PoliticsNation | December 10, 2012
>> went to michigan today to confront a crisis that began there. but that matters to every state in the country. republicans in michigan , despite losing to state by 3 million votes to president obama have launched an extreme attack on core democratic policies. they are now pushing a far right agenda to go take down union rights and women 's rights. we've seen this in wisconsin and ohio and virginia. now, it's in michigan . president obama went to an auto auto-plan where he ripped the gop plan and crippled the state 's labor unions .
>> what we shouldn't be doing is taking away your rights to bargain for better wages. [ applause ]
>> you know, these so called right to work laws, they don't have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. what they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money. you only have to look to michigan where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry to see how unions have helped build not just the stronger middle class , but a stronger america.
>> the president is right. it's not about economics. it is about politics. the state 's republican governor, rick snyder , says he'll sign the right to work bill into law. even though he opposed this kind of anti-union push earlier this year.
>> right to work is an issue that's a very devicive issue. people feel very strongly about it. so right to work is an issue that might have its time and place but i don't believe it's appropriate in michigan during 2012 .
>> how do you go from devicive and not appropriate to sure, i'll sign. just give me a pen? snyder has simply misled voters in michigan . this weekend, the detroit free press, a paper that endorsed snyder two years ago, read an editorial blasting his vote.ing him dishon est and grotesquely disingenuous. what's going on here? who's behind all of this? turns out it's some familiar faces. the coke brothers are up to their old tricks. these billionaires are helping to fuel the anti-union drive in michigan . the same way they did in wisconsin for governor scott walker . their goal now is the same as it was then. cripple unions in order to pad their corporate profits and take down a key source of support for the democratic party . in this election, conservative groups dominated outside spending. of the top 15, 11 were republican. just four were democratic. and two of those were unions. folks, this is their strategy. they need to weaken unions. since then, the democratics only bulwark who can pour money into campaigns. they're attacking billionaire workers for political gain. it's cynical. it's reprehensible, and it has to stop. joining me now is gretchen whitmore and now an economics professor at the university of california . his latest book is called "beyond out rage." senator, there will be final votes and a big protest on this plan tomorrow. what's going to happen?
>> well, that's right. we are expecting thousands of people here at the capitol because people are angry. this governor, if the 11th hour under cover of dark in a lame duck session came out and did an about face on an issue that he said was too devicive for michigan . now they're trying to ram it through without any hearings. last week, they locked people out of the capitol. people are angry. they're going to show up tomorrow and let their voices be heard. this bill is anti-family. it's ae ee's anti-union, it's anti-america.
>> senator reich , when you look at this, it was attempted in wisconsin and in virginia and in ohio . the bigger picture here is they're using legislation to really cripple their political opponents all over the country. and enhance corporate profits without having really any way for redress from the american workers. so this is not just a michigan issue or wisconsin issue or ohio issue. this is really a national strategy by the right wing.
>> it is a national strategy by the right wing, al. it's also a new form of class warfare . the republicans and the coke brothers and other billionaires have declared war on american unions . but american unions are the representatives of the middle class , the working class . they are the means by which most americans, even today, in many industries, have the bargaining power they need to get at least decent wages. you take away unions and there's really nothing left. and this is actually worse. what's happening in michigan is worse than what happened in wisconsin because in wisconsin , you had governor scott walker going after public employee unions. here, in michigan , you've got a blank check . you're basically saying we are declaring war on all unions.
>> now, when you look at this, senator whitmore , first of all, when we talk about how the corporate supporters of the right wing are behind this, let's look at the fact that the michigan and the coke brothers. americans for prosperity recruited 300 supporters to demonstrate in front for this bill in favor of the bill. key bill sponsors are members of the coke-funded ally. so there's a direct connection in here. and they waited until after the election day . the governor said that this was inappropriate. that he wasn't for it. and, all of the sudden, after the election day , before the new legislature is sworn in in january, where they lost some seats without any notice they're ramming this through.
>> that's right. i mean, let's look at what's happening in the election. here, in michigan , mitt romney 's home state , or one of his home states, president obama just trounsed him. debbie stabinaw did extremely well. these are pro-worker, pro- women 's rights candidates. and somehow, the republicans looked at that and said we're not extreme enough? we're all scratching our heads. how do they come back to lansing and say we haven't driven an agenda that's anti-woman and anti-worker enough? how on earth can they draw that conclusion? we've rejected the anti-woman agenda of the republicans in this last election and here they go again.
>> now, when you look at the question of women , the headlines showing michigan trying to pass anti-choice, anti- women bills in this lame duck session . secretary reich . so we have them going after the democratic party . going at labor unions who have been the main resources for them. going at people's -- the middle class , as you said, who need unions to protect their livelihood. and, while we're at it, let's take a shot at women 's rights.
>> yeah. they're going after all of this, allen. this really is the legacy of citizens united in 2010 . you see, all of this money, what the supreme court did, and it did it knowing full well what would happen. and it's not just the federal level . it is more insidious at the state level, at the local level. that's where a lot of these right wing groups are actually making the most headway with the money that's coming from the coke brothers and sheldon and others that are anti-union, anti- women , anti-gay. and what they are doing is trying to use, at the local and state levels, their kind of very virulent politics against average, working people . against women . against minorities chl and this is really under the radar screen of most of the media because most of the media are focusing on washington and on the budget deficit deficit and on the fiscal cliff negotiations. this is where the rubber meets the road. this is where it's actually happening at the state level. at the local level. this is where all of that money that was released into the political system by citizens united is actually now paying off.
>> yeah, and that is what's frightening nationwide because citizen's united opens the door everywhere. and we're seeing them searching for a model on how to do this. that is why even the detroit free press, in an editorial, and, again, this is a paper that had endorsed governor snyder two years ago. it says the right to work champions, the determination to emasculate once and for all the democratic parties most reliable source of financial and organizational support. now, senator, let me say this to you. if they can get away with it in michigan , michigan has 671,000 union members, 17.5% of the work force , fifth highest in the nation. if they can get away with it in michigan , they feel they can just steam roll all over the country.
>> i think everyone should be worried what happens in michigan tomorrow and in the coming months. we know that unions are people. we're talking about people. we're talking about our nurses and our teachers and our social workers , our first responders, our corrections officers. we're talking about people. this is the middle class . these are families that are going to be impacted by this. for what? this is about politics and nothing more. these guys want to spin it that it's about something bigger. and it's just not true. this is about people's lives. and, you know, we can't afford to let this happen. and if it happens in michigan , it could happen anywhere.
>> senator whitmore and secretary reich , thank you for your time. we're going to be watching this closely and hope to have both of you back on.
>> thanks very much.
>> thank you.
>> ahead, mitt romney spotted in ver vegas watching a boxing knockout knockout. kind of fitting for a party searching for a leader, mayor of san antonio , julian castro joins us live. plus, rnc chair rich previs. we've checked it and it's not a hoax. and the living legend , harry belafonte , one of the great entertainers' activists of our time joins us with activist kerry kennedy . they're teaming up for civil rights . don't miss this. you're watching "politics nation" on msnbc.
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