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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
NFL Player in Murder-Suicide; Namath on NFL Injury Risk; William and Catherine Expecting Royal Baby; Medal of Honor Winner Staff Sergeant Salvatore Guinta Talks About New Book
Aired December 3, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, tragedy in Kansas City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got shots fired. Self-inflicted one in the head. Get in here.
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MORGAN: A football star's shocking murder-suicide. Two more victims of gun violence. Now the great debate rages again. Is it time for America to put down its guns? Both sides go head-to-head.
Also, one of the biggest names in the history of the game speaks out. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath joins me exclusively.
Plus, a man that many say is to blame in the standoff in Washington and the threat of recession. Grover Norquist is here again. And I promise you, it will be more lively than last time.
And the next chapter in the fairytale.
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PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: Obviously, you know, we want a family so, you know, we have to start thinking about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was then, this is now. The royal couple, their baby news and her battle with a rare illness. Plus, why it matters to the royal family.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. You've heard me talk on this show time and again about gun violence in America. Gabby Giffords, Trayvon Martin, Aurora in Colorado, and now the shocking incident on Saturday. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed the mother of his baby daughter, then drove to the team's practice facility and shot himself in front of his head coach and the team's general manager.
On Sunday, that shooting prompted this extraordinary moment from Bob Costas during halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" game when he quoted sportswriter Jason Whitlock.
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BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS JOURNALIST: In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows, but here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Poignant words. Well, what should this country do in response?
Joining me now to debate what certainly a matter of life and death to so many people is David Kopel, he's a law professor at Denver University and research director at the Independence Institute. On the other side is Josh Horwitz, he's executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Welcome to you both.
David Kopel, let me just ask you I suppose an obvious question. Why did Jovan Belcher need a high-powered hand gun?
DAVID KOPEL, LAW PROFESSOR, DENVER UNIVERSITY: Well, he didn't need a -- any hand gun to kill to murder his wife and leave the poor baby as an orphan. O.J. Simpson showed that football players, like lots of other domestic abusers, can kill people with their bare hands.
MORGAN: Right, but why does anybody in America need either a hand gun or a high powered assault weapon? I don't understand. Explain to me.
KOPEL: What -- I don't think the police have released what kind of hand gun he owned. Do you know what kind he owned? So why are you telling me it was a high powered hand gun?
MORGAN: Well, I'm assuming most hand guns are high powered, right?
KOPEL: So what you mean -- so you call it high powered handgun by which you mean a normal handgun and I don't know why he owned a handgun.
MORGAN: Well, let me -- let me --
KOPEL: But we know according --
KOPEL: We know according to "The New York Times" most football -- most NFL players, according to "The New York Times," own firearms for protection, for the same reason that everybody -- that half the households in America own firearms for lawful protection.
You know, you talk about --
MORGAN: Right, but there is, as you know --
KOPEL: This is a terrible crime but you never cover self-defense cases that happen all over this country, too.
KOPEL: And were in the newspaper. I've got a stack of them right next to me here. Those never get on your show. You only talk about the people who misuse the guns and never about the people like the 79- year-old grandmother in Houston or the young mother in Oklahoma who defended her -- defended her 3-month-old baby from intruders coming into her house. There is a good side and a bad side to guns and you focus only on the bad side.
MORGAN: Well, no, I don't, because statistically, as you well know, the prevalence of gun incidents when people have guns in the home in a domestic sense where they go off accidentally or they take them against their partners or whatever it may be, is dramatically increased if you have guns in the property. Obviously. As is --
KOPEL: That's not true with the homeless and domestic abuser. That's not true for normal people.
MORGAN: I get it. Let's turn -- let's turn.
KOPEL: Absolutely. Just like --
MORGAN: All right. David, you have -- you made your --
KOPEL: Domestic violence abusers.
MORGAN: David, you've made point. Let's turn to Josh Horwitz to respond.
JOSH HORWITZ, COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE: Well, look, I think one of the things that's very clear is that guns in the home increase the risk of both suicide and homicide. We know that's very clear. We know that there are more guns in the United States than other countries and we have the highest homicide rate. But I think what Bob Costas did should be really applauded. We saw a real instance here of what harm can be done with firearms. In my own instance, I had a close friend who committed suicide many years ago.
This is an old problem and what I think we need to do in the United States, we have such a callous attitude toward firearms. The Supreme Court has said we can have guns in the home, there's a right to do that, but that doesn't mean it's the right decision for every family. There's a lot of things that we can do. We need better mental health screening. We don't exactly know the facts here. More will come out. But we absolutely have to have more tools in the hands of mental health professionals, we need better background checks, and we need to understand that making -- owning a handgun is not the right decision for every family.
MORGAN: Yes, but David Kopel, we've had an animated debate about this a few times, and I do have a respect for the Second Amendment. I have respect for most Americans and the majority still believe they have a right to have a gun to protect themselves.
My problem is the constant spiraling of this, where you see a situation like in Aurora in Colorado, where there was a 40 odd percent spike in gun sales after that, because people bought into what you would say and others in the gun lobby that if everyone had been armed in the movie theater, then they could have shot the guy. And that's what worries me.
I don't know how you stop this spiral of gun purchasing based on fear. At what point do you say in America, enough guns, actually what we need to do is reduce the number of guns?
KOPEL: Right. So there are 300 million guns in the United States. How many do you think would -- should be confiscated to get down to the level that you think would be appropriate?
MORGAN: Why don't we try 300 million?
KOPEL: Well, you see, you want to confiscate all guns in the United States. That's fine.
HORWITZ: OK, so --
MORGAN: No, you asked me --
KOPEL: I respect your position.
MORGAN: Now wait a minute. You asked me personally what I would do.
MORGAN: I'd remove every gun in America. Boom. But you can't do that. So to be realistic --
KOPEL: Right. Can I tell you what we can do?
MORGAN: Let me be sensible. My response is obviously --
KOPEL: You are bothered about the number of guns.
MORGAN: Obviously I'm not going to get what I want, which is no guns. But David, explain to me how you stop this spiral of when there's a huge incident, the gun lobby go out and say, if you had all been armed, it wouldn't have happened and they all go and buy more guns. How do you stop that? Do you want to stop that or do you want Americans to carry on buying more and more guns? The ability to buy high powered assault weapons, to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet as we saw with homes in Aurora? Do you want that to carry on happening?
Why are you laughing? I don't find it funny.
KOPEL: Because -- because you're so out of touch with reality. In the last 30 years --
MORGAN: That is reality. That's what he did.
KOPEL: The number of guns -- the number of guns in this country per capita has about doubled in the last three decades, and at the same time, the homicide rate in the United States has fallen dramatically. There is no relations scientifically in social science between the number of guns and the homicide rate. We've seen -- there is just a (INAUDIBLE) that came out of Virginia.
MORGAN: What a load of absolute --
KOPEL: Virginia has gone up dramatically.
MORGAN: What a load of claptrap.
HORWITZ: We have to be clear about this in that -- he's talking about Virginia. The death rate in Virginia has gone up and I think people don't understand all that. In the United States, we have some agreement on what we can do and I think we need to talk about that. There's some new polling by Mayors Against Illegal Guns that show that huge majorities of gun owners and Americans believe that we should have background checks on all gun sales and let me tell you, states that do that save lives.
And we need to do the things I think that are possible, the things that are going to make a big difference. And we know that in America if we do things like background checks on things like better tools for psychiatrists, we can stop these killings. Not all of them, because countries in Europe that have these types of things, countries around the world and states that do this just do a better job of stopping gun violence. We do not have to accept these types of terrible tragedies. We can't stop all of them but we can stop a lot of them. We need to do that and we need to do that today.
MORGAN: Look, that, I mean, Britain has tough gun control laws and we have about 35 to 45 gun murders a year. America has 11,000 or 12,000. And yet still, David Kopel, you assure me the more guns you have, it has no correlation to the number of people who get killed with them. It's obvious complete nonsense.
In Japan, they have the toughest gun control laws in the world. They have about two to 10 murders a year from guns. When are you going to do the proper math and stop conning people that the number of guns has no correlation to gun murders? It is -- it's blatantly obvious.
KOPEL: No, it's the total homicide rate I was talking about, and when you create conditions of gun scarcity like you have in the United Kingdom, you create conditions that make it easy for criminals. One of the reasons that the United Kingdom has an astronomical burglary rate compared to the United States is because UK burglars have no fears of getting shot by the homeowner.
According to the United Nations, Scotland is the most violent industrialized country in the world. One of the reasons Scotland is so violent is because the government in London has disabled the Scots from being able to protect themselves against violent criminals.
HORWITZ: Look --
MORGAN: You're going to look me in the eye down this camera lens and tell me Scotland is more dangerous than America, when you have 12,000 gun murders a year and 300 million guns, it's time, Mr. Kopel, to wake up and smell the cappuccino.
Anyway, got to leave it there. I'm sure we will debate this again.
David Kopel, Josh Horwitz, thank you both very much.
KOPEL: Thanks for having me.
MORGAN: Joining me now exclusively to talk about the players' side of the story is former New York Jets quarterback and Hall of Famer, Joe Namath.
Joe, welcome back.
JOE NAMATH, FORMER NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK, HALL OF FAMER: Thank you, Piers. Good to be with you, buddy.
MORGAN: It's an awful story, this, in so many ways and it raises a number of issues, gun control, we've just been debating on the show, the issue of concussion for top football players and the side effects, the issue perhaps of depression, of alcoholism, all sorts of strands play out of Jovan Belcher's nightmare that he ended up in. What is your take on it?
NAMATH: It's mind-boggling to me. I don't know how these things happen. I think all of us or most of us hate to even talk about it. As a ball player, when you lose someone or as a friend, when someone leaves us, it's painful and under these circumstances, it's -- it's awful.
MORGAN: This whole debate that's been raging about concussion and the damage that gets done to players mentally and psychologically from repeatedly being hit in the head, what do you think of that debate? Clearly when you were playing, the helmets weren't as good as they are now but there is clear evidence that it does have a big impact, quite literally, on many players.
NAMATH: A clear evidence, no doubt. And not just on football players. Trauma to the head does cause some problems. The proteins that get active to kill the brain cells, it doesn't have to be a football player, professional football player. Could be youngsters, people that are having accidents. These things need to be figured out and the more they advance, obviously, the depression sets in, the dementia sets in, various heinous diseases from the brain. The body is not designed to play football. The brain is not designed to take the kind of trauma that football players suffer, that boxers go through, and you pay a price for it.
I think today we're further advanced than we have been, certainly, and so we should be able to monitor these injuries more closely and again, injuries that happen to children falling off of bicycles, Little League baseball. We ought to be able to handle this and deal with it more properly down the road than it has been handled.
MORGAN: Lot of controversy about what Bob Costas said at halftime in the game about gun control. Were you watching and whether you were watching or not you obviously heard about it. What is your view of what he said and his right to say it?
NAMATH: Well, again, there's a time and a place. As a fan, a football fan, I'm not up to that kind of a halftime take. There is a time and a place for it, and I wasn't pleased about that. Regardless of how I feel about the issue, gun control, yes, that one word control would be wonderful. Then we wouldn't have any problems with a lot of things in life. Control.
However, the reality of it is there are people working on this issue that are far brighter than I am trying to find a medium, a proper way to go about it, and we're very difficult animals to pinpoint, all of us. We're a little bit quirky. I think there's always going to be a problem dealing with firearms, with knives. It's the animal we are that cause the problems.
MORGAN: Finally, let's end on a positive note, Joe, if I may. You're a massive -- actually, not such a positive note when I think about it. I'll ask about anyway. It's about the Jets. They've been going through a bit of a rollercoaster ride. What do you think the answer is? There are also quarterback problems. Short of bringing you out of retirement, what should they be doing?
NAMATH: Well, they ought to be dealing with this on the up-and-up instead of dealing the way they are. I was alarmed even to hear the offensive line coach complain about being told who to play and basically for contractual reasons. I really feel like, as a sports fan, we expect the best players to be put on the field at all times, and it doesn't seem that they've operated that way.
The Jets are still in the hunt for the playoffs. Plenty of quarterback controversy. And at this point, Coach Ryan's not sure who he's going to start at quarterback for this upcoming game. So I'm holding my breath and I'm waiting to find out. But the Jets do have a chance to make the playoffs. MORGAN: Indeed they do. And your final thoughts on Alabama, who are heading to the national championship game in Miami against Notre Dame. What do you think? Confident?
NAMATH: Now you're talking about some good football there, buddy. Yes, sir.
I think my Crimson Tide team is due. You know, Alabama-Notre Dame has played about six times and those guys from Golden Dome, they've won five of them. I think the odds are in our favor but I also believe the Crimson Tide has the better team, and I believe the Crimson Tide will win the national championship.
MORGAN: It's going to be a great game. Joe, great to talk to you again. I just want to remind viewers to check out Broadway Joe TV and the "Joe Namath Hour" on ESPN Radio, heard on Monday night.
Joe Namath, great to talk to you again. Thanks for coming on.
NAMATH: Thank you, Piers. My pleasure.
MORGAN: When we come back, royal news out of London. The latest on Prince William, Catherine, and the baby that will one day be king or queen.
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PRINCE WILLIAM: I think we'll take it one step at a time. We'll sort of get over the marriage thing first, then maybe look at the kids but obviously, you know, we want a family so, you know, we have to start thinking about that.
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MORGAN: Prince William and the then Kate Middleton before their wedding talking about their plans to start a family one day. Well, that day has apparently arrived.
Katie Nicholl is royal correspondence for the "The Mail on Sunday" and the author of "William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls," and she's here today to talk about today's breaking royal baby news.
KATIE NICHOLL, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE MAIL ON SUNDAY": And it's finally happened. I mean the truth is ever since you and I were there on that wedding day reporting from Buckingham Palace, everyone has been on royal baby bump watch, and every time the Duchess of Cambridge has stepped out perhaps looking a little fuller in the face, a little rounder on her tummy, that rumor mill has just gone into overdrive.
Is she pregnant? Well, yes, today we can reveal and confirm that she is indeed pregnant, which is wonderful and very joyful news, both herself, Prince William, and of course the royal family. MORGAN: It is great news. There is some concern, though, about her condition, because she's been hospitalized at the King Edward VII Hospital in central London with this hyperemesis gravidarum, which is being described as like acute morning sickness. People I have spoken to who know about this say it's much worse than that.
NICHOLL: Well, it is serious and the word you use, it's very debilitating. She's going to be confined to her hospital bed possibly for several days. Prince William was there this afternoon. He left early this evening and I suspect he will be back there first thing tomorrow morning. He's obviously very concerned, as are both the royal family and, of course, the Middleton family as well. This is going to be a first grandchild for them. So yes, there is concern.
Of course this is very, very happy momentous news but what they are saying is that she's going to need plenty of rest. We know that all of her public engagements have been suspended until further notice. And I suspect we probably won't see the duchess carrying out any official engagements until possibly after Christmas.
MORGAN: Right. And the other part of all this is fascinating, is the state of play with the succession to the line of the throne in England. Because the parliamentary process in Britain is changing the law. It hasn't actually changed it yet. The law is being changed to ensure that whoever the firstborn child is, boy or girl, will automatically become king or queen, but it's not actually a done deal yet, is it?
NICHOLL: No, it's not. In fact, it's something that the government are trying to push through parliament now. The queen raised this in her address to the commonwealth last year and since then, it hasn't been made legislation. But it will be and I expect it will be made legislation very quickly now that we know the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby because as you rightly point out, this legislation will mean that should this baby be a girl, she will be an historic girl because she will be queen regardless of any male heirs born after that, the firstborn, if she were a girl. So she would be a historic child.
MORGAN: The other fascinating twist to this, of course, is that one of the reasons that some women, many women apparently, get this condition, hyperemesis gravidarum, is because they're actually expecting twins. Now if that is the case --
MORGAN: And we don't know that.
MORGAN: How would that affect the succession? Is it literally the first one out is the heir?
NICHOLL: Well, like you say, if this legislation comes into play, which I suspect it will ahead of the birth, then yes, if the firstborn, the first twin to birth is a girl, then she will take precedence over either the sister or the brother.
MORGAN: And how's the betting going on a name? I'm hearing Piers is in the frame. Are you hearing that?
NICHOLL: I haven't heard, Piers. I've heard people say if it's a girl, surely there's got to be Diana in there somewhere. The interesting thing with royal babies is they always have many more names than you or I. I mean, most of us have one, possibly two for a name. I think Prince William has got something like five or six. So ancestors do have to be taken into the equation when it comes to naming but I think speculation on that will probably be a little bit further down the line.
I think there's also a feeling over here of people just wanting to be -- erring perhaps on the side of caution. People want to celebrate, people are talking about this very good news but the fact that the duchess is in the hospital with a condition that's not yet been fully determined in terms of her recovery, I think people are just being a little bit careful and everyone will want to see and pray that she gets to that 12-week stage when both of them as a couple I'm sure will be more comfortable about facing the public and celebrating with them.
MORGAN: Well, we'll keep our fingers crossed. It's obviously very exciting news but you're right to urge a note of caution until she's properly out of hospital and back to feeling well again.
But, Katie Nicholl, thank you very much indeed. Nice to talk to you.
NICHOLL: Thank you.
MORGAN: Now I want to bring in CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta to talk about the condition that's caused the duchess to be hospitalized.
Sanjay, it's an interesting case. I'm hearing different levels of percentages here, 1 in 50 women, 1 in 200. Does it depend on how badly they get this and what exactly is the condition? People call it acute morning sickness or whatever, but it's a bit worse than that, isn't it?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is worse than just typical morning sickness. Most women get some form of morning sickness but this is -- this is much more serious. It is rare, about 2 percent usually around, Piers, is the number. Usually not life- threatening.
Simply, you know, Piers, what happens is there's a lot of release of different hormones at the time that someone becomes pregnant, and around eight or nine weeks usually into the pregnancy is when those hormones actually become -- start affecting the nausea centers, if you will, in the brain.
I can tell you, Piers, it's very profound, meaning that you simply cannot keep anything down. You try and give someone medications, pills, for example, to control nausea and they simply can't keep it down and that's typically what leads to the hospitalization. They need to get those IV fluids replaced. About 20 percent of these women who have this condition need a feeding tube put in.
So again, not typically life-threatening, Piers, but very serious and women who have had a history of motion sickness, women who have had a history of migraines, have had a family history of this sort of thing, they are most at risk. And as you mentioned just now, women who are carrying multiples as well. But you know, typically it's treated but it's a few pretty awful weeks, Piers.
MORGAN: Does it increase the potential risk of a miscarriage?
GUPTA: Well, it does increase the possible risk of having a baby prematurely, although if you look across the board, most babies are born perfectly healthy so it's a small increase in that sort of condition but typically if it's going to be treated well and again, lasting just a few weeks, then everything should go pretty well after that.
MORGAN: Let's turn to this shocking story of this football player, Jovan Belcher. We don't really know enough yet to make a considered view, I guess, of his mental state or anything, but certainly this ongoing issue now of collisions to the head causing some kind of mental breakdown in these players, some form of depression in cases, drinking and so on.
What do you make of this case? And do you see again -- I know you've done so much on this, but do you see a potential parallel here with him?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are certainly looking that way. I have already done some research into his particular story.
It's hard, Piers, as we have talked about before on your program, to draw that cause and effect. With this -- with Jovan particularly, he had a head injury back in 2009 that was documented. Sometimes it can be these what are known as subconcussive blows, these blows where you just get right back up.
Take a look at that image. Piers, you know, when we talk about this Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, something a picture is worth a thousand words. And the brain on the left, you can see there, is normal. That's what the advanced stage of CTE looks like. You can see it, it's obvious, brown, these plaques, that's protein plaques and tangles throughout the brain and that can occur in very young players.
You would think that that could look like the brain of an Alzheimer's patient but that's exactly what we have been talking about. Again, we don't know for sure if he had this particular condition, but what we know is that it seems to occur in these football players at a higher rate than in the general population.
Thirty-five players have been examined now, 34 of them at this particular institute were found to have this condition.
And you're looking at, you know, sort of the type of injury that can lead to it right there, Piers.
MORGAN: Yes. Very worrying. Sanjay, thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate it.
GUPTA: You got it. Any time.
Coming up, the president and the GOP go to the mat before the second term has even begun. Will America fall over the fiscal cliff? Grover Norquist, possible public enemy number one to the Democrats, takes on Robert Reich after the break.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: I would say we're nowhere, period. We're nowhere. We've put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A distinctly unhappy House Speaker John Boehner on Fox News yesterday. Meanwhile, the White House put out a statement today arguing the Republican plan lowers tax rates for the wealthy and, quote, "sticks the middle class with the bill."
So with 29 days to go until the fiscal cliff, what would it take to get a deal? Joining me now are two men on opposite sides. Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform and Robert Reich is the former secretary of labor for President Bill Clinton and the author of "Beyond Outrage."
None of the three of us are beyond outrage, Grover Norquist, which is why I keep having you back. Now the situation, it seems to me as an impartial observer here, is that both sides have now made fairly ludicrous offers that they know the other side is never going to accept in a million years. That does beg the question, Grover, why bother? Given that both sides know where they need to move, why the games?
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Well, it's not clear that both sides know. The week after the election, President Obama was asked do you have to have the higher rates or could we have deductions and credits. And he said he was open to negotiations. Three weeks later, after Thanksgiving, he shows up and all of a sudden there's a line in the sand on rates that had come out of nowhere.
So the president seems to be moving the goal posts in a deliberate effort, I don't know, to extract something, to push people over the fiscal cliff. Something's going on. And it's not clear because he's not where he used to be. He's quadrupled the amount of taxes he demands. He now has to have rates instead of just numbers.
It's going to be interesting what he is doing. But it appears he's not trying to come to any agreement. His position is one that the Senate, the Democratic Senate, has rejected in the past.
MORGAN: Robert Reich, 60 percent of Americans, in a new ABC News/"The Washington Post" poll, believe that they should raise taxes on incomes over 250,000 a year. Presumably President Obama has seen these polls, which have been pretty consistent, and he thinks he's got public opinion on his side. So if there is a fiscal cliff and we go over it, the American public are likely to blame the Republicans.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, that's absolutely true, Piers. We've had an election. And the clearest debate and the clearest difference in that election was over the question of whether the rich should pay more and tax rates should go up on the rich. Everybody who paid any attention at all knows that the top two percent are now taking home a larger share of total income and wealth in this country than they have in over 80 years, and are paying the lowest effective tax rate they have paid in over a half a century.
We also have a looming budget deficit. So you don't have to really be a rocket scientist to understand that the rich do have to pay more. Taxes do have to be raised on the rich. And I think that's why over 60 percent of the public in these polls are not only supportive of a tax increase on the rich, but also will blame the Republicans if we go over the fiscal cliff.
And this gives -- frankly, this gives the White House and this gives the Obama administration much more bargaining leverage.
MORGAN: Grover Norquist, here's the problem, it seems to me. Again, as long as the posturing goes on with fairly ridiculous offers on both sides and lots of political rhetoric along the lines of well, they're not giving an inch, we're going backwards -- you can't really go backwards from a position of complete standstill, as far as I'm concerned. But as long at it goes on, the American economy stalls, Wall Street's nervous, the consumers that should be out there now buying lots of Christmas presents and boosting the economy will be reticent because they'll be thinking, well, hang on, what's going to happen come the end of the year -- am I suddenly going to have to find a lot more money.
Everything starts to once again get paralyzed. And somebody's got to give here. Now, are the Republicans prepared to go over this cliff on the pure point of refusing to allow increased income tax on the richest two percent of the country? And if so, why? It's such a small thing to fall over a cliff over, isn't it? Who cares if the super rich pay a little bit more tax? They don't care. It's not going to affect their ability to invest.
NORQUIST: Well, Piers, you've just outlined the president's narrative. And Robert Reich gave you the president's sense of entitlement and mandate that he thinks he has. But let's go back four years, when the president was polling not at 52 percent, but at 70 percent,% after just being elected beating a war hero. And he thought he could do anything and he had -- the country would go along.
And within a couple of months, he decided to spend so much money on the stimulus package that his numbers dropped below 50 percent. He then lost the House of Representatives. He didn't have the mandate to do anything he wanted that he thought he did.
Fast forward four years, the president -- we just elected a Republican House; 219 members of the House won by bigger margins than Obama won by. They ran against raising taxes and for the Ryan plan, which is actually six trillion dollars in spending restraint over the next decade, and tax reform rather than tax increases.
So the Republican mandate in the House was a lot clearer than Obama's, who spent 86 percent of the pro-Obama ads were trashing Romney personally. So he won the right not to be Romney, but he didn't win the power to impose anything he wants.
MORGAN: OK. Hold that thought. Robert, I want you to hold your response until we come back after the break. You've got about two minutes to make this really, really good.
MORGAN: Back now with my special guests, Grover Norquist and Robert Reich. Robert, you've had a couple minutes to think about this. Here's what I'd throw to you, which is that while I feel the Republicans' intransigence over income tax is flawed, I also feel that the Democrats have been quite arrogant in their dealings with Republicans.
They're not giving enough in the cutting of spending to really get a deal through here. Perhaps if they were a little bit more giving, then the Republicans may finally surrender the Grover Norquist reins on no increase in income tax.
REICH: Well, you may be right. I mean, the president has already submitted a bunch of pieces of legislation, not only before the election but after the election, cutting the growth of Medicare spending by 400 billion dollars, providing major cuts in domestic discretionary, non-defense major defense discretionary.
But here, I have a test. You know, Grover Norquist and I can argue this all evening, but if the Republicans really have the courage of their convictions with regard to what Grover is talking about, it seems to me that John Boehner should have no problem releasing a bill allowing Congress, allowing Republicans to vote on whether there will be an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent.
I mean, if in fact Grover is right and the president is overstepping, then there's no reason why John Boehner should be holding up this bill. In fact, Grover, let me ask you. Will you call John Boehner tomorrow morning and say, Mr. Speaker, I think you should release that bill and allow Republicans to show whether they are pledged to me or pledged to the United States.
NORQUIST: First of all, let's be serious. You know better than that. The pledge that congressmen and senators, governors, state legislators, take is to the American people. I know Harry Reid plays games and says me, but you shouldn't do that. You're better than that.
MORGAN: Grover, answer my question. Don't play games right now. Will you -- do you think that they should actually vote --
NORQUIST: I'll answer --
NORQUIST: Robert, I will answer your question. We just had to take off the question the ad hominum nonsense attack that I expect from Harry Reid. I will call Mr. Boehner tomorrow shortly after I call Harry Reid, and ask him to make sure that the Senate rules will allow open debate and open amendment, and that he won't play games as he's been doing for the last four years. And when Harry agrees to that, I will call Boehner and ask him to alter House rules.
REICH: I'll make similar phone calls. I don't know if John Boehner will take my call, but I will make a similar phone call.
NORQUIST: You're calling Reid as well?
REICH: Oh, yes, absolutely.
NORQUIST: OK. Good.
MORGAN: It sounds like --
NORQUIST: I look forward to hearing how that goes.
REICH: So we made a lot of progress tonight. Piers, this may be historic moment.
NORQUIST: Actually --
MORGAN: I am seeing myself as the financial version of Kofi Annan right now. We have to end it there for tonight. Please come back. I have a funny feeling we will still be dragging out this fiscal cliff debate right until the bitter end. So please come back again soon, gentlemen. Thank you.
MORGAN: More on this of course -- no problem. Good to see you. When we come back tomorrow, we'll have Newt Gingrich and talk more about the fiscal cliff.
Coming up next tonight, a man who is a real American hero, and he's got the Medal of Honor to prove it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is my privilege to present our nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to a soldier as humble as he is heroic, Staff Sergeant Salvatore A Guinta.
Now I'm going to go of script here for a second and just say I really like this guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It takes a lot to impress the president of the United States, but Staff Sergeant Salvatore Guinta is an pretty impressive guy. He's the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. And he tells the story in "Living With Honor," a new book. Staff Sergeant Salvatore Guinta joins me now.
Welcome to you, sir.
STAFF SGT. SALVATORE GUINTA, MEDAL OF HONOR WINNER: Thanks for having me, sir.
MORGAN: That must have been a pretty amazing moment. You're standing there on the podium with the president of the United States and he goes off script to say what a great guy you are. How did you feel?
GUINTA: Standing on the stage at the White House looking out at my buddies that I served in combat with, all the brass in the military, two families that had lost their sons that night that I was being awarded this medal for, it was very bittersweet. But to hear the president saying nice words about me, I'm not going to say that wasn't awesome.
MORGAN: The interesting thing when I read your book was that when you first heard about the Medal of Honor, you were angry. Explain to me why.
GUINTA: Because I did what I was supposed to do. This is what we expect of all men and women in uniform, to go above and beyond, to help the person to the left and to the right. And two of my buddies died that night, Sergeant Joshua Brune (ph) and Specialist Huba Mendoza (ph). Three others were seriously wounded.
And here I am with all my fingers, all my toes. I still have the same brain I had before with me. And yet people want to put me on this pedestal and kind of congratulate me and highlight my name when it seems so inappropriate.
MORGAN: In the book you tell in graphic detail -- and it's an absolutely riveting read. You're in this area called the Valley of Death. Your unit was ambushed by Taliban insurgents. You were heavily outnumbered. Tell me exactly what happened next.
GUINTA: My first priority is to the men that I serve. I was the leader of two people that night. And Casey and Clary (ph) were already doing everything they were supposed to do, so I didn't have to lead them. They were already in action.
My next step was to assess what my leader would like me to do. And that was Staff Sergeant Eric Dalardo (ph). And when I turned to him, I saw him get shot in the head. Luckily, the helmet stopped the bullet. But at that time, he dropped when he was hit.
So I ran forward to just pull him out of the middle. And as I grabbed Sergeant Dalardo and ran back with him, he started stumbling to his feet. When he stumbled to his feet, he realized that he was only hit in the helmet, which I'm sure felt like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat. Within the first 10 seconds, Specialist Mendoza was shot and killed. He was our platoon medic.
Most people were getting shot in some way, shape or form. As I moved forward to find where Sergeant Brennen (ph) was, just so I could link up with him, so we could be accountable for all of our people, he wasn't where I expected him to be.
So I saw two -- whatever you want to call them, I'm going to call them bad guys carrying Sergeant Brennen away, and we did what we were trained to do. I eliminated the threat to the best of my ability. I killed one on the spot. And the other bad guy jumped off the side of the cliff. So I had the ability to grab him and run back the direction we came.
It was a bad spot to be. As I ran back, I started to perform first aid on Sergeant Brennen. He was shot several times. He had shrapnel wounds all over his body. Because we weren't getting shot at, I had the freedom to assess the situation. Sergeant Brennan -- I'm sorry, Sergeant Ecrode (ph), Sergeant Gallardo, Casey, Clary and the rest of the first platoon were taking the brunt of the fire.
Really that's kind of what makes that bittersweet feeling, because so many people did so much more than I ever thought about doing. I was just doing what I was able to do. I was checking --
MORGAN: But you were hit yourself twice. It didn't pierce your skin, but you were hit by two bullets. And the citation said that your actions were credited with saving the lives of multiple paratroopers and, indeed, changing the course of the battle.
The most extraordinary thing, apart from hearing you tell it in such compelling detail, is that you were just 22 years old. I mean, really just an incredibly young man thrown into this world of hell, reacting I guess on instinct and training.
GUINTA: Yes, sir. Every day, we have men and women in uniform deployed around the world. And, that's what we expect them to do. It's not about the individual. It's about those around them. I was just trying to do what I was trained to do. And I was trying to do what I believed to be right.
When I got shot, it wasn't like I really got shot. I got hit in the lower abdomen. But the vest stopped the bullet. So no harm, no foul. It's not going to stop you, no reason to stop. It's really life or death anyway. So we choose life. We want to continue to fight. We want to get out of this all together and all alive.
MORGAN: We've had a debate earlier in this program tonight about gun control. The military obviously licensed to use all sorts of weaponry, and do so in the name of their country. What is your view about gun control in America?
GUINTA: I absolutely love the Second Amendment. And guns do not kill people. People kill people. It's about controlling yourself. It's about being accountable for your own actions. Whether it's a gun or a knife or a shovel or a pen, people die -- or a car, people die for all sorts of reasons. But it's up to us to be accountable for ourselves.
MORGAN: You have now left the armed forces and you got married and you have a baby daughter. What is life going to be like for you now?
GUINTA: Life's exciting. Every single day, my daughter is so amazing. I never thought that someone so small and seemingly -- everyone has children. Most people have children, and I thought it was just a portion of life. But I didn't understand how connected or how important this little girl would be in my life. And she's really my everything.
It's been an adventure every single day, from her learning to walk to hearing her say stuff to just trying to help shape and mold this little person into this incredible world. I mean, the opportunities are endless.
MORGAN: You're a lucky man. She's lucky to have you as a father. It's a riveting read, like I said, "Living With Honor," a memoir by Medal of Honor recipient, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Guinta. Thank you very much for joining me.
You are a hero. I know you don't like being called that, but the president was absolutely right. You're also, as he rightly observed, a very nice guy. So I appreciate you joining me.
GUINTA: Thank you for having me, sir.
MORGAN: And we'll be right back.