tv Martin Bashir MSNBC November 20, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
past time to root for success. that does it for "the cycle" today. martin, all years. >> thank you, ari. good afternoon. it's wednesday november the 20th. and whatever the policy, the republican answer is simple. no, thanks. ♪ all of us have moments when we wonder, what the heck was i thinking? >> president obama is kind of getting all the late night jokes now. >> better him than me. >> i have quite a bit. >> there is an opportunity, taking the negative and making it a positive. you're talking about young people. you talk to them about doing something that the system didn't want you to do. >> one side of capitol hill is invested in failure. >> this health care law needs to be scrapped. >> the so-called establishment side of the republican party seems to be rising up against the tea party. >> president obama, he'll enforce this law, not enforce another law. that is impeachable. >> are you to say kentucky is a success story for obama care?
>> they keep portraying themselves as outsiders. >> you've got to acknowledge that. >> maybe. >> they are insiders. >> obama care is wrong. >> expert on irrational behavior. so i'm sure that he could shed some light on washington. good afternoon. we begin with the president on at a day in which he marked historic figures in this great nation, even as he faces an unprecedented effort to destroy his tenure and his legacy. this afternoon, the president laid a wreath at the arlington grave of president john f. kennedy in honor of this week's 50th anniversary of his tragic assassination. the president and the first lady were joined by members of the kennedy family, as well as a former and potentially future president, bill and hillary clinton. the two couples had plenty of face time, as earlier in the day, the president presented the medal of freedom to former
president clinton and 15 others, including oprah winfrey, and psychologist, daniel karnaman, whose biography offered the chance for a little comic relief. >> all of us have moments when we look back and wonder, what the heck was i thinking? i have that quite a bit. psychologist daniel karnamkarna has made that simple question his life's work. he has also been called an expert on irrational behavior. so i'm sure that he could shed some light on washington. >> i'm sure he could. and republicans in congress in particular. take, for example, senator ted cruz, forced to endure robust questioning today, about how he plans to help the constituents that he claims are suffering under the strain of the affordable care act. >> when they say, "please help me." what is the fix you offer them? i looked at the list of bills
you sponsored. there is not one that offers a solution to the current problems with health care, except to get rid of the existing law. is that enough? >> well, that's the only solution that will work. >> of course. the only way to help those in need of health care is to kick off everyone who has gotten covered, rolled back cost controls, just take a time machine trip, back to the good old bad days. hmmm. where have i heard that before? >> there is no way to fix this. it's just one more reason why this health care law needs to be scrapped. now. >> right. i knew that sounded familiar. it's a good thing that speaker boehner is so much more reasonable about the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the senate with bipartisan support. >> and frankly, i'll make clear, we have no intention of ever going into conference on the senate bill. >> okay. no. what about the employment nondiscrimination act? surely the speaker has come
round to supporting equality in the workplace for everyone. >> people are already protected in the workplace. i see no basis or no need for this. >> all right. says him. so no to ender, no to the health law. no to immigration reform. is there anything that republicans in congress will actually get behind? >> we should not be judged on how many new laws we create. we ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal. >> that is their mantra. and they are sticking to it. let's get right to our panel. here in new york, my friend and colleague, msnbc, krystal ball. fresh off co hosting "the cyc cycle." and in washington, matt lewis. and msnbc political analyst, professor michael eric dyson. krystal, you and i have discussed for a while this division between some tea party extremists and more establishment republicans. >> but isn't it the case that
the establishment republicans are actually obstructing everything? this is not a party that's divided. this is a party that's united in stopping the president. >> they're united in stopping the president. and they're united on having nothing substantive in the way of a policy platform to offer. >> so there is no difference -- >> as an alternative. and as we talked, during the government shutdown, for example, john boehner had the ability at any time to bring a clean, continuing resolution to the floor and end it. and with immigration reform, he has the ability at any time to bring up the senate's bill, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would pass the senate, would likely pass the house today, if john boehner was willing to bring it up. so in many ways, they are just as complicit. they are just as to blame for what we have seen happening in d.c. and for the extreme tactics. and, you know, right now they feel like they're doing fine, because the president is in hot water. the website is not working. >> approval ratings are down. >> but at some point, the
american people are going to move on from that. and they're going to say, okay, so if that wasn't so great, what's your alternative? and there's literally nothing there. they have no policy to offer, nothing. >> matt, that nonagenda is made plain in the figure of mr. ted cruz. i'd like to play a bit more of his interview on cnn earlier today. take a listen, matt. >> you don't think that you have a responsibility as a u.s. senator to do better than that, in terms of offering the solution for what to do next? >> well, i -- i appreciate your trying to lecture me in the morning. >> it's not a lecture, it's a concern. i'm asking what are you going to do about it? >> and i share that concern, and have every day been working to highlight the millions of people who have lost their job because of obama care. >> matt, what's your response to that? >> well i guess first i would say, in defense of ted cruz, at this point, he is on the side of public opinions latest poll i
saw says i think 31% of americans believe, you know, the fave unfave have a favorable opinion of obama care. so you could argue if you're a krcht that the first step, if you want to have a new idea, new plan, is to kill this monstrosity. i do think republicans, though -- >> but the american people are not behind repeal of the law. the majority -- the plurality of american people want to change the law, want to reform the law. but they are not behind repealing it. >> and i certainly think the krchts need to have -- an alternative plan. we have seen things proposed by congressman price, we have seen things like levin and pa knew are you arguing for things like allowing americans to have catastrophic plans so you don't have to have the cadillac plan, the top-down obama care plan. but that you could purchase with a pretty low premium something that would protect you from catastrophe. the other thing would be using the tax code to incentivize individuals to purchase health care. or companies to provide it.
so there are free market solutions, and i agree, we have to have ideas. it's not enough to say obama care is bad. you have to have a solution. >> but matt, do you not accept that it's not just health care, is it? it's almost everything. when the president proposed the american jobs act, that was rejected. no vote, nothing. when we discuss comprehensive immigration reform, opposition, nothing. it's just on a litany of subjects. there is -- rank opposition. and sorry, forgive me for persisting. but there doesn't appear to be a constructi constructive, properly thought-through alternative, aside from simply opposing everything he says. >> right. well, look, you know, i supported immigration reform. and as you mentioned, it was bipartisan in the senate. senator marco rubio, for example, really led the charge for that. but i think the biggest problem that immigration reform has today is barack obama, that the obama care rollout was so bad, i
think the american public are going to be very hesitant to have any sort of comprehensive solution to anything. >> that's hardly an excuse. i mean, because the problem is not with barack obama he would sign the law. the problem is not with the american people who want comprehensive immigration reform. the problem is with republicans in the house who will not bring anything up for a vote. i don't know how you avoid that. >> they were elected, too. and -- >> okay, matt. against ambition. >> i'm very much enjoying your conversation with my colleague, krystal. but i would like to bring in professor dyson. professor dyson, what was your reaction to what i just said about this persistent opposition? >> well, look, one of the recipients of the presidential gold medal today -- medal -- medal of freedom. that was oprah winfrey. oprah winfrey caused quite a stir in england when she indicated to the bbc that a great deal of the opposition to barack obama in america is something that most americans would never admit and never
speak about, but which was true. and what was that? oprah winfrey. not angela davis. oprah winfrey. not james baldwin. oprah winfrey said, the bulk of the opposition to the president of the united states of america has to do with a single, singular fact that he's an african-american man. >> ten minutes to get to the race issue. that's why -- clearly that's why republicans -- >> sir, i didn't interrupt you when you were offering -- >> i didn't accuse anybody -- >> hold on! i didn't interrupt you, don't interrupt me. don't deploy the very principles of white privilege to silence a black man on the panel because you don't want to talk about race. so be quiet. >> martin -- >> what i'm suggesting -- >> please. >> from a grown man. >> please, sir. >> i think he's the host of the show, last time i checked. >> the vitriol. >> you can't even talk about
politician -- >> without bringing up race, can you? >> you have no policy position. >> matt -- >> you can't talk about policy. >> the only thing -- >> one moment, please. please, matt. matt. matt. >> condescension. >> professor, please, please, please, matt. allow professor dyson to speak. >> oh, i'll please matt. whatever please, professor, who can't talk about anything other than race? >> but please -- >> talking about obama care, immigration. >> i'm asking you to give him the courtesy of allowing to express his point. >> thank you, yes. >> you may dispute it. please allow him to speak. thank you. >> what i was saying, i was quoting oprah winfrey, by the way. >> yes. >> i was quoting what oprah winfrey said. i didn't say that. oprah winfrey said that. so what i am suggesting to you, there are many things we can talk about in regard to the opposition to president obama. fierce ideological debates, caught up in the failure of the white house to roll out the
health care plan in a way that seemed to be in the 21st century. the inability to get the technical questions together. but the broader issue here is of a couple matters. first of all, that most americans, as our colleague, ms. ball, has indicated, want to have health care. they don't want to repeal it. they want to fix it. as bill clinton said, mend it, don't end it, about affirmative action. number two, the vast majority of republicans are mindless and incapable of articulating a solid, serious, intellectual conception or a political fix or remedy to the problem we have here. thirdly, what people like our disputed colleague here on the right -- >> professor -- >> race plays a role in -- in contaminating -- >> this is a joke. >> professor dyson and matt -- >> you can't even talk about anything without injecting race into it. >> matt. >> matt lewis and professor dyson and krystal ball, we will
discuss these issues again. i began by discussing obstructionism. thank you for all your contributions and we'll continue this conversation on another occasion. coming up next, it's no act. she helped rally hundreds today for immigration reform at the university of texas. actress america ferrera joins us. stay with us. [ woman 1 ] why do i cook?
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has brought anger. the university of texas young conservatives have scheduled an event called "catch an illegal immigrant," apparently a game in which students receive a $25 gift card for catching those with the words "illegal immigrant" pinned to their clothing. the ensuing uproar led to the cancellation of the event. and earlier today shall protests by pro immigration activists. >> and i'm delighted to say we're joined now by the activist and actress, america ferrera, with us from austin, texas. good afternoon, america. >> hi, martin. what was your immediate reaction when you first heard of this so-called game, "catch an illegal immigrant?" >> well, i was appalled, as you can imagine. and my mind went directly to the students on campus who might be feeling fear. the fear of being on a campus where they don't feel safe. and they don't feel welcomed. and i thought that there needed to be -- there needed to be a
voice representing those young people. and i'm very glad that the administrators at the university came -- stood up and said that we don't -- we don't stand for this culture on our campus. >> and you led this event today. were you surprised by the number of people who joined you? >> absolutely. i mean, for the amount of kids that were going to show up at this ridiculous game, more than twice as many showed up for this rally in protest of it. and there were undocumented students there, and there were many nonundocumented students there in support of their peers. and it was a wonderful turnout. and they were so invigorated and riled up to have their voices heard. so i think when young people show up for themselves in that way, it's important that we, the media, and people with a platform show up for them. and help get their voices heard. >> and this was of particular concern can to you, wasn't it, because your husband actually went to the university of texas, is that right? >> yeah. we have lots of family in texas.
a lot of great, wonderful people who don't stand for this type of fear and intimidation. and my husband is an alum of ut austin. so when we found out about this, we thought this is ridiculous. this is not what this institution of learning stands for. this is not what the people in texas stand for. and we can't just let it go on unchallenged. >> yeah. now, the event itself has been cancelled. the university young conservatives cited concerns about possible retaliation against some of their members. they also feared there might be safety as an issue. what do you say to people who would argue that all that was happening on the college was the individuals were expressing their rights to freedom of speech, and you and i might object to that. but frankly, they were perfectly within their rights to say the kind of things they wanted to say. >> well, it's not about what they were saying. it's about the activities that they planned to carry on.
the activities were to hunt down people wearing t-shirts that said "illegal immigrant" on it. and to turn them in for the reward of a $25 gift card. those aren't words. those are actions. actions aimed at creating a very particular environment. an environment of unsafety and an environment of fear. and they disguised this event in the guise of want to go spark a political debate. well, a debate has to invite an opposing viewpoint. and a debate shouldn't be using the tactics of fear and intimidation. and really, just bullying. it's not about freedom of speech. it's about -- it's not about respect. it's about intimidation and fear. and that is what we as americans, on all sides of political parties, in every state, should not be standing for this type of dialogue. because it's not dialogue. at all. >> yeah. you've been quite active
yourself with latino voter mobilization. and as you know, 2012 was a banner year for the hispanic electorate. about a tenth of all voters voting for the president by almost a 3-1 margin and yet causes dear to the community like immigration reform are permanently stock and gridlock. the president has repeatedly talked about his desire to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform, and yet he appears to be opposed by the congress who don't want to do anything about this issue. >> right. well, i think that 2012 was a banner year for immigrant and minority voters and the issues they care about. and all of a sudden, immigration was in the national news. the issue of immigration reform had to be talked about, because people in positions of making law and policy understood that this was an issue they were going to have to start dealing with. now, i think it's a process. and i think that if the house
refuses to act, then our job is to create a political consequence for that. and to show these lawmakers that they're not going to be in their jobs for very long if they refuse to move and make progress on the issues they're growing constituencies care about. so they may be holding to their stance now. but that is not going to happen without a political consequence further down the line. >> bravo, america ferrera, actress and activist. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, martin. coming up, the day's top lines. but first, a very special birthday greeting to the one and only uncle joe biden. just back from panama, turning 71 years young. just today. ♪ ♪ ♪ by the end of december, we'll be delivering ♪
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pretty broad agreement, the implementation of the affordable care act has been problematic. and rather than getting better, it may be getting worse. >> as you may be able to tell, our next guest is no fan of the affordable care act. in fact, you could call him, as ronald reagan fondly did of opposing democrats, a member of the loyal opposition when it comes to the president and his reform of health care. he is republican congressman, michael burgess of texas. good afternoon, sir. >> good afternoon, martin. how are you? >> i should apologize, first of all, for the last time you were on, because we only managed to have less than a minute, as you remember, because of events on the day. i was hearing what you said yesterday, and you said that the affordable care act is not getting better. in fact, it may be getting worse. however, the "new york times" quotes sources who say the federal exchange has signed up almost double its october total, and in half the time. so how would you interpret those
figures, if they are true? >> let's talk about those figures. but as referenced, my lead-in to the questioning of mr. chow yesterday. we're hearing from sources within the administration, certainly this red team report, that was released to us, they had a pretty good idea october 1st, this thing was not going to work. they were required that one of the boundaries they could not cross was they couldn't delay the implementation. october 1st had to be the go live date. and couple with that, mr. chow is a dedicated civil servant and i respect his service to the country. but at the same time, he made reference to the fact that there was about 40% of the work left to be done on the website on october 1st. well now we've got jeffrey zients, and another person who has been helpful to the administration in the past doing other projects. but i don't know if the -- if the website wasn't even -- was only 60% constructed on october 1st, and now you're trying to
reinvent the website, build the bridge while you're walking across it, this is an enormously tall order. and there are some pretty big things that are going to come online. and the reason i made that statement the way i did was, january 1st of this year, you have all of the -- every hospitalization, every doctor visit, every surgery, every baby that's delivered, all of that is going to be covered under the affordable care act. people are going to think they have coverage. but are, in fact, they going to have coverage? is the electronic transfer of information going to work, or is it going to bog down? listening to mr. chow, i got the impression that it may well bog do you go. and is he is concerned about provider issues after the 1st of the year. >> i heard him too, sir. to what do you attribute, then, the success of state exchanges in, for example, new york, california, kentucky and else whe where? i mean, why are they working really rather impressively, in your view? >> well, let's be careful about our assessment. there is -- i think both of us would agree and we don't agree
on much, martin, both of us would agree, we have a long way to go before the final chapter in this story is written. yes, more people signed up so far in november than in october. except that you can't quite get the information as to how many people actually signed up and paid for a policy versus how many people added to cart. and we all know from our time shopping on amazon, ooh, i'd like to put that purchase and maybe i'll come back later and pay for it. >> right. >> but there is a difference between adding to cart and actually buying the product. >> but i think you would accept, would you not, that over all, those governors who have accepted opportunities to expand medicaid, those that have set up state-based exchanges, have been far more efficacious than the federal exchange, which in some states is fought against and opposed. >> but we don't know where all of that is going to end up. and look, if your premise is correct, and i don't know at this point, but if your premise is correct, how much damage did the administration do to itself
a year ago when they withheld the information on the essential health benefits that governors were going to have to offer in their exchanges? they held that until after election day. and then the deadline was a week or ten days later. so the governors in a lot of states looked at that and said oh, my goodness, i cannot make a decision of that order of magnitude in that short a period of time. so is it any wonder that 32 states told the federal government, if you want this to happen, you've got to do it yourself. >> i think -- >> hide the ball strategy that the administration employed prior to election day, which really was i think damaging to this. >> representative michael burgess of texas, thank you, sir. i'm sure we will continue to watch this and follow this and have you back. time only will tell how successful this has been. >> correct. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. >> stay with us. the day's top lines are coming up. plus, how sweet it is. illinois just minutes away from becoming the 16th state to make same-sex marriage legal. stay with us.
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of a whole mess of assumptions. >> there is no doubt in my mind a month ago the under 8%. >> the labor department announced the unemployment rate magically dropped to 7.8%. >> there was no doubt in my mind five minutes before the number would be under 8%. >> some people will be very cynical that a government number will come out this great. >> take it any way you want! >> there is a conspiracy out there. >> now, of course, this is the beginning. >> you understand? >> i'm sure investigations will ensue. >> we'll investigate it, get to the bottom of it. >> i will not yield to this monkey court. >> we have never seen the president behave like president obama. >> think about what turned or determined the outcome of the election. >> we've had lies about benghazi. >> jobs, jobs, jobs! >> we've had lies and lies and lies. >> and it wasn't only about the economy. it was about health care. >> all of these go toward a president that enjoyed uplifting in favorable numbers. >> if you want your policy oh, all the periods. >> something for many reaches we don't believe he deserves. >> that is impeachable?
>> that's a question for the house, ultimately. >> especially when you look at current events today, when his signature legislation is falling around his ears. >> president obama is kind of getting all the late night jokes now. >> better him than me. [ laughter ] >> let's get right to our guest, who is ezra klein, policy analyst for msnbc. a column inconsistent for bloomberg view and "washington post" also in charge of the legendary wonk blog. so ezra, the federal government manipulated the unemployment rate in order to fix the president's re-election. it is an explosive charge. can darrell issa's investigation back it up, do you think? >> i feel sad for myself sometimes. if we're going to be responding to conspiracy stories that have to be this dumb. i feel like -- >> why so? >> the people on the right who have been -- this is all about this "new york post" article. and the folks on the right i don't think have read it. like literally have not closely read it. so this is not actually the jobs
report before the election. this is about the jobs report before the jobs report before the election. the jobs report before the election, which came out just like two days before the election, actually saw the unemployment rate go up. so just here's a conspiracy we're talking about. in the jobs report at the election, the unemployment rate went up. but the obama administration falsified the less important jobs report before it? that doesn't make a ton of sense. and then the actual claim being made. the way the jobs report is done or this part of it they're talking about is a survey of 60,000 folks. so the bls, bureau of labor and statistics, has a lot of people go out and do the survey. the allegation here is that one person doing the survey, just one of them, or at least one person that they know of, didn't do all of the actual households he was told to do. and so he made a bunch up. and theoretically, that could in some very small way nudge a jobs number. but it actually wouldn't have the effect, because he's one guy among many. it is just an absurd -- it is amazing to me folks are buying
this story at all, even when you actually read it. it's not the conspiracy people think it is. >> so just to be clear, ezra. from a statistical perspective, one individual influencing what was a nationwide jobs report, that individual's effect, whether they were imagining numbers or not, would be minimal, mine school. >> very small. i can't speak exactly can to it. >> theoretically. >> impossible to know internally. theoretical theoretically, very small. you're talking about a national survey of 60,000 individuals, one of the people doing that survey can't move it all that much. just not plausible. and by the way, you then saw the unemployment rate tick up the next month and then you saw it tick down and it's been on a steady downward trend ever since then. so you're just talking about a perfectly on-trend number that makes perfect sense within the context of the overall numbers. and, in fact, again, and i can't stress this enough. you're saying that the obama administration managed to fake the second to last jobs report but on the one right before the
election, they let the unemployment rate go up? hurting them in those final days? like even in the sort of weird universe one is constructing here, that is a very strange play for them to make. >> ezra klein, meticulous in everything. thank you for reading the very article. ezra klein, thank you very much. >> thank you. coming up, a social sea change, indeed. a year ago, six states allowed same-sex marriage. today illinois makes it into the sweet 16. stay with us.
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this past weekend, when in response to liz cheney's comments against same-sex marriage, mary cheney's wife, heather poe, wrote on facebook, yes, liz, in 15 states, and the district of columbia, you are my sister-in-law. three days later, those numbers are about to become obsolete. for more, i'm joined by political strategist, angela rye and msnbc contributor, professor james peterson. angela, a year ago, same-sex marriage was legal in i think six states. now it's legal in 16. is it your view that it's purely a matter of time before it extends to every state? >> martin, it is my view that it will extend to every state. i think that with the rapid pace of the 16, 6 to 16, as you just pointed out. but also the fact that earlier this year in the summer, the supreme court got something right by ensuring that doma was no long other constitutional. i think that states will follow
suit. we also saw this historically with desegregation, with integration of america. so i think that -- >> angela rye, i hate to interrupt you, but the governor pat quinn of illinois is speaking right now. we're going to take a listen. >> we're ready to get going here. i think before we start, we are a family in illinois. a large family of 13 million people. something very difficult and tragic happened over the weekend on sunday. we lost six illinoisans to deadly tornadoes across our state. so before we begin our ceremony, i think it's more than appropriate that we have a moment of silence for the six men and women who lost their lives on sunday. god bless their immortal souls. >> sorry, i just -- intervened when angela was speaking. i wanted to come to you, professor peterson. because in 1967, when the
supreme court ruled that anti miss original nation laws are unconstitutional, there were still 16 states with such laws on the books. is it your view that it will it take a supreme court ruling to make same-sex marriage legal across the country? >> i do think so, martin. i think, honestly, the federal government has a role to play here in federalizing marriage equality. and what you're seeing with some of these states, i think angela is right. that there are some states that -- we can get to 30, 35, maybe even 40 states. there will be some states that will hold out, that will require that federal piece or that supreme court ruling to make it legal across land. but what some oh of these states are seeing, martin, there are some economic benefits to equity and social justice. and actually marriage equality allows for certain economic resources to flourish, based upon the ways in which couples come together and tax rates and things of that nature. and people will just go to other states to get married, if they have to. and so i think we'll see this trickle effect continue. but ultimately, to get to 50
states, we are going to need some federal intervention here. >> angela, brian brown, the president of the national organization for marriage, wrote a letter to his fellow opponents of marriage equality in which he said this: same-sex marriage activists have run out of targets. is it the case, is it that much more difficult, angela? >> i think there are some realistic challenges, martin. there are 34 states currently that have same-sex marriage bans, active bans, some just passed in the 2000s. so pretty modern. and i do think there will be some real challenges. to james' point, it may take some federal intervention. gist mentioned before we cut into the ceremony, the fact it took federal intervention for many parts of the united states to be integrated. and just so people could use the same public rest rooms and facilities. so absolutely, that could very well be the case. >> martin, one of the things that's changed that's important
for us to note. if you go back to george w. bush's second term and the way same-sex marriage was used as a wedge issue, i think the effectiveness of that kind of strategy has dissolved. so there will be states that will still hold out and states will still resist this. the idea you could use this as a wedge issue, that's a thing of the past. >> right. and angela, finally to you. with same-sex marriage legal in illinois and hawaii, nearly 40% of this country now lives in a state with marriage equality. will the watershed moment be once this passes 50%? do you think that is what will prove to be the final pushing of the final stack of cards? >> i don't know that that's it, as much as it is there are some oh areas that are battle grounds. sometimes illinois is perceived as a battleground states. and depending whether it's leaning more progressive -- i won't even say blue or red because sometimes parties are split. i think it depends on the
progressive nature of the elected officials at the time. and in a lot of ways, we're seeing some of this unfold with the cheney sisters. there are two republicans and their father supports same-sex marriage. and yet you have another person who is running for office who is, you know, been a little nimble with their positions fortunistic reasons, probably. but nonetheless, you see some of that happening. i think we just have to kind of see what happens and people have to keep fighting for what they know to be right. >> yeah. and this ceremony as we're watching will continue, as i say, for the next probably 45 minutes where a bill-signing will occur. but for the moment, angela rye and professor james peterson, thank you so much. coming up, meals on wheels takes its fight for funding to washington. can congress keep the wheels from coming off? stay with us. [ male announcer ] this is kathleen.
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this is about our values. and our values tell us that we don't build a future, but deciding first who among the vulnerable will be left to starve. >> if history is our guide, then whenever budgets need to be cut, it's most often the poorest and most vulnerable who bear the brunt. and it was no different earlier this year, when sequestration took effect. in practice, this means that meals on wheels, a program that provides nutrition to millions of seniors who would otherwise struggle to have access to food, has lost a major part of its funding. and so, with the december 13th deadline for a budget deal fast approaching, members of the meals on wheels association of america, along with the president and ceo, ellie holder, took to capitol hill earlier today to brief senate staff on the crucial importance of meals on wheels to those who rely on the program. and i'm pleased to say we are
joined now by ellie who will ander, president of meals on wheels. good afternoon to you. >> good afternoon, martin. >> what kind of reception did you receive in washington today? did you see many senators attending your presentation? did they have an interest, a commitment to this issue? >> well, we had a warm reception. as you know, meals on wheels is a non-partisan issue. and it's really difficult not to understand the value of these programs. we had good attendance. it was focused on senate staff. but myself and several members of our board of directors have been beating the ground today, going across from the house to the senate, to meet with senators and congressmen, their staff. 20 of the 29 budget conferees, to make the case, to be sure that those who can't march on capitol hill, their voices are heard. as you know, there are millions of seniors who are dependent on meals on wheels.
it's their lifeline. >> o absolutely. some of my neighbors are reliant themselves on this provision. now, meals on wheels has already been affected by sequestration outs. i have to ask you, how damaging were these cuts to the program? >> frankly, devastating. we had a $51 million reduction in funding through what's called the older americans act, which is the act which provides the federal funding for these programs. and the pain is real, martin. we have programs that have had to add considerably or create waiting lists for the first time. they have had to reduce the number of days served. they have had to in some cases suspend service all together or even close their doors. and what do you do for the seniors who are reliant on that daily hot nutritious meal, a visit from a meals on wheels volunteer? and that safety check. that's the peace of mind. that's the meals plus that gets
lost in the translegislation. >> sure. now, aside from the clear moral imperative to feed our nation's seniors, there is also, as i understand it, an economic benefit to this program, is that right? >> that's right. and that's the message that we're really trying to get across, because it appears that the social and moral imperative is not really working. we have learned that for every dollar invested in meals on wheels, there is a savings of up to $50 in medicaid alone. that doesn't include medicare. so let's talk about why that's so significant. we can feed a senior meals on wheels for an entire year for the equivalent cost of one day in the hospital. and if we're able to keep seniors independent and healthy in their own homes for as long as they want, then we can avoid very expensive alternative care visits to the emergency room, hospitalization, long-term care. worse yet, institutionalization. so there is a huge economic
benefit. and it actually -- we view meals on wheels as a solution to the fiscal challenges that we're facing today, rather than a problem that needs to be cut further. >> and finally and briefly, if you can, how hopeful are you that the program won't suffer further cuts by the end of this year? >> well, i'm an optimist, martin, and i like to think that when you present the facts to people, they're going to make the right decision. i know that part of the challenge is not wanting to have winners and losers. and that sometimes really good programs like meals on wheels gets lost in the shuffle. but i'm trying to be the squeaky wheel to make sure that doesn't happen. >> and you, ma'am, are doing a wonderful job for many, many people who without you would be silent. ellie hollander, president and ceo of meals on wheels, thank you so much. >> thank you, martin. >> we'll be right back in a moment. the american dream is of a better future,
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thanks so much for watching this afternoon. coming up right now is my friend and colleague, ed schultz and "the ed show." good evening, americans, and welcome to "the ed show," live from new york. let's get to work. >> from an undercover police officer in washington. >> he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to one year probation. >> on the heels of the republicans voting to make sure that everybody who had access to food stamps was drug tested. it's like, what? >> congressman trey radel proves to be a rod ford conservative. >> i know what i did was wrong. >> i goofed up, eh? >> going to end up eating a steady diet of government cheese and living in a van down by the river! >> there's about a half dozen other things that i could lead with tonight, but you know what? i'm goingo