what to do. I emphasize the words "in life" because there`s a great life inside the womb, and my influence both scientifically and theologically in this view that I have. In fact, at five months pregnant, I mean, five weeks pregnant, there`s great brain waves and great heartbeat and baby, I believe wants to live. Where Genesis 1:27 were made an image of God. And so I`m honored to be able to stand up for it, speak out for unborn children, and to their pregnant mothers in distress. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry, I was going to say, I appreciate and value and in an American context, absolutely believe in the full right you have to have a set of faith believes that would impact the decisions that you make. But I guess what I`m concerned about is the idea that, for example, an attorney working within a state court would be using biblical language as evidence of a life. I mean, that`s not -- every one agrees that Genesis constitutes an evidentiary basis. MCPHILLIPS: Well, famous ACLU attorney Nat Hentholf (ph) of New York, whose Jewish and also proclaimed agnostic, was very pro-life because he said the scientific evidence is so overwhelming that he cannot ignore it. And I look at it from plain light, scientific evidence is incredibly overwhelming, and this is not just a women`s issue, it`s a men`s issue too because half the baby`s born are male, and, of course, it takes a father to be able to make a mother pregnant. So, there`s a lot at stake. HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask this then, in this -- in a case of a young woman, are you cross examining her -- like I guess, the other question is, so if you`re a young woman and trying to make this decision, why should I have to answer to you or to a court before I can make a decision about my own health, my own body? MCPHILLIPS: Well, let me say first of all, I was appointed in 1998 in the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the guardian of life (ph) for an unborn child is done sensitively with great expedition as far as everything is done. It was all done in about four weeks from the time that the woman was maybe three months pregnant when she came in, that we had only one other witness other than her herself, and that was a doctor who came in and showed figurines and told what life was at stake at that age and stage. It was done with great sensitivity. It progressed very quickly up to the Alabama Supreme Court where they upheld the right of the 17-year-old to have her abortion, without her mother`s, parent`s knowledge of consent. And there`s so much at stake because, you know, not only can the child be maimed for life by botched abortion physically and mentally. But in addition, her parents could be saddled with bills that could go on and on and on. So, there`s a great deal at stake. HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me just, I want to ask one final question though, is -- are you at all distressed, in the ways that I am about the idea that there is a separate interest between an individual and something that is happening in her body that cannot, at that moment, exist outside of her body? So, the idea for example that I would need a court`s permission for, for cancer treatment or the court`s permission for, for a surgery that would remove my hand, like if it`s my body, I guess, I can`t understand why the state would have to give me permission. MCPHILLIPS: Well, you wouldn`t have to because I presume you`re well over 17, but someone 17 or younger -- HARRIS-PERRY: A child, yes. MCPHILLIPS: Especially 16, 15, 14, having an abortion or having a baby could have great consequences, and at their age and stage, they can`t into a contract legally into any state anyway. And the rules and some procedures in Alabama and in most states allow for the guardian to protect the property interest of an unborn child. And we reason that if the property interest of an unborn child can be protected, why not the life of (INAUDIBLE). Without a life, you can`t have property, and as a due process in both life and property. So, you know, there`s great interest at stake, and it`s done with great sensitivity and should be. And in my opinion will always be that. And so, it may be the forefront of a cutting edge of something, but more and more - - I mean, we recognize the law of the land in the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I would say this -- I want to raise the consciousness of people out there that there`s much at stake, great life itself. The only problem with pro-choice is absolutely no choice for the one life that`s really at stake. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Julian McPhillips in Montgomery, Alabama -- I appreciate your willingness to come on the show and to give us your point of view and, I also really appreciate some of the civil rights work you`re doing around police officers. MCPHILLIPS: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Great deal of appreciation for that. Up next -- MCPHILLIPS: God bless you. Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, the brazen efforts to block a clinic. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The big battle for reproductive rights in New Orleans is being waged over one clinic and it hasn`t been built yet. Planned Parenthood has been fighting to build a new $4 million clinic that will offer abortion services, along with a range of other health care, like cancer screenings and STD testing. It has faced just about every obstacle imaginable, making us question just how legal or at least how available abortion really is in New Orleans, Louisiana. A new story for details some of those obstacles, including a particularly troubling incident, in which anti-abortion activists interrupted services and at a Unitarian Universalism Church, because the church has celebrated the clinic`s ground breaking. Protesters went so far as to hold up graphic pictures of bloody fetuses against the windows of the church day care, which was full of small children. Joining my panel is the author of that piece, Jill Filipovic, who`s senior political writer for I just want to put out there, that is the church that I attended in New Orleans. My kid was, you know, once a young person who may have even been in that room, although clearly wasn`t when this happened. So, talk to me about what kind of resistance this clinic has been experiencing. JILL FILIPOVIC, SR. POLITICAL WRITER, COSMOPOLITAN.COM: Sure, so this clinic has really gotten pushback from every level in New Orleans. You know, a lot of the folks on the ground and live in New Orleans are very supportive of it. They realize that Louisiana has a whole slew of health care challenges and they want this clinic built. But you`ve seen a lot of folks, especially from the outside, so organized anti-abortion groups as well as the Catholic Church. The Catholic archdiocese wrote a letter basically saying anyone who works on this clinic, any construction worker, contractor, vendor, will be blacklisted from future church projects if they help build this Planned Parenthood. You`ve also seen the Louisiana state legislature pass a whole series of restrictions on abortion access that a lot of pro-choicers in Louisiana are saying, really give cover to the kind of antiabortion actions that are happening on the ground in New Orleans. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and it feels to me like this is, this is the other side of the trap stories we`ve been reporting on Trap Laws far couple of years now, you have to have facilities that look like this and do this. And so, in this case here, they`re going to build a facility that would do all of those things, and they can`t get it built because of this resistance. GONZALEZ-ROJAS: Yes, and what happens that makes roe not a reality for an outer reach for the communities that need it, we work a lot in a place like Texas that, you know, has done a lot of work on. We`re seeing more and more laws in place to essentially eradicate the clinics in the state. It makes it harder for women, if a woman is able to get the money, transportation, take time off of work, get the child care to drive to the next state or drive miles and miles to the next clinic, for the women we work with, immigrant women have to pass on immigration check point. So, these kind of barriers that exist, these regulations in place is the agenda is to chip away at the right to reproductive care in this country. CARMON: Strategically it`s so interesting because both the guests that we had in the previous block and missed and underlined the fact that the anti- abortion movement in 42 years has not been able to talk women out of needing abortions. It has not done anything about the demand for abortions, the choices that people are making in their individual lives. What is incredibly effective in ending abortion is ending access to safe abortion. Making it really, really hard to open a clinic to go to a clinic, to afford an abortion just like HR7, and that takes the choice out of the woman`s hands and makes it an absolute impossibility, at least a safe and legal one. HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting when you use that language of safe. Jill, I`d be interested in whether or not when you were doing reporting there if people are talking about this, we heard from the attorney this language about botched abortions which are extremely unlikely in circumstances of a medical abortion that, you know, surgical abortion that occurs for the vast majority of people in the, you know, first trimester. But when we do start making access harder, it does become more possible. FILIPOVIC: Absolutely. And I think you`re seeing that in Texas. I also did some reporting from the Rio Grande Valley and talked to women who said my friend had an illegal termination. It`s very scary to think about that happening throughout the United States. You know, Louisiana was voted by the American life league as the number one pro-life state in the country. Louisiana also -- HARRIS-PERRY: More than Mississippi? FILIPOVIC: More than Mississippi. And it`s held that since 2012. Given it`s sort of long list of anti-abortion laws, that`s probably accurate. You also look then at the fact that Louisiana has the highest rates of teen pregnancy, highest rates of STDs. They have a 58 percent unattended pregnancy rate. So, you have these groups talking about pro-life, but they`re really not doing much to help women or to help children in a state that has astronomical, you know, poor health outcomes, high maternal mortality and infant mortality. So, I think really interrogating what that term pro-life means, does it actually mean supporting the health of women, children, and families, or does it just mean really attacking abortion rights and making abortion and women less safe? And that`s what you`re seeing on the ground in Louisiana. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. To me, that is part of the difficulty for me, Robert, I actually understand why people can have very differing opinions on this and have a position of belief and faith-based opposition. But what I do find consistently surprising is the extent to which that becomes, not for all, but for some and for some of the most vocal, the only thing they`re talking about relative to women`s health and children`s health. TRAYNHAM: The frustrating thing for me, I`m obviously not a female, so, I`m clearly a minority here, I don`t know -- and I said this during the commercial break -- how many pro-life women are part of this conversation to find some type of conversation, to try to find some type of common ground. I would ask both of you as reporters how many pro-life women did you speak to in Texas and Louisiana and so forth that influence your reporting? I mean -- HARRIS-PERRY: Irin hangs out with them. She rides around with them in the scary vans and stuff. TRAYNHAM: We`re talking about this over the commercial break, what we saw in Washington, D.C. a couple of days ago, I think there`s tens of thousands of women, pro-life women that were marching for life. And so, the question becomes -- and also point this out, in Texas, in Louisiana, in Mississippi and so-forth, these are elected officials making policy. Those elected officials stood before their constituency and I said I believe this is what I believe, and they were voted in. So therefore, this is not just people in these -- HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, but, granted, granted, but I would say -- I would say you want to be careful with the voted in on people`s rights because I`m just saying. I think we all know where many rights might be if they were on the ballot. Thank you, too, Robert Traynham and Irin Carmon, to Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, and to Jill Filipovic. And, by the way, if you want to know more and read Jill`s reporting about these efforts to block the Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans, go to, that`s right, Cosmo. Her story is online right now and very much worth the read. We also want to update you now on the mix of snow and rain impacting a huge swath of the country this morning. Winter storm warnings are in effect from Eastern Tennessee to New England. Up to eight inches of snow have fallen in parts of New York, parts of New England could get up to half a foot. And another storm system is right behind this one, and could bring even more snow to the same areas. MSNBC`s Chris Pollone is in Andover, Massachusetts. Chris, what`s the latest? POLLONE: Yes, Melissa, the snow continues to fall here in Andover, about 25 miles north of Boston. But as opposed to last hour when we spoke be you, now the snow flakes are really small indicating that the air aloft is starting to get a little bit colder, but it is still snowing heavily here. Crews are still out treating the roads. Most of the cars that you see out today, people running errands. Most of them I`ve noticed are SUVs or small trucks. Interesting, not a lot of smaller cars on the road because some of the main roads are doing OK right now, but the side roads are completely snow-covered. Mass state police reported there have been at least two tractor-trailers which have jackknifed on the Mass Pike and I-495 which kind of circles Boston. So, traveling around here is slow. Logan airport is not too bad at this point. Only about 15 flight cancellations at this point. So, it hasn`t been too, too bad from an air standpoint, but this is a fast moving storm. Came in about 5:00, 6:00 in the morning, should be gone by 6:00, 7:00 tonight. But more snow on the way as you mentioned, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: And in the meantime, people should definitely stay inside, stay safe, and watch MSNBC. Chris Pollone, thanks for your report. Up next, kissing the ring of the king of Iowa. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Representative Steve King has been a Republican congressman from Iowa since 2003. And while there are many, and I mean many things that I could say to describe Congressman Steve King -- I`ll offer this, Steve King is not subtle. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he works on the immigration and border security subcommittee. So, do you want to know where Steve King stands on the issue? Well, let`s start with July 2006, when Iowa Congressman King brought a proposal to secure the southern border to the House floor. Now his plan involved the construction of concrete walls with barbed wire, but not just any barbed wire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that wouldn`t kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around of it. We do that with livestock all the time. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: You see what he did right there, right that whole we do it with livestock, so we can do it to people thing. Then, during an interview with Newsmax in July 2013, the Iowa congressman had this to say about young undocumented immigrants in America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KING: For everyone whose a valedictorian, there`s another hundred out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they`ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so during a paying event in Iowa last year, DREAMer activist Erika Andiola decided to confront Representative King about his cantaloupe comment and his position on President Obama`s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and the conversation quickly took a turn. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KING: Stop a minute. Stop a minute. You`re very good at English. You know what I`m saying. ERIKA ANDIOLA, DREAMER ACTIVIST: I was raised in the United States. Of course, I can speak English. KING: Right. So, you can understand the English language. So, don`t act like you don`t, you know. ANDIOLA: I`m not acting like I don`t. KING: No, you are. ANDIOLA: I`m just trying to figure out where you`re coming from. KING: Because you`re saying something that`s not true. ANDIOLA: OK, what is that? KING: As I said, I spoke of drug smugglers. Now, you`re not going to tell me you`re one of them, are you? ANDIOLA: Do I look like a drug smuggler to you? (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that happened. And then there are his tweets like the one the Iowa congressman sent on Tuesday, commenting on one of the Obama State of the Union guests. A college student who benefitted from DACA, the congressman tweeted, "#Obama perverts prosecutorial discretion by inviting a deportable to sit in place of honor at #SOTU with first lady. I should sit with Alito." Given his propensity for questionable commentary, you might think Steve King would be the potential presidential candidate we try to avoid. Well, you might think, hey, this is probably a guy who I shouldn`t be seen with, he calls guests of the president "deportable", he insults young women to their face, he compares people to livestock, maybe just maybe if I`m a Republican who wants to be my party`s nominee for the president, this is a guy I should avoid at a public event, right? No. This morning, Congressman King, along with Citizens United, is hosting an Iowa Freedom Summit. And among those expected to be there, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and business executive Carly Fiorina. Also expected to be in attendance today, DREAMer activists continuing to protest King`s stance on immigration. Joining me now from Des Moines, Iowa, MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt. Kasie, how`s it going? You`ve been hanging with King this morning? KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Melissa. Yes, Steve King spoke earlier this morning, he`s clearly relishing his sort of moment in the sun here at the beginning of this 2016 Republican`s Iowa caucuses. They`re still a year away, but this really is in many ways the starting gun, and in his speech, King said that he thinks that the person who ultimately is going to become the Republican nominee is here today. So, of course, as you listed, you have all of these conservative candidates who have decided to show up. You also have New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who`s possibly one of the main people from the establishment wing who`s here. We`re missing Mitt Romney, we`re missing Jeb Bush, we`re missing also Rand Paul, a potentially key player here in Iowa. But, look, as you said, this is something where, you know, Republicans potentially have this as a pitfall for them when it comes to the general election. And Iowa is a place where in the past Republicans have ended up getting themselves into trouble. Iowa is where Romney made those remarks about vetoing the DREAM Act that ultimately came back to haunt him and his campaign said, afterwards, hey, this is an issue. So we`re going to have to see how, you know, ultimately being associated with King plays out over the next, over the coming months. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, this is the central problem, right, for I guess for Democrats and Republicans in the sense that the primary constituency, the folks you`ve got to talk to are going to be further to one side than the folks you need for a general election. Have Republicans been thinking sort of in that longer term general election sense or do you see them at this point still thinking in the short game, Iowa, primaries, win in that nomination? HUNT: Well, look, you obviously have to win the nomination to win the presidency. That`s the tactic Mitt Romney took when he ran here in 2012 the way he did. I think you`re seeing an interesting counterpart from Jeb Bush who has been sort of running against that if anything, he gave a speech out in San Francisco that struck some more moderate notes and essentially said you know what, we have to run a different kind of campaign than we run in the past. So, ultimately, we`ll see which one wins, while you have always a lot of noise from the conservative activists on the one side, traditionally, the party`s actually nominated the establishment favorite. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, thank you to MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt in Des Moines, Iowa. Have a good time out there. And up next, the hot mess that is America`s most popular sport. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: This week, one of the nation`s favorite spectators sport turned into a spectacle, all because of the football itself. NFL announced Friday that it`s executive vice president Jeff Pash and the lawyer Ted Wells are leading the investigation into the footballs the New England Patriots used during last week`s AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. So far, the league says evidence suggests under-inflated footballs were used in the first half of the game, but not in the second half. From the moment Colts linebacker D`Qwell Jackson intercepted one of quarterback Tom Brady`s passes in the second quarter, the Patriots footballs were called into question. According to Newsday, Jackson gave the ball to a member of the Colt`s equipment staff who noticed the balls seemed under-inflated. And thus began ballgazi. NFL regulations stipulate the game football must maintain air pressure between 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch. According to ESPN, the league found that 11 of the Pats` 12-game footballs were under-inflated by two pounds per square inch. NFL rules also require footballs to remain unaltered after officials have checked and approved them before the game. Anyone who breaks these rules could face a fine of up to $25,000 and other disciplinary action. So, the question remains, how did this happen? The first person the media turned to for an answer was Patriots` coach Bill Belichick whose been an NFL coach for 40 seasons and has 222 victories on board as a head coach. But during Thursday`s press conference, he told reporters he was shocked to hear about the situation on Monday morning, and he doesn`t know what happened. And maybe Tom Brady might. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL BELICHICK, PATRIOTS HEAD COACH: Tom`s personal preferences on his footballs are something that he can talk about in much better detail and maybe information than I could possibly, possibly provide. I could tell you that in my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That is not a subject that I have ever brought up. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, the coach does not talk. Repeat -- does not talk to Tom Brady about his preferences for his footballs. But after what seemed like a plot to the key player, all eyes turned to Brady who had his own press conference later that day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: I didn`t, you know, have any, you know, I didn`t alter the ball in any many. I like them the way I like them, 12.5, to me that`s a perfect grip for the football. I have no knowledge of anything, I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing of any -- REPORTER: Are you comfortable that nobody did anything wrong? BRADY: Yes, I`m very comfortable saying that. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Tom Brady has no knowledge of anything, but with the Super Bowl now just eight days away, all eyes are on the NFL`s investigation. And in the statement released yesterday, the league said, "The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and was fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective is being pursued expeditiously." Joining me now is Mike Pesca, host of "Slate`s" "The Gist". OK, what`s more likely to negatively impact NFL viewership? Harboring men who brutally beat their wives and girlfriends or deflated footballs? MIKE PESCA, HOST, SLATE`S "THE GIST": Oh, deflated footballs will increase viewership because it`s a controversy to take our minds off things that really matter. But I don`t even think that`s what`s going on there. There are some people who say the NFL loves this controversy. I don`t really think they do, but it is, of course, silly, silly controversy. Not that this wasn`t some rule-breaking, I would think of it in the sport of hockey, players sometimes curve their sticks too much. It gives them an advantage, and there is a penalty for that. It is a two-minute penalty. It is literally called a minor penalty. And that`s pretty much what`s going on here, except you have the Super Bowl, all people want is a TV show, everyone knows who Tom Brady is. And for a story, to be a great story, it has to have certain element like characters you recognize, an emotional component, and this that has all. And plus, we get to say balls back and forth. HARRIS-PERRY: Balls, balls, funny balls jokes. But, look, let me ask you, if it doesn`t having in else, because it may be a minor penalty, one of the things I think that Americans kind of get out of sports is to believe this is, OK, this is the one place where wherever the other ugliness is, patently racist mascots, you know, domestic violence, head injuries. But when you show up on the field, it is just pure even ground, gladiators going at it the, we`re watching real competition, and if even a small thing is off, then you`re like oh well now, now it`s the whole thing is gone. PESCA: Now, society might be corrupt, yes. Very comfortable to have that myth. And I think that this, in all seriousness, I think that, I started thinking about the Ray Rice case and I think it raises a question which is, what do we want out of football? What do we want out of sports? We want competition entertainment, but it`s clear that a good percentage of us want virtue. And sports are incapable of delivering that. Maybe the NFL singularly so. But if we look for it as something other than rules, which are generally adhered to and play between the lines which goes to meritocracy, not who your dad was, then sports are great respite. But if we look for all that is righteous and all that is true, we get to this over sanctimonious point that we have now about the deflationary sciences. HARRIS-PERRY: What`s worse, deflating your footballs or my team, my poor beloved team the Saints, our defense, you know, bounty? PESCA: Yes, except that, it`s all tied up because there`s a big Roger Goodell criticism in all of them. I think Roger Goodell over-punished the Saints without sufficient cause, especially the head coach and other defensive coordinator probably did overstep the lines. But the same thing, Goodell sees his job as being the arbiter of righteousness as opposed to the commissioner of the NFL, the guys who generally get his rules straight. Because he said I will be the man who enforces righteousness, we get the wording and phrasing there, which if there was a font called handwritten (ph), it would have been written in the hand written font. And really, I don`t understand why the NFL except for the position they put themselves in can`t come out and say, we`re going to look at this, but you really do need to know, this isn`t the biggest deal in the world. Someone could give a little perspective, although, it is leading literally leading the nightly newscasts on Thursday, in a way that Aaron Rogers murderer was not mentioned in the newscast. So, maybe they do like the attention. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Stay with me, there`s one more little thing I want to ask you about when we get back. But, first, I do want to note the passing of a baseball legend, Ernie Banks, a Hall of Fame shortstop known as Mr. Cub. He died last night at the age of 83. Now, Banks was the first African American player for the Chicago Cubs, eight in the majors overall. And Banks was named National League MVP in 1952 and 1959. He received the Presidential Medal of freedom in 2013. And this morning President Obama and the first lady released a statement that says in part, quote, "Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, and his team is behind him, and Mr. Class -- "Mr. Cub" -- is ready to play, too." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRADY: I don`t believe so. I mean, I feel like I always played within the rules and would never do anything to break the rule. I believe in fair play and respect the league and everything that they are doing to try and create a very competitive playing field for all the NFL teams. It`s a very competitive league. You know, every team is trying to do the best they can to win every week. I believe in fair play. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addressing the media on Thursday and answering the specific question, is Tom Brady a cheater? We are back with Mike Pesca with more on the ever evolving football story that has everybody sitting on edge in a funny way. And important, you know, we spent a lot of time over the past weeks reporting on head injuries, but when I talk to parents who are still off to making the choice for their son to participate, they say, well, yes, I know it`s a real possibility, but football does something else, sportsmanship, team you know, self -- sort of depriving yourself for the good of the team and all of that. PESCA: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: And I wonder if part of the scandal like this, kind of ginned this up, if that`s not true, really, what are we doing here? PESCA: Right. So, that`s definitely true, but I believe in those arguments, by the way. It`s not that sportsmanship can`t be gotten somewhere else, and my son plays on the chess team and they learn great sportsmanship there. He`s 7. If in three years, he wants to play football, maybe four or five, I`d let him and I`d supervise it. And, of course, you know, 10 years ago we knew nothing about head injuries. And now, we are entering an era where we can deal with them better, maybe the kids will be safer, I do question the NFL`s assurances that their heads up tackling program will handle that. But, you`re right, there`s a mythology about football, but it`s not -- as in most mythologies, there are a more than a kernel of truth. Football is a great sport. It`s a physical sport. Do people say, hey, just play soccer or baseball, you know, for a certain kind of kid, perhaps a large lumbering child who wants to be physical, you could be a lineman. You know, most positions don`t rely on speed or hand-eye coordination, like the other sports. So, I know so many people who say that of all the sports they played. Football shaped them, but then again, some people say it was the chess club. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Well, I think you ought to do chess and football. I am into chess. PESCA: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Mike Pesca. And you should not cheat at either one or under inflate -- PESCA: Yes, an under-flated ruff (ph) is terrible. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s a hot mess. PESCA: Yes, you got PSI. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Jeremy Scahill is going to be here for his take on the blockbuster movie, "American Sniper." But right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT". And, in for Alex today is Ayman Mohyeldin. Nice to see you, Ayman. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END