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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/15/21

Guests: Pete Aguilar, Evan McMullin, Celine Gounder, Robert Reich


Interview with California Congressman Pete Aguilar. Interview with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this week.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Ali Velshi, in for Rachel.

Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, my friend. You have yourself a great weekend, Chris.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night off, she will be back on Monday.

And let`s start tonight with an update on the health of the former President Bill Clinton who was hospitalized on Tuesday. Late tonight, a spokesman for the former president announced that Clinton will remain hospitalized in California over an eight, for you in tract infection that is spread to his bloodstream. His doctor said today that he`s on the mend, in good spirits, and that all of his health indicators are, quote, trending in the right direction.

Today, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, once again, visited her husband in the hospital. President Clinton also received a call from President Biden who says he looks forward to seeing President Clinton soon, and he wishes him a speedy recovery. We`re going to keep you updated on this story as it develops.

Right now, I want to turn to a meeting that was supposed to stay behind closed doors but ended up on the pages of the "Washington Post" today. Quote, in a private speech at the donor retreat for the National Republican Senatorial Committee yesterday, Donald Trump cast himself as the GOP`s savior, saying he had brought the party back from the brink of disaster and help Republicans hold seats on Capitol Hill.

According to a recording of the event obtained by "The Washington Post," Trump then railed against Republicans who had spoken negatively about him, naming Senators Mitt Romney, and Ben Sasse and urged the part stick together with Trump as the de facto leader. They cheat like hell and they stick together, Trump said of Democrats. The Republican Party has to stick together.

Now, by stick together, what Donald Trump means there is stick to him, with a strong sub text of or else. We`ve seen a dramatic escalation this week in the former president`s hold over the Republican Party establishment. Just ahead of pitching himself as the savior of the Republican Party at that donor meeting this week, the former president put out this statement, implying that in Republican politicians did not further Trump`s big lie and try to dig up fake election fraud on his behalf, the, quote, Republicans will not be voting in 2022 or 2024.

In other words, if Republicans do not get in line behind Donald Trump and do what he says, then Donald Trump will be forced to give his voters their marching orders to essentially sit out the next few elections and cost Republicans votes. Recently, the Republican fundraising arm for the House sent a message to its donors that was hard not to read as anything but an extension of that same threat. They sent the following note to donors who had yet to send money to further the Republican cause.

Quote: you`re a traitor, you abandoned Trump. This is your final chance to prove your loyalty or be branded a deserter.

A traitor for not making a donation to a political party. The editorial board over at the "Wall Street Journal" put a finer point on this escalation we have seen in the last week ago or so, regarding Donald Trump`s vice grip over the Republican Party. This is their headline, Donald Trump`s hostage politics. He says Republicans must agree that the 2020 election was stolen or he`ll aid the Democrats.

Last week when I was sitting here for Rachel, we talked to Fiona Hill, who was a top Russia adviser in the White House, and one of the leading voices on explaining how Donald Trump poses a threat to our democracy. She told us that the people who let out a sigh of relief when Trump left office, a relief that our democracy was finally safe, well, she said that that kind of relief was premature, and this is exactly the kind of thing she was warning us about, because as long as Donald Trump continues co-opting the Republican Party to push himself back into power, and as long as the Republican Party continues to go along with it, the threat to our democracy remains a clear and present danger.

And so, in a lot of ways, this is yet another do-or-die moment for Republican politicians and candidates who have to decide whether or not they want to support Donald Trump in furtherance of their own electoral ambitions or if they want to stand up for what is right instead. And on that point, we have an interesting case study that`s been unfolding in Virginia. Virginia is one of those states that elects its governors in an odd year. Virginia`s Democratic governor has been term limited out and the election is in November in just a few weeks.

The Democrat in the race is Terry McAuliffe, who has been governor of Virginia before. He`s run to go get his old job back. And the Republican is this guy, a former private equity executive, Glenn Youngkin. He has never held office before and he`s become the walking, talking, embodiment of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.


On the one hand, Youngkin has been eager, even enthusiastic to continually call for a so called audit of election results in Virginia, just like Donald Trump wants done in every state that he lost in 2020, and this casts legitimacy on the Biden presidency. And yet, look where Youngkin has decided to draw the line.

This week, Donald Trump inserted himself into the Virginia governor`s race. He called into a campaign rally for Glenn Youngkin that was hosted by this guy, Steve Bannon, we`ll have more about him later. Donald Trump offered a full throated endorsement of Glenn Youngkin, the Virginia Republican. At the event, attendees spoke about how President Biden stole the 2020 election, and they recited a pledge of allegiance to the flag that you`re looking at there, a flag that was flown at the insurrection on January 6th.

But the strangest thing about all of this was that Glenn Youngkin did not show up for the rally that was being thrown on his behalf. He actually came out and disavowed what happened at this rally that was thrown for him by Donald Trump`s fan base. He called it quote weird and wrong, end quote. To pledge allegiance to a flag that was flown at the insurrection.

The pickle that this Republican candidate for governor has found himself in this week is the perfect encapsulation of a very real problem that Republicans have right now. Disavow Trump and handicap your chances of winning an election ever again or embrace Trump, morals be dammed, Glenn Youngkin is trying to do some kind of weird pretzel like in between tight rope walk.

But it cannot be both. That`s the entire problem. As long as Donald Trump continues to be the anti-Democratic insurrectionist big lie pusher at the front and center of Republican politics, the party is destined to remain in this weird state of suspended animation.

The president`s ratcheting up of his hold over his party does feel like an escalation. It`s another shot across the bow of democracy by someone who still has ammo in his cannon. How much ammo does he have left? Is it enough to protect him against the real jeopardy he could be facing as a result of his actions that led to the insurrection on January 6th. This week the Biden administration formally rejected to stop documents from being turned over to the committee in Congress investigating the insurrection.

The Biden White House just cleared the way to get those documents handed over to congress. The chairman of the committee investigating the -- conducting the investigation, this man, Congressman Bennie Thompson, reiterated that Donald Trump himself could soon be facing a subpoena for documents as the committee continues its investigation.

And then there`s the matter of the people inside the president`s circle who have already been subpoenaed. The committee originally subpoenaed these four men, for both documents and testimony. They were supposed to deliver testimony to the committee this week, but those dates have since been postponed.

Steve Bannon, top right corner, remains steadfast that he will openly defy demands for records of any kind. And the committee remains steadfast in his position that will subject Steve Bannon to potential criminal charges if he continues to defy their demands. The committee is scheduled to meet this Tuesday evening to vote on whether or not to cite Steve Bannon for criminal contempt.

Just tonight, President Biden weighed in on this, he told reporters that he believes anyone defying the subpoena from the committee should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.


REPORTER: What`s your message to people who defy congressional subpoenas on the January 6th committee?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable.

REPORTER: Should they be prosecuted by the Justice Department?

BIDEN: I do, yes.


VELSHI: And so will they or won`t they? What should we expect from that committee vote on Tuesday night?

Joining us now is California Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar. He`s a member of the select committee investigating the events of the January 6th attack.

Congressman, always good to see you. Thank you for joining us this evening.

I think I`ve tried to set up where we are right now. I think what our viewers want to know is where do we go next? You`ve got a vote that is scheduled for Tuesday night to determine how to respond to the fact that Steve Bannon has said, no, you`re not getting documents, you`re not getting testimony, you`re not getting anything.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Yes, so that`s exactly where we`re at. We have a business committee of the select committee. It will be public, and we will address that issue, and we will likely advance a criminal referral to the House floor. From there, the house floor will act and we`re work on timing with the rules committee, but we do want to get it on the House floor soon.


And once it passes off of the House floor, and I`m confident that it will, then that starts the next series of motions and so the speaker will then certify that, and then it will be transferred to the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, where the federal law says the district, the U.S. attorney has a duty to put this in front of a grand jury at the federal level, and so that`s exactly the state of play.

Our goal here is to hold this individual accountable. We want to get to the truth. We want to understand the facts of what went into the planning and everything behind January 6th. And so, our goal is to be punitive. Our goal is to get testimony, but if someone isn`t going to give testimony, we`re going to use every tool available.

VELSHI: So for a lot of people who watched what happened on January 6th, including people like yourself who were in it, but for the rest of us who were watching it, there`s some feeling that this is obvious. We need to get to the bottom of it. We need to find out who`s behind it, and we need to move fast. The wheels of justice move slowly, when this gets handed over to the justice department, it moves slowly. A lot of our legal experts have said you don`t want to rush this, this is really, really important.

But the Trump administration and the Trump circle was known for trying to run out the clock. How do you deal with that? That seems to be what this tactic is. I think they know ultimately they`ll lose their attempts, but they`re trying to delay.

AGUILAR: Yeah, clearly, and this is a group that doesn`t respect the rule of law. They taught us that for many years, and they continue to exemplify that, so what we`re going to do, we`re going to be thoughtful. We`re going to be methodical, we`re going to have a plan, and so this is the next step in that investigative plan.

And like I said, the goal is to get testimony, the goal is to have a series of investigative discussions and there are a number of witnesses who are having conversations with us now voluntarily. We don`t use a subpoena lightly but we need to be able to use it in order to get to the facts.

We`re very aware of the tactics they could use, though, and we want to be thoughtful in how we proceed, and we have an investigative plan that will help do that.

VELSHI: Most people know those four names of the people you have so far subpoenaed for information and testimony. Jeffrey Clark was a name that was not known to most of us all those months ago. You have now issued a subpoena to him. He`s a former Department of Justice official who I think we can describe as sort of the mastermind behind a plot to try and overturn the election.

What do you expect to happen there with that subpoena? I`m not going to go as far as to ask you what you hope to hear from him. That again will play out however it does.

AGUILAR: Well, and the president -- President Biden, and the department of justice has waived the privilege and the discussion for those department of justice fishes and officials and so we have heard from other officials and the Senate put out a report discussing those conversations and it was a very good report, and we`re going to use that and build off of it. What we hope to get is the full picture of the pressure campaign that the former president utilized on his own Department of Justice and how they in turn then used it on other states.

And we think that it`s very clear that that`s exactly what happened, and that they tried to thwart democracy, they tried to foment lies and foment the big lie around the country in order to delay or stop the certification of the election, and we know how close we came to their efforts.

VELSHI: And we also know how hard many of the Capitol police officers worked and you encounter them every day. So I want your reaction to the news that a Capitol police officer has been arrested and charged with helping one of the rioters sort of counseling him to delete incriminating posts on social media?

AGUILAR: Well, we`re going to have to let the court system, you know, play out, but what I will say overwhelmingly, the Capitol Police officers that protected us that day and continue to protect us each and every day did a heroic effort. They were the last line of defense of democracy. And to those Capitol Police officers and those D.C. Metro Police officers who protected us, we continue to be thankful.

There may be circumstances like this one where there were individuals who were not behaving appropriately after the fact. And in fact, maybe aiding some of these insurrectionists, and so we`re going to let that court process play out. I support the chief`s decision to put this individual on administrative leave while they gather more evidence and details. But overwhelmingly, the Capitol police officers did an incredible job protecting us that day.

VELSHI: Congressman, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining us this evening.

California Congressman Pete Aguilar is a member of the House Select Committee on the January 6th attack.

In 2016, Evan McMullin, a former undercover CIA officer joined the presidential race as an independent candidate. In his home state of Utah, McMullin obtained more than 21 percent of the vote, again, running as an independent in a red state that had Donald Trump on the ticket. Evan McMullin is a conservative but in the 2016 election he chose to run openly against Trump, and he`s doing it again.

He announced last week that he`s running for the Senate in Utah to challenge a Trump ally, Republican Senator Mike Lee, in next year`s midterm elections. McMullin is not craving Donald Trump`s endorsement like Lee and others are, instead he`s running against that endorsement, against the kind of politics that Trump is pushing.

So how is McMullin going to do it? Who is even supporting him? Can he win? All of these are big ifs, as columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote for the "Washington Post," McMullin has an uphill climb but Republicans wanting to break free of the MAGA grip, as well as independents and Democrats should cheer the arrival of a viable center right candidate, end quote.

The question is, are Republicans ready for this? Are they craving this?

Let`s discuss this with Evan McMullin, an independent candidate running for the United States Senate in Utah.

Evan, it is good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.

EVAN MCMULLIN (I), UTAH SENATE CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Ali. Thanks for having me.

VELSHI: I`m curious, I think about you and your run, and the positions you have taken for a long time. You were ahead of a lot of Republicans that now don`t identify as Republicans or people that have come out against Donald Trump. You sort of put yourself out there and said, these are my policies, they are actually conservative policies but they`re not tied to Donald Trump and Trumpism and the grievance based campaign he ran.

And I wonder at what point people turn to people like you? There are others like you, there are mainstream Republicans and conservatives. What are you hearing that makes you think that you can succeed in a run against Mike Lee?

MCMULLIN: Well, look, I believe in my state. I believe in Utah and the people of Utah. Mike lee is under water here. He`s unpopular. He`s polling at about 45 percent job approval, and most of that is soft. Only a small contingent of Utahans are strongly in favor of Mike Lee and that kind of divisive politics that caters to extremism and doesn`t solve any problems for us or the country.

Unfortunately that will be enough to get him through the Republican primary, I think. But again, a majority of Utahans would like to make a change and that includes principled Republicans, of course, it includes Democrats and the vast majority of independents as well.

And so that`s why I`m running as an independent in this cycle because we`ve got to unite all of us who want to stand for our institutions, that protect liberty and justice for all in America. We`ve got to unite together and that`s true here in Utah, but it`s also true across the country. And so, we`re inviting everyone from disaffected Republicans to Democrats and independents, to come to and join us.

VELSHI: You are running as an independent candidate, is that because you are not identifying as a Republican or is that because the Republican Party won`t have you?

MCMULLIN: I`m running because this is the kind of leadership that the country needs and it allows me to offer the best of what Utah has to offer. You know, we have a way of leadership here that finds common ground to solve problems, even between people on both sides of the aisle who don`t want to compromise their principles and they don`t have to, but we still find common ground, and we solve problems, and we have a mystery of doing that, in the state.

I think that`s the kind of leadership we need in Washington. I`m not so sure there`s a space for people like me in the Republican Party right now. I mean, let me be clear, I don`t think that there really is a space for me.

There are other Republicans, in fact, I think about a third of the party in Utah is uncomfortable with its direction in looking for something else. But my bigger point, Ali, is that we -- those of us who want to protect American democracy, we have to unite because we`ve just barely been defending it. And I`m very concerned about what`s going to happen in the cycle if we have the rise of the far right, taking more power in Washington, I think they`ll set the stage for a return of the far right to the White House, and they`ll do a lot of damage, the kind of damage we saw on January 6th again.

So, we`ve got to unite and do what we can to prevail electorally around the country, and that`s what the campaign is about, building the coalition for the good of Utah, and I hope others across the country will do the same thing.

VELSHI: That`s what I`m wondering about.

MCMULLIN: Democrats or independents.

VELSHI: I`m curious about this coalition for the rest of the country because you are a principled conservative. You have run before knowing fairly well that you would lose. I mean, you were running against Donald Trump in a state that Donald Trump was running in as president.

I think you`re okay with losing. I think you`re okay with being out there and putting forth what you believe a candidate should be, and that is the beauty of democracy.


People who run who might win or might not win, and they don`t detach themselves from reality one way or the other.

How do you multiply that across the country for these disaffected Republicans? Does the Republican Party have to collapse or can it be co- opted by people like you across the country?

MCMULLIN: Well, let me just say, I`m not in this to lose this. 2016 was an emergency situation somewhere I felt somebody on the Republican side, on the conservative side had to run and stand up for our founding ideals and give principled conservatives who were going to be crossover voters, someone else to vote for. That`s what we did.

This is not 2016. We can win this. Our polling suggests that we`re going to be able to win this, if we can unite this coalition, the Democrats in Utah are ready to unite, the disaffected Republicans can be united by an independent center right candidate and that independents are ready to do it too. We are in this because we can win this.

But the question is will we unite, will we unite to bring better leadership to Washington that serves our interests and represents our values here in Utah and solves problems for ourselves and the country, and I would ask the same question for the rest of the country.

VELSHI: Right.

MCMULLIN: Will those of us who care about the state of our institutions, about American democracy, will we unite to protect our democratic republic or will we remain divided by one issue or another?

I maintain, Ali, that there`s far more, especially in this coalition, that I`m describing that unites us than divides us, and I could talk all day about the details of that. It`s not -- it`s not just, there truly is among us now that are fighting for American democracy, regardless of what party we came from, those of us who are fighting to preserve our democratic republic. We have far more in common that matters to our future and our children`s future than we do indifference, and we`ve got to realize that, unite, and protect American democracy in the cycle so that it can be protected in the cycles that come.

VELSHI: I think you`re right about that. Much more in common if we believe in democracy, that is an underlying thing that we all share.

Evan, good to see you as always. Evan McMullin is an independent candidate for Senate in Utah. We all appreciate your time.

Still ahead, major news on the vaccine front and one that could affect millions of Americans. We`re going to get to that straight ahead.




REPORTER: Health officials are taking no chances as they race to contain an outbreak of one of the world`s deadliest viruses, Ebola. There`s no cure or vaccine, and for the first time ever on this scale, Ebola has broken out in an urban area.

Ebola is not easy to catch, transmitted only from direct contact with blood or saliva, but it`s highly lethal. The World`s Health Organization is very concerned.


VELSHI: The largest Ebola outbreak this history began in West Africa in 2014. Tens of thousands of people were infected, more than 11,000 people died, and part of what made Ebola so scary at the time, and part of what still makes it so terrifying is the catastrophic mortality rate associated with the disease. About 50 percent of the people who get Ebola die.

And back in 2014, one of the other things that made Ebola so scary was that there was no vaccine to protect people from getting it. But in the years since that has changed. Two vaccines have actually been approved, and one of those vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson, which becomes strangely relevant in a minute, does something really interesting. It`s called a mix and match vaccine. That`s because it uses different shots as a way to elicit a more powerful immune response.

Now, that strategy of mixing and matching shots is something that was discussed today by an FDA advisory panel. It debates whether people would be well served by say pairing a J&J shot with a Moderna booster or a Pfizer one. The panel heard some ground breaking data from the NIH on that exact question.

The studies show people who got an initial shot of Johnson & Johnson saw the biggest immune response when they got a Moderna booster shot. A Pfizer booster shot was second best providing a big jump in antibody levels, but a second shot in Johnson & Johnson vaccines resulted in the lowest increase in antibody levels.

The panel did not vote on whether to recommend mixing and matching vaccine and booster brands but it seems like that might be on the horizon.

When it comes to Johnson & Johnson boosters at large, the FDA panel today voted unanimously, 19-0 to recommend those boosters essentially saying that they`re a public health imperative since the immune response to the primary Johnson & Johnson vaccine is so low compared to Moderna and Pfizer. One panel member echoed the feelings of several of his colleagues when he said quote I think this frankly was always a two dose vaccine. That was a big factor in the group`s decision to recommend the Johnson & Johnson booster for everyone over 18 who initially received the Johnson & Johnson shot.

How do we make sense of this?

Well, I know just who to ask. Joining us is Dr. Celine Gounder, infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital and former member of the Biden/Harris COVID-19 advisory counsel.

Dr. Gounder, always good to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.


VELSHI: Notwithstanding you had some involvement in Ebola all those years ago, it`s a very interesting idea, this concept of actually giving people two doses. We were sort of told in the beginning based on the information we had that was not really -- it was a nonstarter.

What do you make from the FDA`s discussions today and what that will likely lead to?

GOUNDER: Yeah, I`ll admit you kind of gave me flashbacks there, I spent two months in Guinea during the Ebola epidemic.


With respect to our current pandemic, and questions about mix and match with different vaccines, as well as needing additional doses, you know, I think if you look at all the vaccines that we have, there is only one vaccine where we give a single dose. That is the yellow fever vaccine. Every other vaccine is given as two, three, four doses, and so many of us anticipated that you would really need to give multiple doses.

With respect to mixing and matching, you know, one way to think about it is like a mug shot, and with one kind of vaccine, you get the face front on, with another kind of vaccine, you get the profile, and if you have both pictures, you`re able to recognize that person that much better, and it`s a little bit like that with these mixing and matching of vaccines where your immune system is trained in different ways to recognize the virus.

VELSHI: So I guess the issue is given that we`re dealing with some vaccine hesitancy, I mean, I assume the population we`re talking about, if they`re offered a booster vaccine will probably take it. But does it now cause people to pause for a second? If I got one Johnson & Johnson and now they`re going to approve a second one as a booster, do I do that or do I try and wait until we figure out that I should just take the Pfizer or Moderna shot?

GOUNDER: I think big picture, you`re still very well protected, and I`ve gotten this very same question from people who I know who have gotten a single Johnson & Johnson, should I go ahead and get that J&J or should I wait. I think unless you`re in a place where there`s a lot of transmission where you are in a high risk occupation, you can afford to wait a couple more weeks here while we sort out which is the best second dose of vaccine, is it J&J, is it Moderna, is it Pfizer?

VELSHI: What do you make of the implied criticism by some of the members of the panel who said maybe this should have been a two-dose shot in the first place?

GOUNDER: Look, I think it was really noble to try to have a single dose vaccine. I think from a logistical perspective it`s a lot easier to vaccinate thousands, millions of people when it`s a single dose. It`s also much more equitable. You know, for a lot of people taking time off work, getting child care, transportation, all of these things are significant barriers, and if you have to do that twice, it becomes that mump more of a barrier to getting vaccinated. It was a noble effort. Unfortunately, it just didn`t pan out that way.

VELSHI: Dr. Gounder, always good to see you, thank you for putting some clarity to this.

Dr. Celine Gounder is an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital, always good to see you.

Still ahead, is the balance of power finally starting to shift in this country in a way that will benefit American workers? You`re not going to want to miss this.




REPORTER: Police were called to the picket lines around five this afternoon trying to control the crowd of strikers. But police were outnumbered by the strikers by at least ten to one, and advised members of the news media to move away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no way they can get enough parts out of here to stop beaters and the other warehousers are getting low too, so I think it`s going to be just a matter of time before they`re going to have to come back and sit down with us and try to get a contract.


VELSHI: That was a local news report from 1986 when workers at the John Deere tractor company in Iowa went on strike to demand higher wages. You heard the employee saying he thought it was going to be a matter of time before the company came back and negotiated with them.

The strike ended up lasting 163 days, with those John Deere workers effectively shutting down one of America`s largest suppliers of tractors and farm equipment until they got what they deemed to be a livable wage. Now for the first time since 1986, workers at John Deere are once again on strike.

Yesterday, at least ten thousand Deere employees walked off the job in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, and Georgia to protest the low increases in pay in their latest contract. The largest strike of American private sector workers in over two years. But it may not hold that record for long because this coming Monday, the union that represents nearly all of the stage crews throughout Hollywood and everywhere else says it too will go on strike if major movie studios do not meet their demands for better working conditions.

That union represents 60,000 film and television workers, everyone from stage hands to makeup artists to camera and microphone operator, all of whom are set to go on strike next week if major Hollywood studios do not agree to work with them in good faith. Major movie studios have been working them around the clock to meet the pent up demand for streaming contact, sometimes making them work 14 hour days.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you, my own union, SAG AFTRA, as well as the union that represents much of the staff on this show have issued a joint statement along with other film and TV unions supporting those workers.

If those big studios do not reach an agreement, Hollywood will effectively shut down starting next week in what will be the largest strike in the industry since World War II. But there`s more. This week, 24,000 health care workers in the Kaiser health care system in California and Oregon also voted to authorize a strike. Just last week, 1,400 workers for the Kellogg`s cereal company went on strike at facilities in four states.

The group More Perfect Union interviewed some of those workers at a Kellogg factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, about why they chose to go on strike?


HEATHER GREENE, 15 YEARS AT KELLOGG`S: We work seven days a week. We are literally scheduled seven days a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t even now go in there and tell them that your aunt passed away and you need a day off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very often we don`t even know we have to work 16 hours until ten minutes before it`s time to go home. If you have dogs, if you have kids you have to pick up from school, if you have other obligations, I hope you have somebody to call because you have to stay.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We feed all of these families but I can`t feed mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, best friend died, sorry, not my problem. That`s yours. We got cereal to make.


VELSHI: We feed all of those families, but I can`t feed mine.

There is something happening in America right now. You`ve probably seen a lot of stories about how businesses are having a tough time hiring after the pandemic, even as the economy continues to get better and we see a record number of job openings. The other side of that story is that for the first time in a long while, the balance of power is shifting away from big businesses who employ people and toward the people they hire to do the work.

Today, President Biden was asked about the current wave of strikes across the country.


REPORTER: What`s your message to union workers strike across the country right now?

BIDEN: My message is that they have a right to strike, and they have a right to demand higher wages. And the companies they`re striking are doing very well.


VELSHI: That in itself is amazing, that`s the president of the United States of America saying they`ve got a right to strike. They`ve got a right to demand higher wages. The companies they work for are doing very well. This is how economies like ours course correct -- workers coming together to exercise their power, not just in one place but across the entire country.

Joining us Robert Rich, economist and former secretary of labor who`s latest piece for "The Guardian" is titled "Is America experiencing an unofficial general strike?"

Secretary Reich, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining us today.

There`s something happening that you and I have not seen for a very, very long time in America. The American worker is feeling empowered.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: That`s absolutely right, Ali.

The American worker is really flexing his or her muscles for the first time in decades. I mean, if you look at what has happened to wages over the past 40 years, and you adjust for inflation, obviously, you have to adjust for inflation, the typical American worker has not had a raise or has had almost no raise at all. Most of the gains of the economy have gone to the top 20 percent. Most of those gains have gone to the top 1 percent.

And so, American workers now, when there is a shortage of workers, and when we`re coming out or seem to be coming out of a pandemic, and people are just taking a big breadth and looking around and reevaluating their own lives and their own jobs, a lot of people are saying I`m not going to take it anymore.

VELSHI: You write in this piece which is a must read, corporate America wants to frame this as a labor shortage. Wrong. What`s really going on is more accurately described as a living wage shortage, a hazard pay shortage, a child care shortage, a paid sick leave shortage and a health care shortage. Explain what you mean by that.

REICH: Workers are not simply deciding for no reason that they are not going back to work or they`re going on strike or that the quit rate, which by the way, it has risen to record levels, people quitting their jobs. They`re not doing this for no reason, they`re doing it because the jobs don`t pay enough, because they don`t have hazard pay, they don`t have sick leave, because they`ve gone through this pandemic, and many of them are simply, well, just worn out.

And I think a lot of workers have said to themselves, and said to their colleagues and coworkers, if the companies are not going to be good to us, why should we continue to be good to these companies? Why should we be putting six to seven days a week? Why should we be forced into overtime? Why should we lose our benefits, why should we be tolerant of the kind of labor conditions that have steadily eroded in this country for at least decades, if not four decades, since Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO strikers? That`s really the beginning.

VELSHI: That`s right. He did, and it is the beginning of it. When those air traffic controllers were fired, and similar things happened in the United Kingdom at the time, we decided that that`s okay. We decided that it`s okay to break the backs of unions, that unions and strikes inconvenience us. Why did that happen? As you said, it`s resulted in tour or five decades of stagnant wages.

REICH: I think, Ali, it goes back to an unwritten social contract that we had after the Second World War. We all went through a terrible war and before that, a terrible depression, the great depression. After the Second World War, workers and managers, people who were unionized and even the non-union sector had kind of an unwritten rule, and that unwritten rule was as the companies did better, their workers would do better as well.


Now, shareholders would obviously do better too, but every stake holder was rising together, the rising tide was lifting all boats, but then came double digit inflation in the late `70s and then came Ronald Reagan, and that firing of the PATCO employees legitimatized a kind of anti-union, anti-worker, let`s get profits as high as they can possibly be, our only stake holder is really our shareholders attitude.

VELSHI: Are you worried about inflation right now?

REICH: I`m not worried about inflation. I think almost all of the -- almost all of the pressures we`re seeing right now are a combination of pent-up demand and that pent up demand is, you know, like it was after World War I, after World War II, after any kind of a stressful prolonged crisis, and this crisis was a pandemic.

You get pent up demand from consumers, and at the same time, you`ve got a great deal of bottlenecks, and I`m not talking about labor bottlenecks, I`m talking about supply bottlenecks all over the world right now, and this, again, is fairly common. We see it, and we saw it after World War II.

So it`s temporary. It`s going to be -- there are going to be rising prices before supply and demand reach an equilibrium.

VELSHI: Secretary, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining us tonight. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has written a great article that explains what may be going on with the American worker. We really appreciate it.

Much more ahead. Stay with us.



VELSHI: We have a quick update on a story that we`ve been following closely on this show. Texas, home to roughly 14.5 million women has effectively overturned Roe v. Wade with its draconian six-week Texas apportion ban, many weeks before women know they`re pregnant. No exception for rape or incest.

As you recall, last week, a district court in Texas sided with the United States Justice Department and put a hold on the law, calling it an offensive deprivation of such an important right. But the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which is arguably the most conservative appeals court in the country, that court put the lower court`s ruling which halted the abortion ban, on hold temporarily.

And last night, the conservative court cemented that decision by issues a longer stay pending appeal, allowing enforcement of the Texas law the while it makes its way through the court -- banning nearly all abortions for millions of women in Texas, while deputizing citizens to be abortion bounty hunters. Arguments in the case are not expected for several months allowing Texas to ban that law -- that ban to be the law of the land in the state.

The Justice Department has said it`s going to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the stay putting the law back on hold while it`s litigated. But keep in mind this is the same Supreme Court that just last month sat back and effectively allowed Texas to outlaw abortion rights granted in Roe.

There is a good chance we`ll hear from the Supreme Court on Mississippi`s abortion ban before the appeal court rules on the Texas ban. Meaning, the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade while Texas`s abortion ban is on appeal.

Now, if the Supreme Court does in fact overturn Roe in the Mississippi case, that could cause a domino effect because 11 states already have trigger law that is would go into effect banning all or nearly all abortions. So, we are in for a very consequential fall term in the Supreme Court.

As Rachel says, watch this space.



VELSHI: Take a look at this. It`s the Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The very first offshore wind farm in the United States. It`s been running since 2016.

To give you a sense of the scale, each of the turbine blades is nearly as long as a football field. When running they produce enough electricity to power 17,000 homes. The 1,000 Block Island residents used to bring in a million gallons of diesel fuel a year from the mainland on ferry which also burns fuel to power the island.

Now not only are they fully wind powered but send a huge amount of electricity back to the mainland grid. As a country, the United States has a history of stopping and starting when it comes to fighting climate change. President Carter installed solar panels at the White House in 1979. Reagan took them down in 1986.

President Obama tried to use the Block Island wind farm as a test case to push for offshore wind farms nationally but the White House changed hands in 2017 and like Carter`s solar panels, the national wind farm plans were shelved.

This week,, in news you may have missed, the Biden administration announced it`s planning to develop wind farms on nearly the entire coastline of the United States. It`s going to start leasing federal waters to wind developers by 2025 to achieve that goal. The Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Maine, mid-Atlantic, California, Oregon if those five wind turbines off the coast of Rhode Island can power 17,000 homes, just imagine what lining all the coasts could do.

It`s a totally transformative change part of the Biden administration pledge to cut following fossil fuel emissions by 50 percent by 2030. In a real world, this would be all we talk about. It`s clear when it comes to things the executive branch has control over we`re seeing a full court press here.

We did just learn today we can add another big flame to the massive delegation of 13 cabinet members that Biden is bringing with him to the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland next month. Joining them will be former president, Barack Obama. That`s the same international summit where Obama signed the Paris climate agreement five years ago which, of course, Biden had to rejoin after Trump pulled us out.

But all of these efforts and the hopes of Biden`s climate goals and setting an example for the community hit a major roadblock tonight thanks to this man, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

"The New York Times" reporting tonight that the most powerful part of Biden`s climate agenda, the $150 billion clean electricity program is now effectively dead. The centerpiece of the climate proposal "The Times" reports likely to be cut from the overall plan because of a Democratic senator from the coal rich state of West Virginia. "The Times" reports tonight because of Manchin`s steadfast opposition, quote, at least four people in Washington close to the negotiations called the clean electricity program dead.

So, despite a star-studded team headed to Glasgow, the Biden will administration will have work cut out convincing other nations to limit emissions when it`s blocked back home by someone in its own party. We`ve been going two steps forward and one step back on climate for decades now. The latest below from Senator Manchin tonight is the latest in a serious setback. Watch this space.

That does it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow morning on my show "VELSHI" at 8:00 a.m. Eastern.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD", and my absolute pleasure to introduce my friend, Zerlina Maxwell, who`s in for Lawrence O`Donnell this morning.

Good evening, old friend.