updated 5/8/2009 10:13:52 AM ET 2009-05-08T14:13:52

Guest: Margaret Flowers, Debbie Stabenow, John Harwood, Dominique Thormann, Howard Dean, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Heidi Harris, Bill Press, Lizz Winstead


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


SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans. 

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

A doctor fighting for health care reform gets ejected from a Senate hearing?  We‘ll talk to her and the senator who was there.  Dr. Howard Dean, a big advocate on the issue, will join us at the half-hour. 

And I want to know what you think.  Are the Democrats chickening out on single payer?  Get your phones ready.  Our tech survey is coming up.

And here we ego again.  Fox News is drawing attention to what the president likes to put on his hamburger.  Are his tastes a little too French?  “Daily Show” creator Lizz Winstead weighs in on that. 

Plus, “Psycho Talk.”  

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

I want to start with a story tonight that I think deserves a heck of a lot more attention.  Is single payer on the table or is it off the table?  Health care professionals want to know, I want to know, Americans all over the country are asking the same question. 

Now, earlier this week, and I think it‘s a travesty, the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Max Baucus held a hearing on health care reform.  All players were there at the table except advocates for single payer.

Now, folks, I‘m not talking about the Code Pink crowd, I‘m talking about doctors, nurses, lawyers, professional people who want and live it and need real reform.  Now, the key is they had no seat at the table. 

The world is “excluded,” and I want to know why.  Insurance companies? 

HMOs?  Pharmaceutical companies?  Hey, they were there. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What kind of democracy is it when you pay to play, when you take millions—and you give money to your corporate donors and not provide health care to all?  What kind of a Senate is this?  Is this a Blagojevich Senate?  Are you a Blagojevich chairman? 

We need single payer on the table now! 


SCHULTZ:  Now, folks, I‘m not a big protester, and I don‘t advocate going out and getting arrested, but I think this demonstrates the undercurrent in America, when educated professional people stand up for their beliefs and are excluded. 

Now, let me explain single payer for just a minute. 

The money comes from one source, the government.  Now, you and I pay taxes, OK/  The government pays the bill.  It‘s that simple. 

Patients are not caught in the middle between doctors and insurance companies, no game-playing here.  There‘s no middleman.  You know?  There‘s no decision-makers between you and your doctor.  It‘s a clean deal.

So what Chairman Baucus has decided, this option cannot be part of the discussion at a Senate hearing?  Now, I think that‘s wrong.  I don‘t think it‘s fair. 

I think it‘s certainly not democracy at work, you know.  And I don‘t care if you‘re a Republican or a Democrat, these people, these professionals deserve to be heard. 

Now, we reached out to Senator Baucus‘ office today for a response and here‘s what we got back: “Senator Baucus said that he intends to craft a uniquely American solution that builds on the current system and includes both public and private coverage.  Single payer advocates were not”—get that, folks—“were not invited to testify to testify at the Finance Committee roundtable, but were encouraged to submit a statement for the record.  Senator Baucus said at the meeting that he respects everyone‘s views and wants to work with all the stakeholders to achieve meaningful reform this year.”

I have to ask the question tonight—President Obama, do you support excluding people from discussion?  This certainly doesn‘t sound like you, Mr. President.  There‘s got to be a disconnect here somewhere between this committee and the White House.  And I want to know more. 

Now, one of the people who was protesting at the hearing and certainly was a doctor, she‘s a pediatrician who was educated at Georgetown University, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins. 

Do these professionals deserve not to be heard? 

Joining me now is Dr. Margaret Flowers.  She‘s with the Physicians for a National Health Program. 

Dr. Flowers, thanks for being here tonight. 

You know this is my issue, and obviously it is yours.  Tell our audience tonight, what happened at this meeting, at this hearing? 


thank you, Ed.  And thank you for having me on the show. 

So, we knew that this roundtable discussion was coming up.  And before the—in days before the roundtable, we had people calling into Senator Baucus‘ office asking to include somebody who represented single payer. 

And on Monday, the day before the event, we heard that the invitations were finished, that we wouldn‘t be invited.  And so we went down there, eight of us, all health advocates, all knowledgeable about single payer, and we went to the roundtable. 

And as it began, one of our members of our group stood up and said, “We‘re here.  We‘d like a seat at the table.  Will you get us a seat at the table?”  And he was arrested. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Now, I want to be very clear here, Dr. Flowers.  Did you communicate with the Senate Finance Committee and tell them that you represent a lot of people and you‘ve got a big organization and you want to be heard?  Did you ask to be invited to this? 

FLOWERS:  We did, yes.  And we even had a specific ask, a specific person that we would have like to have had included. 

SCHULTZ:  And what was the response? 

FLOWERS:  They said there would be no more invitations, that nobody else could have a seat. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Now, do you think it was just no more invitations, they didn‘t have enough room, or do you think they just didn‘t want to hear from single payer? 

FLOWERS:  Oh, no.  They just don‘t want to hear from single payer.  I mean, we‘ve been trying for months now, meeting with members of Congress, to be included in hearings and the events that they‘re holding, and they keep excluding us from it. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think the majority of Americans want single payer? 

And can you quote any surveys or any numbers tonight? 

FLOWERS:  Sure.  Well, there have been a number of independent polls that have been done by CBS, “The New York Times,” Yahoo!  They all show consistently that over 60 percent of Americans would like a national health system based on single payer, and the same for physicians.  We know that around 60 percent of physicians nationwide want a national health program. 


Now, folks, I want our audience to grab this.  The majority of Americans, by a number of polls out there, they want—Americans want single payer, yet the first health care reform meeting that‘s held by Senator Baucus, the Finance Committee, you‘re excluded. 

How many people do you represent?  How many in your organization?  How many are you behind you? 

FLOWERS:  Right.  Well, the physicians for a National Health Program has over 16,000 members nationwide, but we‘re part of a larger group called the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, which represents over 20 million people nationwide. 

SCHULTZ:  Twenty million people I guess you could say excluded. 

Now, the question comes up, you know, 16,000 health care providers, that‘s really a fraction.  But what about health care providers in totality in America?  Are there any surveys there that say they want single payer? 

FLOWERS:  You know, the last one we had done was two years ago, and that was actually using the American Medical Association database, which tends to be a fairly conservative group.  And 59 percent of those physicians surveyed wanted a national health program.  If you look at pediatricians and other general primary care providers, it‘s more in the 70s and up into the 80s. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Now, you‘re a pediatrician, and I understand that you have given up your practice for the last two years to advocate for this.  Is that correct? 

FLOWERS:  That is correct. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  What‘s the next step?  Are think any more hearings coming up that you know of? 

FLOWERS:  Thank you.  Yes.  There‘s another hearing on Tuesday, May 12th.  And we would like Senator Baucus to invite Dr. Marcia Angel (ph) to be able to speak at that roundtable discussion. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So you‘re just asking for one person at the table, correct? 

FLOWERS:  Correct. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And the insurance industry was there and the HMOs were there, business interest was there, but let‘s be clear here, single payer folks were not allowed, right? 

FLOWERS:  Right.  There were 15 people at that table. 


Thank you, Dr. Flowers.  Keep up the fight. 

Let me turn now to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee and was there that day when these folks were escorted out. 

Senator, Americans want to know, how did this happen? 

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN:  Well, Ed, first of all, I want to thank Dr. Flowers for her advocacy and everybody who is speaking out for a single payer health care system.  I‘m not familiar with how things were put together that day, but I can tell you that I‘m meeting with people who care about this issue passionately, want us to consider and look seriously at a single payer system.  And I know that other members of the Senate are doing that as well. 

I mean, I want to get insurance company bureaucrats out from the middle between patients and doctors.  But I do want to also caution something else, Ed, which is part of what this whole process is about.

While folks will say, yes, we want national health insurance, and I want that—I want—I believe health care is a right, not a privilege.  But we also have folks that say, I want to be able to keep my health care that I have now, and most people get their health care through their employer.  So we‘re trying to figure out—you know, in my state, a lot of folks get it through their employer and would like to keep it.  So we‘re trying to figure all that out. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Well, Senator, if you‘ve got the majority of Americans that want single payer, and they‘re not included at the first health care reform meeting, there‘s something wrong with this picture. 

Not to mention, it doesn‘t go on record to the American people, these folks who want to testify and say it‘s actually cheaper if we go down this road.  But the pictures we have now are these people being escorted out, some of them were arrested.  What impression does that leave with the American people when stuff like this happens? 

Oh, here comes the single payer psycho crowd.  Wait a second.  In fairness, can you get Senator Baucus to change his mind on this and make sure they‘re included in the next few meetings? 

STABENOW:  Well, first of all, the situation at Finance I think everybody felt was extremely unfortunate.  I felt very bad about the dynamic about all of that.  Absolutely, people need to be involved.  There are a lot of presentations, a lot of meetings coming up, and I think what is most important is that we focus on the fact that we‘ve got to have a health care system where everybody can get health care, where everybody can afford to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  I agree. 

STABENOW:  And if you‘ll keep pushing, everybody keeps pushing, we‘re going to get there. 

SCHULTZ:  I agree.  Well, we‘ve got to get there with everybody at the table. 

Senator, I appreciate your time tonight. 

STABENOW:  You‘re welcome. 

SCHULTZ:  It is—especially in your state of Michigan, I mean, my God, with all the unemployment that‘s going on there, I know it‘s the number one issue around the country. 


SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Senator.

STABENOW:  Take care. 

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate your time tonight. 

Now folks, I just can‘t leave this story without asking, does Senator Baucus have his head screwed on wrong or what?  Does he not know that the majority of Americans want single payer? 

Now, I don‘t care what the conservatives want when it comes to health care.  They had their chance and look where we are right now. 

President Obama, I think you need to weigh in on this and maybe nudge the chairman a little bit, because this country needs clarity, crystal clear.  Single payer, is it on the table or is it off the table? 

And it should be noted tonight that Senator Max Baucus has taken more money from pharmaceutical companies and insurance industry folks than any other Democrat in the Congress.  Baucus got $183,000 from health insurance companies and $229,000 from drug companies. 

May I remind you, they were at the table. 

I want to know what you think.  Here‘s our text question tonight: Are the Democrats chickening out on single payer?  Text A or B to the number on your screen, A for yes, S. B for no, and we‘ll bring you the results later in the show tonight. 

Coming up, the banks‘ stress test results are in, and here‘s the takeaway—it could mean a lot more taxpayer dollars to Wall Street.  How many times do we have to go to the firewall for these guys?  Where can I get some of this stress relief? 

That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.  


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

We just got the results of the banks‘ stress tests.  The Federal Reserve put the balance sheets of the country‘s 19 largest banks under the microscope, and half of them are going to need money to stay afloat, like $75 billion. 

Now, we want real transparency from the White House, right?  How much more money are the banks going to need?  I just said $75 billion.  And will the taxpayers be ready to pay those bills? 

Joining me now is John Harwood.  He is the chief Washington correspondent for CNBC and political writer for “The New York Times.”

John, this can‘t be good news for the White House and the Democrats. 

What do you think? 

JOHN HARWOOD, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNBC:  Well, you‘re thinking $75 billion is a lot of money? 


SCHULTZ:  Well, it was when I was growing up.  Maybe it‘s not anymore. 

HARWOOD:  Yes.  Well, you know, the numbers are getting so big in Washington, we‘ve got a budget that‘s coming out with a $1.7 trillion deficit, it‘s hard to tell sometimes. 

But look, I think the White House is feeling pretty good about this, Ed, for this reason.  Yes, $75 billion is what they need to raise, but the administration believes they can raise that money privately without coming back to the government for more cash, which they know would be very difficult to get from Congress should they run out of TARP funds.  So I think they‘re hoping that private investors are going to step up and provide the $75 billion, and, in fact, one of the things that we‘re seeing now is that companies, institutions like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are soon going to be repaying that TARP money, which is going to give taxpayers a bit of their cash back. 

SCHULTZ:  What are they doing?  Are they operating outside the guidelines or being a little bit—somewhat risky?  Why can‘t they pass these stress tests?  Did they not get enough money to start with? 

HARWOOD:  Well, these institutions, first of all—you‘re right in the larger point about taxpayers being on the hook, because the government decided in advance that all of these 19 banks are too big to fail, and if they needed more, the government was going to step up.  But to do that, they went beyond the actual day-to-day requirements that regulators put on these institutions and said, let‘s take some “what if?” hypotheticals.

Let‘s say unemployment rises higher than we‘re now projecting.  Let‘s say the recession last longer then we‘re projecting and, therefore, all of your assets are going to take a hit, and more of the money that‘s owed you is not going to come back in.  How much would you need then?  And that‘s the scenario that they‘re buffering against with this stress test. 

The good news is nine of the 19 didn‘t need money, 10 of them did.  The most—Bank of America, of course, needing $33 billion.  And Citigroup needs another $5 billion.  Once that money comes up, the U.S. government is going to own about 36 percent of that institution. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ll tell you, this is sour in the ears of a lot of Americans, but this is Secretary Geithner earlier today talking about the situation.  Here it is. 


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY:  These actions are critical to help get lending flowing again.  You make sure that there‘s going to be the credit necessary to help support recovery, help this economy get back on track.  And they‘re going to replace this deep cloud of uncertainty over the system, again, with more disclose, with more certainty. 


SCHULTZ:  Now, John, he‘s talking about getting money to small businesses and getting credit flowing again.  We‘ve been harping on that for a long time. 

Is this finally going to happen? 

HARWOOD:  The administration is beginning to be hopeful, and some private analysts are as well, Ed, that we‘re going to start to see a resumption of growth in the third quarter of this year, steady growth in the fourth quarter and 2010.  One of the problems is even if credit starts flowing, everybody agrees that unemployment is going to rise for a while and stay high throughout 2010, so we‘re going to have a mismatch between the idea that businesses are starting to grow, inventories are going down.

Credit is flowing to some degree, but jobs are not going to come back for a while.  And that‘s a problem for Democrats and Barack Obama. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And the Obama administration today saying that they‘re cutting $17 billion from the budget and expenses. 

Is this window dressing?  Or what do you make of this? 

HARWOOD:  Well, I think I‘ll throw a few quarters out of my pocket onto the pile and that will increase by some percentage what they‘re—look, this is small change.  It‘s a symbolic step.  It‘s really a public relations things by the administration. 

Yes, you can‘t sneeze at $17 billion, but a lot of that savings had been proposed previously.  When they‘re trying to do is, when they‘re rolling out a budget that‘s got a huge number of spending attached to it, $3.5 trillion, and a large deficit of over a trillion dollars this year and next year, they‘re trying to show the ways in which they are pruning back some programs.

They‘ve got to get the cuts through Congress.  And everybody agrees, even Barack Obama and all of his budget aides, that the big money really is going to come from health reform, from entitlement reform going forward, and that‘s going to come out in how they deal with Medicare and Medicaid. 

SCHULTZ:  Entitlement reform, I know a lot of Americans don‘t want to see a lot of cuts there, but there‘s probably going to be some pretty tough cuts. 

John, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

HARWOOD:  Count on it.  It‘s going to happen. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, it is.  It certainly is.

Thanks, John. 

Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”   A right-wing radio nut at it again.  This time making fun of sick children, then claiming he‘s the biggest defender.  It‘s just psycho.

Michael Savage, you‘re next up on THE ED SHOW. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said these days by conservatives?  That‘s right, it‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”  

Oh, this one‘s a dandy.  Earlier this week, the British government banned 16 people from visiting their country for fostering extremism.  Guess who showed up on that list? 

Michael Savage.  That‘s right, the right-wing talk show host for being extreme, hateful, paranoid, racist, homophobic.  Should I go on?  Well, the banned list also included radical Muslim clerics, the Ku Klux Klan, a convicted murderer. 

Now, Savage, of course, was shocked and astounded when he learned that he was on this list.  After all, why on earth would the United Kingdom want to bar this kind of guy from coming over for a visit? 


MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Take your religion and shove it up your behind!

You know, when I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi..

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists happen to be Muslim.


SCHULTZ:  All right.  Now, those are just some of his anti-Muslim, anti-Islam comments.  Also on his favorite hit list homosexuality, immigrants, and autism.  


SAVAGE:  You know what autism is?  I‘ll tell you what autism is in 99 percent of the cases.  It‘s a brat who hasn‘t been told to cut the act out.  That‘s what autism is.


SCHULTZ:  Michael Savage, or Michael Weiner—that‘s his real name—says he is going to sue for defamation of character.  Funny, since Weiner has repeatedly called for people to be banned or deported from the United States. 

CNN‘s Kiran Chetry interviewed Savage to discuss the ban and clear up some misconceptions.  Listen to him clear up his comments on autistic children. 


SAVAGE:  I protected the defenseless all my life.  There‘s no one in the media who‘s done more for the defenseless than Michael Savage, particularly children. 


SCHULTZ:  What was that?  The man who calls an autistic child a brat who hasn‘t been told to cut on the act?  Is that it?

Well, that‘s protecting the defenseless, protecting children, all hateful words of “Psycho Talk.”   But the last one from a CNN interview, there‘s no one in the media who‘s done more for the defenseless?  Now, that‘s laughable “Psycho Talk.” 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

You know, I want to know if we‘re really going to get reform on health care.  The insurance lobby awfully powerful.  They‘re doing everything they can to make sure that they remain the wall between you and your doctor.  They‘re kind of a parasite on the health care system, aren‘t they?

Insurance companies are not in the business of protecting your health, they‘re in the business of protecting their profit. Their job is to make more money.  Now, that doesn‘t help doctors and it certainly doesn‘t help patients. 

Single payer would take the profit right out of the insurance companies and out of the equation.  Democrats have the White House and the Congress.  But the single payer isn‘t even on the table.  They weren‘t at the meeting.  Now, at the start of the show, we asked you, if Democrats are chickening out on single payer.  Here is a what you said, 86 percent of you said yes, they‘re chickening out; 14 percent of you said no. 

We want to give you another chance to vote here in just a minute.  But first, joining me now is Dr. Howard Dean.  He is pushing for health care reform on his website, StandWithDrDean.com. 

Howard, great to have you back tonight.  I‘m nervous.

HOWARD DEAN, FMR. GOV. OF VERMONT:  Thanks for having me on.  Let me just say how great you were in the opening of this show, taking a bite out of some of those hate-mongerers on the right wing.  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Dr. Dean.  I will say, it doesn‘t look good that the Democrats are excluding single payer at the very first meeting when they want to talk about reform.  What‘s your reaction to that? 

DEAN:  Well, first of all, I don‘t think they should have been excluded from the meeting.  But second of all, single payer is not off the table.  If this bill goes through that President Obama wants, the American consumers will be able to choose whether they want to be in a single payer, a public health insurance plan, or whether they want to remain with their private health insurance company.

So single payer is very much on the table.  Single payer has existed in America since 1965, with Medicare.  That‘s what single payer is, Medicare.  And what we argue is that the American consumer ought to have a choice, shouldn‘t be made for them by the insurance industry or Congress or bureaucrats, or anybody like that.  The American people ought to have a choice whether they want to be in single payer, which many will, or whether they prefer their private health insurance, which many will. 

SCHULTZ:  But Dr. Dean, you can‘t get the chairman of the Senate Financial Committee to admit that single payer is on the table in any way, shape or form.  His release to us today was that he respects all views and he wants to work within the current system.  Well, single payer is not the current system.  I think we‘re getting a little double talk from the Democrats. 

DEAN:  No so much, Ed.  The truth is the biggest mistake that was made in the last 60 years is we tried to put in universal health insurance, was moving the people—telling the people who already were satisfied with their health insurance, which is 80 percent of Americans, that they had to switch system. 

That‘s a non-starter.  That‘s why the Clinton plan didn‘t go anywhere.  I think Obama‘s plan is the smartest plan I‘ve seen, because it gives the American people the choice.  The American people, many of them will choose a single payer, a public health insurance entity that doesn‘t make profits and that will give you a better deal and more efficient health care.  But many of them don‘t want to choose that. 

SCHULTZ:  But you‘re going to need the chairman of the committee that‘s going to have to endorse this, and he will not go so far as to endorse this.  I see what you‘re saying, but I‘m losing confidence.  I don‘t like the fact that people are excluded.  And Howard, I know this is in your wheelhouse, too.  It doesn‘t look good when you have the chairman of the Finance Committee excluding people, when he‘s the biggest taker on the Democratic side when it comes to insurance and pharmaceutical money.  What about that? 

DEAN:  That‘s what I‘m doing now.  That‘s what this StandWithDrDean.com is.  We want people to stand up for their own choices.  In all due respect to the Senate Finance Committee, which is going to have an enormous amount to do with shaping this bill, all we want is let the consumers make their own choices.  Don‘t make it for them.  Let the consumers have a wide array of choices, and they‘ll choose what‘s best for them.  Don‘t let the—it‘s not Congress‘s job to do that.  That‘s the consumer‘s job.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Dr. Dean.  Great to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks for weighing in on this. 

And if you haven‘t weighed in yourself, I‘d like to know what you think.  Are the Democrats chickening out on single payer?  Text A or B.  The number is right there on your screen, A for yes and B for no.  For more on this, let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who is the editor of “The Nation,” also Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, and Heidi Harris is a radio host on 720 KDWN in Las Vegas. 

Katrina, we‘ll start with you.  I don‘t like the money.  I don‘t like what I‘m seeing here.  This doesn‘t look good.  What are your thoughts?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  Well, I was on conference call with Governor Dean the other night, and the key , Ed, is that citizens have to mobilize.  There has to be action because the mother of all battles faces us.  The big pharma, insurance companies are amassing. 

Here‘s the thing, you have these Congresspeople who have Cadillac benefits.  The American people should get the same benefits they.  Single-payer people should be at the table.  But to be a realist, what is on the table now is a public plan.  And we have to fight for that. 

That‘s the litmus test of moving forward and expanding it into  single payer down the road.  It will lower costs.  Don‘t listen to the right wing.  And it will provide more access and it will give people real power to feel their own way. 

SCHULTZ:  Heidi, are the Republicans going to get on board and do anything when it comes to health care?  They‘ve already got their playbook out there from Frank Luntz telling them how to talk.  You can go right to the transcript and see how Cantor is talking, and some of the other Republicans.  Are they going to engage at all in this debate? 

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I don‘t know.  If they do, they‘re not going to engage the way you want them to. I would agree with you, Ed, that there‘s a lot of waste.  No question about waste and inefficiency in the medical system. 

But if we go to single payer or anything like that, people are not going to be happy.  There are some who will.  But in general, I‘m amazed at how many people think that if they hate their HMO, they‘re going to be happier with a government sponsored health care system.  It‘s not going to be efficient.

You can‘t ever remove the profit from it or we are not going to have anybody who wants to be a doctor. 

SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute.  There are other countries out there that take the profit out and their systems work pretty well. 


SCHULTZ:  My question is, do you think the Republicans are going to come around at all?  Not the way I want them to, as you said.  But you think that they will engage, tat they won‘t be the party of no when it comes to health care? 

HARRIS:  Listen, the Democrats control things.  If they want to pass it, they don‘t need the Republicans.  So they should go ahead and come to the table with something efficient. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, Bill Press, I‘m going to be right down the middle on this.  When you start excluding people, you now start to parallel the Bush administration.  Now, how terrible does that sound?  What is Max Baucus thinking on this? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Ed, I can‘t believe it.  I could not believe that video.  I saw it here for the first time.  First of all, I don‘t even understand why is the Finance Committee the lead on health care?  It seems to me it ought to be the Health, Education and Welfare Committee.  You find out what‘s best for the American people first.  Then you go to the Finance Committee and figure out how you‘re going to pay for it.

I think we have it ass backwards.  Definitely, they ought to be at the table.  I think we just heard from Heidi, the Republicans are going to be the party of no.  But, you know what, Ed? 

In the context, I think we have to stress this: the good news is there‘s a president and there‘s a Democratic Congress that are going to deliver universal health coverage this year.  It is going to happen this year.  And the Republicans are on board the train or not.

But Katrina is right, there‘s got to be a public plan option.  That‘s got to be part of it. 

SCHULTZ:  What about that? 

HEUVEL:  There‘s got to be a public plan option.  People have to mobilize around it.  You saw today—you saw, it‘s important that protesters tried to get a seat at the table.  They should have a seat at the table.  But moving forward, you‘re going to listen to Republicans who have staked their future on denial and obstruction. 

How do you deny people a choice?  Public health plan, which will be portrayed as socialized, nationalized medicine.  It‘s Medicare for all.  But Ed, how many times in this country have we seen policies and reforms that the majority of people want and thy don‘t get? 

Heidi stands with the insurance companies and big pharma.  Let us stand with people and small businesses and citizens who desperately need to break the status quo, failed system. 

SCHULTZ:  Respond to that, Heidi.  Do you stand with the big pharma and big insurance companies?  And do the Republicans do that?

HARRIS:  I don‘t stand with big pharma.  But the fact of the matter is you can‘t remove profit from it or we won‘t have any new drugs to keep people alive or new machines to diagnose diseases or anything else.  You simply can‘t remove the profit from health care.  That‘s what keeps the new technology coming. 

SCHULTZ:  So other countries don‘t have any research and development at all?  I mean, come on. 

HARRIS:  They do, but they also have quotas.  And there are people who don‘t get surgery you for a long time.  If you smoke, you can‘t get heart surgery.  If you do this, you can‘t get that.  You‘re going to have quotas ultimately.  That‘s what happens.  People in Canada who can‘t get what they want soon enough, they come here.  Same with the UK.

So the idea that it‘s a perfect system, because everybody can get it, it‘s not true.  And the rich people will always get better treatment. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill, Don‘t The American people count on this?  This is what we son, a majority.  Don‘t we matter anymore? 

PRESS:  No, Sure, the American people count.  We got to figure out what‘s best for the American people.  I just want to point out, listen, we do have the greatest pharmaceutical industry in the world right now.  We‘re not talking about taking their profits away.  It‘s the insurance companies that are sucking up all the profits. 

If we cut costs and put in a public plan option and make health care more cost-effective, right, those savings are going to go to the people, and the money is not going to be going into the pockets of the insurers. 

I just want to point out, the insurance companies this week told Congress that they will now start charging women no less for health insurance than men. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re going to come back and talk more.  Great panel tonight.  This is obviously a very emotional subject.  We‘ll talk more about it. 

But coming up next, the electric car revolution is coming from Japan. 

If Nissan can make cares of the future, why can‘t Detroit?  How about this?  A car that gets 347 miles to the gallon?  That‘s next in my playbook.  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  All right, in tonight‘s playbook, pretty rough quarter for General Motors.  They burned through the cash, ten billion dollars in the first quarter alone.  They lost six billion dollars and revenue was cut nearly in half. 

General Motors has a June 1st deadline to convince the government it has the goods to do the turnaround plan or it‘s going to go bankrupt.  Here‘s the problem; GM thinks the Chevy Volt is going to be the savior, a big help.  But then you have Nissan saying it‘s got an electric car that could beat GM‘s Volt to market. 

Nissan is planning to sell its electric car as soon as the fall of 2010.  It‘s going to have a range of 100 miles on a charge. 

Joining me now from Nissan is Dominique Thormann, senior vice president at Nissan.  Mr. Thormann, great to have you on the program tonight.  How long has Nissan been working on this? 

DOMINIQUE THORMANN, SENIOR VP NISSAN:  Thanks for having me, Ed.  Good evening.  Well, it‘s been—Nissan‘s involvement in battery technology goes back years.  It started actually almost 15 years ago.  So there‘s been a lot of research and development going into the battery technology. 

SCHULTZ: Research and development into it.  Can you get it to market before the GM Volt? 

THORMANN:  Well, we—first of all, there‘s a lot to be excited about this car.  And you‘re right, we‘re coming to the market in 2010.  Actually, we‘re about 18 months away from coming to the United States.  This is one of our launch markets with Japan. 

SCHULTZ: Now, I notice it‘s called the EVO-2.  Is this kind of dissing the electric car that GM had before, the EV-1?  What‘s happening here? 

THORMANN:  No, we‘re showing actually the electric technology.  We‘re not showing the vehicle.  We haven‘t revealed that yet.  That‘s still pretty much of a secret. 

We have two prototypes.  One is of them is actually touring in the United States.  That‘s the one you just referred to.  It‘s been on the West Coast.  It was here in Tennessee.  It‘s currently in Washington, D.C.  So it‘s going around in about a dozen cities in the United States. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, how fast will it go and how much will it cost? 

THORMANN:  Well, it will go upwards of 85 miles an hour.  So it‘s highway compatible, accelerates, got lots of pickup, very peppy.  And you know, we‘re talking about mass marketing, so you need to be competitive.  We‘re talking about pricing which is going to be compatible with a mid-size family sedan. 

SCHULTZ: So we‘re talking less than 30,000, maybe a little more than 20,000? 

THORMANN:  Well, we haven‘t—the pricing hasn‘t been decided.  We haven‘t shown it yet to the market.  So those are decisions we‘ll make closer to launch. 

But once again, the important thing is affordability.  Of course, people have to be able to afford it, and have it as a credible replacement for an internal combustion engine. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Is this electric car, in the fall of 2010, going to be at every Nissan dealership in America?  Are you going to be able to mass produce these things?  Or is it just going to be located in certain sections of the country? 

THORMANN:  Initially, we‘re going to be targeting about 12 cities that we‘re partnering with right now.  There will be some cities on the West Coast, Seattle and the San Francisco area, the Bay Area, San Diego, Arizona as well, Nashville, the middle Tennessee area, and then the East Coast. 

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, Mr. Thormann, American people want to know why is it that the foreign manufacturers always beat the American manufacturers to the punch?  Why is that? 

THORMANN:  I don‘t know if—I think the time is right.  Consumers are asking for these kinds of vehicles.  We see a business opportunity.  That‘s why we‘re coming to market.  Initially, it will be mostly fleets and government uses.  But if you wait another year and a half, 12, 24 months, you‘ll be able to find them across the country. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Thormann, good to have you on tonight.  Congratulations to Nissan if you can get it to market first.  Being first is kind of important, especially in this business anyway. 

THORMANN:  Thanks for the encouragement. 

SCHULTZ:  The president talked about this.  He talked about this at the press conference.  He made the comment he couldn‘t figure out why Detroit couldn‘t go as fast as the foreign manufacturers.  We‘ll see how it goes.  Thank you. 

Coming up, there‘s nothing more American than a hamburger, right?  But the president, he is trying to make them French?  Fox News calls attention to the president‘s condiment of choice. 

“Daily Show” creator Lizz Winstead is here to talk about that and so much more next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The Republican party is desperate to avoid becoming extinct.  They‘re sitting at 21 percent, and they‘re looking for something, anything to resurrect the party.  So last night Sean Hannity, he really went for the jugular.  He went after the president and how he likes his burgers. 


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Take a look at him ordering his burger with a very special condiment. 

OBAMA:  All right.  I‘m going to have just your basic Cheddar Cheeseburger, medium well.  I just want mustard, no ketchup.  If you have a spicy mustard or something like that, a Dijon mustard, something like that? 

HANNITY:  All right, Dijon mustard.  I think the president watched just a little bit too much television as a kid. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pardon me, would you have any Gray Poupon? 

HANNITY:  I hope you enjoyed that fancy burger, Mr. President. 


SCHULTZ:  I tell you what, slant head, if that‘s all you‘ve got on the president, you have a lot of work to do, buddy.  Joining me now is comedian Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the “Daily Show” and the brains behind “Wake-Up World.”  It‘s come down to how good is your burger.  

LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR OF “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Apparently, he has Dick Cheney on like four days a weeks, and this is what he‘s got at the end.  It‘s pathetic. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you make of Bristol Palin‘s abstinence tour? 

WINSTEAD:  I always think that abstinence is always such a smart choice.  It‘s just absolute crack-pottery to think that you can somehow legislate abstinence.  The fundamental fact, Ed, you enjoy sex.

SCHULTZ:  I do. 

WINSTEAD:  I enjoy sex. 

SCHULTZ:  We all do. 

WINSTEAD:  High school kids are going to always have sex for two simple reasons.  Number one, it‘s fun, and number two, it‘s free.  So when you‘re working at the taco ice cream hut at the mall, making minimum wage, the most fun at any economic strata is still the same thing.  They‘re going to do it.  So why not protect them? 

You give kids driver‘s ed, right? 


WINSTEAD:  You see the movies, you wear the seat belt, you take class to prepare them to not hurt themselves and others.  Abstinence is ridiculous. 

SCHULTZ:  What about the bank stress tests.  There‘s got to be a lot of material there. 

WINSTEAD:  The question I have—and again, I don‘t know much about banking.  But at what point do you stop calling yourself a bank?  When you don‘t have money, and then you get more money and then you waste that money and we give you more money after that, you‘re not a bank, you‘re a teenager. 

So what I don‘t understand is so far when I look at sort of how much money taxpayers have forked out—we bought an insurance company that doesn‘t provide health care.  We bought a couple auto companies that don‘t really make cars.  And now we bought some banks that aren‘t really banks, although we can save money with Bank of America, because we don‘t have to change the signage.  They can just still be called Bank of America. 

SCHULTZ:  Lizz, you‘re the best.  Always a pleasure.

WINSTEAD:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Lizz Winstead, a real treat. 

All right, you heard last night about the one Republican who has had the guts to take on the drugster.  Colin Powell took on Rush‘s nastiness.  Guess what he got in return?  More of the same.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  He‘s just mad at me because I‘m the one person in the country that had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama.  It was purely and solely based on race.  There can be no other explanation for it. 

What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat? 


SCHULTZ:  Back to our political panel tonight, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Bill Press and Heidi Harris.  I think Colin Powell would be a good Democrat.  What do you think? 

HEUVEL:  I think he is in many ways.  You just saw the man who is policing the Republican party.  You can understand why it‘s a party in a death spiral.  Mr. Rush Limbaugh, master of hate and deception. 

SCHULTZ:  Heidi, is Rush Limbaugh getting more influential with the Republican party as time goes on?  He has no problem throwing anybody under the bus?  What I‘ve noticed is that none of the elected officials ever challenge the guy. 

HARRIS:  I think the Democrats would like to present him as a face of the Republican party, because there are people who get offended by what he says, just like there are people who get offended by what you say and what I say, because that‘s our opinion.  We‘re paid for that as talk show hosts. 

But I don‘t think that people necessarily are—it‘s true, that‘s what he gets paid to do.  He gets paid to give his opinion.  If his opinion of Colin Powell is that, then he‘s entitled to express it.  I have no problem with Rush saying that at all. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill, your thoughts. 

PRESS:  First of all, I‘ve got to say, here‘s a guy that led us into the first Gulf War, who was former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, former Secretary of State, and Limbaugh wants to throw him out of the Republican party?  Ed, this is a national day of prayer, you know?  Republicans ought to get down on their knees and pray and thank god that Colin Powell is still a Republican. 

They would throw Jesus Christ out of their party because he likes the poor. 

HEUVEL:  I don‘t know—they might, Bill, they might.  But it is a measure of a shrunken party, a party that is eager to marginalize, eager to push out, eager to purge, that they don‘t have room in their ranks for a man who was going to run as president on the ticket.  It‘s a measure of how desperate they are, how far they need to go to have a future. 

PRESS:  Had he run, I think he would have been the first African-American president. 

HEUVEL:  He might have. 

HARRIS:  And I would have been fine with that.  I like Colin Powell. 

You are not going to hear me criticize him. 

PRESS:  But Rush Limbaugh wants to throw him out of the party.  He‘s offending.


HEUVEL:  He is repenting—Colin Powell I think is still repenting for what he did at the UN to mislead this nation into a war that should not have been fought. 

SCHULTZ:  But Heidi, why wouldn‘t there be a Republican leader to step up and say something good about Colin Powell after Rush rips him?  Why isn‘t there out there seeing Colin Powell as a value to the Republican party? 

HARRIS:  Well, I don‘t know if there‘s nobody seeing any value.  I don‘t think people can spend all day long refuting everything you say on your show or I say on mine or Bill says on his.  We have our opinions.  We express them.  And people can‘t keep up with us sometimes. 


PRESS:  Here‘s the problem, there‘s a long list of Republicans across the street who have dared say something mildly critical of Rush, and every one of them has ended up—starting with Michael Steele and Eric Cantor, they‘ve ended up kissing Rush Limbaugh‘s butt. 

HARRIS:  Then they have no guts, because I criticize people on my show every day, on the left and the right.  And if you want to come on my show and argue with me and tell me I‘m wrong about you as a politician, then you‘re welcome to come on my show and do it. 

PRESS:  Heidi, with all due respect, nobody is accusing you or suggesting that you‘re the leader of the Republican party.  Rush is the intellectual leader of the Republican party today.  That‘s why they‘re in such bad shape. 

HARRIS:  But Rush doesn‘t say that.  That‘s what the left says. 

That‘s not what Rush says.  Rush doesn‘t claim to run the Republican party. 

HEUVEL:  There‘s a larger problem that the Republican party faces, which is a demographic problem.  Look at Pennsylvania; 200,000 Republicans switched their affiliation to the Democratic party.  That is going on around this country.  And you have a younger Democratic party, a more diverse and more tolerant. 

Look at what is happening with gay marriage?  Look at what is happening with some of the hot-button issues which should used by the Republicans as wedge issues.  I think this country is changing. 

However, the Republicans have come back from the wilderness before. 

You can‘t forget that.  But they won‘t with Rush Limbaugh as their policer. 

SCHULTZ:  I think they‘re really going to need more than a consultant‘s report on how to talk to the American people about issues.  I think the leadership of the Republican party ought to be absolutely embarrassed that they‘re following the lead of a Frank Luntz to gin up their support or anti-isms against health care in this country, which everybody wants.  Over 90 percent of the American people want some type of reform in health care. 

Panel, thanks so much.  Katrina, Bill and Heidi, thanks for being with us tonight.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information, and to send me an email, go to Ed.MSNBC.com, or check out my radio website, WeGotEd.com.  We‘ve got a townhall meeting coming up in Buffalo on June 13th.  We‘ll be talking health care. 

Get text alerts about THE ED SHOW sent to your phone.  Just text the word Ed to 622639.  This is the place for politics, MSNBC.  “HARDBALL” is next, starting with the man, Chris Matthews.



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