NOW with Alex Wagner | July 10, 2012
>>> is "now." joining me today, radio host kurt andersen . author of the book "true believers" which hits book shelves and online book shelves today. joan walsh , editor at large at salon.com. msnbc contributor and co-host of msnbc's "the cycle," steve kornacki, who may or may not be the hardest working man in television and political correspondent for "the nation" ari berman. president obama is in iowa now, where he's expected to hammer home the issue of tax fairness and push to extend the bush tax cuts only for households making less than $250,000. governor romney is suggesting this amounts to class warfare .
>> he demonized republicans, and continues to be highly divisive not only to congress members but also the american people . we do not pit american against american. we don't attack one street or another or one city or another or one person or another. the president's announcement that he plans on extending just for certain classes of americans , what he's really saying is that those that are job creators and small businesses are going to see a massive tax increase and that will kill jobs.
>> but it is not just republicans who are uncomfortable with some of chicago's strategies. the "new york times" quotes a new york businessman who is also an obama fund-raiser saying i just got back from rhode island on my boat, referring to criticism of mr. romney 's much photographed vacation boating last week on new hampshire, i can hold 12 people on my boat. i don't feel that i'm out of touch with americans or that i'm a bad person. i find it offensive and i'm a supporter. joining us now from capitol hill is chairwoman of the democratic national committee , florida congresswoman, debbie wasserman schultz . great to have you on the program.
>> thank you. great to be with you again.
>> i wonder what you make of that comment, this idea of class warfare . is there any concern that this is going to stick?
>> well, look, president obama has been fighting for the 98% of americans that would benefit from making sure that americans get a tax break if they're making less than $250,000. in the continued recovery, president obama has been focusing on creating jobs and getting the economy turned around and fighting to make sure that we can extend those tax breaks from 2001 and 2003 for the middle class and let the ones that focus on millionaires and billionaires, the wealthiest most fortunate americans , let those expire because everybody has to pay fair their share while we move the economy forward. so 98% of americans , it's kind of hard to say that that's class warfare . i know don peebles and i know he's a supporter of the president but at the end of the day , 98% of americans getting a tax break now is critical so we can continue to move this economy forward.
>> i want to ask you about fund-raising because certainly, the talk amongst a lot of the business community or those on wall street is that the president isn't a real supporter. to what degree do you think that's affected your fund-raising capabilities? we know the numbers for june, mitt romney -- team romney beat team obama in fund-raising for the last two months and we have been flooded with a series of e-mails in our in-boxes, channeling, i think the only word i could use is desperation and the latest obama e-mail to supporters was entitled no one should have the power to buy an election. we may never beat them at the fund-raising game, but the gap is growing and if we don't reverse the trend, we will lose. there has been this sort of ongoing tone of anxiety. i won't say defeat, but is that something that you feel inside the campaign or is this sort of just a very good strategy to raise money ?
>> well, there's no question that we're in the process of setting up the largest, most dynamic grassroots presidential campaign in history. we are so proud that we have a core base of 2.4 million donors. the average contribution is about $50.23, and so this is truly a people powered campaign. as compared to the billionaire-fueled, billionaire-infused campaign that mitt romney is running. so it's clear that this is going to be a campaign in which the incumbent very likely gets outspent by the challenger. the contrast between how these campaigns are financed couldn't be more clear. we've got regular folks fueling president obama 's campaign. 98% of our contributions are under $250. hardly any of those contributions on mitt romney 's side. you've got the super pacs that are betting on mitt romney because he wants to take us back to the failed policies of the past so they want to make sure that they put as much money as they can into his success, and that's the choice that's laid before voters leading up to november 6. so making sure we can continue that grassroots support is going to be critical.
>> i want to continue on that team of billions and millions. i have to ask you because you're from florida, you know all about tropical getaways.
>> yes. domestic ones.
>> there is a new ad out from the obama campaign asking how long can mitt romney keep information on his investments and overseas tax havens secret and why did he in the first place. i know the president has commented on this a little with local affiliates yesterday but congresswoman, i have to ask you, do you think there is something illegal here? certainly the line of the rhetoric would certainly seem to suggest that, as it has been voiced by folks on the left and from the president's re- election campaign .
>> that's the problem. we don't know. because mitt romney has only released one year of tax returns and an estimate of another year. that's totally contrary to his own father, when he ran for president, who said that releasing only one year is unacceptable because it could be an anomaly. mitt romney needs to come clean and release multiple years of his tax returns so we can see why he invested in a bermuda corporation and transferred it to his wife's name the day before he became governor of massachusetts . so we can see why he's invested in swiss bank accounts and accounts in the cayman islands . and you know, we also need to know why does -- what is the allure of investments out of the country, when he headed up bain capital , he was a pioneer in outsourcing and shipped jobs overseas. it would be nice if we had a candidate for president who was committed to america. mitt romney is committed to making sure that either he makes the most money as humanly possible, or his investors do. that's evidenced by his track record in shipping jobs overseas and making sure that he has investments that we don't know why he invested in offshore accounts. but most folks that i know, they make their investments in a bank in america, most american business men invest here and if you're running for president, that certainly should be your commitment.
>> it is certainly fair to say that atms in the cayman islands maybe not as convenient as atms onshore but what do i really know. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz , thank you for joining us.
>> thanks, alex.
>>> i want to open this up to our panel. you have been so silent for the top of the show, it's painful. steve kornacki, are we going to eventually see mitt romney 's tax returns ?
>> i'm starting to think haley barbour came out yesterday and basically said yes, if i was mitt romney i would release. haley barbour hasn't been the biggest, most supportive romney backer but he's a prominent republican. it reminded me of when we were going through this at the republican primaries . at that point back in january romney had released zero as was trying to hold that off until he got through the primaries and chris christie said mitt romney sh should go forward and release these. i'm starting to think this is building towards something where there will be more of a release here. will it be as definitive as what his father put out, i doubt that. i do think there will be more coming at some point.
>> i think the obama campaign has to say over and over again, swiss bank accounts , cayman islands . the script writes itself.
>> it does. but what if we're going to learn more bad things from his tax returns ? i really do think since we've sat here since january, we've had similar conversations before and it hasn't really made much of a difference, i'm not saying there's anything illegal. i won't go there. but there is something that's being hidden. otherwise you just get them out there.
>> i very much doubt, very much doubt, i will take everyone's bets today, there is anything illegal that's going to be revealed. of course, it's in congresswoman wasserman schultz 's interest and the campaign's interest to say i don't know. however, a guy running for president with offshore accounts every which way and we know why he did it. she says we don't know why he did it. yes, we do, to lower his effective tax rate . so to the degree that just sells the idea that the system is rigged for the super rich like mitt romney , that ain't good no matter what --
>> that's the big problem. this feeds into a larger narrative about romney that he's out of touch with most people, that he's basically the walking embodiment of the people that americans hate most, which is the .0001% that are gaming the system. he doesn't come off like warren buffett . he comes off as a guy who made a lot of money doing not necessarily illegal but potentially ethically dubious thing in disaster vulture capitalism. this will really hurt romney .
>> you had to add disaster. what's interesting is polls are showing that it's working. not just the bain attacks. now "the washington post "/abc poll shows romney 's business background is that a major reason to support him, 16% of the public thinks it is. 32% thinks it's a major reason to oppose mitt romney . 49% think it's not a major factor. to me that says they don't know yet. the numbers are not looking particularly good