House Republicans formally move to purge Rep. Liz Cheney. As soon as it became clear the Democrats were going to manage this improbable victory of a White House and the Senate in January, all eyes turn to Justice Stephen Breyer. A survey conducted just last month found nearly 17 million adults, eight percent of all adults in the country reported their household sometimes or often didn`t have enough to eat in the last seven days. President Joe Biden announced a plan to fund expanded childcare and education programs by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The ruthless, destructive nihilistic tendencies we`re now seeing unfold display and the Republican Party have been there for a very long time.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Lawrence we`ll also be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Moderna vaccine developer Kizzmekia Corbett. I`m so jealous. He will answer questions from the audience.
Watch Vaccinating America, an MSNBC Townhall with my pal Lawrence. It`s a Wednesday -- it`s Wednesday night 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. That`s all for us tonight. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Right now, it`s basically the Titanic. We`re like, you know, in this -- in the middle of this slow sea.
HAYES: The top Republican in the House is officially telling his party to cancel the number three House Republican for the unforgivable sin of advancing the truth.
Tonight, Kevin McCarthy`s letter calling for the purge of Liz Cheney, new reporting on the origin story of the big election lie, and Jane Mayer on the original dirty trickster who normalized Trump.
Then, the fierce urgency of now for the Biden agenda. Why Republicans are closer to controlling Congress than you think.
And are we all good with Jeff Bezos buying a half billion dollar yacht while Amazon pays little or no taxes? I`ll ask Senator Elizabeth Warren when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Republicans are officially canceling their number three person in House leadership, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, for the simple and irredeemable fan of just telling the basic truth about what happened to the 2020 election and who is responsible for inciting a violent insurrection against the peaceful transfer of power.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the announcement this afternoon writing to his caucus Republican should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair, Liz Cheney, this Wednesday. McCarthy went on to attempt to justify expelling Cheney because she will not endorse the big lie. "Unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate. All members are elected to represent their constituents as they see fit. But our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted by the important work we were elected to do and the shared goals we hope to achieve."
He sure sounds like they`re canceling her over thought crime, doesn`t it? Now that comes a day after McCarthy publicly endorsed the Congresswoman who wants Liz Cheney`s job.
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REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We need a conference that united, that`s why we need a conference chair that is delivering that message day in and day out and uniting the nation to make sure that we are on the right footing going forward.
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Do you support Elise Stefanik for that job?
MCCARTHY: Yes, I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, there you go, over the music. Only a few Republicans are willing to acknowledge the reality that is plainly playing out before us. For instance, Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
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KINZINGER: I think what the reality is, as a party, we have to have an internal look and a full accounting as to what led to January 6th. I mean right now, it`s basically the Titanic. Were like, you know, in this -- in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it`s fine. And meanwhile, as I`ve said, you know, Donald Trump is running around trying to find women`s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is all part of the Republican Party`s broader push since losing the election last year, both the presidency and then losing the Senate and that Georgia run off just one day before January 6th. Their big focus has been to gather control and strength by rallying the base around that one- term president who lost the election and incite a riot in the Capitol for which he was impeached for the second time for the first time in American history.
And so, they just need to kind of remove any awkward reminders of this atrocious reality, anything standing in their way like, in this case, Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Because if they have full control, full unity, in even just say, one house of Congress, think about this, they would not even have to win the presidential race necessarily.
I mean, think about what they tried out on January 6, even after that attack where a majority of Republicans voted not to seek the electors in the House. A full control of the House could mean a Republican House under say, Kevin McCarthy stewardship, could just vote to not see the electors in 2025 and, you know, overturn the will of the people.
They`ve gone to work, the Republican Party, at every level of government assaulting the mechanics of American democracy. It`s been happening in all sorts of ways across the country like in Arizona which we`ve been actively monitoring where Republicans are still actively trying to change the results of the last election. The baseless recount of 2.1 million votes continues in the most populous, urbanized county Maricopa County.
Today, the audit is entering its third week as a literal carnival takes place outside called crazy times carnival. At the current pace, the hand recount which was supposed to be completed this week will not be finished until August. But they`re going to be kicked out well before then. Later this month, the workers will have to suspend work and move their entire operation at the storage or elsewhere in the building to make way for a spate of high school graduation ceremonies long scheduled to take place the week of May 17th.
All this is going so poorly even former proponents of the recount are now jumping ship. A Republican state senator from Phoenix telling the times, it makes us look like idiots. Looking back, I didn`t think it would be this ridiculous. It`s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.
These kinds of anti-democratic impulses are long standing in right-wing politics. And they`ve been more or less energized at different points in time throughout the country`s history. Donald Trump`s push since last year`s election has taken them to a new level. But even the roots of Trump`s big lie go further back.
It`s a fascinating new Washington Post report that reveals that key elements of the baseless claim the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump took shape in an airplane hangar in Texas two years before the election. Just after the 2019 -- 2018 midterms, a Republican businessman named Russell Ramsland and his associates delivered alarming presentations on electronic voting to procession of conservative lawmakers, activist, donors attempting to persuade failed Republican candidates to challenge their election results in forced the release of additional data that might prove manipulation.
Ramsland and is associates brief people like Congressman Pete Sessions and even Louie Gohmert of Texas, but they had no takers, no candidate agreed to bring a challenge. The idea of widespread vote manipulation remained on the political fringe until 2020. And Ramsland`s assertions were seized upon by influential allies of Trump.
Jon Swain is one of the reporters of The Washington Post who broke that fascinating story and Michelle Goldberg is an opinion columnist at the New York Times, and they both join me now. Jon, I thought this was such a really interesting and important piece of reporting for a bunch of reasons. But first, just give us like, how did you follow this thread, this sort of some of the -- all the same themes we`ve seen and the same wild paranoid intimations we`ve seen, you know, post 2020, appearing all the way back in 2018.
JON SWAINE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s right. So, Russell Ramsland is a wealthy businessman in Dallas, Texas. Back in 2018, after the midterms in that year, he and his associates became convinced that election voting machines were being hacked, that votes were being rigged, that votes were mainly being sent overseas and tampered with in other countries.
And he was briefing people like Sidney Powell, who they later, you know, after the election was advising Donald Trump and Louie Gohmert, one of Donald Trump`s closest allies in Congress. And really, those ideas made their way to Trump himself. And as we saw into the wider Republican community after the election.
HAYES: Michelle, what`s illustrated here to me which is so important is just, you know, you can pick an analog, a contagion or fire, right, that you can have it there and it doesn`t get out. A fire doesn`t like, you know, turn to a brush fire than a forest fire or contagion maybe just infects a few people. But if you have someone like Trump as this vector, right, that is the thing. That`s the -- that`s what changes the entire scope of what we`re seeing.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, OPINION COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, one of the psychic taxes that Trump exacted on the citizenry when he was president is that, just to keep up with current events, you have to be constantly diving down all kinds of conspiracy theory rabbit holes, just to understand what he was talking about.
And I think this shows that he`s gone, but those conspiracy theories are still animating Republican politics at the state level and the national level. I mean, it`s become this kind of stab in the back legend that there was this conspiracy against Donald Trump. He was legitimately deprived of the president and that and that alone is the governing ideology of the Republican Party. And it means that it`s very hard for me to undo.
Imagine if Republicans take the House, which they`re very likely to do not because they`re likely to get a lot more votes, but because they`re likely to be able to redistrict themselves and dabbing more seats. If Republicans take the House, it`s really hard for me to imagine them agreeing to seat Democratic electors, especially if you have Republican officials at the state level, since they`re purging the honorable ones who tried to uphold democratic norms in the last election if they sent alternate Republican slate of electors.
I mean, I think people are exhausted from years and years of constant crisis and anxiety. But we are heading towards something extraordinarily dangerous in a few years because of the total breakdown of commitment to democracy in this party.
HAYES: Yes, Jon, can you talk a little bit about why this -- what the difference was and how these theories that couldn`t find a buyer even among people that I think are considered at the far right of the caucus like Louie Gohmert, you know, what changed?
SWAINE: I think what changed we saw in 2016, even then, even after Donald Trump won, he became obsessed with this notion that, you know, illegal voters had voted and -- you know, to explain his popular vote loss. But really what changed was this obsession with voting machines and obsession with the -- with the notion that votes were somehow being sent overseas.
We heard about Venezuela. You know, that was an idea that Russ Ramsland was pushing in the months and the years before the election, this notion that election -- voting machines software in the U.S. all originates in Venezuela. It`s not true. There is one company whose founders are Venezuelan, but they only serve Los Angeles County, all the other voting machine, companies told us, they have nothing to do with that company.
And, you know, that conspiracy theory really, of foreign interference of shadowy people interfering with electronic machines that can`t really be trusted because people don`t submit everything into a box. That really took hold and Ramsland was a big part of pushing that.
HAYES: Michelle, you know, you and I have covered politics for several decades. And you know, there were periods of time when these kinds of conspiracy theories did circulate among the political left. I remember, particularly in the wake of George W. Bush`s victory in 2004. And it really -- I mean, these impulses towards conspiratorial thinking, no one -- no one side of any political spectrum has a kind of monopoly on them. And they appear throughout history and across the world in all sorts of different contexts.
But the difference really does matter in how parties patrol this how leadership pass, and how the media acts about these things. And we`ve seen it just complete breakdown to me on the right on this core question.
GOLDBERG: Right. I mean, they were quarantined within the left, you know, and you certainly would never have -- you know, you certainly sort of never saw policy being influenced by them. And I also think that, you know, a difference is that you never had on the left a sort of explicit commitment to minority rule, right? They would sort of say, we believe that we must have won these elections, not it doesn`t matter because the other side`s votes are in and of themselves are illegitimate.
But, you know, the story of the last few years has been what was once, you know, the kind of fringes of the Republican Party, the sort of descendants of the John Birch Society, has become the whole of the Republican Party. And meanwhile, when those impulses arise on the left, you know, you`ve had people like Cynthia McKinney over the years, they`re very quickly shut down because it`s a party that is very aware and conscious and worried about appealing to the mainstream of American society.
HAYES: Well, that`s the asymmetry here. I think that`s notable, Jon. I mean, there`s two things that come out in your story, right? It`s like, one is that people don`t necessarily buy these, I think, pretty -- I`ll just editorialize -- batty briefings. But two, there`s a reputational cost they don`t want to incur. Like, they don`t want to be the person that is the one challenging their election with some nutty theory.
And then, Trump comes and he`s like, fine to incur that reputational cost because he doesn`t see it as a reputational cost.
SWAINE: Well, that`s right. We saw that Russ Ramsland and his associates, they tried to push these theories to a state senate candidate, Republican who lost, then a congressional -- Congressman Pete Sessions who lost. And really, they looked at this, and like most experts, came away and just didn`t see that there was any evidence there for what these people were saying.
You know, Russ Ramsland and his team, they`re obsessed with these audit logs from voting machines which experts tell us, you know, the error messages you see on these logs, they`re very run of the mill things that don`t suggest anything untoward. And I think, as you say, you know, even Republican candidates in Texas took a look at this and just thought the evidence isn`t there. But surprisingly, it took the President of the United States getting involved to really push theories widespread.
HAYES: Yes. Now, we have one of two major political coalitions in the entire country that`s going to essentially punish a member of leadership over deviation from this nonsense. Jon Swain and Michelle Goldberg, thank you so much.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
HAYES: Do you remember what used to be the height of wealth and luxury? God, that show was so good. It was every millionaire and billionaire`s dream back in the 80`s to own a boat big enough to fit your helicopter and your Datsun. But that`s the old Yachtness. The new Yachtness is custom built triple mastered 400 feet long with its own support yacht just to have somewhere to land the helicopter.
That`s what Jeff Bezos is apparently spending more than half a billion dollars on which is about three times more than his company paid in federal taxes just last year. Senator Elizabeth Warren has some thoughts on them ahead.
HAYES: As soon as it became clear the Democrats were going to manage this improbable victory of a White House and the Senate in January, all eyes turn to Justice Stephen Breyer. He is 82 years old and he is the oldest liberal justice on the Supreme Court.
At the time, Democrats were fresh off the experience, of course, of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was 87 years old when she died at the end of last summer, just two months before the election. Ginsburg was quickly replaced by Amy Coney Barrett who`s 49 years old and who will probably serve on the Supreme Court for decades.
There is now a renewed concern among many on the left that of Justice Breyer does not retire while Democrats have control of the Senate, they could lose their narrow window to replace him. Writing in a perspective piece in The Washington Post over the weekend, the Dean of U.C. Berkeley School of Law said that if Briar doesn`t want to risk having a seat go to someone with an opposing judicial philosophy, which just happened too late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and if he wants to give President Biden the best opportunity to choose a successor who shares his values, Breyer should step down as soon as possible.
Right now, Democrats` grip on power, we should note, is pretty darn tenuous. I mean, it`s a 50-50. Senate split. Anything is possible. One worry here is the longer Justice Breyer waits to retire, the stronger the possibility that Democrats hold on power could be interrupted by any number of things on any given day.
As the New York Times puts it, in the narrowly divided Congress, the Democrats` plans hinge on the good health of some of the Senate`s oldest members.
Dahlia Lithwick is a senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate. This past December, she actually sat down and interviewed Justice Breyer for Slate. And Irin Carmon who`s a senior correspondent for New York Magazine, she wrote a book about Justice Ginsburg titled Notorious RBG: Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And they both join me now.
Dahlia since you interviewed the justice in December, which is after November but before the Senate was officially taken by the Democrats, I want to just read this, I thought, interesting exchange between the two of you were your kind of I think very deftly and gingerly asking around this question.
So, you say, I know you`ve talked a little bit about term limits for justices and being willing to entertain the idea. And I`m wondering if a little bit of what`s animating your willingness to at least consider it is a way to break the gridlock or this this notion justices are just sitting around too long, and they`re too old to do their jobs? And I asked that with all due respect, of course.
Breyer, well, I can`t answer this question because it`s too close to something that is politically controversial. I mean, eventually I`ll retire. Sure, I will. It`s hard to know exactly when. What did you make of that exchange?
DAHLIA LITHWICK IS A SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: I mean, in some sense, Chris, it`s so emblematic of Justice Breyer. He is not unaware of the fact that he`s almost 83. He is not unaware that it`s a 50- 50 Senate and something could happen to Pat Leahy, and this could all end tomorrow. He worked for the Senate, so he knows all this.
And I think what he`s saying is, and he`s been saying this, by the way, for a very long time, please don`t make me look like a partisan hack. The more you make me look like a partisan hack, the more I`m going to push back.
And I think that I took that exchange to be kind of a version of he knows all this stuff but please don`t make him say it because that will make it harder for him to step down.
HAYES: Yes, it`s interesting -- it`s interesting that right. The idea that like, you`re doing this explicitly in the sort of partisan way. I wonder how much with the late Justice Ginsburg that was at play, Irin. I mean, there was a sort of similar situation. Obviously, back in 2013, everyone did the same actuarial math. She was a cancer survivor at that point. I think she was even summoned to the White House and talked with President Obama, a kind of like, where are we out on this? How do you think that -- what are the lessons there of that -- of that episode?
IRIN CARMON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT FOR NEW YORK MAGAZINE: You know, some people thought that Justice Ginsburg didn`t want to retire because she didn`t want the court to appear partisan. I don`t think that that`s true, because Justice Ginsburg often said things like, I think Hillary Clinton is going to win. And she said things like Democrats are bad at the midterms that they will win the presidency.
So, she actually didn`t have -- even though she likes to sort of say that the court was above politics, she often did actually acknowledge the reality that everybody else but elite lawyers know, which is that the court is deeply political. It is, of course -- you know, justices are confirmed through the mechanisms of politics. They are -- there are strategy with respect to politics.
I think that the reason that Justice Ginsburg didn`t retire is the same reason that she became who she was, and got to the Supreme Court, which is that she was incredibly stubborn. She did not listen to anyone else`s ideas of what she should do. And she didn`t feel like her work was done.
Now, Justice Breyer, obviously can look over at her example. They were good friends. He understands the politics of this to the extent that the appearances matter here for the rest of us on this planet. That sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, let`s just live in the real world here.
But for an 80-something year old, elite jurist, these are the kinds of arguments that might make them dig in their heels more to say, you know, I`m shocked to find gambling here is the posture of Supreme Court justices. So, occasionally, they would acknowledge what we all know to be the case.
And I guess -- I guess, ultimately, it`s the job of some people to push them. And I think that regardless of how hard you push, they`re going to do whatever they want. And I know that that sounds fatalistic and frustrating, but that is genuinely what I believe.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, I think that`s probably true. I tend -- I think I`ve come around to this belief on this, that there`s a strong psychological core to this, which is that like, you know, it`s the one truth about life on this planet, which is that it will end. We don`t like to spend a lot of time thinking about that. And obviously, that is what looms over these things.
Like, it is an acknowledgment in a deep and profound sense of one`s own mortality, and it`s why senators who are 80-plus run for reelection, which God, I hope --
CARMON: (INAUDIBLE) understand is the most are the Dianne Feinstein`s of the world. I mean, of course, Dianne Feinstein was deeply sympathetic to Breyer because she`s exactly the same position where she wants to keep on going forever despite being, what is she, 88. So, when you hear senators say, we don`t want to push them too hard, they`re also talking about themselves.
CARMON: They also are the ones who don`t want to give up the gerontocracy. And you know, we can wish it would be different but this is the dynamic in play. This is the world we live in.
LITHWICK: No, I have two other psychological imperatives that I want to throw into the mix. One is nobody believes more than Justice Breyer that the court is above politics. And you can say that`s not, but going up to him and saying, do you think the court is in fact a really partisan political body and you want to contribute to that? He`s written books about the fact over and over again and says we`re not junior varsity politicians, we transcend that.
So, to me, it`s like asking the Easter Bunny if he believes in the Easter Bunny. His whole career is dedicated to this proposition. The other thing and I think this is important, and I think it goes to the Ginsberg point, she really believed that if people cared, they should get out and vote around the court. They should organize around the court.
And my sense is, rather than kind of pressuring Justice Breyer to do the thing that is going to make him -- Noah Feldman wrote a really good piece saying, the more you push him, the more he dig in. Maybe do a better job organizing around all the other things you can do to reform the courts that nobody`s talking about.
CARMON: You know, I do want to push a little bit on that because when Justice Ginsberg died, contributions to the Senate flooded in. You know, Democratic voters did understand the capturing the Senate was what would give them leverage over the Supreme Court after having lost Justice Ginsburg`s seat, right?
So, out of that heartbreak, there was a lot of political mobilization in a map that was very much skewed against them. So, what can they do beyond, you know, gaining the Senate? I think ultimately, yes, OK, maybe he would like to say don`t force me off. But ultimately, what else can be done between now and whenever Senate control may or may not shift?
HAYES: Yes, I think -- I think there`s a gap and I think it`s just, you know, it`s an almost unbridgeable one between how the institution considers itself and all the other players in American constitutional governance consider it rightly. And so, I don`t -- I don`t know like how you get hooked -- how you get over that, but this sort of idea of like, oh, we`re the Supreme Court, it`s like, right, well, you know this -- and you cannot square that circle if you view that way, and then say, hey, this is an existential crisis for all the things you care about. It`s time to motivate, motivate, motivate, so we will see.
If you`re watching, Justice Breyer, and you feel pressured, stay as long as you want. We`ll be here for a while. Dahlia Lithwick, Erin Carmon --
CARMON: Take a deep breath.
HAYES: Thank you both for taking time tonight. Come coming up, super yachts for the super-rich. The half a billion dollars Jeff Bezos is apparently spending on a boat next.
HAYES: We are right now as I speak to you here in the U.S. in the midst of turning the corner on the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to these vaccines and the mass vaccination effort.
And despite that, a huge part of the country is still suffering the effects, not just from the disease but the economic devastation it brought with it.
A survey conducted just last month found nearly 17 million adults, eight percent of all adults in the country reported their household sometimes or often didn`t have enough to eat in the last seven days.
By contrast, just 3.4 percent of adults reported their household had not enough to eat at some point over the full 12 months of 2019.
Things are still really bad for a lot of people in this country (INAUDIBLE) which makes it especially jarring when you remember that the wealthiest people in America have not just weathered the crisis, they have really thrived.
One analysis found that between March 18th, 2020 and March 18th, 2021, the wealth held by the world`s billionaires jumped from $8.4 trillion to $12.4 trillion. That`s 50 percent increase in wealth through the worst months of pandemic in this country.
And look at Jeff Bezos, right? Founder and CEO of Amazon, the richest man in the world. In the weeks before the pandemic began, Jeff Bezos had amassed an estimated $130 billion. A little more than a year later, he is worth around $186 billion. He`s worth nearly $60 billion more now than he was before COVID.
And for context, Charles Koch is the 14th richest man in the world, not bad. He`s worth an estimated $64 billion.
It is right now a very good time to be billionaire. They have so much money, it`s almost impossible to make sense of it, right?
I mean, again, the math here is obvious. But just take a second to remember what we`re dealing with here because orders of magnitude are hard. If you make $50,000 a year, it would take 20 years to make a total of a million dollars. It would make take 20,000 years to get you a billion dollars, right? A billion dollars is so much money. Jeff Bezos is worth nearly $200 billion.
At some point, the question becomes like, what on earth do you do with all that money? What do you do? It`s impossible, utterly impossible. Well, spend it too much.
So, one of the most expensive things you can buy in the world, probably the single most expensive thing you could buy is a yacht.
And you`ll never guess what, yacht sales are absolutely crushing it right now. The markets been roaring since Sam Tucker head of superyacht research at London-based VesselsValue.
The number of transactions in recent quarters was record breaking, the second-hand market is absolutely red hot.
If anything, demand for extravagantly high-end yachts has outstripped supply. It`s impossible to get a slot in a new build yard, Tucker said. They`re totally booked.
Tell me about it. Not surprisingly, Jeff Bezos, the world`s richest man is now going to build a superyacht of his own.
Now, the world of superyachts is as you might imagine, very secretive, but it is estimated that this new superyacht is going to be 417 feet long. And the cost more than half a billion with a B dollars just to build.
The thing is that is about two-tenths of a percent of his total wealth or about $130 is to someone making $50,000.
Now, we don`t know exactly what Bezos` yacht will look like. But this is a yacht owned by a Russian oligarch. It`s about the same length. It`s got giant masts. Masts like Bezos is expected to have.
But of course, you know, no ship is perfect, right? You`ve heard it a million times. As Bloomberg reports, one thing Bezos a ship won`t have because of its enormous sails, is a helipad. So, Bezos and his partner Lauren Sanchez, a helicopter pilot, have commissioned a support yacht. Yes, a support yacht, like a support dog, but yachtier with a helipad.
I mean, when the sails are too big, you can`t land your helicopter, you have to get a support yacht, because how do you get your superyacht without your helicopter?
So, this yacht is going to have a junior yacht, a little yacht. I mean, not little but littler. And that yacht will have helipad and that little buddy yacht will go with the bigger yacht everywhere it goes so that Bezos can fly his helicopter onto the helipad of a little buddy yacht, and then go from the buddy yacht onto the bigger yacht, are you following?
This is the way the world is right now in the second Gilded Age. The amount of capital accumulation at the very, very top is incomprehensible, probably unrivaled in global history.
And there are other people on that level. It`s not just Jeff Bezos, there are bunch of them. Nine of the 10 richest people in the world live here in the United States. U.S. still has more billionaires than any other country with 724, up from 614 last year.
We added more than 100 billionaires in a year when most of the country was experiencing the worst economic downturn in a century.
There`s an argument that some kind of intervention is necessary here. One idea is that if all that wealth is just sitting there, tax the wealth. One of the most sort of radical, compelling, polarizing ideas introduced the American political discourse over the last few years.
The woman who first introduced it, Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to join me next.
HAYES: Last month, President Joe Biden announced a plan to fund expanded childcare and education programs by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who made nearly $32 million just last year express concern about how that money from the wealthy would be spent and suggested lawmakers create and share an itemized list the ways extra dollars from a tax hike would fund the government`s infrastructure plans.
When Senator Elizabeth Warren ran for president, a key part of her campaign was a wealth tax on the richest Americans. While her presidential dream was not realized, her wealth tax still is around.
Senator Warren has a new book out titled Persist, it is about her presidential run and how her own life experiences impacted her belief and the need for political transformation.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts joins me now.
What do you think about the sort of general politics of tax hikes on the wealthy now compared to say a year ago or two years ago?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): How about just before Jeff Bezos announced his new yacht? Because I looked at it like this, the Republicans are saying we can`t raise the minimum wage. We can`t fund childcare for all the mothers who need to go back to work. We can`t cancel any student loan debt. And we can`t put a wealth tax on the richest Americans.
Look, this is a fight I am ready to have. And I just feel like just today, Jeff Bezos has given us a new round of ammunition in this fight, we need to jump in and go.
HAYES: You know, there`s two ways to look at this. And I think I`ve asked you this before, but I think it`s germane here as well, right?
When you talk about the wealth tax, you`re talking about capital gains tax increases, right? So, there`s -- one question is, where do you get money for government spending? Where do you find the money in the ledger?
And the other is, is there sort of a reason in and of itself, from the perspective of capital accumulation in terms of making sure you don`t have concentrated vast fortunes for this kind of approach to taxation that`s even independent of what it can pay for?
WARREN: I think the answer to that is yes and yes. But we need the money, because we need to put it into investment.
But this fundamental question about wealth in America, we talk about income inequality, and you`ll see the reports on how much the CEOs are making this year while so many American families are suffering and it is staggering. There`s a huge difference in income between the top and the bottom.
But the differences in wealth, it doesn`t look like this, I have to drill a hole in the ceiling to be able to describe the difference. And the key to this is it`s no longer about what you can earn, what you have to get out and do.
Once we start talking about wealth, it takes on its own -- it has its own wealth managers, it has its own -- its own people who make sure that it`s invested properly, and that it`s getting all the tax breaks that it can. It has its own lobbyists.
Shoot, it even has its own P.R. folks out there, so that it grows on its own. What the wealth tax is about that I`ve proposed, $0.02 on every dollar above $50 million, a little bit more once you hit a billion dollars.
Here`s the thing, those fortunes would still grow, they just wouldn`t grow quite as fast. And in return for that, universal childcare, universal pre- k, money into K-12, college without kids having to take on a penny of debt, canceling a big chunk of student loan debt, investments in infrastructure. There is so much that we could do with that money to create opportunity, not just for those born into wealth, but create opportunity for everyone else.
HAYES: You know, in both the book and on the campaign trail, you talked about caring for your daughter and being in a position of being in school and working. And it`s been part of I think sort of the policy vision you`ve articulated and reflected in some of the stuff that Biden has proposed to create a kind of care infrastructure for parents, for children.
There`s been some interesting attacks on the right that this is essentially a form of social engineering or that it`s some kind of elitist project to foist some way of raising kids on to the good working class middle Americans who don`t actually have any interest in it.
And as someone who is not exactly, you know, raised in a hippie commune, I`m curious to your response to that.
WARREN: You know, I think the attack is, frankly, just bizarre. The way I see this, we`ve been investing in infrastructure for decades. And mostly, our male legislators have said, we know what infrastructure is, its roads and its bridges so that people can get to work. 21st century, we`re starting finally to say it`s also communications, we need to make sure there`s broadband everywhere.
But I`ll tell you what women have been saying for a very long time, if you want mamas to be able to go to work, mamas of little children, then we`ve got to make childcare available.
Second part to that is we also need to be making the investments in our children. And that`s childcare and early childhood education because they are linked together.
We need to give our children opportunities from the time they`re really little to expand their vocabularies to be around other people. Parents don`t have to put their children into childcare but they should have that opportunity. It`s something that a lot of rich folks do.
And the third part, we`ve talked about equality. Understand it this way, if we are truly committed to equality among genders, then we will make sure that every parent has access to affordable, available, high quality childcare.
If we are committed to equality among races, we will make sure that the people who are childcare workers get the same kind of investment in their jobs as we invest in the construction jobs for roads and bridges.
It`s a win, win, win all around when we make these investments in childcare. We can track the data, these are -- these are babies who do better as children and do better as adults when they have a chance to get high quality care early on.
You know, this is just something we should have started doing a long time ago. Other countries did, and we haven`t.
So, what I talk about in Persist is why from a personal point of view we need to do it but also, we need to do this for our whole country.
HAYES: Senator Elizabeth Warren, the new book is titled Persist. It is available now wherever you purchase your books. Thank you so much, Senator.
WARREN: Thank you.
HAYES: Up next, how the seeds of the modern Republican Party were planted decades ago. Jane Mayer has her hands on Lee Atwater`s secret papers. She joins me next.
HAYES: The ruthless, destructive nihilistic tendencies we`re now seeing unfold display and the Republican Party have been there for a very long time.
And even if they`ve reached their worst manifestations under Donald Trump, a lot of that foundation was laid by a merciless political operative named Lee Atwater. That`s him on the right posing for a picture with -- wait, who`s that? All right, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort back in 1989.
Atwater helped both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush win the White House. He had a well-deserved reputation for running racist campaigns. He died of brain cancer in 1991 at the height of his political career.
Recently, New Yorkers Jane Mayer got a hold of some never before seen papers written by Atwater himself. And you can see the tactics of the modern Republican Party mirrored in Atwater`s unpublished memoir.
For example, here`s what happened in the very first presidential campaign Atwater managed, getting a friend of his elected as student body president. The campaign took a darker turn when Atwater sidekicks stumped on the bare feet of a hippie like student until his feet bled profusely.
Afterward, the group threatened to do the same to younger students unless they voted for Atwater`s candidate. Atwater recalls that he privately were reveled in the tactics and was proud that he could participate in intimidating his fellow students.
Jane Mayer, staff writer for The New Yorker joins me now. I was so fascinated by this, Jane.
First, I guess, maybe -- I wonder if you could sort of explain the kind of singular importance of Atwater as a figure in Republican politics and particularly in Republican campaign strategy and tactics.
JANE MAYER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: I mean, he really was the most famous political operative of his day during the the Reagan years and then, Bush`s pre -- the first President Bush`s presidential campaign. He became the chairman of the Republican National Committee when he was just 37 years old.
I mean, he was really -- he rocketed to the top. He loved being a bad boy. All the reporters, I was one of them at time, we all knew him. And you know, he -- I mean, he really shaped the modern Republican Party in many ways, and his tactics did basically. And that`s what you can really see in these papers, is there`s a straight line that goes from the Lee Atwater in high school to the modern Republican Party under Trump.
HAYES: What -- how did you get these papers? What are these papers you`ve gotten your hands on?
MAYER: Well, so, Lee Atwater`s widow Sally died of a few weeks ago, and my phone rang and it was Lee Atwater` daughter who was a friend of a friend and she`s become a Democrat. And she invited me to come over and take a look at his papers.
And so, it was pretty late at night. But I thought, well, I mean, it sounded fascinating. And so, I drove over to the Atwater house and there were all of these boxes and cartons just exploding with manila envelopes and folders filled with his memorabilia.
And among the things that was most interesting was there was an unpublished memoir, it was unfinished, and it was just sort of hunks of dictated pages, there were seven chapters there, sort of stapled together, and some of them were paperclipped together.
And so, I started going through it just to take a look. And there were -- it was kind of amazing stuff. There were notes from all kinds of people from underground film stars and famous politicians and the notes from Al Sharpton and James Brown, and, you know, really an incredible collection of stuff.
But the memoir was really unfiltered Lee Atwater at the very end of his life dictating what he wanted to leave behind him. And I only learned today actually, that it was something that was so unfiltered, that his widow didn`t really want it out.
But I guess at least that`s what somebody from his office called and told me today. But at any rate, I got a chance to go through it and it was fascinating, as someone who covered that period as covered politics all these years since.
HAYES: When you say there`s a sort of continuity, so Atwater, you know, the Willie Horton ad I think is one of the things he`s most associated with, of course, in that -- in that `88 campaign against George H. W. Bush running against Michael Dukakis.
But more broadly, a way of channeling a certain kind of white fear, white backlash politics to sort of win over voters, to stir a certain kind of emotional intensity in particularly white voters and using that as sort of basis for Republican campaigning. What do you -- what do you see in sort of that continuity between him and Trump?
MAYER: I mean, basically, what`s interesting is what you see is that -- in Atwater, he was willing to do anything to win.
MAYER: I mean, he had -- he would -- whatever it took. I mean, and he revels in it. So, he talks -- he laughs about how he was lying and he made up his candidates` credentials, and they made up a fake poll, and everybody fell for it. And they made up a platform of total lies that they were going to deliver on that he knew they weren`t going to.
It was sort of a big dirty trick from the start. And I think what is interesting to question about the country is, how did we go from a period where dirty tricks like that were considered something that almost got a guy expelled from school and were considered a scandal during the Nixon era when they were dirty tricks to a point where in Trump, it -- they`ve been normalized?
I mean, this is just sort of how the game is played now. And I really see Atwater as a bridge there. He was the guy who made it OK.
And then -- and you see with Trump and particularly, no respect for the truth and no respect for running for office or for being in office.
At one point in this memoir, he just blurts out, he says, you know, I`m really proud of the fact that I know that running for office is B.S. He says it more clearly in the -- in the papers. And that being in office is even more B.S.
I mean, there was no respect for governing in this. This was just about getting power, basically, and doing whatever it took to get there.
HAYES: Yes, there`s a really depthless cynicism at play there. And I think Roger Stone too is a kind of bridge figure here. I mean, we have -- we showed that picture. I mean, Stone is notorious, (INAUDIBLE) tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, like everyone knows this one thing about Roger Stone, which is that, this -- he revels in this, and he was, you know, his mentor was Atwater.
And of course, he shows up next to Donald Trump. But of course, he ends up, you know, convicted by a jury of his peers and then, pardoned. Like, that`s not an accident when you talk about that continuity.
MAYER: Well, that`s true. I mean, there`s an interesting difference between Stone in some ways and Atwater. Atwater was from the South. I grew up in South Carolina.
And so, race -- playing the race card was really something he did. And that`s what everybody saw in that Willie Horton ad. And, I mean, and when Reagan`s campaign -- people may not remember this, when Reagan`s campaign kicked off in 1980, it kicked off in Mississippi, in Philadelphia, the town where three civil rights workers were notoriously murdered, and everyone saw that symbolism, and they knew it was a dog whistle to the white voters there.
And so, if so Atwater really -- and he was working for Reagan, he played racial politics much more in a way. Stone`s from the northeast. He plays sort of more about ethnic politics, you know, but they`re both polarizing people and doing whatever it takes and they become the dominant forces in the Republican Party.
HAYES: To this day as approach this leadership vote this week. Jane Mayer, as always, great reporting. Thank you so much for sharing it with us tonight. I`m glad you made that drive over there.
That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.