'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable

Matthew Dowd, James Carville, Mary Matalin, and Michael Eric Dyson on the week's politics and Mandela's legacy.
3:00 | 12/08/13

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Transcript for 'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable
Senators, thank you both. We're joined by matthew dowd, michael eric dyson, james carville and mary matalin. Thank you all for being here. Matthew, it was interesting. It does seem like on both sides, you have a real, real deep desire to avoid any kind of government shutdown any time soon. Well, when a disaster happens, in the aftermath of a disaster, which happened this summer, when everybody lost in the middle of it. President obama, congress, everybody. They understand they can't go through it again. My fear is we'll have a temporary fix. We'll get through it. Better than not doing it. But we're not going to have a long-term fix for the problem we associate with washington. You have a general public that doesn't trust anybody in washington, d.C. You saw those senators, mary, who believe something will get done. Still some resistance among some republicans to any kind of accommodation now to the democrats on spending. Are you confident that a deal in the senate will get through the house? The reason that the house is where they are, positioned where they are, is because half of them have been elected in the last two cycles, where spending has been a huge issue for americans. Real americans understand we cannot continue spending at the rates that we are. So I don't know. But, matthew's right in that this is no fix. This is just one step ahead of the sheriff, that's why the trust factor is so low. It doesn't comport with reality. The shutdown didn't hurt the economy, if the numbers are to be believed. Surprisingly. Yeah. No. And it doesn't really hurt politicians in the larger sense. It's like, all the other packages and sequesters and all that. People just have -- just don't trust washington. All looks like a lot of nonsense to them. A fair amount of good economic this week out there, james. Good news. Pretty good. It's gotten better. Democrats took a big hit after the health care rollout. The improved numbers and statistics on the health care thing might lead to a little better result. We don't know that right now. Meanwhile, michael eric dyson, we saw this against the backdrop of the protests. I guess one of the questions i have is, do you think -- what do you think this will lead to in the end? You saw the resistance in the congress. It's already changed the atmosphere in washington, d.C. When president barack obama gives a major speech on income inequality. People at the left have been nipping at his heeling for awhile to say, speak about us. They haven't talked about the working poor. They're the faces we see out there. They work 40, 50, 60 hours a week. They can barely make it above the poverty level. They have a choice, kind of sophie's choice in the areas where it's my child in terms of education and I go to get the report card. Or I stay at work. If I miss to go to the school, I'll lose one of my jobs. It's a kind of triage going on there. The bleeding out is leading to the president of the united states of america to finally and substantively address the social inequities that we won't be able to sustain. We can't talk about job growth and inflation if we don't deal with the people at the bottom. I think michael touches on a good point. The interesting dynamic that we see now, we have a gdp, it goes up3%. Everybody cheers. The job number, everybody says is doing good. Wealth accumulated by the top 5%. More millionaires and billionaires. 70% of the country believes we're on the wrong track. And the poverty level today is higher than it's ever been. Back to before the great society. And I think that dynamic, however you define that, it's a building brewing pot in the country. Where the wealthiest people in the country are doing absolutely fabulous in certain pockets of the country. Where the vast majority of the country are not. They haven't been doing well for a generation. Please, 7% in unemployment. The new normal. If the labor in force participation rate were calculated in there and it was what it was prerecession, we would be somewhere between 9% and 11% of unemployment. This is the worst recovery in almost seven decades. The duration of unemployment. The new normal is not a great -- those are not incompatible. How does the republican party get ahead of this, mary? If you look at what happened in the last campaign, mitt romney, maybe stylistically, it was very difficult for him to address this. But won't the parties have to have a more populus feel to be successful the next time around? Populist? It has to be common sense and it has to be full-throated. The biggest challenge of our time is not income inequality. It's job creation. The president's signature issues, domestic, affordable health care, have reduced unemployment. Do you think people who are unemployed or are making low wa wages care more about that they don't have a job than what you're making or any of us are making? I don't think so. I mean, that does not grow the economy. I think in this sense, it's not that poor people are not trying to quibble over who is getting the bigger piece of the pie. The point is, they understand that those two things are related. They're not unrelated. If you have income inequality that hard where the stagnation of wages is the basis for the accumulation of wealth with those who have a whole bunch. The pie is shrinking at the bottom. It's not a question of their envi of those at the top. It's about can I get enough day care to help me out? How is it shrinking, with all due respect? Are you saying that as people make wealth, poor people get poorer? How does that work? I'm saying that the distribution mechanisms create a kaz m between the have gots and the have-nots. Can I make a jaw-dropping point? This week, a study came out that said one-third of all bank tellers are on public assistance. People with a level of skill. I did that at one time in my life. Why don't we pass a law to say if you were bailed out or you get free money from the fed or your deposits are insured or you're too big to fail, if the government backs you to that extent, and that you're that profitable an industry, you have to pay your people a living wage. Why do we have one-third of our bank tellers in this country -- it's not that finance is not making a lot of money. That's not the question at all. George, the politics of this, you asked a question, what should the republicans do? I think the democrats and republicans are trapped in an old mantra and an old status quo. Republicans refuse, in many ways, to take on wall street in a direct way. They would be so much benefited if they adopted some of elizabeth warren's messages. Saying the big banks took us down this path along with a washington is not fixing the problems. Democrats, on the other hand, have an anti-wall street, anti-big bank, anti-big corporation, but they're stuck in a mantra saying the government needs to solve this problem. If somebody came along and said I'm going to bridge this and it's about washington is not doing the job, wall street is not doing the job. Let's get back to middle america. You know who is doing that? Ted cruz and the tea party. We're just going to disagree on that. Let her say how the tea party is doing it, then respond. On the continual of cruz and rand, I know you don't like his detroit project, but it's better than another bailout. They're proposing what you're saying. They don't have a collective solution. What they say is, let's return it all to the individuals. We need a collective solution to the problem not based in washington. See, when you say it's not a government, it hasn't been caused by government, i disagree. When you talk about unemployment going up to maybe 7, 8, 9% if we adjust it. Look at what is happening in latino and african-american communities. With that number, it's closer to 20. The government project of keeping people out of business. Black and latino people working in the public sector. You have an attack on the public sector, you're talking about people that have had an opportunity to have a job because of the practices of discrimination in the private sector. We can't depend on the private sector itself to adjust for its own bias when it's prevented people from flourishing. Democrats and republicans. James, there's a debate going on inside the democratic party, elizabeth warren and others fear hillary clinton is too close to the big banks. There was a third way thing back and forth. It's always been a thing in the democratic party. We have had the wall street democrats and the more populist democrats. I think the party is moving away. I'll give credit to wall street. They gave the most succinct analysis of what is going on in the country. It was given by none other than the ceo of goldman sachs. He said we know how to create wealth, we just don't know how to distribute it. The truth of the matter is absolutely right. It's not a lack of wealth creation. It's a lack of people sharing in the benefits of it. That's why the minimum wage, bank tellers and all this. The claptrap. One thing you can say about elizabeth warren is she's a full-throated, proud, loud liberal. Unlike the president who tries to dress up his rhetoric. She is -- she is saying what a liberal agenda would look like, which has never worked. She also asked when attacked in that op ed, tell me. Be transparent. Tell me who is bank-rolling you. What banks are in bed with what think tanks? Elizabeth warren is right that the wall street has accumulated most of the wealth in the country while the rest of the country has not benefited from it. She is absolutely right. Do we think unregulated capitalism has worked? Brilliantly? I don't think there is a single person in the world who would say that. Hold on a second. We only have a couple of minutes left. Before we go, I want your reflections on nelson mandela. Michael erik dyson, you met him. So many american political activists really cut their teeth fighting for nelson mandela. No question. I'm of the same generation of president obama. And taking a stand against apartheid in the university community and more broadly in terms of dealing with the disinvestment strategies. Also challenging ronald reagan's engagement approach. I think conservatives get amnesia here when they forget that dick cheney wanted to put him on the terrorist list and insisted he stay there. That ronald reagan resisted. He said on the one hand that else in. Mandela should be released, but he depended on a white supremacist government to reform itself from within. And the issue, mar where? When will you ever get tired of beating up on darth vader, who said nelson mandela is a good man. As we saw in the earlier segment, it was a complicated situation. The anc was a terrorist organization at one point. He has since said great things about nelson mandela. Like that what's been said about nelson mandela is said in the same way the pope said what he did. Forgiveness and redemption. The pope's widely misinterpreted. And mischaracterized statements. It's active engagement. Taking care of each other with solidarity and subsidiary. When you say about accusing darth vader, so to speak. This is not just about rhetoric. This is the policy that prevented the anc -- when they had the feet on the neck of nelson mandela -- he said, let's forgive. Let's forgive dick cheney. Let's forgive these people. I think one of the fascinating things about nelson mandela, he wasn't a saint. He made a lot of mistakes. He readily admitted it. He said, I'm not a saint unless you think a saint is a sinner who gets up and tries again every time. He changed an entire country and a world in what he said. Done through acts of humility. Like the pope has done. Authentic acts of humility. I think -- one of the great things about my life is that i got to live at the same time that he did. If you look at, like christ, he was everything you said. He was forgiving, flawed. Everything that a human being is and everything that a great human being is. We should embrace all of it. More than that. You spend 27 years in jail. You forgive your jailers? That's a -- that's reading the new testament somewhere. Walking the walk. That will have to be the last word. Thank you all very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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