Progressives: hold the line! Fight the right! Cenk Uygur MSNBC TV June 15, 2011 Video and Transcript: How Democrats can fix the economy without the GOP

UYGUR: “It‘s the economy, stupid.” Remember, that was the phrase that helped Bill Clinton turn George H. W. Bush into a one-term president.

Now, two decades later, it‘s threatening to turn a Democrat into a one-termer. The latest polling shows that 47 percent of Americans think the economy is poor and 70 percent think it‘s getting worse. That is a very bad number.

Americans and the politicians who would like to keep their jobs desperately need a solution. So, Senator Chuck Schumer sat down with other Democrats last week to discuss doable job creation ideas, proposals they could pass with a GOP-controlled House.

The result, according to columnist E.J. Dionne, “The senators concluded that the only stimulative measures with any chance of getting Republican votes involve tax cuts.”

Are you kidding me? The only thing Democrats could come up with was tax cuts?

Tax cuts are not a Democratic solution. They‘re not even a solution at all.

Remember, President Clinton improved the economy and added 23 million jobs in the ‘90s when he raised taxes on the rich. But the Republican leadership knows they‘ve already won that conversation.

Mitch McConnell told “The National Journal,” “I can say pretty confidently, as the Speaker has, that we are not going to raise taxes in this agreement.”

Mitch even has a little advice for the president. “What the president
ought to say to his own political left is, ‘Those crazy Republicans won‘t let me raise taxes, but we need to do this for the country.‘”

That is so sad. You know why? Because it‘s true.

Watch. That is exactly what the Democrats and the president are going to say.

In my opinion, they are doing Mitch McConnell‘s bidding for him. Why are tax cuts the only option?

Hey here‘s an idea—create jobs for real Americans instead of giving more tax cuts to the rich.

But will Democrats really push for that?


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: We own the economy. We own the beginning of the turnaround. And we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery.


UYGUR: I wouldn‘t have said we own the economy. Look, I would fight for job creation. That‘s the real way to go.

To play on only Republican ground is a bad idea. It‘s going to lead to a bad economy and it‘s going to lead to bad electoral results, if you ask me. But you know what? Shockingly enough, they haven‘t asked me yet.

All right. Let‘s talk about it with someone else.

Adam Green is joining me. He‘s the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. He‘s live in Minneapolis, the site of the Netroots Nation convention this week, where, actually, I‘ll be speaking on Saturday night.

All right.

Adam, Democrats get together and they think their only option is tax cuts. I suspect you have a different idea.


Well, first of all, welcome. Greetings from sunny Minneapolis, home of Paul Wellstone and, as you said, the Netroots Nation conference.

Look, Democrats have a consist pattern of essentially capitulating before the fight even begins. And it‘s a real problem. Here is kind of the mental process they go through.

It‘s like, well, do Republicans say they will vote for these progressive popular ideas? Oh, no, they won‘t. So let‘s just adopt Republican ideas. But that‘s an absurd way of legislating.

The best way for progressives to legislate is really a three-step process. One, say what is the right thing to do? In this case, as you said, it‘s massive government investment in jobs.

Step two, is this a popular idea? In this case, overwhelmingly. Republican, Independent and Democratic voters want investment in jobs.

And three I would call the Cenk Uygur step, which is, Democrats have to make the case, they have to rally the public. And if people like Mitch McConnell are against their own constituents, well, when they go back home, they need to face exactly what Paul Ryan and other Republicans faced a couple of months ago, which is angry people at town hall meetings.

That only happens if Democrats actually make the case first, and that‘s what we need them to do on jobs.

UYGUR: I feel like I stirred so many questions this week. What is wrong with them? How can they possibly have been in politics for decades and not understand that, hey, maybe you should make your own case, that maybe you should tell voters, here‘s what I‘m going to do—I‘m going to create jobs. I‘m going to create three or four million jobs.

But look at these Republicans. They‘re standing in our way.

And then you put pressure on the Republicans. And guess what? The Republicans might change instead of you caving in all the time.

Like, seriously, Adam, you work a lot in Washington. I‘m sure you tell the congressmen and the senators that. When you tell them that, what do they say? I mean, do they say, I don‘t know anything about politics? What the hell do they say?

GREEN: Look, honestly, there is kind of a culture clash between those who only play the inside game in Washington, D.C., and those who understand how to mobilize people outside of Washington.

So, look, here is the way I see negotiation. If 75 percent of the people are on my side, and 25 percent of the people are on the side of somebody across the table from me, and they‘re drawing a line in the sand in a way that puts them on the opposite side of their own constituents, I‘m not going to take that line in the sand. I‘m going to rally their constituents against them.

And politicians, most of whom are younger or a little bit more tech savvy, understand how to use the Internet to rally people quickly. But unfortunately, there‘s a culture in D.C. of making behind-the-scenes deals.

Now, the one fortunate thing—


UYGUR: I have a theory, Adam.

GREEN: OK. What‘s your theory?

UYGUR: My theory is, it‘s not that they‘re not tech savvy. It‘s not that they can‘t read a poll. They‘re politicians. They can read a poll. They know what 75 percent is.

No, it‘s that they take money from the same financial interests. So, they pretend like, oh, the Republicans made me do it! Mitch McConnell is rubbing their face in it saying, yes, you know that‘s the game you‘re playing. You‘re taking money from the same guys as we are.

Look, let me give you a sense of what the Republicans are up to.

They‘re going to take almost a billion dollars away from WIC, from CSFP, TEFAP. These are all programs that help the poor, the middle class, they help women and children. They are looking to kill Medicare and Medicaid if they can.

They want to spend $17 billion more on defense. They want to continue tax breaks for big oil. They want to demand $2.4 trillion in cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

All of these are enormously unpopular. Nobody wants these. These all polled terribly. And instead of fighting back, what do the Democrats do? They go, oh, OK, when you say jump, I say how high?

A party can‘t be that bad. They just can‘t be that bad.

GREEN: Look, I‘m not going to dispute your basic premise, which is that corporate money is absolutely corrupting politics. I really think it‘s a few things.

I think it‘s that. I think it‘s the failure to understand how to mobilize the public. And that comes along with the idea that some of these politicians would actually make more money for their campaigns if they rallied the public, as opposed to trying to get $500, $1,000, $2,000 contributions from Wall Street hacks.

But a third thing is honestly just the fear factor with Democrats. Many Democrats kind of imagine the worst-case scenario of, what will these big corporate ads that run against me look like?

And then they think to themselves, oh, there is no way I can possibly fight back, even when the polling clearly shows the public is on my side. And what we‘re trying to do is say to those people, the good people who feel trapped in a bad system, as opposed to the genuinely corrupt people, we‘re trying to say, we will get your back if you are willing to fight for massive government investment in jobs.

Let‘s wire America with the Internet. Let‘s rebuild crumbling schools. Let‘s put people to work.

UYGUR: And God bless. Let‘s do that.

GREEN: The one good piece of news today was in “The Huffington Post,” in response to our activism, Senator Chuck Schumer‘s office said that he is willing to fight for investment and infrastructure. We look forward to working with him if he is willing to do that.


UYGUR: I hope so. I really, really hope so. All right. Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

GREEN: Thanks, Cenk.

Transcribed by the Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC.

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About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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