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UYGUR: Hundreds of thousands in London on Saturday protested massive cuts by David Cameron‘s government in the U.K. It was an amazing protest. And you know what? They also had some fun chants.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Banks got bailed out!
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: We got sold out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Banks got bailed out!
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: We got sold out!
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UYGUR: All right. I was enjoying that chant. And also very accurate.
About 250,000 people showed up, apparently, according to police estimates. Some estimates were as large as 400,000 people.
Given the size of the crowd, there was just very little trouble, mainly a sit-in where a lot of people were arrested, according to “The Guardian,” for not much purpose. And you wonder, of course, with such a huge turnout—you‘ve got teachers, you‘ve got government workers, and you‘ve got all these supporters—what were they protesting? Well, let me tell you.
Apparently, we‘ve got 80 billion pounds—that‘s $130 billion—in public spending cuts that are going to be implemented next month. The sales tax is also going to be raised, so they raised taxes. But again, that goes mainly to the middle class.
Five hundred thousand public sector jobs will be lost, which is a gigantic number and obviously one of the reasons why they‘re doing this protest. And 18 billion pounds, or $28.5 billion, are going to be axed from welfare payments.
And then the pension age, which is, of course, the retirement age, is going to be raised up to 66 by the year 2020 from 65. So they‘re getting hit from all sides like we have been here in a lot of the states, including Wisconsin.
Now, in the Netherlands, they have done some social media and Twitter campaign against ING. And you know what they said? Look, we‘re going to withdraw our money en masse because we‘re so angry that the CEO and executives of that bank are getting million-dollar bonuses and more in some cases. And they said look, we‘re going to walk with our money and we‘re not going to do it.
And you know what happened? The CEO of ING agreed to wave his bonus and told the other directors that they‘ve got to do the same thing. Hey, now we‘re getting somewhere—protests that actually work.
And politicians are now in the Netherlands supporting a 100 percent retrospective tax on all bonuses paid to executives at banks that receive state aid. How awesome would that be here at home?
Now, we‘ve also been doing protests here, of course. Now, we did US Uncut protests over the weekend. And in D.C., they again went after Bank of America, because apparently they have a huge amount of profits and they don‘t pay much taxes. In fact, they didn‘t pay any taxes in 2009. We‘re going to talk about that in a second.
There were 100-some-odd protesters. Now, it‘s not London, but they‘re getting there. They‘re getting there.
And then, as you see here, of course, we had huge protests in Wisconsin as well for many weeks on end. And they had, you know, some success in galvanizing people.
And as you‘re about to see, they also cost the Republicans some serious poll numbers. And that has an effect as well. But one thing it didn‘t have an effect is with Governor Walker.
Today, in defiance of a court order, he came out and said I‘m going to publish my law of taking away collective bargaining rights anyway. The court had told him, you‘re not allowed to publish it, and if you do, the regular way of doing it is to publish it in the Wisconsin State Journal, and it has to be done by the secretary of state.
And he said, I don‘t give a damn. Instead, he had published on a Web site of the legislature and just skipping all the laws and skipping the courts, because, courts, what are they for? I mean, this guy really thinks he‘s a tough guy, and I guess he thinks he‘s modeling himself under—you know, over Ronald Reagan, which doesn‘t make any sense.
But he‘s ignored all the public opinion. And guess what it‘s done to him? Well, it‘s cost him a lot of popularity.
According to a WPRI poll, Walker‘s unfavorables went from 35 percent in November of 2010 to 53 percent. So he got hit by 18 percent.
Now, the same thing is happening to other budget-cutting GOP governors all across the Midwest, and in other parts of the country as well, actually.
Here‘s Kasich. His approval rating is down to 30 percent. That‘s disastrous. That‘s of course, in Ohio.
And Chris Christie is also feeling the effects in New Jersey. Rutgers-Eagleton poll has his favorability dropping by eight percent after he gave his budget address in February where he said he was going to cut money for state workers.
Now, you see our own protests here in the U.S. are working to some degree. Now, one reason is because it draws attention to what they‘re doing.
Now, you know what else that led to? It turns out today we find out victory in Indiana. What is that victory?
Do you remember the House Democrats had been holding out for almost a month in Illinois, and they finally returned today. Why? Because they won concessions from the GOP, really important concessions, including shelving the right to work law, going to apply to private unions.
So, they were going to say, hey, private unions, you can‘t have right to work laws. Now that is being walked back. Concession by the Republicans. But it gets better.
They also abandoned a bill making a permanent ban on collective bargaining for state workers. You‘ll remember Governor Daniels had done that early on, but it‘s not permanent. He was trying to make it permanent, or the Republicans in Indiana were trying to make it permanent. Now it will not be permanent.
They‘ve also weakened Governor Daniels‘ education bill. Now, that‘s a good thing, because it caps the number of private school vouchers and it abandons a plan to let private companies take over failing public schools.
Now, we did all of that with protests in Wisconsin, some US Uncut protests, et cetera, et cetera, some protests at banks, and the poll numbers went down. And now you see Republicans panicking and saying, all right, all right, we give, which I haven‘t seen in years.
Now, imagine if we had protests the size of those in U.K. over the weekend. Well, that might get you a lot of results.
Joining me now is Carl Gibson. He‘s the co-founder of US Uncut.
Carl, I want to ask you first about the protests in London. How do we do that over here?
CARL GIBSON, CO-FOUNDER, US UNCUT: Well, Cenk, first of all, thanks for having me on your show.
But, really, with London, you look at UK Uncut has been together for about seven months. And (INAUDIBLE) had I think between 250,000 and 400,000 protesters, just through social media and word of mouth.
I mean, this is the new face of organizing. It is decentralized, leaderless movements. And that‘s exactly what US Uncut is about. We‘ve been organizing for about a month. We‘re not at UK Uncut‘s numbers yet, but we‘re getting there.
UYGUR: All right. And what do you think drove those numbers? I
mean, is it the spending cuts or is it more inequity, where they see, hey -you know, you saw the chant there. The banks got bailed out, and it doesn‘t look like they‘re contributing at all, but we‘re getting all the hit.
Is it the unfairness that you think are driving so many people to the streets, or is it just simply that we‘re getting cut too much and we can‘t take it?
GIBSON: I think it‘s just the magnetism of their message. Their message is so simple.
It‘s, you know, before you cut us, before you make teachers and police officers and firefighters pay for these budget cuts, how about you make sure corporations are paying their fair share in taxes, too? And that‘s what drove me to get US Uncut started. I got some help from UK Uncut.
And as long as you keep the message simple, a lot of people can access it—Democrats, Republicans. Of course, we were talked about recently on Fox News. Bill O‘Reilly and Lou Dobbs talked about corporate tax cheats. The message was on “60 Minutes” last night.
I think we‘re starting to permeate the national narrative and say maybe there are alternatives to deal with this budget crisis that don‘t involve Draconian budget cuts that hurt working people.
UYGUR: Well, I know you guys go to Bank of America and protest there all the time. Now, tell me why you‘re doing that. And what is it that you want? Like, what could Bank of America do that you would say all right, OK, mission accomplished?
GIBSON: Well, like you mentioned on your program last month, after our last day of action, Bank of America had I think $4.4 billion in profits after 2009, and instead got $1 billion back from the federal government instead of paying federal taxes. So what we would like to see companies like Bank of America and FedEx and Verizon do is simply to pay the effective 35 percent rate, take the earnings that you have off shore in bank accounts like the Cayman Islands and Ireland and other places, bring those profits back to the United States, and pay the effective rate.
We would get $100 billion extra in revenue every year if corporations just paid a 35 percent effective rate and paid taxes like the rest of us.
UYGUR: My guess is they‘re not going to volunteer that. There has to be some sort of movement that then moves politicians, et cetera. But that‘s of course exactly what you guys are trying.
One last quick question for you, Carl. Do you think we‘re going to get protests of that size here? Is it going to build to that at some point?
GIBSON: You know, I think after one month of organizing, when you see US Uncut protests in 40 different U.S. cities, West Coast, East Coast, South, Midwest, I think there‘s a good chance. I think by this time next year, you‘ll see a lot more numbers in the streets.
UYGUR: And look, conservatives have got to join in, because if they care about fairness and they care about people not getting away with not paying their fair share, they‘ve got to be on your side. So it‘s an interesting point.
Carl Gibson, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
GIBSON: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, there were a lot of dumb moves around the whole Wisconsin budget debate, but there‘s one bone-headed move that we want to tell you about tonight that really takes the cake.
Last month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker‘s office received a—shall we say an interesting e-mail from a deputy prosecutor in Indiana. The deputy prosecutor was offering some advice. Thought it was kind of strange advice since it came from a state prosecutor.
The e-mail suggested that Walker fake an attack on himself in order to create sympathy for his cause and discredit the Democrats and union opponents. Now, the Indiana—I keep repeating this because it‘s amazing deputy prosecutor, Carlos Lam, wrote, “If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions‘ cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the public unions.”
I‘m blown away by that. How unbelievably dumb is that idea? Thank God Walker didn‘t do it. I mean, it would have caused him harm, let alone everybody else.
This was, of course, while conservative commentators at the same time were railing against union thugs. I wonder which side is more enamored with violence.
Lam, by the way, of course, initially denied that he sent the e-mail. Me? Me? E-mail? They must have hacked into my account. I can‘t believe that!
And when the reporter showed him the e-mail, he literally said, “Jeez,” like he was so surprised by it. And guess what happened? He admitted it was a lie and, in fact, of course nobody hacked his account. He sent the e-mail and he has now, luckily, resigned.
All right. Now, up next, a word of warning for all you singles looking to move to Alaska, in case there were any of you. Someone is actually floating the idea of making premarital sex illegal in that state. Fascinating.
And you want to know which group Fox‘s John Stossel thinks got the most help from the U.S. government? American Indians.
Oh, come on, man! American Indians?
All right. We‘ll explain his crazy theory when we come back.