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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Detroit Economics


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SCHULTZ: So, bottom line here is that the city made a commitment they can`t live up to, so it`s the workers` fault. On Friday, a judge in Lansing, Michigan, ruled the bankruptcy was unconstitutional. It violates state law to lessen public pension benefits. It`s going to be a fight.

A short time later, the Michigan attorney general challenged the judge`s ruling. It`s possible this fight could go all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. I think you can count on it.

For more, let`s turn to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, good to have you with us.

The template I think is being set by the conservatives that if they can get Detroit to go through this, it won`t be so hard for other cities to do the same thing and the road to privatization starts.

Your thoughts on this. Is this a slippery slope?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: It absolutely is. It`s not only the road toward privatization. I`ll tell you what else it is.

If in Detroit as a result of the bankruptcy process, you see massive cuts in the pensions that workers there work for, were promised. If you think that other cities and other states throughout this country will not be saying, hey, see that? See what Detroit did? We can also make massive cuts in the pensions that we promised our workers. Another attack on the working class of this country.

Furthermore, I think what you`re seeing in Detroit is the result of horrendous trade policies that have gone on for decades which are resulted in the shutdowns of tens of thousands of factories in America. Detroit used to be the automobile leader of not only our country but of the world. And yet now, Germany produces twice the automobiles that we do. The industrialization in America has a lot to do with Detroit`s economic situation.

SCHULTZ: And, of course, we bailed out Wall Street. We have come to the rescue of others. The automobile industry got a loan. They, of course, have survived and doing a lot better.

Why is it the federal government in a position or of the philosophy to help out a city that once actually arguably saved this country back in the middle of the last century when we had to arm, we were able to make things, and we arguably saved the world? And now, look at Detroit. Now we want to kick him into the river and let them float away.

Why can`t we have federal health? What is the roadblock here?

SANDERS: Well, the roadblock is, is that our friends on Wall Street and the major corporations of the country wield incredible power in the Congress and in the White House. They are right now all over the Congress now fighting for lower taxes for themselves. At the same time as they want to cut Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.

But if there is a silver lining in all of what is happening in Detroit -- I`ll tell what you it is, Ed. It may be a focus on the disparities that we`re seeing in America today. Do you know what unemployment is in Detroit today? It is 18 percent.

Do you know what black youth unemployment is in America? It`s 40 percent.

The other day, the president was on television talking about Trayvon Martin. And I thought that was a very moving speech. I hope he now begins to talk about what`s happening to millions of African-American kids and young people in general in this country, who as a result of this disastrous economy are unable to get even entry level jobs.

SCHULTZ: Well, the president made a comment, he didn`t know if he was talking about a new federal program or not. He wasn`t sure if that was the road that they should travel. I`m paraphrasing here. But he wants to do something to help young black youth.

I`m not afraid to say, and I think there are more members in Congress that believe this that want to be counted. There is nothing wrong with the federal program to put people back to work. You occupy kids, you give them something to do, they come home at night tired, and the next thing you know, they stay out of trouble.

What`s wrong with a major jobs program to turn -- with federal dollars, to occupy kids, to give them opportunities, to get them some revenue, to give them a chance to get some dignity back and some self-esteem and go forward? I know you`re all for it.

SANDERS: All right.


SANDERS: Well, it`s not only I`m for it. It`s part of the immigration bill. I passed the billion and a half dollar jobs program for youth. But 400,000 kids in a two-year period back to work. Is that enough? No. Is that a start? Yes.

Look, what`s going on in America is the people on top are doing phenomenally well and we are not paying attention to the fact that real unemployment is 14 percent in this country -- higher for minorities, higher for young people, higher for people in cities like Detroit.

So, we need not only a significant jobs program for our young people. We need to understand that the great crisis in this country today is large scale unemployment and lower wages. While we`re seeing an uptick in Detroit for able manufacturing, let`s not forget that many of the new workers --


SANDERS: -- getting into these companies, are earning substantially less than older workers.

SCHULTZ: I want to play -- go ahead.

SANDERS: Go ahead, Ed. I`m sorry.

The important point is we have to focus on the economy and creating a
millions of jobs.

SCHULTZ: We do. Everybody`s attitude changes when you have a job. I want to play a clip of Governor Snyder talking about the Detroit City government. Here it is.


SNYDER: We need to resolve this issue with city government in Detroit, because that`s the last obstacle in my view to say now we can grow Detroit. We can be the great city that it deserves to be again. And that`s important -- critically important to making Michigan a great state again.


SCHULTZ: That is so fraud lent on his part. This whole thing is about the emergency city manager`s law where you circumvent local elections and bring somebody in who is appointed to run it the way he runs.

Senator, what`s your response to this?

SANDERS: Well, I guess I`m kind of old-fashioned and conservative. I believe in democracy. And I believe in the right -- as a former mayor, I believe in the right of people to elect their local government.

SCHULTZ: Yes. And that is being taken away by the very people who are having this cast upon them. I don`t think anybody would vote to take their pension away. I don`t know that`s kind of where I`m at.

Senator, always great to have you on THE ED SHOW. I appreciate it so much.


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