Morning Joe | December 12, 2012
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." just looking on my twitter feed here, " washington post "/abc poll of handling of fiscal cliff negotiations, obama, 47% approve, 46% disapprove. boehner, 24% approve. 54% disapprove. i would say, the republican party continues to have a branding problem.
>> there is.
>> or a disintegrating problem in washington.
>> it is a branding problem that was born of chaos in the primary process that continues. there is a great "politico" article that actually talks about the republican problem with branding. and talks about --
>> it's a great piece.
>> have you seen this?
>> the republican party has a branding problem. these are researchers that say -- we asked 22, 23 different topics, whether americans related more to the democratic party or the republican party . 22 of the 23, they appeal more to democrats.
>> it is a generalized, massive branding problem over what's happened nationally over the past year.
>> except in the south.
>> the piece, in part, points out that unlike people who sit around here, most people, normal people out there in america react emotionally to politics when they hear phrases, they react emotionally. does this represent hope? fear? they go with hope.
>> there's also some substance to it. that the republican party in washington is taking positions that the democrats have correctly shown to be inimacable. there's a big difference. huge dichbs.
>> what a difference between the federal level and state level where republicans on the state level control 60% of the governors. they have a majority of state senators nationwide. they have a majority of state legislators nationwide. but you get to d.c., and republicans in d.c., richard wolffe , my god. it reminds me of the famous quote of churchill. when winston's right, winston's right. but when he's wrong, my god. one of his friends said that about him.
>> it was true. churchill also said that, you know, the definition of success is going from failure to failure without lots of enthusiasm. i think by that measure, republicans are doing really well.
>> we're doing great.
>> it's not just a branding problem. it's a policy problem.
>> until they start shifting on policies -- look, we're seeing some of this talk come out of some of these smarter republican governors, people like governor jindal talking about education disparities.
>> there are some moves afoot. whether that will take hold, how that translates into real policy as opposed to rhetoric, hey, let's watch it unfold.
>> you know, if we only had a republican governor to talk to.
>> oh, you know, here we go. joining us now from lansing, michigan , the republican governor of michigan , governor rick snyder. the issue at hand, the lead story, and that's the right-to-work legislation. you say it's going to lead to more and better jobs for people in the state of michigan . how?
>> well, it will. if you look at -- you just need to look to indiana which passed similar legislation back in february. and the track record's clear. they've had a lot of companies come to indiana and making that one of their decisions to look to indiana . in fact, they've had 31 different companies accept offers from the indiana economic development corporation since that time that are accounting for thousands of jobs. so it's clear that companies are now coming to indiana that previously didn't have them on the list. so it will lead to more and better jobs, and that will happen here in michigan as well. but this legislation was primarily about being pro-worker, about giving workers freedom of choice . but the second added benefit is this jobs effect.
>> i'm not sure they're going to appeal that way.
>> governor, you had said before you weren't going to bring up this legislation because it was too divisive for the state . but you decided to bring it up anyway. what changed your mind?
>> well, what happened, going back to 2009 when i started a campaign, i looked at it and said over 80% of the work force in michigan isn't unionized. so it's not a relevant issue to most michiganders and as a practical matter, we had much more pressing things to take care of. we've done tax reform . we've balanced our budget. we're paying down debt. education reform . a long list of important things that were higher priorities. what happened was this last summer. labor leaders decided to start a ballot initiative to put something on michigan 's ballot regarding collective bargaining . and again, i believe in collective bargaining , but they went to a huge overreach to do something in michigan 's constitution. and i asked them not to move ahead because i said if you do this, you're going to start a divisive discussion on labor issues that include collective bargaining but also right-to-work. they went ahead with the proposal. it was called proposal two. it was roundly defeated by our citizens in the election. and when that ended after the election, right-to-work just came more and more up as a very divisive issue from both sides. so the discussion was going on. and since it was getting louder and louder, i thought it best to take a leadership position on it. so you look at the issue. i believe it was the right thing to do. stepped up, moved on and let's get to more pressing issues such as education and training issues.
>> the auto industry is still a big employer in your state . and the auto industry has done really well in the last several years in spite of what you see as being an obstacle to business, that is having strong unions. how do you square your statement that unions are somehow bad for business with the fate and the thriving nature of the auto industry in your state over the last several years?
>> actually, i've never said unions are bad for business. and i don't believe this is actually anti- union . if you look at it, i believe this is pro-worker. because the way i view it is, workers now have freedom to choose.
>> hang on. are you serious? are you serious? this is not anti-unions? at its core, undermines the ability for unions to organize. you can make any argument you like --
>> all right, richard. let's let him answer the question.
>> this does not deal with organizing or collective bargaining , this has nothing to do with the relationship between an employer and union . this is about the relationship between unions and workers. and this is about giving workers the freedom to choose, and unions have to be in a position to present a good value proposition . if you look at the history of unions in michigan , we had very strong labor movement here. if you go to the last century, people flocked to join unions because they saw value in that. fast forward to today, shouldn't unions still have to present a value proposition ? and if they do, people will join. people will want to be part of a union . and if they don't provide value, people shouldn't be forced to pay for something they don't see any value in. so again, this should make unions more effective in terms of having to put a value proposition to workers.
>> governor, while i made a similar argument earlier that workers shouldn't be compelled to have to pay from their salary to a union with whom they disagree, i would not go so far as to say what you've just said, which is that this helps unions. i mean, it undermines unions' ability to stay vibrant, right?
>> it really leaves it up to the union to decide and innovate as to what their value proposition is. i don't view it as pro or anti- union . unions just need to be responsive to people to step up and deliver value and workers should have that choice. they shouldn't be compelled to join something they don't see value in.
>> come on.
>> governor, if i agree with you, and if i heard your statement that you just made correctly, that this is aimed at employees not having to pay into something that they don't put a value on. so according to the right-to-work legislation now, they can belong to a union , but they don't have to have their dues extracted from their paycheck because they don't put a value on it. will those workers accept the pay raises that the unions negotiate for them?
>> well, again, they're essentially told they have to be in that relationship. it's an exclusive relationship that the unions have with the employer. so they don't have an option with that.
>> so that's a rather divisive workplace in the future.
>> again, in right-to-work states, you don't see that division. actually, we had good people up here in michigan that came from right-to-work states. and i talked to a number of them. i actually sat with them during a press conference. and when you listen to them, they actually decided to join the union because they saw value. but they really appreciated having the choice. so again, if unions are showing value, people will want to put in dollars to be contributors to something that's giving them value.
>> let me ask this.
>> dare we? dare we? only if you're sweet.
>> i think you should bese you were sighing -- you were sighing more than al gore in his first debate with george w. bush .
>> you're right. you're right.
>> carl, do you have a question for the governor and not a statement?
>> 15 seconds.
>> i have a question.
>> governor, let's see how this works.
>> i have a loaded question .
>> we're holding our -- no.
>> my loaded question would be, how do you distinguish your position on this from a real question about the welfare of workers in a state that historically unions have had a huge role in and in making michigan a better place ?
>> that's a great question. governor.
>> and political warfare. versus cultural and political warfare.
>> if you go back, again, in the last century, in the middle of the century, the unions did a lot of great things. they helped with working conditions, wages, so many great things. but if you come to today, in many respects, unions are a declining percentage of the work force . michigan was just third in high-tech jobs being created. most of those jobs will not be union jobs. we're seeing high-paying jobs come to michigan without a union . in fact, if you look at our state over the last decade, we've suffered a lot being a not right-to-work in terms of personal income , not just that reason but many reasons. we dropped from 16th from 36th in terms of per capita income. we've started to come back now. i believe giving workers choice, you look at the results in indiana , they have more and better jobs coming to indiana today than they had before, and i think we'll see that same phenomenon in michigan .
>> governor rick snyder, we appreciate you coming on. we know you're in the middle of a tough political battle up there, but it's very important for our viewers to hear what's going on on both sides. it's very important for me because, well, i don't like being alone all the time. thanks a lot, governor, for being here. look forward to seeing you soon. it is really a great challenge. it is a great challenge moving forward, especially, you know, michigan , mike, the state of all states to look at, once the fourth largest city in america , detroit.
>> detroit, yeah.
>> once the wealthiest city in america . not so long ago. in 1960 , i think. and they've been losing jobs overseas in waves.
>> the history of the united autoworkers. instrumental in the history of racial, economic and social justice in this country. a million members, dues-paying members, the uaw as recently as 15 or 20 years ago, down to maybe about 350,000. but it's always a positive thing to end on when you see increasing numbers of republicans coming out pro-choice.
>> yes. and you know what? i'm always discouraged when you have an increasing number of progressives being anti-choice.
>> look at the polls.
>> telling workers --
>> i think my head's going to explode.
>> we're all sitting on our hands over here right now.
>> sitting on your hands? you were grunting and groaning more than --
>> i'm the son of a union organizer . and at the same time, unions need to reform, but that's not the answer.
>> cultural warfare.
>> it's definitely a sign of the times .
>> i don't want to finish this sentence, and groaning more.
>>> coming up, can president obama and speaker boehner find room for compromise? our next guest explains how the presidential campaign has undermined the fiscal cliff negotiations. we're back in a