tv News Nation MSNBC January 24, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm EST
hi, everyone. i'm tamron hall. following breaking news. >> it's clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military's mission of defending the nation. the fact is that they have become an integral part of our ability to perform our mission. >> just minutes ago, defense secretary leon panetta announced the military will no longer ban women from combat. initially women will be assigned to combat communications, logistics and drivers. gradually they'll work closer to battle as medics and corp.men and operate artillery before
becoming combat troops. they would to volunteer and meet the same physical standards as men. whole process would take two to three years. but in reality, women have been serving on the front lines in iraq and afghanistan for the past ten years. as of today, look at this number. 152 female service members have lost their lives, they have been killed in iraq and afghanistan. and at least 958 more wounded. in all, 292,000 women deployed to iraq and afghanistan. joining me now our special panel, a former marine corps captain, executive director of the service women's action network, a woman to file class action lawsuit to challenge the military's ban on women in combat. also military analyst retired army come cell jack jacobs, a recipient of the national medal of honor and michael smerkonish with us. it's a great pleasure to have you on. when this news came out
yesterday to the fact that we would have this announcement from secretary panetta, the discussions right away went in the direction of is this the right decision. i know you believe this is the right decision. >> absolutely. this was the right decision. and we have been waiting for years and many of my sisters in arms waiting for decades for this decision and women have fought in the u.s. military since the revolutionary war. they just had to disguise themselves as men to fight for their country. and so, this is a long time coming but the significant thing about this announcement is really that it came from the joint chiefs. secretary panetta got the recommendations of the generals in charge of the military and this came from within the military. it's extremely validating for any woman serving in uniform, but particularly for the almost 300,000 women that served in iraq and afghanistan since 2001. this is an incredible validation for their service, their sacrifices and the lack of recognition that many have not received as a result of combat
exclusion and they're finally going to get their day. >> to your point, it is pointed out that the most that senate democrats do as late as last month is ask for a study for women in combat roles as part of the national authorization act. the white house, obviously, on path or clearly in support of the movement. but to your point it really was the military to push. very similar, i think, in some ways to what we saw with the inclusion of gays openly serving in our military that it had to really come from those who fight on the ground, the commanders and all the way down. >> absolutely. this was a common sense decision by the joint chiefs. they had all the proof in the world from ten years in war. they had seen women occupying positions, every position under the sun that commanders could conceivably create within the bounds of the combat exclusion policy for female engagement teams, women manning machine guns, leading convoys, fired at virtually all over the
battlefield. >> right. >> there were no front lines and we didn't need extra studies or research and the interesting thing that that parallel to don't ask don't tell is very good because i think the military learned from that example that it didn't want to be pushed in to making that decision by the courts and it was very close to that situation. here, you know, again, we have used the courts to gently nudge d.o.d. in the right direction and i think the lawsuit was in part why i think d.o.d. made the announcement as quickly as it did but we give credit to the joint chiefs for moving much more quickly than we expected. >> colonel jack jacobs is here. one of the headlines, women in combat, shattering the brass ceiling. john mccain's decision, i support the decision. i think women are fully qualified to carry out the mission but i want to see the same physical standard requirements. nothing of the like of a change, women would have to fit the same requirements that are in place right now for men. what is your reaction?
>> i think they're not too difficult to attain. young people whether they're men or women can quite easily attain the physical standards established for the forces. there are different physical forces for special operations forces, for rangers for s.e.a.l.s and so on. they're more difficult to attain but for infantry, armor, artillery units, i don't think women, young people have any problem whatsoever with them. >> i think it's interesting and people may not realize that women limited and i want to pull up the number. quinnipiac poll, should women be allowed to serve in combat roles? 75% say yes. 22% say no. also limited how far they could rank in the military. >> if you increase the number of women who are in combat roles, in combat units, you're by definition increasing the accessibility to higher rank. we have a significant number of women in fairly high positions
in all the services but increasing combat units of women you increase number of women at higher rank. >> michael, let's bring you in. politico and a couple of other articles pointed out, not a huge groundswell of opposition. very different reaction for the most part than 15 years ago, maybe even 20 years ago but it bears reminding that it was rick santorum in some trouble on the campaign trail trying to get the nomination for the gop and discussed women in combat roles and read some reaction today from a few conservative groups. penny nann, president of concerned women for america. she says the point of the military's to protect the country. anything that distracts from that is detrimental. our military cannot continue to choose social experimentation and political correctness over combat readiness. lieutenant general jerry boykin, executive of family research
council saying the people making this decision are doing so as part of another social experiment. two conservative groups. i don't have to tell you both including this wording of social experiment. what do you make of that, michael? >> i make of it that the opposition to this issue is muted compared to where it was as you say ten years ago. i was on the radio ten years ago. this is the sort of an issue that would have illuminated all of the telephone lines and talk radio listeners in opposition to opening the ranks relative to combat. i just discussed it and i had a very difficult time finding people to speak out in opposition to it. it's much like gay rights. i think there's a sea change on this issue in the last decade or so in the country. >> and it is interesting when you hear someone like penny nann say your role in the mail tear or in the future in a combat role is a social experiment of political correctness.
what would your response to her or others that feel women in the combat role is a social experiment and something of political correctness? >> i think those comments are extremely irrelevant. i don't think they're based on the facts on the ground. the interesting thing is, again, i agree with michael. ten years ago we were talking about americans' fears of women coming home in body bags and you don't hear that conversation at all anymore. no legitimate person is going to say that anymore. it's gross disservice to the women that did make the ultimate sacrifice in iraq and afghanistan. the voices are -- they make no sense. they're ir relevant today. >> colonel? >> one more thing that comes across my mind. i happen to be a fan of universal service. i think everybody -- >> you have said that many times. >> i'll say it again. >> absolutely. >> i would like to see everybody serve, men and women and any opportunity we have to increase the franchise of serving in uniform ought to be applauded. >> other countries allowing women to take part in front line
fighting, israel, italy, norway, new zealand. this is part of the conversation of serving openly and not hide who they are to represent the nation. all of these other countries that allowed gays to serve in the military openly. >> we have to -- we have a very small number of people defending a large number of people. we have to increase the franchise. it will increase the number of people who rise to high rank among women. i think it's very, very important and i think it's good for the service overall. >> michael, back to again some of the reaction of people that you've spoken with today. since the president's inauguration we have seen this notion here we go. the president and the liberal agenda been waiting to put forth over the country, this cloud he's been waiting to put out and the latest announcement today and in addition to the things of the inaugural address of entitlements and he said the gay
brothers and sisters not having to suffer in silence and be part of the conversation, as well, what do you make of those saying, here it is again, this liberal agenda that obama and his team have been waiting to put forth? >> i didn't find the inaugural address to be all that liberal. i really didn't. i thought it was more of the things he had said previously. but to answer your question, it fits that narrative. it's self validating for those on the right who want to be able to say, see, i told you so. because i have been hearing from them for years that it will be the second term. see, the second term is when the real manchurian candidate will emerge. it's lunacy. >> thank you for joining us and appreciate your service and great pleasure to talk with you and, colonel, thank you very much. i coming up, more reaction of two female vets in congress. tulsi gabbard serving in combat
and tammy duckworth elected to national office after being injured will join us. >> i did lose my legs in a bar fight. i'm pretty sure it was in combat. >> and tammy will join us. also ahead, senator feinstein introduces a new assault weapons ban in front of a massive display of guns ten years after writing the original ban. what are the chances this one will pass? this hour, president obama makes another big nomination and it is a woman. it comes at the time, of course, when some criticized a lack of diversity in the president's cabin cabinet. live coverage of the announcement and join our conversation on twitter, you can find us. ...so as you can see, geico's customer satisfaction is at 97%. mmmm tasty. and cut! very good. people are always asking me how we make these geico adverts. so we're taking you behind the scenes. this coffee cup, for example, is computer animated.
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we should be outraged by how easy it is for perpetrators of these horrific crimes to obtain powerful military-style weapons. >> senator dianne feinstein following up on the promise to introduce a bill to ban more than 150 firearms as well as high capacity ammunition. now, it is the first piece of proposed gun control legislation since the tragic shooting in newtown last month and since president obama announced a set of proposals to curb violence. a "the washington post"/abc news poll released today shows a majority of americans in favor of the president's plan but as "the new york times" points out, it could hit roadblock of fellow democrats especially facing re-election next year. less than 30 minutes ago, vice president biden kicked off a live google chat for support of the plan. joining me now mark murray. so mark, interesting numbers out there. there was another poll
indicating i believe it's about 22% of republicans believe that there needs to be some kind of gun control legislation. so we know there's a divide here but what we don't know is the plan from the white house specifically. will they put the president out on the road? what is the next full throttle step here? >> well, the plan is to have the president on the road. first vice president biden hitting the road tomorrow, going to richmond, virginia, with new governor caine and making a political campaign on this. the question is, how much of one and will be able to see that in the days ahead and particularly after the state of the union address this coming up february 12th. but there is the campaign. but tamron, when you look at the different pieces of legislation that the obama white house wants, what democrats want, some of the things like the assault weapons ban that senator dianne feinstein unveiled today, advocates believe it's hardest thing to get passed with the
senate and the senate democrats. easier and maybe more low-hanging fruit would be universal background checks an might have a better chance on that than the ban. >> the number of pew research asked if you believe it's a priority for 2013. 56% of democrats say yes. republicans, 22% and "the washington post" headline, mark, gun control proposal could split president obama and harry reid. we have heard over and over again how difficult it would be to get an assault weapons ban. that did not stop dianne feinstein saying she would put out the proposal. look at the scenarios if it's an impossible task or something that just won't happen. what's the strategy to move this legislation forward if there is a possibility or window here, specifically with assault bans. >> the strategy right now, appears to be is flooding the zone. you have as many pieces of legislation as possible and try to get passed what can be passed and actually hope that you have some breaks and luck along the
way and gun control advocates would be very, very pleased if they were able to get just by itself the universal background check. going on. but as you mentioned, tamron, there's a very big divide of democrats and republicans on the issue and that is putting some democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2014 from red states like arkansas state -- >> we have a list, mark. johnson, baucus and landrieu and begich up for re-election who could be problematic if that's the word. >> that is right. democrats are much better off when they're unified as a party opposed to divided. however, it might be that the universal background check is the sweet spot as new york senator chuck schumer put it. it might be something that people could everyone agree to get that done. i think that's what a lot of political experts are looking at to see if that's the one thing to get passed congress. >> looking at the strategy for
those that want gun control legislation following newtown, what we're witnessing really is in a sense the game plan that was announced. and i hate referring to it as a game plan because this is for more serious than anything of that notion but when newtown happened, the president traveling and what he said and even the slight reference and the inaugural address at the beginning of this week and expecting in the state of the union this seems to be following this strategy and of course without the exclusion of the vice president's task force. >> well, and this does seem to be where newtown is different than the mass shootings of the past few years is the newtown shootings occurred in late december. we are in late january. it's been a full month or even longer than that month since then, tamron. the question is how long can this be sustained? president obama talked about this. there needs to be public support, a public clamoring for this these types of gun controls efforts to curb gun violence and
the question is how much longer does this continue to be an issue for people in to march and april and may? if it is and the answer is yes, there's a better chance for passage. >> all right. mark murray, thank you very much. >> thanks. >> thank you so much. up next, another story following. i'm talk with congresswoman gabbard about service combat. she calls the ban on women in combat quote long overdue. house speaker boehner makes it clear he thinks what the administration's goal will be in the president's second term. >> we're expecting to hear over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the republican party. >> annihilation? it is just one of the things we thought you should know. but first, in today's money minute, the s&p traded above
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we are following breaking news. president obama just releasing a statement reacting to the news we have been following this hour of lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles in war. we'll bring you the latest on what the president said and coming up, john kerry's confirmation hearing. >> john is the right choice to carry forward the obama administration's foreign policy. >> secretary clinton introducing senator john kerry at the confirmation hearing. we'll have the latest on what she said and what senator -- they have in common and not in a good way. we'll talk about what's next for secretary clinton as well as senator kerry and be sure to check out the "news nation
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♪ friskies grillers blend. ♪ feed the senses. today, general dempsey and i are pleased to announce that we are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women. >> that, of course, defense secretary leon panetta. the pentagon just within the last hour. joining me now, an iraq war veteran, tulsi gabbard of hawaii. just this month, one of the combat vets to serve in congress. thank you for your service there and of course thank you for your service protecting our country. what was your initial reaction when you heard the details at least yesterday receiving this announcement formally from secretary panetta?
>> first of all, aloha, tamron. it is wonderful to share this moment with you and your viewers because it is a moment of great significance. personally for myself and for my sisters, all the women who have worn the uniform, this change, this policy change from the d.o.d. really gives an official recognition to jobs, sacrifices and service women in uniform have been making for generati generations. >> we got a statement in from the president on opening of combat units to women. let's read a part of what the president said. today by moving to open more military positions including ground combat units to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing, the talents and skills of our students. this milestone reflects the service of women through more than two centuries of american history and the indispensable role of women in today's military and talks about the ultimate sacrifice,
congresswoman, so many women made, including more than 150 women given their lives in iraq and afghanistan. he said the president, says that he was absolutely confident that as the repeal of don't ask don't tell, the professionalism of the armed forces ensure a smooth transition and keep the military the very best in the world. do you feel confident in a smooth transition? some say this is not the appropriate place for women. conservative organizations coming out and others say they're worried women will not meet the same physical standards as their male counterparts. >> i have to smile a little bit when i hear you say those things. that the critics are talking about. i have heard people cite studies, talking about how women are not well equipped to serve and what goes through my mind saying that are the incredible women that i have had the honor of serving with and those who i have heard stories about, women like sergeant hester, the first woman since world war ii to earn
a silver star. she was a military police sergeant. serving in iraq in 2005. and she led her squad of mps against a very, very hot insurgent attack, flanked the enemy, assaulted two trench lines and at the end saved american lives. and it's stories like sergeant hester's and countless women who throw out every argument that the critics have said because it's real. these are patriots putting their lives on the line for our country, selflessly. they happen to be women. >> oh wow. thank you so much for making time. i know you're very busy. still acclimating yourself to the new town. >> it snowed today. >> well, you will get a lot of that over the years. thank you so much. >> thank you very much. >> by the way, coming up, talking with tammy duckworth, her thoughts and the role of women in combat holes. it is our "news nation" gut check. how you can weigh in if you agree with the decision and watch the interview in about 30 minutes. senator john kerry just
wrapped up the testimony at the confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of state. hillary clinton was there to introduce the likely successor one day after five and a half hours on the hill answering questions about the attack in benghazi. >> he is a determined and effective representative of the united states. has been as a senator, will be as secretary. >> senator kerry did not tangle too much with republicans but ron johnson pressed him on accusations that the administration tried to mislead the american people after the benghazi attack. >> do you agree with that point? are you willing to work with me or basically agree with hillary clinton that, ah, that's kind of yesterday's news and let's move on? >> well, senator, if you're trying to get some daylight between me and secretary clinton, that's not going to happen here today on that score. but i think you're not -- i think you're talking past each
other. >> could be. >> i don't think that was the question. i think that if your question is, should the american people get the truth and does it matter? hillary clinton would say, yes. and i say, yes. >> senator kerry would be the first vietnam vet to lead the state department if confirmed and one point kerry had to stop talking while security removed a protester from the room. >> not a threat to us. when are enough people going to be killed? i'm tired of my friends dying. i want them to be alive the next day! >> well, you know what? i'll tell you, mr. chairman, i -- when i first came to washington to testify, i obviously was testifying as part of a group of people who came here to have their voices heard. and that is above all what this place is about.
so i respect -- >> let me bring in ann lewis, former senior adviser to hillary clinton's presidential candidate and thank you both for joining us. >> thank you and, tamron, i'm so pleased to be with you on a historic day. >> absolutely. >> as we take another step forward for women, for citizens, for our country. >> and thank you very much for your thoughts on secretary pa thet that's announcement. since we're talking historical perspective here and women, you saw hillary clinton yesterday and one of the things, ann, that was so intriguing aside, of course, from her taking senator johnson to task and we saw a little bit of back and forth with him and john kerry today, the series of legislators who were there saying we'll see you soon or alluding to her running for president. i want to play a little bit of what we saw. >> i know you will not go gently from the world stage. >> you will be sorely missed but i for one hope not for too long.
>> i salute and look ahead to 2016. >> i for one hope after a bit of rest you consider a return to public service and should that return bring you to florida i'll look forward to welcoming you there. >> i think i speak for the fresh men we won't get much time to serve with you but we hope to get that chance to serve again. >> other than president kennedy, i don't know anyone that had a better image in latin america. >> i wish you the best in your future endeavors mostly. >> that, of course, was a republican at the end there. ann, what is your reaction to what we saw play out yesterday? >> well, first, i'm so glad you ended that clip with hillary laughing. i thought what was so remarkable of yesterday, first, as you say, she took five and a half hours of questions without a script. a very short opening statement. and then she took any and every question. some of them came from i would say pretty far out of right field. she answered them fully. she was clear and forceful.
she clearly -- she knew her brief as i think the friends the brits would say. but also, this is what was so moving to me. she was passionate about our country. she was passionate about the values and the power we can have and of course appropriately mournful about americans who lose their lives. so i think we saw again hillary being the kind of secretary of state. we have seen why she's been so admired around the world, so effective in her position as secretary of state and as many americans would say, whatever she does next, and whatever she does is up to her. we hope that we'll continue to see her and see her acting in our nation's interests. >> brian, let's bring you in. obviously, the hearing for senator kerry, i think for the most part went as expected except for the protester and interesting to hear him tell senator ron johnson no daylight between him and hillary clinton on that issue. talk to me about the relationship and impact his role in the cabinet if he does, in
fact, become the secretary of state. >> well, i think one thing that was really on display today in the hearing room was that that committee, the senate foreign relations committee knows john kerry well. most of the members have been on the committee for years and if they weren't on the committee they served with him in the senate. and i think, you know, i think they look at him as a breath of fresh air, quite frankly. particularly close concerned about the aftermath of benghazi. in john kerry, they see someone to answer the calls, listen to them. not that senator clinton didn't do that but in the heat of campaign last year, secretary clinton and some of president obama's other advisers became kind of a lightning rod on this issue and i think john kerry's trying to move on from that but i think he does want to answer their questions when he's secretary of state. >> let's quickly transition here to the senate seat. we know that there's been a lot of talk about the former senator
brown stepping in and also talk to run for governor. when's the latest word since you're on the ground in boston? >> i mean, right now everybody's waiting to hear what the governor will name as an interim replacement for john kerry assuming as we all do that he gets confirmed here quite quickly and then the game is on and i think you're going to have several democrat who is go for the nomination for the special election which will happen in the summer. and everybody's asking, will scott brown throw his hat in the ring, as well? i'm one of those who's 50/50 at this point. i think he did lose last fall to elizabeth warren and may want to run statewide in another way and that is for governor. >> ann, taking us back to hillary clinton and her future, obviously, no one wants to speculate that far ahead. she's got a lot of rest she needs and still recovering from being hospitalized and interesting on the reaction of the republicans a few who decided to challenge her.
rand paul saying he would fire her but overall you had a feeling of her how she is formidable and they see her as being such. >> well, i would say last month we learned that hillary clinton once again -- i think the 11th straight year, a record, the most admired woman in the world. and then yesterday, we got a chance to see why that is so. to see again that combination of a sort of forceful, effective, well prepared, properly respectful to senators whenever she could, putting the information out there, but over and over, speaking for our country. isn't that the kind of example we want to see? >> thank you very much. brian, thank you, as well. i want to go to the white house. the president making two cabinet nominations official here. >> over the last four years, i have talked about how shared prosperity from wall street to main street depends on smart, common sense regulation that is protect the vast majority of americans from the irresponsible
actions of a few. that's why we passed tough reforms to protect consumers and our financial system from the kind of abuse that nearly brought the economy to its knees. today, there are rules to help families. responsible families. buy a home. or send their child to college without worrying about being tricked out of their life savings. there are rules to make sure that financial firms doing the right things aren't undermined by those that don't do the right things and there are rules to end taxpayer funded bailouts once and for all. we also need cops on the beat to enforce the law. and that's why today i am nominating maryjo white to lead the securities and exchange commission and richard corduray to lead the financial protection bureau. this guy's bothering me. as a young girl, maryjo white was a big fan of the hardy boys.
i was, too, by the way. >> good, good. >> as an adult, she's built a career they could only dream of. as a u.s. attorney in new york, she helped prosecute criminals and money launders. in the early 1990s, she brought down john gotti. and she brought to justice the terrorists responsible for bombing the world trade center and the american embassies in africa. so, i'd say that's a good run. you don't want to mess with maryjo. as a former chairman said, she does not intimidate easily. and that's important because she has a big job ahead of her. the s.e.c. played a critical role protecting the financial system in the worst of the financial crisis but there's much more work to be done to complete the task of reforming wall street and making sure that american investors are better informed and better protected going forward and we need to keep going after irresponsible behavior in the financial
industry so that taxpayers don't pay the price. i'm absolutely confident that mary jo can protect the american people in a way that's smart and fair. and i want to thank alese walters when's held down the fort as chairwoman and i expect the senate to confirm mary jo as soon as possible so she can get to work. my second nominee is a familiar face. a year and a half ago i nominated him to lead the watchdog agency created to give americans the american they need to make sound financial choices and protect them from unscrupulous lenders and debt collectors. as a former attorney general of ohio, with a long record of working with democrats and republicans on behalf of the american people, nobody questioned richard's qualifications. but he wasn't allowed an up or down vote in the senate and i -- as a consequence, i appointed
him on my own and over the last year, richard proved to be a champion of american consumers. thanks to his leadership, we have made it tougher for families to be tricked in to mortgages they can't afford. we have set clearer rules so that responsible lenders know how to behave fairly. we've cracked down on credit card companies that charge id h1n1 fees and force those companies to make things right and through it all richard has earned a reputations a straight shooter and some body willing to bring every voice to the table to do what's right for consumers and our economy. now, richard's appointment runs out at the end of the year. and he can't stay on the job unless the senate finally gives him the vote he deserves. financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists. the american people need richard to keep standing up for them and there's absolutely no excuse for
the senate to wait any longer to confirm him. so i want to thank mary jo, richard and their families once again for agreeing to serve. and i'd like to invite them to say a few words starting with mary jo. >> give me my stand here. thank you, mr. president, for the confidence that you have placed in me and the faith that you have shown in me by nominating me to be the next chair of the securities and exchange commission. i'm deeply, deeply honored. if confirmed by the senate, i look forward to committing all of my energies to working with my fellow commissioners and the extremely dead katded and talented men and women of the staff to fulfill the agency's mission to protect investors and to ensure the strength, efficiency and the transparency
of our capital markets. the s.e.c. long a vital and positive force for the markets has a lot of hard and important work ahead of it. i would welcome the opportunity to lead those efforts and to build on the work of chairman shap ro and chairwoman walters and finally, and most importantly, i want to thank my husband john white here today on our 43rd wedding anniversary. >> today many. >> today. >> amen. >> strong support of me and seeking to engage in this very significant and challenging public service. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> richard? >> thank you, mr. president, for the confidence you've placed in me and our team at the consumer protection bureau. we understand our mission is to stand on the side of consumers.
mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and see that they're treetded fairly. for more than a year, we've been focused on making consumer finance markets work better for the american people. we approach this work with open minds, open ears and great determination. we all thank you and the congress for the opportunity and the honor to serve our country in this important way. thank you. >> well, i just want to thank again mary jo and richard for their willingness to serve. these are people with proven track records. they're going to look out for the american people, for american consumers and make sure that our marketplace works better, more transparently, more effectively. so i again would urge the senate to confirm both of them as quickly as possible and i also want to express congratulations to the whites for their
anniversary. if i had known, we would have, you know, maybe rolled out a cake or something. have fun. >> thank you. >> i hope you enjoy it. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> a brief announcement from the president nominating mary jo white as the next chairman of the securities and exchange commission as well as the renomination of richard cordray. it was in 2012 the president placed him in the job of consumer financial protection bureau and now urging the members of congress to approve their nominations. i also want to bring you another story. union membership in the u.s. is on the decline and that could spell trouble for the democratic party. michigan, the latest state to implement right to work laws, that make it more difficult to unionize lost 42,000 union members just last year. total union membership nationwide fell by 400,000 workers last year to 14.3 million, the lowest rate of union membership since the '30s. joining me is chief economist to
the afl-cio. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> you're in "the new york times" article that discusses the workforce and unions and one of the individuals quoted, a professor at clark university and he says it's a time for unions to stop being clever about excuses for why membership is declining and it is time to figure out how to devise appeals to the workers out there. why do you believe these union numbers are dropping so significantly? >> well, remember, the key to being in the survey is to have a job. and we have a very weak labor market. the big part of that drop came in the public sector and this is the weakest part of the labor market during the recovery. we're losing teachers. this is important not to the union members only but to the nation as a whole because it means that as we have gone through this recovery, we have not been able to make the proper investment to make sure that the kids are educated for the future. and the private sector drop comes in construction and again
we know that need to be building the infrastructure to make america successful for the future and the numbers speak a lot about the weakness in the labor market and especially the weakness in the public sector where we know that we need teachers, we know that we need policemen and we need firefighters. >> correct. it's interesting that you point to the fact that people are out of work and that may be part of the reason you're seeing declining numbers but the professor of the article you're in se should be looking to unions but they're not. so given your point about so many people being out of work, the theory is that they should be looking to unions at a time of insecurity, especially and a lot of places like michigan, for example, and wisconsin, where we know unions believe they've been under attack. >> unions have been under attack and that's part of the difficulty in getting union membership up. but unions have been very successful reaching out. one of the key number that is
showed up in the vort the continued success of the labor movement and organizing latinos. membership among latinos is up. their union density continuing to climb. the diversity shows in the numbers, as well. those are the highest density of membership most likely members of unions are african-americans so when you look at where the union membership is growing, asian americans, african-americans, latinos, the union movement is getting those new workers, the people joining the labor force. and when you look at how unevenness of the recession has affected different states, you see that the union movement is very successful in states right to work states. union membership was up in texas and oklahoma and georgia and north carolina, tennessee. so, it's not -- these numbers are national and patterns of job growth and patterns of job construction taking place and peeling behind the numbers you see the success of the labor
movement where people did not expect. >> it's an interesting article and will continue to follow the numbers and see what this means and impact of upcoming elections. thank you very much, bill. >> thank you for having me. >> absolutely. coming up, gut check and joined by congressman tammy duckworth. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership.
welcome back. time now for the news nation gut check. following breaking news this hour. history, in fact. the pentagon is lifting the ban on women serving in combat. joining me now, congresswoman and veteran, tammy duckworth of illinois, one of the first female combat vets elected to congress. thank you for your time and your service. you're all smiles so you're quite pleased with the announcement today. >> i am very pleased. women have been serving in combat, especially in iraq and afghanistan for the last ten years. so i see this as just a formality in lifting the restrictions so women finally serve on equal footing.
they have been doing the job. they haven't been getting credit for it so it's about time. >> it is interesting. i saw you featured in the "nightly news" piece last night and you said you didn't get the injuries in a bar fight as you explained it when asked about women in combat. >> right. i actually, you know, would have people come up to me and say, do you think women should serve in combat? i wear a combat action badge on my uniform. that's given only for combat action. and i just, you know, i usually joke and say, i got it in a bar fight. you should see the other chick. but, you know -- but the reality is women are serving, dying, being wounded in combat and this -- lifting this restriction will allow them to do this formally and rise through the ranks. we don't have very female generals and it's because of the restriction so this is a great day for our military women.
>> congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate your candor and the humor. the line of the day. you should see the other chick. thank you so much for your time. great pleasure. so what does your gut tell you? you heard from congresswoman duckworth. do you agree with the decision to allow women to fight in combat roles? cast that big vote. that does it for this edition of "news nation." we'll see you tomorrow. "the cycle" is up next. what are you doing? nothing. are you stealing our daughter's school supplies and taking them to work? no, i was just looking for my stapler and my... this thing. i save money by using fedex ground and buy my own supplies. that's a great idea. i'm going to go... we got clients in today. [ male announcer ] save on ground shipping
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