Melissa Harris-Perry | December 01, 2012
>>> i suppose republicans in congress didn't learn their lesson about grover norquist when he was imbroiled in the dirty dealings of jack abramhauf. they are now. they finally realize he is not a voting member of the body. now, republican senators, graham, corker, congressman peter king have said they no longer feel obligated to the norquist tax pledge. ha has kept norquist relevant all this time? his war chest , money coming from the powerful special interest groups that are lobbying to keep taxes low. joining us from san francisco is lee fong, contributing writer for the nation magazine who has been following the money trail. hi, lee. nice to see you.
>> good morning.
>> splin plain to me. i think we have the information of him as an independent actor. he is really embedded in the web. talk to me about what this is?
>> i looked at grover norquist 's foundation. over 66% of its more than two-thirds of husband budget came from just two billionaire-backed nonprofits. if you peel back the layers, the people giving money and propping up norquist are folks like steve schwartzman and investors that have a lot to gain from not cutting taxes. they pay a shockingly low rate. they don't want to pay a penny more. when he says he is going to retaliate against some of the folks that are deviating from the pledge, he means his donor network will go after these folks with attack ads and money for primary challenges. that's where his real power base comes from.
>> earlier this week, my colleague, chris hayes tweeted that, let's be clear. it is not grover norquist who is the reason that republicans are against these tax increases. it is rich people . so grover becomes the rich person or the person who is a representative of these rich folks. do we need to stay focused on where the real pressure is coming from.
>> when norquist goes out and says, we need to cut government, cut subsidies but don't touch any of the tax credits , here is what he is really saying. what's the difference between a $1 million oil tax credit and a $1 million oil tax subsidy, nothing. they are economically equivalent. a tax cut can't be touched. if you do that, you are raising taxes . he is known for going around capitol hill threatening anyone that ties to cut these billion dollars in wasteful tax cuts . he is providing an idealogical cover for corporate lobbying. the oil and natural gas industry provides significant funding to his foundation.
>> i want to bring in my guest on exactly this question. dan?
>> a very important point that i hope the president will get to. a real consolidated energy proposal. it is a direction he has been going, a little bit in the direction of clean coal i think that's the wrong direction to go. on the bigger picture, there has been nothing -- if you have to point to one thing, i'm always talking about this, that talked about the disparity, the wealth disparity we are looking at, just one thing, it has been this down ward slope in the upper bracket, marginal tax rates that have caused that. this president, that's why it is so important for us to hold on this. this president obama is not moving things back to the 50s or the 60s.
>> he is moving back to the '90s.
>> he is moving things back just ten years to a place where even just turning the boat around a little bit at this point would be great. that's where we get all these crazy figures about 93% of the wealth that was created over the last four years went to 91% of the people. the other 9% was left for the other 7% of the people.
>> for everybody else ?
>> that's right. that's because of marginal tax rates . boehner doesn't have the votes on a marginal tax rate .
>> the huge support for the president is when we look at public opinion polling , we see that 60% of americans support raising taxes on income over $250,000.
>> eight of the ten wealthiest counties in the nation voted for obama. rich people are in favor, surprisingly, a lot of them, in raising taxes . they know it is unfair.
>> how do we put what lee is talking about, the incentive structure that's crafted by that 60%?
>> lee made such an important point, which wears repeating. grover is this flashy mascot that gets in the way of the transactional politics at play. when you drive that wedge, for example, bill crystal is not a billionaire. he has often aligned himself with billionaire policies and he is on box news saying we have to get off this billionaire giveaway, republicans, and do something else. that's a guy that has worked very closely with the establishment of the republican party . there are other bill crystals out there. one of the things you can do with the power and the lists that obama has, he haept done yet, maybe he will, is try to drive those activists towards targeted campaigns against groups, companies, even pundits and other sort of establishment figures and try to build a knew coalition. i am not of the opinion that every republican wants to go off the political cliff.
>> why do we keep asking him what he will accept in these fiscal cliff debates?
>> one of the great norquist tricks is a mass amnesia spell over washington. people have forgotten he laundered money for jack abram. he helped tom delay with a kfrnlts street prospect. he was' registered lobbyist for fannie mae . he was a tobacco industry hack throughout the '90s. folks have forgotten that. they take him pretty seriously.
>> we used a stuffed grover doll on this set at one point. we are trying to take him as not seriously as possible. i appreciate so much, lee, the work you have done to help us see what grover norquist is. thank you to lee fong in san francisco and thank you to dan dicker here at the table in nerdland and the rest are back for more.
>>> up next, the similarities are undeniable. an african- american teen shot dead. an older white man arrested. again, it happened in florida. is there no presumption of innocence for young black men. my letter is next.