updated 4/15/2009 9:59:46 AM ET 2009-04-15T13:59:46

Guest: Maria Bartiromo, Kent Conrad, Richard Trumka, Kiki Mclean, Ron Christie, Roger Simon, Michael Harrison, Rep. Gary Peters

Spec: Barack Obama; Economy; Small Business Administration; Business; AFL-CIO; Immigration; John Bolton

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is THE ED SHOW.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans. 

Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

President Obama defends his plan to bring America‘s economy back.  And the TARP program is off to a good start.  But when do you and small businesses get the same deal? 

A Minnesota court ruling says it‘s over for Norm Coleman.  We‘ll talk to Al Franken‘s recount attorney. 

Plus, saving General Motors and Chrysler.  What is the real cost to American taxpayers if this industry goes under? 

Two labor organizations cut a big deal today.  We‘ll tell you more about that.

Plus, “Psycho Talk.”  Remember John Bolton?  Now he wants another war. 

And of course we‘ll have a great panel for you.  But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

This was billed to be a big speech on the economy.  OK.  I get it. 

It‘s an early report card by the president of the United States. 

We‘re off to a pretty good start with the TARP program, and we got a reality check today that we‘ve got a long way to go.  But it‘s what I didn‘t hear today that just kind of bothers me. 

Now, I realize that the president of the United States has to give the overview of what‘s happening, and I‘m expecting to get the detail a little bit later in the game of recovery.  But somewhere in this conversation, Mr.  President, we have to get the devil in the details when it comes to cheap money in this country. 

Now, Wall Street has gotten a lot of money, and Wall Street is turning around doing some things.  You know, the credit card companies are sticking it to us with higher rates, they‘re tightening the credit, they‘re throwing some customers out, and they are streamlining the way they do business because they want to make money, and they‘re doing it on our backs, basically.  We lend them the money and then they charge us more. 

But I‘m talking about the middle class.  I‘m talking about small businesses in this country.  I would like to know, where‘s the cheap money?  The Small Business Administration has a golden opportunity right here to streamline the system and get me some cheap money. 

Now, let‘s play with this a little bit. 

You‘re the president of a small business and I‘m your vice president.  And you say, Ed, go in and get a $250,000 loan.  Now, for a small business in America, that‘s a pretty good chunk of change.  And by the way, if I come back with that loan, I‘m going to get a bonus. 

It didn‘t work that way.  Not for small businesses.  It never has.  So the rules are different. 

We‘ve got a double standard that‘s taking place in the country right now.  So the SBA has a major role to play here.  They need to figure out how they‘re going to loosen up credit in this country. 

Don‘t send me to the bank, Mr. President, and say that, hey, we‘ll give you a million dollars, small business, at 9 percent -- 9 what?  Thirteen percent?  That‘s what I didn‘t hear today, and I‘m expecting to here it as this economic recovery takes place.

It is a time of transition, but it‘s got to be a time of opportunity for who?  For risk-takers.  I want to be a risk-taker.  You may want to be a risk-taker.  But nine percent isn‘t going to cut it. 

I want the same money that Wall Street gets.  I want the same opportunity that Wall Street gets.  And until we figure out how to do that, I‘m a little sluggish on just how fast this recovery is going to be. 

Now, right now, 71 percent of the American people believe that the president of the United States is going to get the job done on the economy.  They feel good about what President Obama is doing.  And I do, too. 

But the fundamentals to return small business back to activity have got to be in place.  And 13 percent on $1 million isn‘t going to cut it.  I say get the money to the community banks. 

Now, the president did address this somewhat today.  He hammered home the point that lending money is going to be a real key to getting this economy back. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to, as you all very know very well, a college education.  It‘s how stores stock their shelves and farms buy equipment and businesses make payroll. 

So when banks stopped lending money, businesses started laying off workers.  When laid-off workers had less money to spend, businesses were forced to lay off even more workers.  When people couldn‘t get a car alone, bad situations at the auto companies became even worse.  When people couldn‘t get home loans, the crisis in the housing market only deepened. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, I know that this president gets it.  I know this president is for small business.  It‘s just down the road we‘re going to get the detail. 

I want to get some real detail tonight from Maria Bartiromo.  She is the host of the show “Closing Bell” on CNBC and also anchors “The Wall Street Journal Report.”

Thank you for joining us tonight, Maria. 

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST, “CLOSING BELL”:  Hello, Ed.  It‘s good to be here.  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  We talked about this earlier today.  Is the administration sluggish on this point?  I know we just got the Small Business Administration in position the other day, but what needs to be done here, in your opinion? 

BARTIROMO:  Well, you know what‘s happening right now, Ed?  And this is a problem, because on the one hand, you‘ve got the government saying to the banks, lend, lend, lend.  We need more money for small businesses, we need more money for individuals, we need more money moving through the system.  And obviously we need credit moving through the system. 

But on the other hand, the government is also saying to the banks, we need your capital levels up.  We‘re doing these so-called stress tests right now, and we need to ensure that you have the proper amount of capital if, in fact, the economy decelerates further. 

You can‘t do both.  If somebody tells you, look, I want to make sure you have enough money in the bank, but also, you need to be lending to your friends, what are you going to do? 

SCHULTZ:  So I‘m here too early asking this question.

BARTIROMO:  Well, you‘re going to hoard cash. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  OK, they are hoarding cash. 

So will it get to the point where the SBA will play a major role in this comeback, where we‘re going to get the kind of cheap money that we‘ve seen Wall Street get and the kind of deals that they‘ve gotten?  Because if we‘re going to get it going, don‘t we have to get risk-takers in the market?  Thirteen percent isn‘t going to cut it. 

BARTIROMO:  No, it‘s not.  You really need the risk-taker in the market.  I think that‘s the right Idea.  But, you know, right now the banks are gun shy.  They do not want lend.

SCHULTZ:  With our money. 

BARTIROMO:  With taxpayer money, no doubt about it, because they need to get their capital levels up in order to pass the stress test.  There‘s very much a conflict going on right now. 

How does that logjam break?  I don‘t know. 

I mean, we need somebody to say, look, you need to lend.  I think we‘ll get more information after the stress test results.  That will be a positive.  We‘ll know who is strong and who is in the best position to lend. 

SCHULTZ:  Americans are upset with what credit cards are doing to them.  They are throwing a lot of good customers out, they‘re streamlining their call list, so to speak, and they‘re raising rates on people that have been good customers. 

Why? 

BARTIROMO:  Why?  Why not?  They are all strapped. 

You‘ve got businesses out there, banks, saying, look, OK, now it‘s tougher to lend, now it‘s tougher to get a mortgage.  Well, I‘m in the driver‘s seat.  I‘m going to decide who I‘m going to give a mortgage to.  I‘m going to decide who I‘m going to lend to.  And by the way, yes, it‘s going to be more expensive. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Wells Fargo turns a profit first quarter, Goldman Sachs turns a profit first quarter. 

How are they making their money? 

BARTIROMO:  Trading.  The stock market and the capital markets have improved greatly in this first quarter.  You had this momentum shift all of a sudden where people felt like, OK, valuations are getting way too low, we want to be putting money to work in the stock market. 

Whether that has legs and is really sustainable long term is debatable.  But it was the trading part of the businesses that really did well. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re positive.  You‘re positive on this economy.  You think...

BARTIROMO:  I‘m an optimist.  I think at some point this economy comes back, but I think we have got worse employment numbers to come. 

SCHULTZ:  Three months, maybe?  Two months? 

BARTIROMO:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  Even with all the construction projects that are out there? 

BARTIROMO:  Oh, come on.  I mean, 2,000 construction projects have started in the last month.  Great start, fantastic that we‘re seeing new job creation, but the bottom line is, we have not seen the ripple effects yet of Wall Street cutting back, businesses across the world cutting back, trying to hoard cash, getting the expenses down. 

Unfortunately, the employment numbers will get worse, and that has ripple effects throughout the retail part of the business.  But, you know, there are some positive signs, Ed.  I don‘t want to be all gloom and doom because we will get through this.  We‘re a resilient country. 

SCHULTZ:  We will, but I want this administration to hear cheap money over and over again.  That‘s what‘s going to get us going again when it comes to small business. 

BARTIROMO:  I agree.

SCHULTZ:  Maria, thanks for joining us tonight. 

BARTIROMO:  Thank you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

President Obama says we need to build our economy on rock solid instead of shifting sands.  OK?  Now, that‘s why his budget includes big investment like education and health care. 

Joining me for more on that is Democratic Senator Kent Conrad from North Dakota.  He‘s the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Senator, what did you think of the president‘s presentation today on the economy? 

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA:  I thought it was very good.  I thought it was right on point with the keys to future recovery.  That is, we have got to reduce our dependence on foreign energy, focus on excellence in education.  If we‘re not the best educated, we‘re not going to be the most powerful for very long. 

And, of course, health care reform, because that is the 800-pound gorilla.  That is what can swamp the boat for our competitive position, for our fiscal position. 

And, in addition, he talked about the need to get our debt under control, to dramatically reduce the deficit.  So I thought the president was right on target. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m a small business guy, Senator.  You know that.  And I know that health care costs are going through the roof and whatnot.

How fast do we have to address this before the economy starts coming back?  Is it health care first and then the economy returns?  What do you think? 

CONRAD:  I think the two are very much linked.  Our competitive position is very dependent on what we do on health care.  Certainly our fiscal position is.  But, you know, there are good signs. 

The president was right.  We see it in housing.  We see it in car sales.  We see it in the credit markets. 

They have improved dramatically.  It‘s not gotten much attention, but the credit markets have improved dramatically.  They are still not where they should be. 

And, of course, you‘re right with respect to small business and the risk-taker.  They have got to have affordable capital. 

They still don‘t have what they need, and so that‘s a focus now for the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.  They‘re rolling out a program that should give much better interest rates to small business going forward, and that has to be a focus. 

SCHULTZ:  What about community banks, Senator Conrad?  What role do you think they play in all of this?  Community banks are big across rural America.  Isn‘t there going to be anything for them?

I mean, Wall Street gets it.  Why can‘t the community banks get it?

CONRAD:  You know what I think is going to happen?  I think you‘re going to see an awful lot of community banks that are relatively healthy.

They didn‘t engage in this funny money financing.  They‘re going to have a lot of opportunities come their way.  And if they have affordable capital, they are going to be part of this recovery.  In fact, I think you will see some community banks come to be the strong banks for the future in this country. 

SCHULTZ:  OK. 

Senator, I‘ve got to ask you about $634 billion for health care, because obviously this is going to help small businesses in this country.  I think it‘s vital to this recovery. 

Where is the majority of the $634 billion going to go? 

CONRAD:  Well, first of all, you know, we‘ve got to use health information technology.  That‘s a tremendous opportunity, to computerize our health records.  That reduces health care performance, that reduces costs, that prevents medical errors.  So that‘s a huge opportunity.  It costs a lot of money. 

We also know that we‘ve got to go out and do a much better job of assessing what works and what doesn‘t work.  That also costs money, at least on the front end, but it pays big dividends down the line.

And the big kahuna is better coordinating care.  Five percent of Medicare patients use 50 percent of the money.  We‘ve got to focus like a laser there.  We can better coordinate their care, save money, and get better health care outcomes. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, great to have you on with us tonight. 

CONRAD:  Always good.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Senator Kent Conrad from North Dakota.  He‘s the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

There are 12 million illegal immigrants living in America right now.  President Obama wants to bring them out of the shadows.  What kind of reform deal would protect American workers? 

We‘ll talk to an AFL-CIO leader when we come back, right here on THE ED SHOW, on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

President Obama heard some good news today on immigration reform.  Two big labor organizations said today we have a deal.  Here‘s the plan from the AFL-CIO, and Change to Win is the name of the other organization. 

They want an independent commission to decide how many foreign workers get visas.  Meanwhile, keeping tabs on the impact on the economy and wages. 

They want to secure an effective worker authorization system, practical border controls, amnesty, or what they call status adjustment, for 12 million illegal immigrants.  And they say no way to an expansion of a temporary worker program.  They say it creates an indentured class of workers.  Without full employment rights, the Chamber of Commerce said today, no deal. 

You know, if the unions think they are going to push through a big deal without the support of the business community, I think that they might be dreaming on this one. 

But joining me to talk more about it now is Richard Trumka, who is the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. 

Mr. Trumka, thanks for joining us tonight. 

Richard, I have to ask you...

RICHARD TRUMKA, SECRETARY-TREASURER, AFL-CIO:  Thanks for having me on, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  ... how good a deal is this?  I mean, this is the other 800-pound gorilla in the room.  How good a deal is this? 

TRUMKA:  Well, first of all, we think if adopted, this will fully protect U.S. workers.  It will reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers.  And it will reduce the incentive for U.S. employers to hire illegal immigrants instead of U.S. workers.  So we think it‘s a good deal.  It‘s the best thing that can happen. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, there are some interesting numbers that are out there, Richard.  When you take look at the immigrant entrepreneurs in this country, 25 percent of ventured-back companies are founded by immigrants.  That‘s a real contribution.

Also, 25.6 percent of patents are by foreign nationals.  Forty-seven percent of U.S. scientists and engineers are immigrants.  And this is, of course, a big issue with higher education, just what our students are getting involved in.  A lot of them are coming from other countries, and we‘ve got to deal with those visas so they don‘t leave. 

Where do the unions, and in this deal, deal with those students that are here that are forced to go home? 

TRUMKA:  Well, first of all, that‘s called the status adjustment. 

Look at them and see if they are actually needed and let them stay here. 

They‘ve contributed.  Many have stayed here for several years. 

About 40 to 45 percent of the illegal immigrants in this country don‘t cross the border.  They come in legally with visas and then just don‘t leave.  So we need to have that adjusted as well so that workers—so a permanent underclass isn‘t created, those workers exploited, those exploited workers drive down wages for all workers. 

SCHULTZ:  So where are your button heads on this with the Chamber of Commerce?  Where‘s the big divide here? 

TRUMKA:  They‘d like to have an unlimited visa program without any justification or without any real needs.  They‘d like to bring in people from anywhere around the world that can actually reduce wages.  And instead of hiring U.S. engineers, as you talked about, hiring illegal immigrants.  Well, they would be legal at that point—legal immigrants. 

So what we‘re saying is, put a commission in place to decide if there really is a need.  If we have 100,000 unemployed U.S. engineers, why would you bring people into the U.S.?  Let them come in as needed. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, do you think that other unions are going to jump on board here beyond the AFL-CIO? 

TRUMKA:  Well, we‘re the umbrella group and I think we‘re all in accord on this one.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  But, I mean, all of the unions are OK with this? 

Collectively, this is a forward statement, that we have a deal on this? 

TRUMKA:  I think it is.  I think all of us are in accord on this. 

SCHULTZ:  So if you turn to the chamber, is there any negotiation with them on this?  And, you know, where do the Democrats stand on this? 

TRUMKA:  Well, I think that the Democrats are looking on this favorably.  I think it will ultimately become law and we‘ll get the immigration problem at least partially solved, or put it on the path to solution. 

SCHULTZ:  I want to ask you about CEO pay.  I know your organization has done an awful lot of research on this. 

The trend continues in this country.  Wage earners are getting shafted while the front office is still taking all of the money. 

What about this? 

TRUMKA:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, the unemployment rate is at 8.5 percent.  We‘ve lost 5.1 million jobs.  The stock market has lost over 40 percent of its value. 

U.S. households have lost over a trillion dollars of wealth. And 161 out of 200 CEOs that were surveyed by “The New York Times” have actually gotten bonuses last year, bonuses for that.  So they come up with these new and innovative ways. 

One of my favorite, Ed, is the Shaw Company—the Shaw Group gave their CEO, James Bernhard, $40 million and a golden coffin.  He dies, the family gets $40 million.  And the most interesting part is that they give them $18 million so that he won‘t compete with the company the two years after he dies, which sort of indicates what he‘s been doing while he‘s alive, I guess. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  More stories about how the middle class has just got to fight back.

Mr. Trumka, I appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much for joining us.  And hopefully this is a deal. 

TRUMKA:  Thanks, Ed.  Thanks for having me on. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you. 

Coming up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”  What is it with Republicans and invading countries?  They just can‘t get off that.  Wait until you hear what country John Bolton wants to go into now. 

You bet, he‘s in the psycho zone.  It‘s “Psycho Talk.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by the conservatives these days? 

It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”

Checking in to “Psycho Talk” today, former U.N. ambassador and warmonger John Bolton.  Here‘s what he thinks we should do with pirates.

We should invade Somalia with a coalition of the willing.  We‘ve heard that before.  It would be (INAUDIBLE) response to piracy.  Of course it would. 

Bolton endorses a ground invasion even after a successful rescue of the captain.  Listen to this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would it be your recommendation that they go into, militarily, with air strikes and/or boots on the ground, into these so-called feral cities where the pirates are taking hold?  Is that what you‘re suggesting? 

JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.N. AMBASSADOR:  Yes.  I think, obviously, we need to plan this prudently.  And unless we go in and really end this problem once and for all, we will simply see it grow over time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s the answer, let‘s invade?  That puts him in the “Psycho Talk” war zone tonight. 

Mr. Bolton, you are X‘d out of the “Psycho Talk” zone. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Al Franken got some great news last night.  A three-judge panel says he won the election in Minnesota.  But now the real fight starts. 

Norm Coleman told me last week that he‘s taken this to the United States Supreme Court.  Well, it‘s the Minnesota Supreme Court first.  And he claims that all of the votes just haven‘t been counted. 

Joining me now is Al Franken‘s lead counsel and recount attorney for the Franken campaign, Marc Elias.

Marc, good to have you with us tonight on the Ed program.

What does Norm Coleman mean when he says all the votes haven‘t been counted?  That seems to be sticking in the minds of a lot of Americans—hey, you‘ve got to count every vote.  What‘s he talking about? 

MARC ELIAS, FRANKEN RECOUNT ATTORNEY:  Well, first of all, it‘s great to be here the day after the court declared Al Franken the winner by 312 votes.  And we went in up 225.  After several weeks of trial, came out up 312.  I‘m not quite sure I know what former Senator Coleman means when he says not all those votes have been counted, because, at this point, the votes have been counted, recounted, and now have been gone over again by a tri-partisan—a three-judge panel.  All the lawful votes at this point have been counted.  The votes that have not been counted are the ones that the county, the state canvassing board, and now this court have deemed were not unlawful votes. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, now, Mr. Coleman claims that he‘s going to take this all the way to the state supreme court.  That‘s going to be announced later in the week.  Where is Governor Pawlenty on this?  Are you confident that he will side with Coleman or will he put a stop to this? 

ELIAS:  Look, we have said all along that we have confidence that the state officials, when the time comes, will do the right thing.  Right now, the case is going to go to the state supreme court, assuming that former Senator Coleman chooses to appeal.  At that point, if the state supreme court upholds this court‘s decision, as we expect they will, I fully expect that Governor Pawlenty will follow the law, and will perform his ministerial task of preparing and signing an election certificate. 

SCHULTZ:  He could be an obstructionist in this, could he not? 

ELIAS:  Look, I think anything is possible.  But I think that the state supreme court has spoken clearly in an earlier case, saying that this process ends at the end of the state court process.  And we expect that Governor Pawlenty will follow the law and follow what his state supreme court tells him. 

SCHULTZ:  We should point out that the Republican party has been at a fever pitch to make sure that Norm Coleman goes back to the United States Senate.  John Cornyn threatened World War III if Al Franken got into the Senate.  On a lighter note, the head of the party did make this statement:

“the Republican party will continue to strongly support Senator Coleman‘s appeal until we are confident that no voter is left behind.” 

You can tell our audience tonight, Mark, without a shadow of a doubt, that there hasn‘t been any voter that‘s been left behind in this process. 

ELIAS:  I have to say—I can say that without a shadow of a doubt that that is true.  The fact is, the Minnesota process is as thorough and complete and honest as there is in this country.  And these votes have been scrutinized now, over the course of five months, by county election boards, by county absentee ballot boards, by the supreme court, during two cases that went up to the supreme court along the way, now by this three-judge panel. 

And I think the people of the state of Minnesota and the country can have confidence in the results. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  This is I think a pretty blanket statement coming up here from the three-judge panel that they issued last night: “the overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the November 4, 2008 election was conducted fairly, impartially, and accurate.”

Now if the justice system in Minnesota is as good as many believe it to be, why doesn‘t Al Franken step up and ask Harry Reid to put him in the United States Senate?  Aren‘t Minnesotans ready for that? 

ELIAS:  Well, look, Al Franken has been following the state court process and following the rules as they are written.  You may know and your audience may now, we actually went to court earlier this year to try to see whether the state supreme court would order the governor and the secretary of state to issue an election certificate during the pendency (ph) of the contest. 

We didn‘t prevail on that.  We respected the court‘s ruling that that was not the right step, or the right time in the process, and that the right time for the issuance of that certificate would be at the conclusion of the state court process. 

SCHULTZ:  Why didn‘t Al Franken ask Norm Coleman to get out?  Look, it‘s over. 

ELIAS:  Look—

SCHULTZ:  Al is being kind of passive on this deal, don‘t you think? 

ELIAS:  You know, I really don‘t think that‘s fair.  I don‘t think he is.  I think the fact is that we have said consistently and Al Franken has said consistently that he has received more votes and that, therefore, he is the winner and will be declared the winner. 

The fact that former Senator Coleman has decided to exercise his rights—and it his rights—to go through the state court, there‘s really nothing we can do about that. 

SCHULTZ:  Mark Elias, I do agree with you on that.  It‘s been the most open process in the history of elections in this country, no question about it.  You can‘t beat live TV.  Mark, good to have you on the program. 

For more on what‘s next in the battle to get full representation in the state of Minnesota, let‘s bring in our political panel tonight, Democratic strategist Kiki Mclean, and also Republican strategist Ron Christie, and Roger Simon, chief political columnist for “Politico.” 

Mr. Christie, let‘s start with you first tonight.  Does Norm Coleman have a play in this, at this point? 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I think he does.  I think, as a lawyer, I can tell you that Senator Coleman has not exhausted all of his legal rights and his legal remedies.  If he and his council believe, as a matter of law, that they can take this case to the Minnesota supreme court, and they can present evidence, I think he‘s entitled to have his day in court.  That‘s what this country is all about. 

Senator Coleman has maintained from the outset that not all of the eligible ballots that were cast have been counted.  And I think it‘s up to the Minnesota supreme court to have an opportunity to say whether there‘s been an equitable count, and if, in fact, there is a case where some of these ballots are in dispute, they should look at that.  If not, I think it‘s for the best interest of the country for us to put this behind us.  But it needs to be open and fair and transparent.  And I applaud Senator Coleman for availing himself of his Constitutional rights at the state level. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Simon, is there any fallout to the Republican party on this?  I mean, do they look like sore losers?  Are they sore losers?  Or is Mr. Christie right on this? 

ROGER SIMON, “POLITICO”:  I think, for starters, Al Franken is going to be sworn in as the Democrats 59th senator.  His margin has increased at every counting and recounting.  It started off in double digits.  Now it‘s in the safe triple digits. 

And we have a bad example of what happens when the Senate rushes into something.  They rushed into the seating of Roland Burris, and they wish they could take that back now.  There‘s no reason to rush into Al Franken.  He‘s going to get there.  He‘s going to give the administration another vote that it needs.  And Al Franken can afford to take the high road and look senatorial.  This is the time to do that. 

SCHULTZ:  Kiki, tell us, your thoughts on the strategy of the silence of Al Franken here.  It‘s almost kind of spooky.  I mean, does he want to be a senator?  He‘s so quiet about this. 

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, it‘s not silence.  He came out and spoke today.  You‘ll be shocked to know that I agree with Ron, that if there‘s a step that Senator Coleman can take, he should be allowed to take it.  We should respect that.  I personally have been on the staff of a major recount, one that happened in Florida a few years ago.  I remember how painful that was. 

But I think Roger also raises an important point.  I think the sense of urgency is really about getting a senator sworn in who can take meaningful votes when we have so much going on in our country right now.  But in terms of the political sense of urgency, not quite so much now.  I think people recognize that at the end of the day, the reality is that Al Franken is going to be sworn in. 

So you know what, do you kick a guy when he‘s down?  Do you let Coleman find his path out of this? 

SCHULTZ:  Roger, about what Harry Reid?  Can‘t he just make a play right now?  They‘re coming back to work next week.  Can‘t he say, we‘re going to seat him and that‘s the way it‘s going to be. 

SIMON:  Yes, he could, but it‘s not going to happen.  I think the administration and Harry Reid and everyone has decided, we‘re going to get there.  The end is in sight.  There‘s a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.  Why do we have to make a big case of it now?  There‘s no evidence that the people of Minnesota have been deprived during these past few months.  There are some states who probably feel they‘d love to get along with just one senator.

I think they‘re just happy with the slow movement of justice in this case.  And they are not the least bit worried that Al Franken is going to lose this. 

MCLEAN:  I would add here, Ed, that one of the great things that will come out of this when Al Franken is sworn in and seated in the United States Senate is an understatement that there‘s no question, it‘s his seat.  There‘s no debate about it.  He earned it.  He had the votes.  He is the candidate that the people of Minnesota chose. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, are you OK with that? 

CHRISTIE:  I‘m not all right with that.  I want to make sure—let me split the difference with you, Ed.  I think Kiki is right; whomever is sworn in, we want to make sure, going back to Roger‘s point, that we don‘t rush.  We don‘t need to over-politicize this process.  That‘s why I think Harry Reid and the folks of the United States Senate are keeping their mouths shut.  They stepped on it the first time.  They want to make sure that all of the I‘s have been dotted, all the T‘s have been crossed, all the legal challenges have been exhausted, so that Minnesota has a senator that everyone can feel confident in. 

Whether that‘s Republican or the Democrat remains to be seen.  I still want to see Senator Coleman have his day in the supreme court and finally put this issue behind us, one way or another. 

SCHULTZ:  I want to tell all three of you—stay with us, we‘re going to come back.  But I want to tell all three of you that even with one senator, my property taxes at the lake have not gone down.  OK?  So I can tell you that right now.  This one senator thing, it really hasn‘t affected that at all. 

Folks, stay with us.  We‘re coming right back with the panel again. 

President Obama is destroying capitalism?  Putting up pictures of Malcolm X in the Lincoln Bedroom?  Right-wing radio talkers are getting more extreme and more disconnected.  We‘ll talk about that next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook today, conservative talk radio is getting more extreme, more polarizing.  First, let‘s look at this new poll that shows President Obama has earned the nations trust; 66 percent of Americans say they trust the president.  That makes him possibly the most trusted figure in American politics.

So why are we hearing this on so many stations around the country? 

Listen up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. GORDON LIDDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The first thing you do is, no matter law they pass, do not, repeat not, ever register any of your fire arms.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW:  Everybody in the White House in over their heads.  They are prefect, perfectly times, perfectly programmed, perfectly educated to destroy capitalism.  That‘s their expertise.  They‘re in the process of doing it.

MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I just pray to god that the Obamas don‘t take down the pictures of Lincoln and such and replace them with Malcolm X.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is the publisher of “Talkers Magazine,” Michael Harrison.  “Talkers” is a trade magazine focusing on talk radio in America, now in its 19th year.  Congratulations, Michael.  Great to have you with us tonight. 

The political pendulum has shifted in America.  Has the conversation on talk radio shifted? 

MICHAEL HARRISON, PUBLISHER, “TALKERS MAGAZINE”:  It‘s always shifting, but it‘s left and it‘s right in terms of news talk radio.  Now the conservatives are playing defense—or offense, actually.  They played defense like it was offense, and they did very well at it.  But now they are on the outside.  And that‘s a very good position to be in in the world of talk radio, because it‘s very compelling and your audience galvanizes around you.  That‘s what they‘re doing right now.

SCHULTZ:  So it‘s to their advantage from a business stand point to do what they‘re doing? 

HARRISON:  And I view it from that perspective and exactly that.  Because radio is a niche business, you don‘t have to have 60 percent or 50 percent of the public listening to you.  You have to have five percent.  If you have five percent, five percent loyal listenership, you can do very well.  And when people are on the outside, and they are fearful, they rally around a host that talks to them. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that there‘s enough conservative talk radio in America that could knock the Obama administration off its game? 

HARRISON:  No, unless Obama listens to it and gets rattled.  Absolutely not.  I think that talk radio plays a role in the national dialogue.  Look, Franken just became elected senator.  I think his role in radio helped to make that transition. 

Rush Limbaugh is probably running the Republican party right now, no matter how you like to slice it.  But I think that there are many more factors to what results in elections and results in the direction of a country.  Talk radio plays a role in it. 

SCHULTZ:  A lot of people think that it‘s gone over the line, that it‘s actually brought people to some violence.  Do you subscribe to that? 

HARRISON:  Well, if talk radio has brought people to violence, so has Hollywood, so have comic books, so has the Internet, and so has the entire media.  You can‘t blame talk radio for the larger culture, the coarsening of American culture. 

SCHULTZ:  But if they‘re so negative on Obama, I thought they were supposed to be entertaining.  They were saying that about progressive talkers five years ago, that we weren‘t entertaining when Bush was in.  Now it‘s all shifted. 

HARRISON:  Well, some people find being negative on the president entertaining.  What do you call entertainment?  I watch the Science Channel.  I find that entertaining.  Entertaining doesn‘t necessarily have to be clowning around and telling jokes.  What entertains one person is academic to another. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, moving forward, Rush Limbaugh used the word failure.  That really has been somewhat of a theme for Republican leadership.  Has this thrown the Republicans off their game?  They seem to be afraid of the guy, the Republican leadership.  They almost genuflect to the guy.  Any time he says something, he‘s got to anoint them.  I think it‘s their leadership.  What do you think?

HARRISON:  Well, I think they are afraid of him.  I think he has a tremendous influence.  And he‘s out there and he‘s on a podium and he is direct and he has his opinions and he has an impact.  Yes, he is running the conscience of the Republican party, as absurd as that sounds. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael Harrison, good to have you with us. 

HARRISON:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much.  A recent poll shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the government using taxpayer money to keep GM and Chrysler alive.  Next up, we‘re going to tell you just how much it‘s going to cost you as a taxpayer and us as a country if the industry is allowed to go under.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  It is our fervent hope that in the coming weeks, Chrysler will find a viable partner; GM will develop a business plan that will put it on a path to profitability without endless support from American taxpayers. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That was President Obama expressing hope that GM and Chrysler will meet deadlines to restructure and survive.  He wants to stop the endless support from American taxpayers if these companies go into bankruptcy.  Who do you think is going to pick up the check for workers that lose their jobs and retirees who don‘t get their pension?  A bankruptcy could be more expensive for taxpayers. 

Here‘s one of the problems.  American automakers are not competing.  They are not even in the game as of late.  How is GM going to succeed when an automaker like Honda is offering 149 dollars a month in a lease program for its Honda Civic?  Why can‘t GM do the same thing?  Earlier this year, Hyundai came out with a program with say, hey, we‘re going to make your payments if you lose your job for a few months.  Soon after that, GM and Ford said the same thing. 

The foreign automakers, you know, they just seem to be like sharks in the water.  They are offering these deals that consumers can‘t refuse.  They want the U.S. automakers to file bankruptcy.  They will get more customers.  They are just throwing down the gauntlet.  And I think GM and Chrysler, they‘ve got to be more aggressive. 

Let‘s talk to a Congressman who knows about the auto industry.  Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan joining me now.  Congressman, why can‘t I get a Chevy Malibu for 149 dollars a month?  Why is it always the foreign manufacturers seem to have the hottest deal? 

REP. GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN:  Well, I think there are some great deals with the American automakers.  And both Chrysler and General Motors have great deals.  You mentioned in your opening segment how they‘ve matched some of these other deals.  They‘ve got great automobiles. 

In fact, today I spent the morning with Chrysler, and saw their lineup of cars for not only this model year but next year.  It‘s an exciting lineup of automobiles, some beautiful automobiles that get great gas mileage, and a very competitive product line. 

Right now, certainly, financing is very difficult as a result of this credit crisis.  And we‘ve got to get through this credit crisis and get credit available, so that people can get in the showrooms, get that credit to buy these automobiles. 

SCHULTZ:  But my point is that the president has asked these companies to go back to Detroit and figure this whole thing out, and figure out how to make a dollar.  I agree with you.  Their quality has been elevated quite a bit.  But it always seems that the foreign manufacturers come up with the hottest deals, the latest angles to entice customers.  Why can‘t GM and Chrysler figure that out? 

PETERS:  Again, they‘ve got great cars.  In fact, Chrysler just increased their market share recently on minivans, a real leader in minivan and that particular subject.  Right now, they do have some very tough criteria to meet.  Primarily, what is holding them back is that they need to renegotiate with their creditors and their bond holders in order to have the viability necessary to move forward. 

As you know, they are on a very tight time line right now.  Two weeks for Chrysler, a little longer than that for General Motors.  You‘ve got to have creditors that are willing to step up and help these auto companies.  As you mentioned at the top of your program, you‘ve got hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake here in not only Michigan, but across this country, that are at stake if these companies are not helped in order to survive and continue to be a world leader in automobiles. 

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t want bankruptcy.  I want expansion.  I want them to survive.  I want them to make it.  But I just have to point out the fact that they just seem to be out-flanked in every marketing campaign, and it looks like the foreign manufacturers are just sharks in the water.  They‘re just going in with the lowest possible deal they can get, to undercut, to get more customers out of the market. 

I want to talk about bankruptcy.  Does it do any good to talk about bankruptcy if you hold GM stock?  Look what it‘s done the last few days. 

PETERS:  Yes.  No, I think bankruptcy has to be the absolute last resort for both of these companies.  And that‘s why I‘ve been working very aggressively to make sure that bond holders and creditors step forward.  They‘re really the stumbling block right now that have not been willing to negotiate, or if they are, not really accepting fair market terms in order to convert some of that debt to equity, to allow these companies to get back onto their feet, to move forward and to move that product forward.  There are some very exciting products. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, the numbers are staggering for the retirees.  If they do go to bankruptcy, there‘s a lot of Americans that are going to lose their benefits.  I mean, you have got 675,000 GM retirees and 335,000 could see their benefits cut.  They didn‘t vote for that.  Why don‘t we give the car manufacturers more money and tell them to get tough and figure out?  Why do this to the retirees? 

PETERS:  Absolutely.  There‘s going to be an incredible amount of pain if we go into bankruptcy.  As you mentioned, not only the current workers, but you‘ve got retirees.  The pensions are going to be in jeopardy, health care that they worked for.  They‘ve worked for their entire life, have put forward all of that effort, may disappear or at least be reduced.  That‘s why it has to be an absolute last option. 

Again, we‘ve got to step up with these creditors.  In the case of Chrysler, you have creditors that have been significant beneficiaries of Tarp funds, significant taxpayer money has gone into these banks.  These banks have to understand that that money was not about them.  It was about the American economy, about preserving jobs, and we need to keep these companies going forward.  They will be successful going forward.  They have exciting products, both in—

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, you‘re one of the best salesman they‘ve got.  I‘ve got to run.  I appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much and hopefully it all works out. 

Let‘s bring back our panel, Kiki Mclean, also Ron Christie and Roger Simon.  Kiki, as a Democratic strategist, how much would this hurt the Obama administration with these retirees?  They didn‘t vote for this? 

MCLEAN:  Well, I have to say, this is an issue I pay a lot of attention to, because I have done some work with the industry and currently do some work with the industry.  These numbers are big.  Look, the president made it very clear, the auto industry has made some gains, but he wanted to see a tougher, faster, leaner, dig deeper kind of process to get back on their feet.  And I think that they intend to do that.  That‘s the action that you see. 

Nobody is lollygagging around this.  The real point is what the Congressman made, which is the negotiations with bond holders and others.  That‘s a very simple fact. 

To your point, the number of American jobs, the number of communities, the number of people who are affected by this is just astronomical.  And this is even more to the point that you raised; this is not a question about the quality of products.  Even the president recently—

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, would this be a political problem in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana for the Obama administration? 

CHRISTIE:  I think it would.  And I think that‘s why you have not heard the administration—you haven‘t heard the Democrats who control Congress talking about what is really at the heart of the matter.  The heart of the matter is that the unions, over the years, have negotiated benefit packages that the car companies cannot afford.  They cannot—

SCHULTZ:  They‘ve taken reductions.  The last three negotiating sessions they have taken some pretty big reductions. 

CHRISTIE:  Let‘s be honest.  Great, they‘ve made some concessions.  I recognize that‘s the case.  But you asked the congressman in the last segment, why can‘t Americans lease a car for 149 dollars a month?  We‘re simply not competitive the way that we have our current automotive structure in the United States. 

We can‘t compete with these people because we pay so much in health and benefit costs.  That‘s something that we need to address.  And people in Congress are unwilling to do it because of the third rail of politics.  If they step on that, they might get electrocuted. 

SCHULTZ:  Roger Simon, I‘ve got to ask you, what would a campaign be like if the Obama administration had to face conversation that we don‘t make cars in this country anymore? 

SIMON:  Well, we are going to continue to make cars.  We haven‘t made competitive cars.  You put your finger on it at the beginning, Ed.  When you get the car rental counter, and the person behind the counter says, I have a Toyota and I have a Buick, which do you want?  You pick a Buick, then GM will have turned the corner. 

We are a long way away from that.  GM has, in fact, been bankrupt for years.  They haven‘t made a profit since 2004.  They have lost 84 billion dollars in that time period.  Barack Obama fired their CEO, not because he had done so badly in the past, even though he had, but because GM had no business plan for the future that made sense. 

And you showed the clip of Barack Obama saying that.  He said, we couldn‘t endlessly support this company. 

MCLEAN:  I have to raise here, Ed, the concept that it‘s been sort of sport to make fun of the American automobile industry. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, the deals are with the foreign manufacturers. 

MCLEAN:  Well, let‘s be honest here, there are foreign manufacturers asking their government for help. 

SCHULTZ:  Kiki, Ron and Roger, great to have you on tonight.  Come back, please, to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks so much.  That‘s THE ED SHOW tonight.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on our program, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out my website at WeGotEd.com.  Or get text alerts about THE ED SHOW sent to you phone.  Just text the word Ed to 622639. 

We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now here on MSNBC.

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