Morning Joe | February 04, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe " at 46 past the hour. joining us now from "bloomberg businessweek," elizabeth dwoskin. your column for "bloomberg businessweek" is on how hillary clinton helped silicon valley on her way out the door. and in part, you write this. "one of hillary clinton 's new initiatives, the alliance for an affordable internet merits attention. if successful, the project, a public-private partnership between the state department , the worldwide web foundation and tech companies such as google, microsoft and intel, could end up helping many people in poor countries get onto the web. it could also cement long-term ties between the state department and the companies while opening new markets and reaching new customers for silicon valley . it's another sign of how her legacy will play itself out for years to come. in terms of what she's done.
>> exactly. i've written a lot about how she has tried to turn the state department into sort of a business promotion machine. and traditionally this has been with, you know, industries like aerospace, companies like boeing, the tech world, you know, coming into the state department and getting help from the u.s. government is newer. but obviously, google, yahoo! these companies have a lot to gain from getting people internet access in places like africa all around the developing world . on average in developed countries , about 70% of people are online. it's only 20% of people in the developing world . and the reason is that the costs are prohibitive. and it's actually not because people are so poor. it's because the market is completely skewed. so you have silicon valley really wants to get in. and hillary clinton 's going to try to help them.
>> go ahead.
>> what do you think that actually means in practice? alliances get announced every day. most of them never see the light of day in terms of any substantive impact. how does this actually work? what actually happens? who's putting up the money? i'm assuming there must be money involved. why do we think this one's going to actually accomplish something?
>> the reason this was interesting to me, actually, the story starts with this woman whose name is ann mae chang. she was the senior product developer at google. she worked 25 years in silicon vall valley. she said i'm done with the private sector , i'm going to go into the public sector and joins the state department . she goes to nairobi billed by eric schmidt as africa's potential silicon valley . she moves to nairobi to figure out why have the kenyans been so successful in bringing in the internet when getting access to their people when no one else has been able to do this. she starts inviting her former colleagues, people she knows from silicon valley to come in. and what they're looking at is that, you know, for you to get an internet connection in -- she's very smart and interesting. if i'm going to be in, like, ethiopia and i want to go on the web, my web traffic actually has to go all the way to paris and back, which slows down traffic. it costs providers a lot of money to, you know, use the international fiber optic cables. so basically, there's a lot of things that governments can do which would make the internet cheaper and hence help american companies come in, but they haven't. kenya has invested. so she studied heavily this kenya example of why this government was able to do so. and we don't know if it's going to work, but, you know, in kenya , the companies were able to make a lot of inroads. and so the question is now will they be able to do that in other places? and i think that it has a good shot.
>> you know, hillary has really turned the state department into sort of a hybrid between the state department and the commerce department , hasn't she? it seems to me like she's done the sort of things that you expect the commerce department to do. but never really did it as effectively.
>> right, as we talked about, the commerce department is a backwater department that people don't really pay attention to, and hillary clinton has this giant global megaphone, being who she is, and she has gone around the world basically behind the scenes sort of cementing deals for companies. this hasn't, you know, led to any major deals yet, but it is interesting to see how silicon valley is starting to use lobbying and diplomacy to get what it wants.
>> let's get one for must-read in. here's paul krugman . he writes -- he makes a lot of sense in this one. he writes in "the new york times," "friends of fraud. what republicans are demanding, basically, is that the protection, the consumer financial protection bureau, lose its independence. they want its actions subjected to a veto by other bank-centered financial regulators ensuring that consumers will once again be neglected, and they also want to take away its guaranteed funding, opening it, meaning the consumer financial protection bureau, to interest-group pressure. how can the gop be so determined to make america safe for financial fraud, with the 2008 crisis still so fresh in our memory? in part because republicans are deep in denial about what actually happened to our financial system and economy. on the right, it's now complete orthodoxy that do-gooder liberals, especially former representative barney frank , somehow caused the financial disaster by forcing helpless bankers to lend to those people." and they're all so threatening to filibuster the appointment of cordray. they just won't let this newbaunew bureau do its job. they don't want it around.
>> this is one that we have to agree with krugman. he's right. the fact is that out of all -- without relitigating how we got into the financial crisis and all the rest of it, the fact is that a lot of bad stuff happened. they set up a consumer financial protection agency in order to protect consumers just the way we have various other agencies that protect consumers from other things. and it was passed in a law. and now the republicans are basically saying we're not going to confirm anybody. and i don't think that's sort of playing fair.
>> i saw a piece the other day that talked about -- a conference i think that you were at in washington where bill kristol talked about you've got people looking back at how the republican party went wrong, its problems that need to get remedied. and kristol made the point that the financial meltdown, republicans had never given a coherent explanation of what their theory of the case was. his analysis, it sounds just like paul krugman 's analysis. it's my view that if they agree about something, it's probably right.
>> and the argument was that if you didn't like dodd-frank, then bill kristol , said republicans, you should have come up with your own alternative like republicans used to do. they haven't done that. in this case all they're doing is standing in the way.
>> it's not just -- it's not just the consumer financial protection bureau. you have 135 nominees right now for positions across government that aren't high-profile positions but are essential to the functioning of government that are being held up because of this slowed-down nomination process.
>> and boy, i was really surprised, steve, by the ruling that basically undermined any president's ability on appointments. i doubt that's going to be upheld by the court because it's republican and democratic administrations have so depended on it. but wow, it certainly puts a freeze on everything right now.
>> first, i'm not sure it's not going to be upheld by the court. i'm not a constitutional lawyer. but the arguments for why recess appointments shouldn't be legal seem reasonable to me. if you don't have recess appointments and you have this gridlock in getting anybody confirmed --
>> then nothing happens.
>> -- then nothing happens, and it's terrible. it's just another step back for government.
>> elizabeth, thank you so much. great to have you on the show. we'll be reading your piece on hillary clinton online at businessweek.com. where you also have been writing on the issue of immigration reform . so we'll watch for that.
>> love to get you back on that, too. something might happen in washington.
>> yeah, maybe no gridlock.
>>> still ahead, former senior adviser to the president, david axelrod . keep it right here on