Via America’s Lawyer: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vets possible Senate successors in the event he doesn’t finish out the remainder of his term. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more. Plus, RT Correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to discuss a Citigroup report which estimates that systemic racism has cost Black Americans $16 trillion over the past 20 years.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Mitch McConnell wants to make sure he has an exit strategy if he decides to leave office, but his plan could end up costing Kentucky residents their voice in elections. Joining me to explain what’s happening is Farron Cousins from the trial lawyer magazine, and absolutely the best, the best progressive commentator in the business. I really mean that.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             I have to watch all of them. So, so let’s pick up with this. It’s a, this is his way out, isn’t it? He’s saying, look, I’m tired of this. I’m old. I got physical problems. I need to get out. But when I get out, I need to have my guy there.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. I think if Mitch McConnell had known that he had a strong person to take his place, he wouldn’t have even run for reelection this past year, but he did and so at 79 years old, he says, well, I got six years ahead of me now. I, I can’t do this. I’ve been here for 36 years now. I need to figure out what’s going to happen. I’m not in the best of health. Um, you know, we all saw pictures recently a couple months ago where he showed up, had bruises on his face, bruises all over his hands and swelling and so he understands, look, I, I may not make it. I’m a realistic guy. But I want to make sure that our Democratic governor doesn’t appoint a Democrat to my seat.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  So he is helping to push legislation in the Kentucky state legislature that would actually allow the parties, essentially to, if it’s a Republican that leaves the Republicans get to pick them. If it’s a Democrat, the Democrats do.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. US Senate, razor thin, razor thin advantage that the Democrats have. I’m not even sure they have an advantage when I start looking at some of these votes, but they say numbers wise, it looks like razor thin. It is razor thin. So everything, got a lot riding on this. Now here’s the way I see it. You got a, you got a Republican majority that is, it’s absolutely, it’s, it’s veto proof. So if this passes, this is what the next, this is, this is what it’s gonna look like in Kentucky and I think we might start seeing it in other places, to tell you the truth. Because they’re, they’re really focused on the fact that even though you got these horrible middle of the road kind of Democrats, that really aren’t helping much. You know, this can be important.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And this is usually the way we see these things happen. There’s always that bellwether, you know, we saw it in Wisconsin with the destruction of the teachers’ unions and the Scott Walker, funded by the Koch brother days and then they took it everywhere else. So this could very easily be something, a blueprint, basically, that Republicans in other States and even Democrats in other States.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  Try to push through because it does kind of guarantee that, listen, if something happens to your person, you get to fill that seat instead of holding a special election and letting the people have their say in who gets to represent them.

Mike Papantonio:             What’s interesting is you have an aging, almost dinosaur leadership across the board.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. I mean, whether you’re talking Republicans, talking Democrats and you got the Pelosi issue, you got the Schumer issue. I mean, there’s a lot of things that are going to take hold as we start saying, what, what happens when we lose senators? We’re going to start seeing more of that, I really predict it.

Farron Cousins:                  I believe so too. I mean, it’s inevitable. It happens to everybody, so.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Mike Papantonio:             A new report by Citigroup concludes the racism against African-Americans has cost the US $16 trillion over the past 20 years. Brigida Santos is here to talk to me and break this down. You know, Brigida, I saw Rick Sanchez did a story very similar to this on the Hispanic part of this, how the Hispanic community brings so much to our economy and how we’re doing everything we can maybe to interfere with that natural progress. How does this study quantify the economic impact of systemic racism?

Brigida Santos:                   Well, researchers measured four key racial gaps for black Americans, including wages, education, housing and investment. And they concluded that if these key racial gaps had been closed two decades ago, $16 trillion could have been added to the US economy. Now, according to researchers, facilitating easy access to higher education for black students would have increased the lifetime incomes by $90 to $113 billion. Providing fair and equitable lending to black entrepreneurs would have resulted in an estimated $13 trillion in business revenue and created over 6 million jobs every year. Improving access to housing credit would have resulted in an additional 770,000 black homeowners and added $218 billion in sales and expenditures and closing the black wage gap would have added nearly $3 trillion in income. Now, the researchers say that if these racial gaps are closed today, it’s not too late. The US can gain $5 trillion of additional GDP over the next five years. So basically this study finds that racism is expensive and inclusion is financially beneficial for the nation.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, I’d say, as I was saying, Rick Sanchez did a great report on this the other day, and it is the same thing with the Hispanic community. So I guess, what can we do to close that racial gap between black and white or Caucasian and Hispanic? What, what do we do? What can the average American do, if this, if these numbers are right and I don’t have any reason to believe they’re not, if this, if this study is not driven by a, some type of agenda, which I have no reason to believe it is. What can we do?

Brigida Santos:                   Sure. The researchers outlined several key actions to help reduce the racial gap. Now at the government level actions like implementing tax reforms, promoting financial inclusion, decoupling healthcare from employment, implementing housing incentives, investing in wealth building and creating better protections against discrimination are a start. And at the corporate level companies can support diversity and inclusion initiatives from the top, recruit more people of color to corporate boards and dismantle structural barriers to hiring people of different ethnicities. Citigroup says it’s now going to invest $550 million in programs that encourage home ownership for people of color and has also promised to dump $50 million into capital investments for black entrepreneurs. So again, this is just a start, there’s a long way to go. And this is looking at the black community, as you mentioned, there are other ethnic communities that are also costing the, the US money.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, well, I mean, we, we have comparatives don’t we, we can look at other countries. We can look at other settings and see whether this is, whether this is accurate, first of all, whether it’s a viable argument. You know, Citigroup, even though every other month or so, we see, we see them in the news for doing some awful. This is a very, this is a very good move for them. Racism in policing is also costing the US, the Taylor case, we, we look at civil lawsuits, we look at civil lawsuits against the city. We look at civil lawsuits against the state. I mean, so there’s something very tangible here. How much did the city have to pay? How much does it cost taxpayers? That’s, that’s pretty tangible, isn’t it?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah, absolutely. City officials in Louisville have agreed to pay Breonna Taylor’s family, $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. But of course it’s not city officials who are going to foot the bill, its the taxpayers. In 2019 police misconduct settlements across the nation costs taxpayers over $300 million. That’s a lot of money that could be spent on other programs. Now that’s why there’s a growing support for policies that would require police officers to obtain their own professional liability insurance. That way, if they were to get sued, their insurance provider is the one on the hook for the money rather than taxpayers. And in theory, this would work similarly to car insurance where a driver’s premiums increase with each offense until they’re eventually priced out of driving or in the case of officers until they’re priced out of policing. Now taxpayers and financial institutions, they’re waking up to how much money systemic racism costs, but whether hitting the US in its wallet is enough to change the system remains to be seen. It appears to be enough to get Citigroup to change its ways. So we’ll have to see.

Mike Papantonio:             Citigroup could start off by not ripping off consumers all over America. That would be my first advice for Citigroup. Thank you for joining me. Okay.

Brigida Santos:                   Totally agree. Thanks Mike.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.