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Jill Stein: Neither Obama nor Romney have a program that will create millions of jobs

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PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.

Well, the three conventions are over. Three, you say? Yes—the Republican convention, the Democratic Party convention, and the Green Party convention that in fact was held in Baltimore just a few weeks ago.

And now joining us is the candidate of the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein, who’s running for president on behalf of the Green Party. She’s an award-winning Massachusetts physician. She has a background in environmental health. And she’s campaigning under the slogan “a Green New Deal for America”. Thanks for joining us, Jill.


JAY: So let’s first of all talk about the Republican and Democratic conventions. What’s your reaction?

STEIN: Well, I’m glad to report that America has survived another attack on our democracy and our dignity. We’ve managed to get through this in one piece. It doesn’t look like the American public has become enamored of the political establishment that has been, you know, raking us over the coals and delivering a jobs crisis, a health crisis, an environmental crisis, a foreign-policy crisis, expanding wars, you name it. Things are pretty much the same, although they would like to shake the Etch a Sketch. And we heard Barack Obama try to do that last night and say, you know, forget what I did, you know, hear what I say, I’m saying what I said four years ago, so this time believe me.

You know, I think it’s a case of fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on all of us. And in this case it’s four years of fool me. The American people, I think, are at a breaking point and are not going to sit there.

JAY: What specifically in President Obama’s speech you want to take issue with?

STEIN: That he has a solution, you know, to anything, like to the jobs crisis, you know, or to reviving our education system. Or how about the climate problem? Or how about the poverty war? You know, those things really don’t come up. And how is it exactly that we are going to revive our economy?

He said he will create 1 million jobs, 1 million manufacturing jobs. Well, first of all, 1 million isn’t going to do it. We’ve got about 24 million people who are either out of work entirely or who are underemployed in jobs that basically can’t keep a roof over their head. And, you know, what kind of jobs is he talking about? Well, what he’s been talking about are the jobs at General Motors, which he’s touting as the success. You know, as Joe Biden says, we’re better off today because Barack Obama is dead and General Motors lives.

JAY: Well, what’s wrong with that argument? That was the centerpiece of the economic message at the convention, that President Obama saved General Motors and Romney would let it go down. So what’s wrong with that?

STEIN: Well, what’s wrong with that is that this is more of the same. This is profits continuing to skyrocket at a multinational corporation and CEO salaries, you know, better than ever. But the wages of workers have been slashed, as have benefits.

So, you know, we have a tiered-worker system now that Barack Obama’s perfectly happy with. In fact, in his mind, this is what makes us competitive with low-wage jobs overseas. This is—you know, this is what you get for these free trade agreements signed by Bill Clinton, carried out by George Bush, and now expanded massively by Barack Obama, by free trade agreements he’s already signed and another one in the works.

JAY: Yeah, by tiered, if people haven’t followed this story, this is the idea where you have—new employees’ starting pay is about half what it used to be; older employees kind of carry on more or less in the same wage range, but new employees are coming in around $14 an hour, as opposed to $25, $26 an hour.

STEIN: Exactly. And this has basically brought manufacturing down to service industry jobs, you know, so that these are, you know, insecure. These are not what we used to think about as good, unionized, secure jobs with benefits and good living-wage pay. It’s not that anymore. And this is what the president is touting as recovery. This is not recovery. We are not better off.

And likewise, the proposition that because Osama bin Laden is dead we’re better off, well, if so, why do we continue to squander $1 trillion a year on this bloated military-industrial-security complex that is not making us more secure? The president has expanded the war with the drones deeper into Pakistan, into Yemen, into Somalia. The only reason he withdrew from Iraq was because it was George Bush’s withdrawal date. We owe peace in Iraq, to the extent we have it, which we really don’t—you don’t get peace out of the barrel of a gun. You know. But it was George Bush’s withdrawal date that forced Barack Obama’s hand. He did everything in his power to try to keep us there. So we’re not better off.

And regardless of how much they may be shaking the Etch a Sketch right now, I think people are in the crosshairs. We don’t have jobs. Our wages are going down. A generation of students is essentially indentured servants now for the foreseeable future. Climate is in meltdown. The attack on our civil liberties, you know, initiated by George Bush has been massively expanded under this president with the criminalization of protest, indefinite detentions, and the assassinations now even of American citizens, which have basically been written into law under this president.

So, you know, this politics of fear that tells you, you’ve got to stay the course, you don’t dare stand up for yourself, that politics of fear has a track record now. Over the past ten years, that politics of fear has proven not to be an effective political strategy. In fact, politics of fear has delivered everything we were afraid of. It’s time to stand up with the politics of courage [crosstalk]

JAY: Now, in terms of your own campaign, you had a television commercial you were raising money for, and you used Google as sort of the media-buying service, and apparently they blocked that. So we’re going to show a little bit of that ad and then talk about what happened. So you guys can roll the clip.


STEIN (CAMPAIGN AD): A Green Party president means an end to unemployment, to foreclosures, to student debt, to climate change, and an end to corporate rule. We’re not talking spare change. We need a revolution. That’s what we deserve. What we don’t deserve is pandering, irresponsible bull[bleep] that passes itself off as campaigning. I can’t believe I just said that, but that’s how I feel.

MAN: I’m voting for Jill Stein.

MAN: I’m for Jill—.


JAY: Well, that was the clip, and as you can see, there was a bull-ugh something in that commercial. I guess the original version was “bullshit”. And then Google apparently didn’t want to place these ads. So what happened, Jill?

STEIN: Well, we pointed out to Google that in fact they cannot censor political ads, and in fact language, you know, off-color language, swear words, are not prohibited on cable to start with. So Google had no business whatsoever interfering with political free speech and with getting out a message to a lot of—you know, millions upon millions of Americans who are being poorly served and who are clamoring for exactly the solutions that we’re talking about and who are calling for, you know, a third-party option that’s not bought and paid for by Wall Street. So basically what happened was that we raised all those points to Google, and they backed down, we think. We don’t have all the data in yet. We know that the ads were running on many stations and in many parts of the country, but we don’t yet have complete data to know that in fact Google has been carrying out their [crosstalk]

JAY: But in principle they agreed that they would distribute the commercial.

STEIN: In principle, yes.

JAY: Alright. So let’s finally—it’s a question I know you get all the time, and you and I have talked about it before, but we have to do it again ’cause it’s kind of the obvious elephant in the room. In your campaign literature and in interviews, you more or less say that both the Democrats and the Republicans represent the 1 percent, they don’t represent the 99 percent, so they’re really all the same and there’s not really a choice between them. But the counterargument to that is, yes, perhaps both parties represent the 1 percent, but they perhaps don’t represent them the same way, that the Democratic Party, in order to get elected, has to throw something to its constituency, which includes urban workers and immigrants and other people, and that there is a difference between a straight Romneyesque–Ryan austerity plan and an Obama—continuation of Obama policies, which I don’t think anyone, you know, who looks at it objectively could argue it isn’t for a section of the 1 percent. But maybe it’s a somewhat mitigated policy as compared to Romney, and certainly that’s the popular perception. So how do you answer that?

STEIN: You know, I think it’s important to distinguish between the narratives and the reality, because the Democratic narrative no doubt is warmer and fuzzier than the Republicans’, which is just unabashed, you know, greed and self-promotion for the 1 percent—pretty clear what’s going on there. The Democratic narrative is, you know, much more humane. It’s got some of the trappings of the Democratic Party agenda.

But it’s really important to look at the facts on the ground, you know, not just the narrative. You can talk the talk, but do you walk the walk? Unfortunately, there is now a four-year track record, and it’s not a very good one. And that’s not to say there aren’t some differences, because there are definitely differences around the margins. But when you look at the core policies, it’s really clear that we have been accelerating in the wrong direction under Barack Obama, as we did under George Bush. And, in fact, on most key policies, when you actually look at them, Barack Obama has embraced the policies of George Bush and even gone beyond them. More massive Wall Street bailout—there were $700 billion under George Bush, $4.5 trillion of monies disbursed to the big banks under Barack Obama, and an additional $16 trillion in essentially free money given away as zero interest loans. Look at the free trade agreements, the undermining of wages in this country, and the continued offshoring of our jobs. These free trade agreements have been expanded by Barack Obama massively over what they were under George Bush, and this transpacific partnership is basically NAFTA on steroids that the president is now negotiating in secret. To look at the war effort, it actually expanded under Barack Obama, between the bombing of Pakistan, which was intensified on day three—. Where was the Republican effort forcing his hand to do that? He wasn’t forced. He wasn’t forced to bring in Larry Summers, the architect of waste, fraud, and abuse on Wall Street that was responsible for crashing our economy. This is the guy who’s brought in. You know, the guy who caused it is not going to be the guy who’s going to fix it. To bring in Jeffrey Imelt to be the head of the jobs council. Jeffrey Imelt, the CEO of GE who has single-handedly closed more factories and laid off more workers than any other person in this country has been elevated to be the jobs czar in this country. To look at the attack on our civil liberties, on climate, where Barack Obama has embraced drill, baby, drill and gone far beyond anything that George Bush could get away with, including opening up more offshore oil, the attack on the environment of the Arctic and our national parks, the green light to fracking, the opening up of a whole new generation of nuclear power plants as well, I mean, this president has gone so far beyond what George Bush was able to get away with, because there’s real resistance when you have a Republican in office. When you have a reassuring and endearing Democrat at the helm, it silences opposition.

And at the end of the day, it’s that grassroots effort for democracy, it’s standing up and reclaiming our political voice and our political courage that will actually drive us forward. The politics of fear has brought us everything we were afraid of. It’s time for us to stand up and lead the way, ’cause they’re not going to fix it. That’s eminently clear.

JAY: Thanks very much, Jill.

STEIN: Thank you, Paul.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Jill Stein was the Green Party's 2012 candidate for President of the United States, and its current 2016 exploratory candidate. She is an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has helped lead initiatives promoting healthy communities, local green economies and stronger democracy - including campaign finance reform, green jobs, racially-just redistricting, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxic-pesticides. She now helps organize the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit, an education and direct action campaign beginning Spring 2014 with an "Earth Day to May Day" wave of action, across the US and beyond. The Convergence provides collaboration across fronts of struggle and national borders to harness the transformative power we already possess as thousands of justice movements, rising up against the global assault on our economy, ecology, peace and democracy.