WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Is The GOP Trying To Suppress Good Economic News? What Will Romney Say At The NAACP National Convention (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable continue their discussion on Attorney General Eric Holder coming under fire for the flawed Fast and Furious program. Plus, the Romney campaign has allegedly asked Gov. Rick Scott to suppress good economic news and the improving economy.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features : Keli Goff, contributing editor of loop21.com and author of “The GQ Candidate;” Pennsylvania senator Vincent Hughes, Democratic Senate Appropriations chair; Deborah Simmons, senior correspondent for “The Washington Times”; and Michael Fletcher, national economics correspondent for “The Washington Post.”

MR. MARTIN:  You made the point about politics.  I just think [if] they take this vote, I just don’t see how that helps the GOP going into November when, at the end of the day, if you think back to even when the contempt vote – they wanted it against Attorney General Janet Reno.  Even then, Speaker Newt Gingrich was like, “Look.  This ain’t gonna help us – at all.”


SEN. HUGHES:  It’s – it – it –

MS. SIMMONS:  And the thing is –

MR. FLETCHER:  [Crosstalk] –

SEN. HUGHES:  — it brings down –

MS. SIMMONS:  — and that’s w- —

MR. FLETCHER:  — Kelli – Kelli made –

MS. SIMMONS:  — and that’s why –

MR. FLETCHER:  — the point, though.  I think it – it kind of creates this cloud


MR. FLETCHER:  — and I think people have a hard time kind of disaggregating things.  Like, the public just hears about Holder doing something


MR. FLETCHER:  — you know, and that –

MS. GOFF:  — they hear – [crosstalk] –

MR. FLETCHER:  — something’s going on.

MR. MARTIN:  Deborah?


MS. GOFF:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. FLETCHER:  — I think it –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right, but –

MR. FLETCHER:  — helps them in that way.

MS. SIMMONS:  — but didn’t Pres. Obama reveal his own hand – political hand in this when before the contempt vote even came down, he invoked executive privilege?  That’s always been a political move.  It’s never been used –

MR. FLETCHER:  Oh, no, no, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  — for the most part –

MS. GOFF:  — but –

MR. FLETCHER:  No, no, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  — for any –


MS. SIMMONS:  — for anything other than that.  He’s covering his butt.  He’s already got Holder covering it butt – his butt.  What this does, though, it see- — seems to me – and it’s the way it’s been played out in several other, similar instances when the privilege has been invoked – is the two sides end up sitting down, negotiating where they’re going to head –

MS. GOFF:  — but –

MS. SIMMONS:  — anyway.

MS. GOFF:  — but the – but –

MS. SIMMONS:  And that’s – and –

MS. GOFF:  — the – but the –

MS. SIMMONS:  — and that’s what –

SEN. HUGHES:  Well, he had –

MS. GOFF:  — but the thing is –

MS. SIMMONS:  — needs to be –

SEN. HUGHES:  — he had already – he –

MS. SIMMONS:  — and that’s –

MS. GOFF:  — we’ve – we’ve actually –

SEN. HUGHES:  — had already –

MS. GOFF:  — we’ve actually –

SEN. HUGHES:  — [crosstalk] – in and –

MS. SIMMONS:  — what needs –

MS. GOFF:  — seen this –

MS. SIMMONS:  — to be done.

SEN. HUGHES:  — talked to congress people –

MS. GOFF:  — this – we’ve – we’ve –

MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] – hold – hold –

MS. GOFF:  — we’ve –

MR. MARTIN:  — hold on one second.

MS. GOFF:  — we’ve –

MR. MARTIN:  Senator – [crosstalk].

MS. GOFF:  — we’ve –

SEN. HUGHES:  — he had already been in and talked to congress people privately to – to brief –

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah.

SEN. HUGHES:  — them on various aspects –

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah.

SEN. HUGHES:  — o- — of the issue.  Eric Holder, as the steward of the office of Attorney General, has a constitutional responsibility to protect certain things, to protect the integrity of that office, that transcends this administration.  This is a political move.  The Republicans do it every time in terms of trying to gain certain advantages –

MR. MARTIN:  Kelly.

SEN. HUGHES:  — and we need to –

MS. GOFF:  — it – it – it –

SEN. HUGHES:  — call it for –

MS. GOFF:  — look.

SEN. HUGHES:  — what it is.

MS. GOFF:  It – it’s certainly a – a gamble on the part of the GOP, because there’re independent voters that this could work with – right – who could hear words like “Watergate’ and – and not actually follow through, and it could work.

But the other gamble that they are taking is two – was one name:  Ken Starr, which is the backlash that resulted in the base of African-American voters who supported Pres. Clinton feeling, “Our President is” –

MR. MARTIN:  ’Kay.

MS. GOFF:  — “under unfair attack.”  And that could happen.  That –

MR. MARTIN:  Now –

MS. GOFF:  — could happen –

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I –

MS. GOFF:  — this time.

MR. MARTIN:  — saw this story that Bloomberg did, and it really came out of Florida, which – which actually caught my attention.  It was amazing.  According to several sources, the Romney campaign asked Florida governor Rick Scott to say, “Can you take it down a notch?” when it comes to how the Florida economy is improving.  Earlier, we saw Virginia governor Bob McDonald admit –

MR. FLETCHER:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  — the stimulus bill, which the GOP hates – even though 40 percent of it was tax cuts – admitted it helped Virginia’s budget and their economy.

MR. FLETCHER:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  We’ve heard Gov. Kasich talk about improving economy.  And so how crazy – [chuckles] – is it to say, “Hey, I know you’re the governor of a state, and things appear to be getting better, but we really can’t have you talking about how the economy is improving in your state because it really doesn’t help us attacking this guy Pres. Obama”?

MS. GOFF:  You know –

MR. FLETCHER:  It s- — kind –

MS. GOFF:  — [crosstalk].

MR. FLETCHER:  — of shows the tightrope, I think, Mitt Romney’s walking, in a way.  Many of the swing states have Republican governors –


MR. FLETCHER:  — who want to say the – the economy is improving, and Romney wants to make the case that Pres. Obama is a bad steward of the economy.  So, how do you sort of square that –

MR. MARTIN:  And you’re –

MR. FLETCHER:  — circle?

MR. MARTIN:  — and you’re attacking a major bill — $787 billion.  Like in Texas.  I – I was cracking up during the Republican debates to hear Gov. Rick Perry talk about how he hated the stimulus bill, when he used –

MS. GOFF:  [Crosstalk] – money.

MR. MARTIN:  — stimulus money to balance –


MR. MARTIN:  — Texas’ –

SEN. HUGHES:  Every la- —

MR. MARTIN:  — budget.

SEN. HUGHES:  — every, last penny, he took.  And if he had the opportunity to go to other states and get their money, he would’ve taken it, too.  I know we did it in Pennsylvania.  We were taking other states’ moves.  Thi- — this is – this is the hypocrisy of the Republican reality that’s going on right here.

MR. MARTIN:  Deborah, is it di- —

SEN. HUGHES:  They w- —

MR. MARTIN:  I’m sorry.  Sorry, Senator.

SEN. HUGHES:  — they want –

MR. MARTIN:  Go ahead.

SEN. HUGHES:  — they want to suppress economic activity.  They want to suppress talk of economic growth in states.  And ki- — and the reality is that people are getting hurt by their actions.  By[?] not driving state economic activity, it’s holding back the national –

MR. FLETCHER:  And the iron- —

SEN. HUGHES:  — progress.

MR. FLETCHER:  — the irony –

MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. FLETCHER:  — is I think there’s still plenty of room to criticize the state of the economy without having to resort to –

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah.

MR. FLETCHER:  — hypocrisy.  I mean –

MR. MARTIN:  Deborah?


MR. FLETCHER:  — come on.

MS. SIMMONS:  Di- — look.  Romney knows that when it comes to the economy, that’s his issue, and that’s the one stake he can keep driving in –

MR. MARTIN:  And he –

MS. SIMMONS:  — too[?].

MR. MARTIN:  — needs to win Florida!

MS. SIMMONS:  And he – and he – and – and he needs to – and he – and he needs to win Florida.  The – the – but there’s no – nothing he can gain by doing that.  More importantly, it will make the governor look even stupid, if he –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MS. SIMMONS:  — goes along with Romney –


MR. MARTIN:  Ri- — right, right.  [Laughs.]


MS. SIMMONS:  — with Romney’s proposal –

MR. FLETCHER:  That’s right.

MS. SIMMONS:  —  to tamp down on – on how well states are doing.  I don’t think there’s any state in the – in the Union, and I know, certainly, in the District of Columbia – when that stimulus money came in, we – [snaps her fingers] – star- — we turned on the spigot and were spending it left and right on a whole lot of, particularly, projects – transportation, road –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. SIMMONS:  — projects, education –


MS. SIMMONS:  — projects – that were tied into – to federal dollars.

But we’re almost at reconciliation day right now.  I think Senator told me they’ll have their budget wrapped up in the next week or two.

SEN. HUGHES:  Um-hum, um-hum.

MS. SIMMONS:  A lot of states – Maryland is still dickering over, “Do we get casinos to bring in new revenue?”  “How” –

MR. MARTIN:  Right, right.

MS. SIMMONS:  — “are we going to bring in new” – because stimulus money has dried up, and Republican and Democratic governors and senators alike made all these promises three years ago, based on this money.  Interesting[ly] enough, however, the jobs that we’ve gained – the very few jobs that we’ve gained in the past couple of years – have been in the private sector, and not in the public sector, where the next fight with Obama and Re- — and –

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah, but here –

MS. SIMMONS:  — Romney will be –

MR. MARTIN:  — but here – but – but here’s the –

MS. SIMMONS:  — with the unions –

MR. MARTIN:  — deal with that.

MS. SIMMONS:  — with the unions.

MR. MARTIN:  I – which – which is always hilarious to me, though.  Every month, we saw the job numbers come out, and we saw public-sector jobs being lost –

MS. SIMMONS:  Yeah – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — and the GOP –

MS. SIMMONS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — was criticizing the President for that, when they hate public-sector jobs!


MR. MARTIN:  And so you can’t – to me, you can’t – you can’t –

MS. SIMMONS:  Well, no.

MR. MARTIN:  — compl- —

MS. SIMMONS:  Republicans only hate some public-sector –

MR. MARTIN:  — okay, some.

MS. SIMMONS:  — jobs.

MR. MARTIN:  Some.  E- — except –


MR. MARTIN:  — except – except –

MS. GOFF:  They’re –


MR. MARTIN:  — their own!  [Laughs.]

MS. GOFF:  — [crosstalk]!


MS. GOFF:  Wait.  Wait.  Less teachers, firefighters – you –

SEN. HUGHES:  Exactly!

MS. GOFF:  — know, the – [crosstalk].


SEN. HUGHES:  And – and I – and I hate to s- —


SEN. HUGHES:  — I hate to say it for Michael, but it was a “New York Times” story that came out earlier this week that walked abou- — that talked about the loss of public-sector –


SEN. HUGHES:  — jobs.


SEN. HUGHES:  And, in fact, every time that there was a recession – every time that there was a recession – and there was a Republican president, they made a conscious decision to invest in the public sector to –


SEN. HUGHES:  — keep action[?] and activity going on there.


SEN. HUGHES:  Ne- — this – this time, this guy wants to pull back that investment, and it further hurts the broader economy.

MR. MARTIN:  — I want to – I – Michael, I want to give you about 30 seconds, and I wish I could do it longer.  We’ve dealt with this issue before.  Census Bureau this week:  White wealth, Black wealth.  Twenty-two times greater among Whites.  That’s huge.

MR. FLETCHER:  That’s huge.  It’s been huge, and it’s gotten bigger through the recession.  African-Americans have been the big losers in the housing crash.  I mean like most Americans, most of – most of our wealth was tied up there, and we suffered more in terms of losing wealth, losing home equity, losing our homes altogether in this crash; and that’s what you see playing out in these wealth figures.  We – we have our – we’re staked[?] completely to homes, and – and home values have – have crashed in much of the country –

MR. MARTIN:  Okay, and –

MR. FLETCHER:  — particularly –

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I[’ve] got to throw this out.  My producers will be upset with me, but I need each of the panel [to] hit me [with] your thoughts on Mitt Romney saying, “I’m going to speak to the NAACP.”

MS. GOFF:  Brave?  [Chuckles.]  Or stupid.  I don’t know.  [Laughs.]  I don’t know which.  I, uh – I – I think that – look, y- — I – you have to show up, and so I think that you have to have a seat at the table to – to have a foot in the game.  So, he should show up, and –


MS. GOFF:  — I –

SEN. HUGHES:  — he –

MS. GOFF:  — I think it speaks well of him to do so.

SEN. HUGHES:  — he should, but it’s got to be about substance – not about s- — not about style.  And he’s going to be about style.

MS. SIMMONS:  Yeah, I think it should be about both, and I think he’s as brave as any point guard in the NBA who would go up against big – the three bigs down in Miami.  Just go –


MS. SIMMONS:  — just go on at the – in the – [unintelligible] – and – and show them who and what you are and what you have to say.  He’s going to get booed either way.

MR. MARTIN:  I’ll tell you what, Mike.

MS. SIMMONS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  To – to your point about – about the whole iss- — issue of Black wealth, I think one of the things you’re going to see [is] he’s not going to go to the NAA- — NAACP talking about, “We’re the party of Lincoln.”  I think he’s going to walk in –

OFF CAMERA:  Oh, no.

MR. MARTIN:  — there.  He – I think he’s going to go right to the NAACP and say 53 percent of Black wealth has been wiped out because of the housing –


MR. MARTIN:  — crisis.  He’s going to talk about Black unemployment when it comes to youth, to African-Americans in –


MR. MARTIN:  — particular.  And then he’ll also talk about, I think, small – Black women and small businesses.



MR. MARTIN:  If he goes there and makes those points, it’s hard to counter it when the facts are with him.

MS. GOFF:  Well –

MR. FLETCHER:  Yeah, the facts –


MS. GOFF:  — well, he –

MR. FLETCHER:  — are with him.  I think –

MS. GOFF:  — well –

MR. FLETCHER:  — you –

MR. MARTIN:  One second.

MR. FLETCHER:  — I think –

MR. MARTIN:  One second.

MR. FLETCHER:  — we saw[?] – got a little preview this week when he spoke to a –

MS. GOFF:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. FLETCHER:  — Hispanic group –

MS. GOFF:  — right.

MR. FLETCHER:  — down in Florida.  [He] talked –

SEN. HUGHES:  But he had –

MR. FLETCHER:  — about, you know, the –

SEN. HUGHES:  — nothing to say!

MR. FLETCHER:  — you know, he talked about the Hispanic unemployment rate versus the general unemployment –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. FLETCHER:  — rate –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. FLETCHER:  — and the Hispanic rate is higher, and he’s –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. FLETCHER:  — the guy who’s going to fix it.

MS. GOFF:  But –

MR. FLETCHER:  Now, whether you –

MS. GOFF:  — but he’s not –

MR. FLETCHER:  — believe he can fix it is another matter, but that’s the case –

MS. GOFF:  — but he’s –

MR. FLETCHER:  — that –

MR. MARTIN:  A-a-ah!

MS. GOFF:  — not going talk –

MR. FLETCHER:  — he’s making.

MS. GOFF:  — about Trayvon Martin.

MR. MARTIN:  Ah!  Ah!

MS. GOFF:  He’s not going to talk about –

MR. MARTIN:  Well – no, no, no.

MS. GOFF:  — Trayvon Martin, or –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no, no.

MS. GOFF:  — any of those issues.

MR. MARTIN:  Of – of course he’s –

MS. SIMMONS:  Probably not.

MR. MARTIN:  — not going to talk about Trayvon –

MS. GOFF:  But I’m just –

MR. MARTIN:  — Martin, bu- —

MS. GOFF:  — saying

MR. MARTIN:  — bu- — but when your –

MS. GOFF:  — Roland.

MR. MARTIN:  — but when your who- — but when your whole agenda has been the economy, what I’m saying is when he goes to the NAACP –

SEN. HUGHES:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — don’t be shocked if it’s an economic discussion.

SEN. HUGHES:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  And when the Obama Administration’s on their fourth housing plan, it’s going to be hard to counter what he has to say about housing, no matter how hard you may want to try to.